Whitepaper: 06.15.2015

A Place to Park

Parking Construction in High Traffic and Urban Environments

Texas cities and dense urban environments such as Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Houston have reached the tipping point for population mass versus available land area, creating an increased need for dense, vertical construction. With a demand for multilevel developments and a high cost of available property, a robust multilevel parking garage demand is yielding. While parking structures may not seem like the most complex construction project, they are an important aspect to many buildings and pose their own unique challenges. Working in dense, urban environments, contractors must be able to adapt to operating in busy, high-traffic areas to ensure there is little to no disruption of day-to-day activities, including the general flow of traffic, noise constraints, etc. Safety, minimal disruption and client/end-consumer focus should always be top of mind for your contractor involved in these projects.

Parking structures tend to be built quickly with little time for procurement of materials and long-lead items. As a result, long-lead items such as pre-cast concrete, elevators and steel should be an early focus. Scheduling must be communicated clearly, and team organization is required to ensure underground foundations, utilities, site logistics, finishes and critical construction milestones are flagged. Field staff must be aware of these critical milestones and understand the scheduling process to ensure work is being completed on time to meet client needs. This is best done by understanding critical work activities in detail and measuring production every day.

McCarthy is currently working on two parking projects in Texas that present the challenges of working in complex environments – the DFW International Airport Terminal E parking structure and the 325-room Hyatt Regency hotel located next to the Houston Galleria.

McCarthy and protégé, Tillage Construction LLC broke ground on the DFW parking structure in January 2015. The $92 million parking structure will be located at Passenger Terminal E and includes removal of existing roadways and new construction of bridges and utilities. The terminal redevelopment plan will expand the five-level garage to include more than 3,920 new parking spaces and will feature a unique parking guidance system (PGS) consisting of overhead lights, red lights over occupied spaces and green lights above vacant ones. As the third busiest airport in the United States, DFW Airport has quickly recognized the increased future demands that will be required of its parking structures due in part to population growth in the region and corporate headquarters relocations.

Customer focus is a top priority not only for McCarthy but also for DFW Airport as it looks to provide, improve and enhance its parking facilities to meet the growing needs of the DFW metroplex. To address these challenges, the McCarthy team is implementing our parking best practices and is focused on the critical work activities to anticipate potential challenges early on. Coordination with DFW Airport, passengers, visitors and third-party shuttle operations is integral in identifying the current flow of traffic and how this will impact the building process. Our team is proactively identifying the appropriate sequencing of contractors and scheduling needs in addition to transportation of materials and the staging areas used in the construction process.

McCarthy is also building Houston’s new 14-story Hyatt Regency totaling 260,000 square feet. The one-level parking garage will be constructed under the tower and connected to a renovated parking structure adjacent to the hotel. It will be located in a high-traffic area next to the Houston Galleria at the corner of Sage Road and West Alabama Street.

Due to the limited site space for material staging areas in addition to high traffic from the Galleria, McCarthy is drawing heavily on its experience with building in dense, urban environments to meet these challenges head-on while staying on schedule. For instance, McCarthy holds weekly meetings to keep subcontractors on top of access/egress changes within the area to minimize disruption to the normal flow of traffic in this busy area. With Houston’s frequent, heavy rainfall, McCarthy recognizes the importance of storm water pollution prevention plans (SWPPP) and tracking materials outside of the project site. These plans ensure Houston’s nearby sources of water and sewer systems do not pick up pollutants from storm water runoff or construction storage areas.

Tips for Parking Structure Success
To ensure safety and minimal disruption while working in high-traffic, densely populated areas and operating environments on a construction site, your contractor should consider the following:

  1. Understand the contract drawings and specifications prior to addressing an access/egress plan.
  2. Understand the needs of the working/traveling public in areas where construction staff needs to access/egress. This is not always clear in documents, and it is best done by visiting adjacent areas and speaking with public safety officials prior to construction.
  3. Make the police, fire departments and city inspectors part of your team early. Listen carefully to their concerns about the impact the work area has on the public’s safety. Contractor concerns should also be shared with these constituents early on so they clearly understand construction challenges and how it will impact their areas.
  4. Establish “field” champions to patrol the perimeter frequently to ensure “site” and “public” security and safety.
  5. Plan for heavy haul trucks for stone/dirt, tractors and other large equipment to enter and leave the jobsite. Everyone must understand the protocol for vehicles and for public safety and clean up. Flagmen, street sweepers and signage should always be utilized.
  6. Anticipate inconveniences such as weather delays and construction delays including large concrete pours that may make the construction site more congested or increase traffic.
  7. Communicate with you, the police and neighboring businesses as soon as possible to ensure all key stakeholder groups are informed and share your plans with them for minimizing disruption.

McCarthy specializes in the parking garage sector and excels at both cast-in-place and pre-cast vertical and underground structures. This niche sector has led McCarthy to multiple awards across the country ranging from individual business parking solutions in the $10 million range to larger institutional structures ranging from $100 to $200 million. No matter what the requirements are, McCarthy has a building solution customized for your business need.

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