Civil Construction Considerations for the Gulf Coast Area
Thanks to its abundant resources and well-developed infrastructure, the Gulf Coast regions of Texas and Louisiana have bustling industrial sectors and are the headquarters of many national industrial companies. As a result this area is also a frequent site for renovations, expansions, and new construction projects. These civil construction projects are fortunate to have many advantages including a local workforce that is eager and well trained, as well as engineers and developers who are well-acquainted with the needs of the industrial sector. However, the Gulf Coast area also faces certain challenges related to its climate and production demands. Any large-scale civil construction project in the area will need to consider the following concerns.
Careful Preparation of the Construction Site
Before construction can even begin the construction site must be carefully prepared. This is of course true of all civil construction projects, but it is particularly important in the Gulf Coast region where heavy rainfall, strong winds, and abundant vegetation can easily derail a poorly prepared project. Some key concerns are:
Erosion Control – According to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about 25 square miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is lost every year due to erosion. While most construction projects do not occur directly on the coast they still face many of the same erosion forces. Fortunately proper shoring and site preparation will protect the construction site from damage.
Clear & Grubbing – The Gulf Coast region boasts some of the most lush and abundant vegetation in the country. Thus it is very important to protect the natural landscape while at the same time thoroughly preparing the project site for construction. Good preparation will ensure that all trees, shrubs, stumps, rocks, and other obstacles are removed without compromising the ecological integrity of the area, delaying the project, or risking damage to construction equipment and materials.
Heavy Haul Roads – The best equipment and workforce will be of no use if the construction site is inaccessible. Soft soil and heavy rainfall can turn service roads into mudpits if they have not been properly constructed and reinforced. It is also important that the roads be able to withstand the weight and traffic demands the project will place on them.
Foundation Concerns for the Gulf Coast
One of the most important elements of a civil construction project is laying a strong, secure foundation. This is particularly true in the Gulf Coast region where soil may be soft, groundwater abundant, and wind and annual rainfall high. A foundation that shifts and cracks is likely to result in costly property damage and flooding. This in turn could also compromise production at the facility and force it to be shut down while it is being repaired.
Piling – A hallmark of good foundation work is in choosing the correct materials for piling and driving them to the proper depth. Correct piling selection and driving techniques may vary depending on the particular factors present at the construction site. Thus it is crucial that the construction company overseeing the project be experienced and skilled at piling and pile driving.
Structural Demands Placed on Gulf Coast Buildings
The Gulf Coast is subject to some of the strongest hurricanes in the world. Tornadoes may also spawn in the area. These massive winds can easily tear through poorly constructed buildings. Meanwhile the notorious Texas and Louisiana heat and humidity will take their own toll on local structures.
Concrete & Materials – It is imperative that facilities built in the Gulf Coast region be of the highest quality materials and be built to all important safety codes and standards. ASTM International sets materials standards while the American Concrete Institute also sets guidelines for proper use and composition of concrete. Together this, in conjunction with quality construction methods ensure that Gulf Coast facilities are able to withstand even the strongest forces of nature.
Production Demands of Gulf Coast Industries
According to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) the Gulf Coast supplies about 17% of the US’ crude oil and about 5% of the US’ natural gas production. In addition to high oil and gas production it is also home to 40% of the US refining capacity and 51% of the US natural gas processing capacity. Finally, much of the US oil and gas consumption is concentrated in the Gulf Coast thanks to the abundance of chemical processing plants and other industrial facilities which produce many of the products that make the American way of life possible.
These high production demands translate into a need for outstanding facilities that can maintain a consistent, reliable output while even ramping up production from time to time as needed. This in turn means that civil construction in the area must be up to the task of building such high quality, high capacity facilities.
STI Group offers reliable civil construction and EPC services to clients in the Gulf Coast area. We are familiar with the unique culture, resources, and climate that make the region such a great place to live, work, and do business. Our clients can also count on us for maintenance and emergency services.