Cherry Hill Construction

Cherry Hill tackles the daunting Fairfax County Parkway project. Since its inception in 1966, Cherry Hill Construction has faced numerous industry peaks and valleys – both literally and figuratively.

Yet the heavy civil construction firm has managed to remain competitive despite current economic challenges. “The market has changed significantly,” Project Manager Roger Lant observes.

“Cherry Hill Construction has gone from building individual $30 million projects to coordinating construction of several multibillion-dollar projects simultaneously.”The company has maintained an edge over competitors by offering design/build services through partnerships with design firms. “Currently, we’re looking for the projects that best fit Cherry Hill’s abilities,” Lant says. “Specifically, we’re trying to create long-term partnerships with design companies that can bring good value to the table.” Most of the firm’s work is performed in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

A Good Partner

A major player in Cherry Hill’s efforts is design/engineering firm Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT), Sparks, Md. By partnering with JMT, Cherry Hill has managed to control costs while providing the best value to its clients. The two are working together on the $112 million Fairfax County Parkway Project in Virginia. Though the project is being funded by VDOT, the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division is managing the job. Ninety percent of the land is located on the U.S. Army’s Fort Belvoir and is owned by the DOD.

In addition to these three entities, Fairfax County has given significant input and assistance to move the project at its rapid pace. “Though it has been challenging coordinating the needs of each organization, we have established excellent relationships with each party involved,” Lant says. “One major key to the ongoing success of this project has been a well-written memo of understanding between all of the entities.”

Funded by the VDOT and the U.S. Army’s Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), the work is being performed in four phases. Phases One and Two include constructing a four-lane, divided and limited-access highway to connect a 1.5 mile-segment of the Fairfax County Parkway. Cherry Hill is responsible for grading, drainage and paving, bridges, noise walls, lighting, traffic signals, landscaping, signage and roadway striping.

Phase Three plans include relocating nearby Hooes Road and Rolling Road, and improving the Franconia-Springfield Parkway interchange at the Fairfax County Parkway. Phase Four includes extending Boudinot Drive at the Fairfax County Parkway and constructing a loop ramp.

Phases One and Two began in March 2009, and the improved parkway was opened in September 2010. Phase Three is underway and Phase Four is set to be completed in July 2011. “In June 2009, the project received $24 million in federal stimulus funding to create a separate graded interchange (Phase Four),” according to Lant.

Because the roadway was constructed through Fort Belvoir’s Engineering Proving Ground, removing and disposing of munitions and explosives was necessary. “The project included about 1 million yards of excavation, 120,000 tons of aggregate imported and 120,000 cubic yards of rock blasting,” Lant notes. “Rip-rock removed from the site was crushed into aggregate that was ultimately used for the roadway base.”

Good communication and proactive problem-solving were major keys to the success of this project, Lant observes. “When the project began, we planned our work around the weather patterns we knew would exist during that time of year,” he says. “For instance, we didn’t do any earthwork during the winter since it’s much more difficult to complete during cold weather, but we were able to perform construction and blasting work during those months.” When the weather improved, the teams then completed the earthwork.

Some segments of the project met with delays due to a lengthy approval process. An access road into Fort Belvoir was supposed to go into final design in August 2009, but wasn’t approved until April 2010. “In that instance, we performed the portions we could proceed with, such as bridge construction, until we received final approval and could finish the segment,” Lant asserts. In addition, a schedule recovery package that included multiple shifts and longer shifts helped move the project at a steady pace.  Cherry Hill also self-performs much of its site work, which also accelerates the construction schedule.

A large part of Cherry Hill’s capabilities stem from its ownership by Perini Corporation. “Because of this backing, we have the systems, financial capability and resolve to complete these types of projects with a high level of quality, yet deliver them on time,” Lant attests. He adds that the success of projects such as the Fairfax County Parkway depend on establishing excellent relationships with the clients and partners, as well as subcontractors and vendors.

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