Construction managers already know how uncooperative the earth can be. Part of their job involves taming rough terrain and grappling with difficult site conditions. There are times, however, when nature is less willing to yield than others. This is especially true when building in or near wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.
Not only do the soft soils in swamps and wetlands make it nearly impossible for heavy equipment to move, but they also contain extremely fragile ecosystems that are protected by government regulations. In the interest of keeping work on schedule and on budget, as well as avoiding costly fines and litigation, crews must take care when dealing with projects in marshlands. Knowing how to mitigate these circumstances is crucial for any contractor working under these conditions.
Understanding How to Build in Swamps
Builders must approach ecologically delicate projects with a clear plan for creating access. There are multiple factors to consider when developing a construction strategy, such as:
- Soil stability — Perhaps nothing has as much impact on your preparations as the state of the landscape. When getting ready to create an access road through excessively soft areas, you first need to clear the path. This means removing any stumps, rocks, logs or other impediments before positioning the access mats.
Attempting to build a temporary roadway over these obstacles can result in serious damage to the mats, such as warping or breaking, and subsequently your machinery. One rule of thumb for wet conditions is to choose wide mats. This will distribute the weight of your equipment over a broader surface area, which can prevent sinking.
- Ecological responsibilities — Even though construction activity is only temporary, the heavy cranes and trucks can still have devastating and long-lasting consequences in the wetlands. In some cases, it may be decades before plant and animal life return to previous levels.
This is why there are regulations in place that provide contractors with a framework to minimize their impact. Builders who violate these laws may be held accountable with hefty fines and other penalties. To help avoid an infraction and mitigate the effects of construction, teams should set up access mats to create temporary roads.
Another important consideration when clearing the way is to avoid damaging the root systems of the surrounding vegetation. This protects the plants in the hope that they will be able to grow back much faster after you leave the jobsite.
- Ease of assembly — If you have an accessibility problem, you do not want the solution to be a drain on time and resources. However, access mats offer a fast and relatively easy way to reach the worksite and maintain your budget.
Mats typically come equipped with loops of cable that allow them to be connected quickly. With cross-laminated timber mats, built-in joints enable them to lock together on their own. Either way, setting up and tearing down these temporary roadways can save you time and money.
Working With the Experts
One of the most critical aspects of developing a construction strategy is to choose a partner with expertise. Working with a provider that specializes in building and planning temporary roads means you can focus more on the current project. An experienced access company can evaluate the jobsite and suggest a plan that will ensure a smooth process from start to finish. In addition, the right team should be able to connect you with a readily available inventory of mats that can be deployed quickly and conveniently. Having the right people on your side can make all the difference when it comes to the success of your work.
Wetlands are some of the most complex terrain for construction for many reasons. However, with the proper planning, you can overcome these challenges and put yourself in a much better position to succeed.
Author bio: Kathy Hopper is Director of Marketing at YAK ACCESS, which encompasses YAK MAT, NEW SOUTH and BluRoc. Hopper, who has been with the company for more than three years, is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of upstream and downstream marketing efforts.