Driving Economic Growth in South Carolina
Ridgeville, S.C.
Best Project

Owner: Berkeley County, S.C.
Lead Design/Program Management/Construction Management: Thomas & Hutton
General Contractor: Landmark Construction Co.
Civil Engineer: Thomas & Hutton
Structural Engineer: Stantec / Thomas & Hutton
Environmental: Red Bay Environmental / Amec Foster Wheeler
Electrical Contractor: DWG / Chatham Engineering

To make way for construction of Volvo’s first U.S. manufacturing plant, Berkeley County, S.C., needed a contractor to prepare a 1,200-acre site located in a 6,000-acre rural area. The county hired Thomas & Hutton as program manager for the project, which included nine miles of transportation improvements, 10 miles of regional water main infrastructure, a 750,000-gallon regional water storage tank, pump station, and 10-in. force main. The facility also required temporary construction facilities including a well system to meet fire protection requirements and a pump station for wastewater collection. 

While the manufacturing plant promised a sustained boost to the region’s economy with thousands of new jobs, turning those plans into reality would not be easy. The project’s magnitude and timeline required competing firms to come together and work as a team. And because Berkeley County is among the country’s fastest-growing regions, professional and construction resources were stretched. As such, the bid competition had to yield fair results that also ensured delivery of a quality product.

Putting an innovative twist on conventional bid-build practices, Thomas & Hutton formed teams of engineers and subconsultants to tackle various aspects of the project, including environmental permitting and design of roadway, temporary and regional water and wastewater systems and a future interchange at I-26. As individual projects were completed and permitted, they were bid to meet local requirements. This allowed multiple local contractors with multiple bonding capabilities to bid the projects. Executing concurrent construction efforts on multiple fronts also helped the project team keep pace with Volvo’s timeline for plant commissioning and start-up.

The calendar wasn’t the only adversary, however. Multiple historic weather events plagued the project, including Tropical Storm Joaquin in 2015, which dropped 30 in. of rain over four days. The team also had to contend with Tropical Storm Hermine, Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma. In each case, construction teams worked diligently to safeguard sitework and preserve existing stormwater models. This approach allowed for graded and built areas to remain operational while soil cement aided in stabilizing sections yet to be graded, allowing work to continue as soon as conditions allowed.

The new Volvo campus was completed on schedule in October 2017 with an actual construction cost of $118 million—about $20 million below original projections.