Last year, State Highway 288 began undergoing an $815 million expansion project to add toll lanes to the South Freeway in Houston.
The goal is provide traffic relief for the thousands of drivers who take the freeway from Brazoria County and southern Harris County into downtown Houston. The booming population and massive new residential developments in the area have intensified the freeway backups.
Almeda-Genoa Constructors is a joint venture of three contractors working on the project. The headquarters for the venture is a series of large construction trailers that are not connected to the electric power grid. When the project began in November 2016, local Cat® dealer Energy Rental Solutions (ERS) provided the power, connecting rental generator sets to power three contiguous trailer compounds.
“Cat dealer ERS had one of their guys come in here and run all the wiring—it was pretty much plug and play,” said Junior Medrano, an equipment foreman with Almeda-Genoa Constructors. “We just made the phone call, and they took care of everything else.”
The trailer compound is critical to the timely execution of the massive highway project, says Rene Sanchez, an assistant equipment manager on the project who works for Pulice Construction—one of the three contractors in the joint venture,.
“Each particular trailer has their own laboratories, and they have computers and printers, so power plays an integral role in making sure the entire network of this project is up and running full-time,” Sanchez says.
When Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area with high winds and relentless rain, the construction compound was prepared. While many parts of Houston were without power, the construction compound never went down.
“We never lost power,” Medrano said. “We had some fuel reserves and we kept the generators running throughout the whole ordeal of the hurricane. The Cat generators held up, they did their job. Caterpillar has a good background of providing rental power, especially with the Cat C7 engine. I’ve worked them before and it’s a great engine.”
A concrete batch plant in a separate location from the trailer compound is also critical to the continued operation of the State Highway 288 expansion, as it supplies concrete for columns, caps, and bridges.
“The batch plant is very important to this project because day in and day out we have concrete being delivered constantly to the jobsite,” Sanchez said. “During and after the hurricane, that plant did not go down thanks to the support of the generators. We did not lose any downtime due to the hurricane because the generators were up and running full-time. “
Almeda-Genoa Constructors counts on the support of Cat dealer ERS to keep the power on at all times.
“Not only did they come in here and show us how to run the generators, but they have performed great,” Sanchez said. “We’ve had very minimum downtime, and the only time that they’re down is when they are doing preventive maintenance or if they need fuel. Anytime we have a problem or a question, within 30 minutes ERS is on site to help us out.”
As a construction industry veteran, Medrano knows who to call when he needs power.
“In Texas, Caterpillar is number one,” Medrano says. “And it’s proven itself, as we continue to use Cat power to keep this project on track. We have a certain timeframe that we’ve agreed to, and Caterpillar ERS has always been on par with that—they’ve never let us down. Anytime we call them, they’re quick to respond.”