Precast ideal choice to combat winter conditions, tight tolerances and a set schedule for a new behavioral health center project in Colorado.

When the Vail Health Foundation broke ground on its new, 50,000-square-foot inpatient behavioral health facility in Edwards, Colo., the plans were already in place for a precast concrete stormwater management system. That’s because the project engineer knew well in advance that there wasn’t room or time to build a cast-in-place structure onsite, and his firm was already familiar with Oldcastle Infrastructure’s StormCapture® system.

Designed to capture and treat stormwater runoff, StormCapture promotes environmental stewardship and mitigates the impact of urban development on water resources. Andrew Verratti, P.E., project engineer with Martin/Martin Consulting Engineers in Lakewood, Colo., said space on the site was limited by a railroad on one side, an interstate highway on another and “limited usable land” on a third side.

“We didn’t really have an opportunity to use traditional above-ground retention ponds. We needed some below-grade structures,” said Verratti, who also had to factor in elevation challenges, the need to discharge on property and some grading issues.

The stormwater structure also had to be HS-20 load rated so that fire trucks and heavy construction equipment could travel over it.

“It needed to be durable and able to withstand that extra loading,” Verratti said.

Martin/Martin had used Oldcastle’s StormCapture system successfully on other projects. An underground, modular, precast concrete storage system, StormCapture is used for stormwater infiltration, retention, detention and water quality treatment. The cost-effective solution is particularly good for sites where stormwater must be managed and controlled. Verratti said he also liked the ease of cleaning the system via manhole covers.

“We’ve run into issues with other types of structures,” Verratti said. “Those issues were solvable, of course, but for this application we found it was best for someone to be able to drive a pump truck up and vacuum or jet it out.”

Martin/Martin designed the structure to be “long and skinny” to accommodate good retention and routing of the flows. As a finishing touch, it added a customized bay on one unit. That bay serves as an outlet structure and incorporates a weir, water quality sensor and orifice place.

“It was pretty customizable,” Verratti said. “Oldcastle was pretty accommodating in helping us design this.”

A Critical Milestone

On track to open for business in the spring of 2025, the Vail Precourt Healing Center will provide adolescents and adults with access to quality inpatient behavioral health close to home. Previously, individuals in crisis had to travel two hours to either Grand Junction or Denver to access this type of care. The three-story building will offer 24-hour behavioral health care serving adults and adolescents in crisis (ages 12 and above), 28 total beds for short-term stays and treatment, and structured behavioral health services that prioritize crisis resolution, safety and stabilization.

“The Precourt Healing Center will be a critical milestone in continuing our mission to elevate health across our mountain communities and is crucial in our battle against the behavioral health crisis in the state and our valley,” Chris Lindley, EVBH executive director and Vail Health chief population health officer, said in a press release.

The general contractor on the project was Haselden Construction of Centennial, Colo., and Johnson Construction, Inc., of Rifle, Colo., handled the excavation and installation. For the project, OIdcastle Infrastructure manufactured 13 StormCapture modules, each of which was 4 feet high. It also made five link and grade slabs that make up the center of the system.

“This helped create a cost savings because we eliminated the need to do a full concrete module,” said Maddi Snyder, stormwater consultant at Oldcastle Infrastructure. “When we have systems that are larger than two rows — and this one had three rows — we’re able to use that link slab configuration.”

Snyder said Oldcastle got involved with the project in May 2022, when the general contractor was looking for an underground detention system to manage all of the stormwater runoff for the new facility. Working with Martin/Martin, the precaster’s design engineers developed a system that would meet the project’s storage volume requirements within a limited physical footprint.
The system is HS-20 traffic rated and uses native soils for backfill, thus eliminating the need for a specific aggregate to be brought in.

“Because we don’t rely on that backfill aggregate for storage, it helps reduce the installation costs,” Snyder said.

The system is also environmentally friendly in that it incorporates native soil versus introducing outside aggregates into the environment.

Managing the Challenges

Snyder says the project was fairly straightforward from the precaster’s perspective, although a few project delays meant the final installation was going to happen in the middle of the cold Colorado winter. Johnson Construction was called upon to handle the excavating and utility work for the underground detention system. Rob Bercher, vice president at Johnson Construction, said the limited site space and snow created some challenges at that point.

“The site was pretty tight. It took a little finagling to figure out and we had to size our crane appropriately to get the reach because we could only set the crane in one spot,” Bercher said. “Weather also plays a big role here in February; we were worried about stacking trucks up and not getting them set in a timely manner or having them stuck on the roads.”

Luck was on the project team’s side, and the whole system was installed within two days – 20 pieces on Day 1 and the remaining 17 the following day.

“We lucked out and had a couple of good days to work with,” Bercher said. “Once we got the pre-planning done, the pad set and the grading finishing, [the system] just kind of went together like big LEGOs.”

Tasha Haselden, project manager at Haselden Construction, said the stormwater system was a good fit for the site, logistics and weather conditions on this particular project.

“From a trucking, logistics and pre-planning perspective, it was somewhat challenging because doing work in the wintertime means roads can get shut down,” she said. “It just takes a lot of communication, coordination and pre-planning to ensure everything’s delivered and installed on time.”

The Perfect Fit

Haselden said the general contractor, installer and precaster all worked well together to ensure a successful project and fast installation time of just two days.

“That was a pretty big feat considering snow, weather and having to set the system in the winter,” she added.

Like Verratti, Haselden said precast was selected for its efficiency and ease of installation.

“It was more efficient than having to cast in place and pour that large of a vault onsite,” Haselden said.

“Logistically, in terms of mountain concrete availability, we have a high level of difficulty getting a lot of concrete quickly just because there’s a very limited supply,” she said. “Because of this, precast is always a good option.”

Snyder said Oldcastle received good feedback on the stormwater system from the project’s owners, who were pleased that StormCapture came with a 5-year structural warranty. Haselden says the general contractor was especially pleased with the speed at which the precast system was installed and ready to use.

“They were able to place 10 to 12 semis’ worth of precast pieces and vaults within a day and a half. So, from a speed standpoint, it was definitely a lot faster than we would typically see with a poured in place product,” Haselden said. “Once the prep work was done, everything fit together very well.”