Project Gator Spotlight

Steel Service recently topped out Project Gator in Calvert, Alabama. Setting the final truss on this 23,000-ton project marks an impressive milestone by the company that was a team effort. From the award of the project, through months of engineering, procurement and fabrication, to the start of deliveries on site, every department at Steel Service, including vendors, suppliers, and erectors contributed to make the project a success.

Project Gator Grows

Project Gator is a new melt shop being built in Calvert for AM/NS Calvert and will house the latest technology in steel making. Steel Service is not only contracted for both the fabrication and erection of the entire structure, but also the sheeting installation, touch-up painting, column grouting, and third-party inspection. However, it’s the size and scope of the project, something that’s not realized until you witness it in person, that has people talking.

Steel Service Site Project Manager, Lenny Joiner, said, “The first thing I would say, the thing that always jumps out to me when I walk outside, is just the enormous size of it. It’s impressive. I mean, it’s just a massive structure and the thing that really stands out are the crane girders.” The building required 144 crane girders, four of which were over 140 feet long and 131 tons each. Simply bringing them on site was truly a feat in itself.

Upon completion, the structure will be among the heaviest in Steel Service history, which stretches back more than half a century. Steel Service is no stranger to projects that push into the tens of thousands in terms of raw tonnage.

Challenges of the Build

A project of this magnitude does come with equally massive challenges. “I think the greatest challenge has been the scheduling,” says Mr. Joiner. The wide flange beam material was procured from the owner’s European mills, resulting in ocean freight and port logistics. In addition, AM/NS directed changes to the erection paths and directions to accommodate our other contractors, making for an ever-evolving erection scheme.

Working on a project near Mobile, Alabama, has presented unique safety issues as well. “Mobile’s reported to be one of the rainiest cities in the country. So, we have numerous weather issues—mainly lightning, if it’s detected within 10 miles. This requires us to shut down the project once lightning starts striking anywhere near. That becomes pretty frequent.” 

Of course, any kind of outdoor work during the summer months in the southeast can be dangerous, as Mr. Joiner explains. “You’re also talking about the Deep South, where the heat and humidity make for an extreme environment.” To combat the heat, Steel Service has modified work hours, with some crews working at night.
Completing a project safely is always a challenge, and at Steel Service safety is paramount, no matter the size of the project. When it comes to safety, Steel Service’s attention to detail is award-winning, in fact. Steel Service’s work on Project Gator will continue throughout the year and into 2024.

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Contact Steel Service to learn more about working with Mississippi’s safest AISC steel fabricator.