What happens when a single customer brings us a job that will require us to increase production by more than a third over the previous year?
The 15-member team at Prairie Material's aggregates yard in Pontiac, Illinois can tell you how exactly how they met this challenge — delivering more than 175,000 tons of material as a supplier for the Illinois High-Speed Rail Project in 2015.
Halverson Construction of Springfield, Illinois, chose the Pontiac yard to provide 177,000 tons of aggregates for construction of new sidings that will allow Amtrak passenger trains to move past freight trains at speeds up to 110 mph. Delivering the goods meant retooling the yard's workflow and schedule, says Pontiac Plant Manager, Chris Basham.
"We started out in April with no stockpiles on the ground, which meant making a very fast start," he says. "Everyone worked 12-hour shifts five days a week, plus eight hours every Saturday to meet the demand." The team ran a Caterpillar D10 bulldozer 24 hours a day for the first four months, and two new employees were added to the workforce.
"We couldn't have achieved what we did this year without the experienced crew we have," Basham says. "The teamwork here is amazing. And by keeping our focus on safety, we had zero lost-time incidents again this year."
Track construction is just one aspect of the massive, multi-year rail project. This year and next, Prairie's ready-mix operations in Central Illinois will supply more than 15,000 cubic yards for contractors working on barrier walls, fencing and crossings, says John Drew, operations and sales manager in Bloomington-Normal.
When the new rail corridor opens for high-speed travel in 2017, passengers will enjoy a 4 ½-hour trip between Chicago and St. Louis, Missouri – a welcome alternative for those tired of urban traffic snarls and airport delays. Prairie Material is proud to be part of this $1.9-billion project, which advocates say will transform the way people travel in the Midwest states.