Canandaigua, New York – Another milestone was recently reached on the Canandaigua VA Medical Center construction project as the USACE team was able to turnover the Phase 1 facilities back to the Department of Veterans Affairs Canandaigua VA Medical Center.
The work taking place at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center is currently allotted into three phases. Phase 1 included demolition of Building 2, construction of an Outpatient Clinic, a Chilled Water/Emergency Power Plant, new power and water systems, and temporary Laboratory and Main Kitchen to support ongoing healthcare operations throughout the nearly six-year construction period.
Gerry DiPaola, USACE Project Manager for the Canandaigua VA Medical Center construction, attributed success thus far to the teamwork and dedication of the entire Project Delivery Team.
“Over the past six years, the number of team members working tirelessly towards this milestone, including those that have moved on from the project, is impressive. They have overcome many challenges to ensure the work in Phase 1 was able to be completed,” he said. “I want to acknowledge the efforts of our CFM partners, working together, to bring this project to reality for the Veterans of the Finger Lakes region.”
Matthew Lowe, Chief of the Veterans Affairs Division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, agreed that partnership has been key to the success of the project.
“Renovating and upgrading a VA medical center influences multiple stakeholders with a variety of interests and issues to navigate. It was very encouraging to have everyone involved working together to ensure success for this project,” he added. “The VA team, both CFM and the Canandaigua Medical Center have been instrumental in working through challenges and unknowns throughout these projects. I believe any success on the project is directly tied to the partnership having a mutual interest and overall goal of delivering for our Veterans.”
DiPaola said there are many issues that need to be considered when working on an active medical facility’s campus.
“One key consideration is to be able to have an active functioning medical center, in other words, maintaining patient services and seeing them with minimal disruption to their normal routine while the work was taking place,” he said. “It’s a great accomplishment - keeping the existing facility up in operation while constructing new infrastructure and renovating the existing.”
The work being done at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center is possible due to recommendations from the Department of Veterans Affairs Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) study, which identified that some decades-old facilities were being underutilized.
“This project enhances the use of the current VA Medical Center in Canandaigua. A study was conducted by the VA and it identified an underutilization of facilities at Canandaigua and so to improve services and Veteran access, planners at the Department of Veterans Affairs called for a modern and consolidated outpatient clinic - a 21st-century outpatient clinic - along with community living center complex, to include cottages and community center, to provide housing to veterans that would benefit from an assisted living type of environment,” DiPaola explained. “So basically, the project improves the delivery of healthcare by consolidating infrastructure and clinical services under one roof and enhances the assisted living care type of facility.”
Lowe said he is proud to be a part of this project that will benefit thousands of Veterans for years to come.
“For over 25 years, I’ve had the pleasure to be involved with new construction, renovated facilities and infrastructure projects on various military installations, but VA projects are special. You are proud to be part of something that supports and takes care of our Veterans,” he shared. “In a small way, all of us working these projects get to serve the men and women who were willing to sacrifice it all for our country. It’s humbling and I’m grateful to be part of what we’re doing to benefit Veterans.”
The Canandaigua VA Medical Center project includes the construction of a new 84,000 square foot Outpatient Clinic, a new chiller/emergency generator plant, renovates 85,000 square feet of existing facility space, and upgrades of existing roadways and site utilities as well as the construction of eight cottages comprising 96 individual rooms in a neighborhood like setting and a community center.
These state-of-the-art facilities were designed to blend seamlessly into the existing historical campus and provide world-class healthcare to approximately 65,000 Veterans living in the greater Finger Lakes region.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District works in partnership with The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division’s Regional Rivers Repair Fleet, also known as R3F, on major maintenance and repair efforts for the district’s locks and dams on the Ohio and Green River and for the district’s 17 Flood Risk Management Dams across Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
“Louisville District’s partnership with the Regional Rivers Repair Fleet is vital to the reliability, resiliency and efficiency of the district’s navigation and flood risk management infrastructure,” said Shawn Kenney Louisville District Operations Division Technical Support Branch chief. “Our goal is to ensure reliability of our system through proactive maintenance and repairs before deficiencies have operational impacts. With aging and deteriorating infrastructure and resource constraints, there is a trend toward a fix-as-fails maintenance strategy.”
The Louisville District and R3F have been working together for years to improve maintenance processes.
“R3F is the preferred resource provider for performing much of this major maintenance work on our infrastructure because the in-house capabilities provide seasoned expertise with the unique work and flexibility if differing site conditions are found once construction is in-progress,” Kenney said. “The adaptability of R3F provides an enhanced level of risk management that would not be possible if all major maintenance work was contracted out.”
Having the ability to mobilize in-house fleets improves the resiliency to restore infrastructure to service quickly in the event of an emergency, Kenney added.
R3F was formed in 2016 when individual river district repair fleets previously located in Louisville, Huntington, Pittsburgh and Nashville were consolidated. This standardized core work and fleet management, safety risk management, equipment maintenance, training and staffing.
More recently, the Heavy Capacity Fleet of the R3F completed miter gate replacements at McAlpine Locks and Dam in Louisville, Kentucky, and Cannelton Locks and Dam in Cannelton, Indiana, to increase reliability and efficiency on the inland waterways system. The Louisville District and R3F’s initiative consolidated this work from two seasons to one, minimizing the time the lock chamber had to be shut down greatly reducing impacts to industry.
“Completing this dual miter gate change out and floating mooring bitt replacements, in one low water season rather than two, reduced industry impacts by over four months in 2022, and allowed for project cost savings of over $10 million,” said Waylon Humphrey Louisville District Operations Division chief. “Most importantly, now that Louisville and R3F have demonstrated this is possible at McAlpine, and repeatable at Cannelton, we have laid the groundwork for the miter gate replacement program timeline to be cut in half.”
The Louisville District and R3F have been paving the way driving toward greater efficiencies with the fleets, according to Kenney.
“The team is pushing the envelope on efficiency and proving successful through diligent planning, aggressive scheduling practices, and proactive risk management,” Kenney said. “The prime examples of this include projects at McAlpine Lock and Dam in 2020 and Cannelton Locks and Dam in 2022, which set a new standard for completing miter gate replacements on both ends of a lock chamber in a single year.”
These projects successfully reduced the timeframe from two five-month closures over two years to a single five-month closure and reduced the budget from $47 million to $37 million.
“These efficiencies allow USACE to move on to the next critical needs on the long list of backlogged maintenance,” Kenney said. “Also, the reduced closure times benefits navigation industry and its customers to the tune of millions of dollars.
The R3F team is currently working with the Louisville District at John T. Myers Locks and Dam in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, to rehab the miter gates in the 1,200-foot lock chamber.
“At John T. Myers Locks and Dam, the Heavy Capacity Fleet is attempting to reduce the scope of work from 18 weeks, which was the duration the last time a similar project was performed, to 10 weeks,” Kenney said. “This Louisville District and R3F team realizes that pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone is prudent and rewarding; we are embracing the notion that we were not made for comfort, but for greatness.”
For most construction projects, progress can be visually measured as structures start to come out of the ground and begin to take shape. This would not be possible without the foundations that transfers the loads of the vertical structures to the soil safely. Part of that foundation work can include the installation of drilled piers.
The Louisville VA Medical Center project recently achieved the completion of a major feature of work by reaching the milestone of “bottoming out” with the installation of the last of 1,057 drilled piers across the site. The drilled piers ranged from 24 to 72 inches in diameter and from five to 35 feet in depth.
All buildings have some type of foundation. Most residential buildings have what is called shallow foundations which generally include spread footings to prevent the building from settling. Drilled piers are a type of deep foundation, which is generally utilized for larger buildings, like the Louisville VA Medical Center, said David Garvin, geotechnical engineer.
“Drilled piers connect structures directly to the bedrock - keeping the building in place by minimizing settlement and lateral loads from outside forces such as wind loads, seismic loads, etc.,” he explained. “Since drilled piers are below the building, they are advanced from the top of the ground until bedrock is reached, with rebar and concrete placed, then the pier is tied into a column or grade beam.”
“Once the drilled pier is tied into the column or grade beam, the steel beams will be placed on top of it. After all steel beams are placed the loads from the entire building will transfer down to the drilled piers and disperse evenly throughout all drilled piers,” Garvin said. “The drilled piers are one of the main components that keep the building in place.”
With drilled piers playing such a key role, it’s important that they are placed with precision.
“There are many things to keep in mind when drilling piers. First, you need to drill through soil until bedrock is reached, this is usually easy to complete but the hardest part is ensuring the pier is drilled at the correct location,” he said. “Then, the drillers will reach bedrock. Once drilling through the rock is complete, the rock socket and bearing surface will be inspected. A professional experienced with inspecting drilled piers will perform a downhole inspection to ensure the rock socket and bearing surface is competent.”
“The last step is cleaning out the pier and placing rebar and concrete. The piers are cleaned out via downhole entry and after the pier is cleaned the rebar will be placed in the pier,” he added.
Garvin said looking back that the work went well with only a few minor issues.
“It seems like the start of this feature of work had its challenges, but after identifying the problems and coming up with solutions, the process was smooth sailing,” he said.
The $900 million project includes the construction of a new 910,115 square-foot medical center, parking structures, a 42,205 square-foot central utility plant, roadways, sidewalks, and other site improvements.
The new 104-bed, full-service hospital will provide world-class healthcare for more than 45,000 Veterans in Kentucky and Southern Indiana by integrating modern patient-centered care concepts to provide the best possible care for Veterans. In addition, to specifically address the needs of women Veterans, the new hospital will include a Women’s Health Clinic with four Patient Aligned Care Teams.
The project designed by URS-Smith Group Joint Venture is being constructed by Walsh-Turner Joint Venture II, Chicago, Illinois.
Construction is anticipated to be complete in 2026.
To learn more about the project visit: www.va.gov/louisville-health-care/programs/new-robley-rex-va-medical-center.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District completed construction of the Digital Air-Ground Integration Range at Fort Knox, Kentucky, June 9, 2023. The range complex is designed to replicate a complex operational environment and serves to train and qualify soldiers to detect, identify, engage and defeat stationary and moving targets.
The $25 million contract for the construction of the high-tech live-fire range includes more than 400 target emplacements, which will accommodate new and renovated stationary and moving infantry and vehicle targets. The construction contract which also included an urban cluster, machine gun bunkers and new range control tower was awarded on Sept. 26, 2019.
The design for the roughly 2,000 square-acre range, which is only the second of its kind, was completed in-house by USACE engineers at the Louisville District.
“With the design being in-house, it made it easier for us in the construction division to communicate with the designers because they were with USACE,” said Drake Sullivan, USACE project engineer. “Streamlined communication helped the project move along quicker without needing to go through a third-party Architect-Engineer firm.”
The sheer size and environmental attributes of the project posed some unique challenges for construction. Travel through the construction site would often take 30 to 45 minutes to traverse. Partly due to the nearly three-and-a-half-mile length and partly due to the range occupying a low-lying area with a high-water table, the muddy conditions and river obstacle required constant communication between construction teams.
“It was a huge challenge for the contractor to supervise and communicate with the different construction teams because of the way the range is laid out,” Sullivan said. “It was equally as difficult for us to navigate the range to complete our quality assurance checks.”
Another challenge was the fact that large portions of the existing range were not yet cleared of munitions. A staggered notice to proceed was implemented to allow construction to start in specific areas while other areas were being cleared of munitions.
“To overcome this challenge, we communicated very heavily with the contractor and the rest of the USACE team,” Sullivan said. “This project has had a great safety record that reflects no reportable or lost-time accidents.”
Col. L. Reyn Mann assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District in a change of command ceremony held at the Henry Clay Building in Louisville, Kentucky, July 27, 2023. As commander of the Louisville District, Col. Mann will provide strategic direction, and command and control for the district’s $1 billion workload including civil, military, environmental and Interagency and International Services programs.
“I’m committed to giving you everything I have each day,” Mann said. “You have an outstanding reputation of delivering programs and quality projects on time and within budget. There are no words to describe how honored I am to join this winning team.”
Mann, a native of Fair Play, South Carolina, commissioned in the Engineer Branch May 27, 2000, upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Prior to joining the Louisville District, Mann served as the Headquarters G3, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington DC. In this assignment, she was responsible for operations, training and plans for the enterprise.
Mann’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and the German Armed Forces Efficiency Badge (Gold).
She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Missouri and has a Project Management Professional certification.
The Louisville District provides public works, engineering, construction, contracting, real estate, emergency operations, environmental and regulatory services in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, northern Tennessee, and Michigan. The district operates 17 flood control lakes and 9 locks and dams.