In the News

Posted on December 20, 2023

This article was originally published by Jodi Schwan of SiouxFalls.Business

Call it a jump-start on spring.

This year’s unseasonably warm, mostly dry weather is allowing divisions of Journey Group to get ahead on work they usually wouldn’t have been able to do this time of year.

“We’ve had great weather, which has been very beneficial for us,” said Jared Gusso, who leads SFC Civil Constructors. “This is really rare. Usually, if we can get to Thanksgiving, that’s a great year, and here we are almost to Christmas, and we’re looking at 40 and even 50 degrees, which is insane.”

The benefits of the warm weather are multifaceted and easily seen in the Sixth Street bridge project in downtown Sioux Falls, where both SFC Civil and Journey’s Black-Top Paving teams have been able to get ahead on work.

“Honestly, it’s been great. We can’t complain,” said Ryan Kerkvliet, who leads Black-Top Paving. “We can get more work done on the bridge, which is helpful because it’s a large project and a tight schedule. Things we were going to do next year, we’re doing now.”

The plan is to open the bridge around April 1, weather permitting, then close Sixth Street from Reid Street east to Weber Avenue, while maintaining access to Cherapa Place and LSS.

“It’s really helping us get that accomplished with all the roadwork we’ve been able to get done, so come April, we can put traffic on that side and get vehicles going on Sixth Street again,” Gusso said. “We’re still paving concrete, doing sidewalk, curb and gutter, and we’re accelerating some of the finishing work we have to do to the bridge itself.”

Black-Top Paving also was able to make additional progress on a major city road project: an overlay and ADA-related improvements on East 26th Street.

“We thought we might have to work on that some next year, but we made a few changes to phasing, the weather cooperated, and we got it all knocked out this year,” Kerkvliet said.

The team was able to work longer this year with asphalt, which is more temperature-specific, and concrete crews are still going.

“We can work through winter, but it’s more costly and takes more time,” Kerkvliet explained. “You have to put ground thaws out before you pour, and with the nice temperatures, we haven’t had to do as much blanketing.”

For SFC Civil Constructors, the nicer weather also is allowing easier work on projects such as one in Scotland in southeast South Dakota that involves box culverts.

“Typically, we’re working in winter clothes and boots, and you just don’t get as much done,” Gusso said. “So far this year, we’re not shoveling show and having to heat to place concrete and do construction. You put a sweatshirt on, and you’re working at a comfortable temperature.”

The teams appreciate it too, both leaders said.

“Usually by now, we’re fighting snow or have to wait until noon to start paving, and for many of our crew, cold temperatures can be hard because they come from warmer climates,” Kerkvliet said. “This year, they can work longer, support their families, and morale is good too.”

Looking ahead to next year, both teams expect to be busy.

“The market is looking good, and there are a lot of public projects out there,” Kerkvliet said. “We’re getting requests for bids, especially in public and commercial work. Residential might be quieter, but I think on the private side it’ll still be good. We’re optimistic.”

Gusso agreed.

“From our perspective, we’re looking really good for next year. We can still take on some work, but we have a fair amount to start right away in the spring. It’s enough to carry our employees through winter, keep them busy and then hit the ground running in April,” he said.

“We’ve got a good core group, and we’ll be able to keep getting them hours. We know it will change outdoors, but for now it’s easier on our equipment. It’s easier on the people and great for the projects. It’s a nice change. Last season was pretty tough!”

If your business is looking to get ahead on 2024 construction planning, reach out to Journey Group. Click here to get started.

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