Slide Rail System Provides Shoring For Locks

The Sault Locks, in Sault Ste. Marie, MI, provide passage for an average of 10,000 ships each year, only shutting down during the winter months due to weather conditions. To help break up the ice that builds up on and in the locks, a set of air compressors are used to bubble up the water to break the ice. However, the existing air compressors needed to be upgraded.

Enter Brix Corporation, general contractors and construction managers based in Livonia, MI, the winner of the more than $12 million dollar project to build and house the new Sault Locks Air Distribution System. The system consisted of three 800-horsepower air compressors capable of producing 6,500 cubic feet per minute of air velocity to create bubbles that break up accumulated ice in the locks.

Building the new air distribution system would require excavating 22-feet deep. Bacco Construction Co., based out of Iron Mountain, MI, called Pro-Tec Equipment looking for a practical shoring solution.

“When Bruce Nygrad [project estimator] from Bacco called, we set up an initial layout and design,” recalls Josh Brown, Pro-Tec Equipment’s inside sales and Slide Rail Shoring specialist. “Through multiple conversations and design revisions, a final layout of the project was agreed upon. It was decided that Bacco would rent the Pro-Tec Equipment Slide Rail System, installing it in two distinct phases.”

Using the Pro-Tec Equipment Utility Panel Guide, phase one would be a combination of two pits – a large cross brace pit, measuring 22-feet deep by 38.5-feet wide by 44.5-feet long and a multiple bay pit measuring 22-feet deep by 20-feet wide by 24-feet long. Phase two would be a small pit, 22-inches deep by 20-feet wide by 15-feet long.

The right system
The Pro-Tec Equipment Slide Rail System is a dig and push style system. With its modular, flexible design the system can comply with a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Installed from the top down and removed from the bottom up, it minimizes the size of excavations, soil disturbances, restoration time and cost. The installation is done with low vibration, providing soil support for excavations, adjacent structures and existing utilities.

A cross brace system is a Slide Rail System that consists of multiple bays of panels going across and downward. The space between is spanned by using multiple roller beam assemblies that cross over and under each other in the pit.

The Utility Panel Guide System allows existing utilities and structures to remain in place, while providing a safe and secure working environment for workers within the excavation.

The problem
After hauling and barging over 393,000 pounds of equipment to the job-site, the Bacco crew began the pilot cut for the Slide Rail System with a Cat 345 excavator. That is when a problem occurred.

According to Matt Carpenter, Bacco project foreman, the site plans showed an existing electrical cable at the dig entry, but instead they encountered a concrete duct bank housing several, large electrical lines. This would change plans for installing the slide rail system and how they would support the duct bank that spanned the entire width of the planned excavation.

Carpenter called Pro-Tec Equipment to discuss their options. “We confirmed our plans of using a large I-beam to support the duct bank the entire width of the system and how to maneuver and install slide rail panels above and below the duct bank with the engineer. Once we got the ‘OK’, we got the equipment loaded and sent up to the job-site the next day,” he added.

With all the major problems resolved, the Slide Rail System was installed. As with many of Pro-Tec Equipment’s Slide Rail projects, a Slide Rail site consultant is sent to the project to aid crews with installing and removing the Slide Rail System in the fastest and safest possible way. For the Sault Locks project, the site consultant was Carl Leonard.

For More Information
Pro-Tec Equipment: (800) 292-1225,

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