Submitted By: Burns & McDonnell
Owner: Duquesne Light Co.
Lead Designer | General Contractor: Burns & McDonnell
Architect: Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff & Goettel
Subcontractors: Mascaro Construction Co. LP; J.W. Didado Electric LLC; USi; Siemens Energy
This $58-million project to build a 138-kV gas-insulated substation challenged the team to work with a site footprint and schedule that were both tight. But members pulled off completion on time, on budget and safely—even with more than 40 subcontractors on a ½-acre site between two universities. The effort involved a mandated common start time, required daily coordination meetings, safety walkthroughs during peak work times and equipment sharing among subs to eliminate duplicates on site.
The scheduling requirements, under which multiple scopes of work had to be completed concurrently, were complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the team avoided any shutdowns with health safety plans in place.
It was also important to minimize disruption to the busy neighborhood, says Tim Faber, vice president of Burns & McDonnell’s transmission and distribution group. The pre-cast concrete building that houses the gas-insulated switchgear was designed with input from locals to resemble nearby university facilities. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better looking substation than this one,” he points out.
The owner also wanted the contractors to be as accommodating as possible, according to Faber. Their efforts included communication on everything that would happen to nearby residents, and even shutting down construction for one-half day to accommodate a funeral procession passing through the neighborhood.
“We’re meeting an infrastructure need, but we’re also developing a great rapport within the neighborhood,” Faber says, also crediting efforts by Duquesne Light.