August 16, 2021
By Martin Hawrysko, Metropolitan Industries, Inc.
Efficient and reliable transportation infrastructure is more than about moving people, goods, and services from one point to another. Well-maintained roads and highways that are accessible and keep traffic moving create a healthy economy and help enhance the quality of life for citizens.
In the case of Calumet Ave., a prominent Northwest Indiana highway that intersects with a major interstate, heavy stop-and-go traffic was considered normal. In the Town of Munster, railroad crossings and frequent freight trains made the problem far worse, resulting in nightmare gridlock for vehicles each day.
Addressing the Problem from Beneath
As a long source of frustration for residents and commuters, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) came up with a solution to circumvent the railroad delays. The enhancement plan included an underpass at nearby 45th St. which would allow vehicles to travel beneath the railroad tracks, therefore relieving some of the reliance on Calumet Ave.
Ensuring that the new underpass would not flood during each rainfall was paramount. Metropolitan Industries was brought in to provide a complete system solution that would ensure flooding would not become a problem. The project called for a lift station built with highly durable materials capable of transporting collected stormwater to the adjacent retention pond. Metropolitan provided calculations, pump selection, electrical and controls design, standby power generator sizing, equipment specifications, and drawings.
Immediate Cost Savings Without Short-Changing the Future
Another consideration while proposing a solution to INDOT was their commitment to enhancing infrastructure while allowing for better management of assets throughout the lifecycle. To support that endeavor, the recommended choice of material for the wet well structure was fiber reinforced polymer, a highly durable material known to stand up to external factors such as extreme environmental conditions. Fiber reinforced polymer (often identified in the field as fiberglass) is praised for its cost-effectiveness compared to other materials used for these types of structures.
“Stormwater stations, especially like this one with a viaduct, have a lot of road salt, which is pretty aggressive,” said Keith Girup, municipal sales representative at Metropolitan. “That was a key part of why we went with the fiber reinforced polymer; because it could withstand the corrosive contaminants that would be in rainwater, including gasoline, diesel, road salt, etc.”
“Piping and accessories inside the station are stainless steel,” added Girup. “There was careful consideration when selecting the proper pump cables so they could withstand whichever chemicals they might be subjected to. We have to think about what we are going to be pumping. There’s always three to four feet at the bottom of the wet well, so you have your pumps, your base elbows, and your piping sitting in whatever this water quality is for an extended period of time until another rain event occurs.”
With the choice of fiber reinforced polymer, the lift station was assembled at Metropolitan’s Romeoville, Ill. facility, where prefabrications are completed in-house. Girup emphasized that the prefabrication approach for lift stations ends up being much more efficient, both in terms of time and costs, for the end user.
“With prefab, it’s a one-day shot,” said Girup. “There is no contractor building it in the field for several weeks, at which it’s definitely going to rain at some point. So, they have to put contingency costs for bypass pumping and dewatering. All of those contingency costs and efforts are eliminated with prefab.”
Grimmer Construction Company of Highland, Indiana was on-site to install equipment. With less to do in the field, the less chance there are for delays and rising costs according to Girup. “Excavation, installation, powering, and backfilling are all completed rapidly. Get in, get out, and be done with reduced circumstances and time span playing out.”
“And the quality, you know what you’re getting up front,” said Girup in reference to the lift station being built at Metropolitan. “Built in a controlled environment, not in the field. It’s all been tested prior to delivery. There are no surprises afterward.”
From Our Roof to the Job Site and Beyond
In the end, the triplex, variable speed, submersible stormwater pump system equipment provided by Metropolitan included:
- Prefabricated fiber reinforced polymer wet well structure measuring 12’ diameter x 39’ deep with all internal stainless steel piping and pump removal components, including hatches with safety grates, installed before delivery.
- 12″ submersible pumps capable of approximate 10,000 GPM with all three pumps operating simultaneously when needed
at full speed.
- Prefabricated control building measuring 8’ wide x 12’ long x 8’ inside height house all power distribution and control equipment including ultra-low harmonic variable frequency drives.
- 150 kW natural gas fueled standby power generator with sound attenuated enclosure.
Aligning with the other existing potable and stormwater pump stations within the town, the addition of Metropolitan’s LMS II controller was an obvious choice for the newly installed lift station. Integrated with the LMS II was MetroCloud, our cloud-based SCADA monitoring platform, providing access to system operations and alarm notifications from users’ mobile devices while also seamlessly generating the necessary reports needed for governing agencies.
The lift station start-up was completed in late 2020, with Metropolitan service technicians on-site to verify that all Metropolitan provided equipment was indeed functioning properly. All personnel were trained on the systems, and everybody was satisfied with system operations. From project conceptualization through installation, Metropolitan was involved in every step of the way.
The new underpass solves the current gridlock problems and creates the opportunity for new economic development because of the better traffic flow.
We look forward to the continued growth that is poised to occur throughout Northwest Indiana, especially as new transportation infrastructure opportunities develop. And if another unique water collecting challenge arises for any of those infrastructure opportunities, Metropolitan will be on call to take the incoming call.