Deft Planning and Skillful Moves Play Out on the Reroof of the World’s Largest Water Filtration Plant

Reroofing the 10.3-acre surface of Chicago’s highly sensitive James W. Jardine Water Filtration Plant posed logistical challenges on par with the building’s magnitude. Phasing to ensure the plant continued to supply fresh water to its 5 million customers in the city of Chicago and its suburbs, the need for complete containment areas, roof-load restrictions, unique stainless-steel expansion joints and the Department of Homeland Security’s onsite presence all made for intricate operations. But John Cronin, president of Chicago-based Trinity Roofing Service, says Mother Nature was his toughest challenge.

The James W. Jardine Water Filtration Plant arguably was the largest and most complex roofing project in Chicago during the past decade.

The James W. Jardine Water
Filtration Plant arguably was the largest and most complex roofing project in Chicago during the past
decade.

“Conducting construction on the Lake Michigan waterfront during Chicago’s harshest winter in 30 years [2013-14] was by far the hardest part of this job. Driving rain, wind, black ice and snow—it was unmerciful,” asserts Cronin. “Constant communication had to be our priority, because we could go to the site in the morning and discover that weather made impossible the sequence of work we had planned. Senior Project Manager J.J. Matthews, Job Superintendent Rob Reno and I had to be incredibly flexible to keep the job moving.”

Water Protection

The water-treatment plant’s 50-year-old coal-tar roof and concrete roof deck had been leaking, which created potential health concerns. The plant supplies approximately 1 billion gallons of clean water a day, which meant many concrete filter beds had to remain operational and free of contamination during construction. Filter beds beneath the phased work area were drained. To protect the drained beds, Trinity cut a hole in the roof and erected a specialized watertight “shoe box” work zone, extending 6-feet down. These shoebox areas consisted of a plywood scaffolding platform blanketed by a 60-mil membrane. Inside the box, existing structural steel had to be sand blasted free of lead paint, inspected and replaced in some spots. At any given time, the team had two 56,000-square-foot scaffolding platforms in place.

Winter winds blew snow across the flat roof and down into these protection zones carrying multiple forms of contamination. Rooftop bird droppings were one source. Asbestos from the original 1960s roof was another. The team had to bring in heat torpedoes (portable forced-air or convection heaters) to melt the snow and divert it through custom-made gutters into cisterns to be hauled offsite so workers could access the steel.

Protecting materials from the elements was also paramount. More than 1,000 rolls of fleece-backed membrane had to remain completely dry. In addition, cellular glass roof insulation (specified from Belgium for its proven 50-year track record on the facility) had an eight-week timeframe for production and overseas delivery, making critical that each square of insulation stayed in pristine condition. Chicago rain can fall in isolated pockets, so every load had to be fully secured with tarp, even on seemingly sunny days.

The harsh Chicago winter of 2013- 14 didn’t stop Trinity Roofing Service from completing the twoyear project on schedule. Seven miles of backer rod are being laid between seams of concrete roof channels despite snow and ice.

The harsh Chicago winter of 2013-14 didn’t stop Trinity Roofing Service from completing the two-year project on schedule. Seven miles of backer rod are being laid
between seams of concrete roof channels despite snow and ice.

“It was an ongoing job to impress the importance of covering all the materials that came to the site, especially at the slightest hint of rain,” Cronin says. “It worked, though. We fully inspected every material load that came to the job site. Out of more than 712,000 board feet of new insulation, none of it was rejected thanks to our strictly enforced quality-control program.”

Despite the snow and ice accumulation on staging areas, no salt was allowed on the property for fear of water contamination, which meant Trinity also dealt with slippery walking and driving surfaces.

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A Homeland Security Program Minimizes Administrative Headaches

Lines & Lundgreen Roofing and Insulation Inc. is a small family-owned business that was started in 1947. We have grown to be the largest roofing company in Yuma, Ariz. Jonathan Lines, the general manager, is the third-generation Lines to guide this company. He is taking the reins from his father, John Lines, and uncle, Steve Lundgreen, the current owners.

Unfortunately, we all know there is a lot of turnover in construction. Having to worry about eligibility for employment is a distraction from what we do. We have an office staff of two people. How do you train two people to become experts in all the different areas a businessperson needs to be aware of nowadays? It is just impossible.

A few years ago there was an article in the local newspaper about a raid on a local business. The purpose of the raid was to check for illegal workers. The article stated there were a number of illegals working at this site, and the business would receive fines above $10,000. I didn’t want to worry about this, but we were not experts on the different documents that could be used to prove eligibility and didn’t know how to look for illegal documents. I did not want to become an expert either. I thought I was doing what was needed.

A day or two after the article appeared, one of the owners was talking to a group of employees and said we would have to check all employees for document accuracy. He was joking, but we lost a surprising number of employees that morning. They just disappeared, and we all knew why. I knew that whatever we were doing was not working. Then we were audited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I was more than a little uneasy as they presented their badges and realized why they were in our office.

Our audit turned out to be a positive experience. ICE agents went through each of our I-9 forms. Then they held a meeting with us. They could see we had been making an honest attempt to use appropriate hiring processes. They helped us clear up the things we were doing wrong and encouraged us to take advantage of the best employment practices available to us on the Internet.

We were using E-Verify already; E-Verify is a free Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S. We now use E-Verify for I-9 documentation, socialsecurity.gov for Social Security number verification and Arizona’s New Reporting Center to withhold child support. We are in compliance and ICE does the verification. I no longer worry about these issues, which is one less headache for me.

The IMAGE Program

Lines and Lundgreen Roofing and Insulation Inc. was the second Yuma, Ariz., employer to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in a nationwide program designed to strengthen hiring practices and combat the unlawful employment of unauthorized workers. Lines and Lundgreen Roofing and Insulation was certified as an ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers (IMAGE) partner.

Lines and Lundgreen is a roofing, insulation and acoustical ceiling installation firm with 46 employees serving Yuma County and the Imperial Valley. The company’s projects range from residential roof repairs to large commercial and government contracts, such as the F-35 simulator building at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

As part of the IMAGE program, ICE provides private companies with education and training on proper hiring procedures, including the use of employment screening tools, such as E-Verify. IMAGE-certified companies also undergo an audit of their I-9 forms to ensure current employees are eligible to work in the U.S.

Employers interested in learning more about IMAGE membership should visit its web page.