Underground Specialists

PSA Construction

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PSA Construction Owner and President Paul Andrews moved from a small town in Newfoundland to Alberta in 1996. Just five years later, he would found this underground specialist only one mile north of the town of St Albert. PSA Construction has since become a growing source for water and sewer needs and more.
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Infrastructure is something that, when working as it ought to, is not noticed. Nevertheless, civilization could come to a grinding halt without such mundane things as roads, sewers, and storm drains.

The invisible forces behind infrastructure are the construction companies that install the utilities, dig the sewers, pave the roads and construct the buildings that make up our communities. And, in the Edmonton, Alberta area, one of these builders is PSA Construction.

Paul Andrews looks after the day-to-day operations of PSA Construction, from client relations to reviewing estimates and project management, and is backed by the company’s experienced people. The company gives benefits packages and competitive wages to all its employees whether they are part of a crew of experienced underground specialists, equipment operators, or office staff.

PSA Construction does its utmost to complete projects economically and on time while surpassing industry standards whenever it can. “We pride ourselves on our quality work and dedication to the safety of all employees and parties involved,” states the company, and safety practices are certainly a primary concern.

It is crucial for every employee to go home from work safely at the end of every day. PSA Construction’s commitment to safety is demonstrated through its membership in such organizations like the Urban Development Institute of Alberta (UDIA), the Edmonton Construction Association (ECA), and its Certificate of Recognition (COR) from the Construction Safety Association (ACSA) and Alberta Human Resources and Employment, Workplace Health and Safety.

The company is one of over four hundred corporate members of non-profit advocacy group UDIA, which represents the land development industry across Alberta. In collaboration with government and other stakeholders, UDIA works to create legislation that affects urban development while constructing communities and advocates for a business environment that encourages sustainability and competition.

The Edmonton Construction Association advocates for the industrial, commercial, and institutional construction industry in government and business. This is the largest non-profit construction association in Western Canada and provides its members with wide-ranging private and public tender information as well as networking, education and other opportunities.

Being COR certified is also often a requirement for bidding on projects, and the ACSA helps members devise and apply health and safety agendas, among other services.

The company serves as a prime contractor or subcontractor on projects ranging from $100,000 to $20 million industrial developments.

PSA Construction has performed utility servicing and upgrades, underground servicing, and water system installation work for many clients including the St. Albert Costco, City of St Albert, Sturgeon County Industrial Park, Qualico Group, Grand Prairie Regional Hospital, Graham Construction and the towns of Bonnyville, Vermillion, and Hinton.

One infrastructure project of note for PSA Construction was its work on the second phase of the east water main supply project as part of the Alberta Central East (ACE) Regional Waterline. ACE is owned by thirteen municipalities which have joined forces to bring potable water to the region. The $160 million project is being built in five stages and has been estimated to need a total of ten to fifteen years to complete.

Phase two connected the system to the communities of Vermilion, Innisfree, Mannville, Minburn, and Ranfurly. This phase involved eighty-four kilometres of water main with two truck filling stations, a water pressure relief valve (PRV) station, and upgrades to the pump station in the town of Vermillion.

Construction began in 2011, and over fifty-five percent of the project is now completed with two hundred kilometres of water main having been installed.

The company also worked on water systems for the Mistatim industrial area as part of the West Edmonton Sanitary Sewer (WESS). This project provided sewer service to the previously undeveloped western part of the city between 45 Avenue and St. Albert Trail. This portion of the project presented challenges as it contained unfortunate soil conditions for tunnelling. Also, the main trunk of the sewer did not pass through, meaning that sewage transportation and storage could not be combined. Because of these issues, this segment of the sanitary servicing project was completed using a series of forcemains, pump stations, and storage tanks.

The company was previously known as PA Bobcats, after the brand of compact, tough, versatile construction equipment, and began as one man and a machine performing excavation and groundwork. As the company has grown, so too has the scope of its work. It now also carries out culvert installation, water main installation and stormwater and sewer system installation including manholes. It also implements road rehabilitation, services water systems, and performs snow removal to prevent water system blockage.

As can be expected from the variety of work it now undertakes, the company has had to amass a huge fleet of heavy equipment, a tremendous change from its humble beginnings. Two of its recent purchases for the over fifty piece fleet are a tri-drive hydrovac and an auger boring machine (ABM).

A hydrovac uses the non-destructive process of hydro excavation in which pressurized water swiftly and safely liquefies soil surrounding underground structures, and a vacuum system removes the slurry. Being mounted to a rig with an extra axle (tri-drive) means that the truck is perfect for off-road applications in the mining, logging, and oil field transport sectors. Having a tri-drive truck allows more to be hauled, and these trucks do tend to carry heavier than normal loads.

Auger boring machines (ABM) bore horizontally through rock or soil with a cutting attachment, while the auger, much like a giant screw, pulls the debris from the hole. A starting pit is dug, and the ABM is set up on a length of track within it. As the machine advances, auger sections are added if needed. Pipe casing is fed in in sections as the auger proceeds. Auger boring machines are ideal for use when it is not desirable to disturb or open the surface of the ground and are employed when water or sewer pipe needs to cross under highways, runways, railroads or even creeks.

Moving from water and sewers to include roadwork has been a natural progression, and the next step in the diversification of PSA Construction has been its move into bridgework. It recently submitted a tender to replace a bridge on Pine Creek Road in Athabasca County.

The company hired a bridge expert who had worked with the county before and submitted a bid of $447,464.60 which was roughly $95,000 less than had been budgeted. Athabasca County’s Director of Infrastructure Brian Adamkewicz informed the county council that, in his opinion, PSA Construction would perform a “good job” on the bridge project. On December 1, 2016, the motion to accept the tender was approved by the council, and a new chapter in the company began.

Seeing Red

In 2018, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released several of the worst examples of so-called “Red Tape” that businesses and developers need to complete before getting projects off the ground. The list reads almost as a cautionary tale for anyone hoping to get a development, whether a condominium or a warehouse, completed quickly and on time.

December 14, 2019, 11:31 AM EST