Flintco LLC

Bledsoe County, Tenn., is home to one of the state’s largest ongoing construction projects. In 2004, the Tennessee Department of Correction announced plans for a new correctional facility to meet the demands of a growing population. Now that the project has begun, it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time for a hungry construction industry.

The project, which began May 2010, will continue to employ Tennessee contractors and subs until its November 2012 completion. When the construction firms clear the site, the prison expansion project will employ approximately 425 people needed to operate the new facility. Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick D. Schofield has said the facility “will bring jobs to the area and will enhance public safety for all Tennesseans.”

The project’s architectural firm, the DLR Group, echoes that sentiment. “We’re excited to be a part of a project that will be so beneficial to this community,” Group Principal Tim Gibson, AIA, states. “In a time when the economy is still recovering, we’re proud to have been selected to design a project that will generate new jobs in the area.” 

Flintco on the Job

The project comprises four medium-security housing units, one minimum-security housing unit, one maximum-security housing unit and 15 support and administrative buildings totaling 460,000 square feet on 33.65 acres of land. Flintco LLC in Memphis was contracted to manage the approximately $144 million project. 

The project is tracking well and as of late April was 45 percent complete, with several buildings erected or soon-to-be erected. However, before Flintco could even lay a footing on the ground, the company had to eliminate the rock surface. “We had to blast for the first 90 days,” Flintco Senior Project Manager Jonathan Smotherman says. “We have dealt with this in the past. The blasting was very difficult, but we had to get all the utilities in there. We would blast once a day around the same time. It was a controlled blasting, and we would get everybody onto the road and offsite to make sure everyone was safe.” 

With the blasting work now complete, Flintco is busy overseeing building construction. Five housing buildings have been erected and two others are slated for erection by July. Flintco began constructing the housing buildings August 2010, and the entire site will be turned over when the last building receives its finishing touches. 

The new facility is a quarter of a mile from the existing Southeastern Tennessee State Regional Correctional Facility, which houses approximately 900 inmates. It will remain in operation when the new expansion facility, which allows for 1,444 inmates, is complete, bringing the site’s total inmate capacity to more than 2,300. The new construction also has expansion potential for another 512 beds. The new inmate housing units will be two stories tall while the remaining buildings are each one story.

Green and Lean

The new construction also includes a geothermal heating system, which will serve the entire new expansion facility. The construction team drilled 580 bores more than 550 feet deep to install 16-inch-diameter pipes. The geothermal system will be completed around August 2011. “This is the largest geothermal system in the state and will serve the entire prison expansion project,” Smotherman says. “It’s also the largest geothermal system [this office] has ever done.”

Smotherman notes that sustainable features are a routine part of construction today. Though the Bledsoe project is not a LEED project, it does include a large sustainable feature, which is a Flintco forte. For its part, Flintco is doing what it can to address “concern regarding the availability of natural resources and living in a healthy environment.” As a member of the USGBC and the ABC Green Contractor Certification Program, Flintco has several LEED-accredited professionals throughout its nine Southern offices.

The company has completed several LEED buildings nationwide, such as the University of California’s LEED Gold Science and Engineering Building and a LEED-certified research complex for the University of Texas. Other buildings in its portfolio with significant green elements include Tulsa’s American Lung Association headquarters, which paid special attention to indoor quality.

In addition to going green, Smotherman says another priority for Flintco is the drive to become more efficient. “Going green is a big thing, and there’s been a big push for that,” Smotherman says. “However, another trend is that we’re also trying to be more lean. Lean building practices result in less waste, less cost, making it cheaper but better. We look for the most effective way to build things.”

Working Closely with Subs

Smotherman says coordination meetings help the company with its lean practices. The Bledsoe County team meets with subcontractors once a week and schedules other job-specific meetings as work progresses. The idea is to make sure everybody is on the same page before any work begins. Smotherman says the meticulous attention to detail has paid off on this project, and the team is operating smoothly.

“The subs are all doing well,” he says. “The state has hired Parsons Brinckerhoff as the contract administrator on the project, and things are going well with them. DLR is the architectural firm, and we’ve done a lot of work with those guys so we work well with them.” Key partners on the project include Mid-State Construction Inc. and E. Cornell Malone Corp.

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