Tag civil engineering innovation

Slope Collapse Triggers Emergency Road Design


When unprecedented rainfall hit the upstate this summer, a slope failure at 51- year old upstate college nearly closed their Perimeter Road for the fall semester necessitating emergency road design.  SW+ was contacted by long-time client, Tri-County Technical College, to assess the slope failure and provide recommendations. Classes were scheduled to begin at the popular technical college in less than a month,  so developing a quick plan to provide a bypass road was critical.

Emergency Road DesignServices Necessary Due to Slope Failure

Slope failure along the entrance road caused by excessive summer rain.

SW+ reached out to Collins Hammett Construction to provide construction services for the emergency road design solution. Working together, SW+ and Collins Hammett were able to get the clearing and grading of the alternate road started within two days of completing the damage assessment.  In just three weeks, Collins Hammett and SW+ had successfully designed and constructed a bypass road around the failing slope on the college’s Pendleton Campus.  When classes began for the fall semester, this very important bypass road was vital to the traffic at the college.

SeamonWhiteside’s Greenville office is now developing construction drawings to remediate the slope failure and provide permanent stabilization to the affected area.

Tri-County Technical College has been providing secondary education since 1962. The college serves Anderson, Pickens, and Oconee counties in the upstate of South Carolina.

An Engineer's Perspective



The New Mount Pleasant Academy Elementary School is Open for Business!


For me, the greatest reward of working in the construction industry is to see a completed project appreciated by those who use it every day.  Recently, the design team for the new Mount Pleasant Academy, headed up by local architects (SMHa), received a letter from a student expressing her excitement about the prospect of attending the new facility this school year. After three years of the ups and downs that go along with bringing any project of this magnitude to fruition, this simple letter thanking us made it worthwhile.

In many respects, I understand this student’s enthusiasm for the new facility.  The site design for MPA has been one of the most thought-provoking projects I have worked on since my start at SW+A and as cliché as it sounds, I do enjoy a challenge!  Due to the constraints of the shape of the existing property, the proximity of the adjacent residential area, the Town of Mount Pleasant’s baseball fields, and approximately 8’ of fill that was required to meet flood zone elevations, we needed to come up with some creative grading solutions…especially for here in the Lowcountry. In the end, two major design elements were chosen to tie the new school back into the existing lay of the land.

The first design element is the hill that overlooks the Town’s baseball fields.  The area not only adds a sense of connectivity and flow between the two properties, but also provides additional seating for the parents watching athletic games.  It has also been noted that this area may bring endless entertainment for any kid with a cardboard box.  The second element is the use of the stepped retaining walls to create the amphitheater at the rear of the school.  The walls were designed with kid friendly heights in mind and a stage at the base so the area may be utilized as an outdoor classroom.  Although, with unobstructed views to the marsh and out to the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse, it may be hard to keep the students’ attention!

The amphitheater and the hill to the playing fields are just two of the many aspects of MPA that make it unique.  It is my hope that they will be used and appreciated for many years to come.

Innovative Stormwater Solution Helps Maximize Useable Land


pervious paver installation

pervious paver installation

Today’s stormwater regulations often create a dilemma for smaller projects. Sites between 0.5 – 2 acres have trouble maximizing buildable area with standard stormwater practices.   Once vehicular and pedestrian access, required parking, buffers, setbacks, grand trees, and retention ponds are taken into account many projects are only left with around 25% of the site for vertical construction.   This can render projects economically unfeasible with current land values.   How can developers meet or exceed their bottom line in these situations?  Here is an example where innovative stormwater infrastructure substantially increased usable area for vertical construction.

Brickyard Business Park is a 0.7 acre commercial project being developed by S.L. Shaw and Associates.   In the initial planning stages we studied the projects stormwater options and found that an infiltration system would increase the usable area for vertical construction from 0.25 acres to 0.35 acres which meant significantly more square footage for build-out.   We were able to meet stormwater requirements without a retention pond by utilizing the permeability of existing soils with a pervious paver system in vehicular areas.

Once the project was bid, we compared the costs for the pervious paver system versus the standard asphalt system and determined that the more innovative pervious paver stormwater management solution was 2.5 times more expensive; however, this only accounted for a $50,000 increase in construction cost.  The client decided to go with the new technology, which  not only enhanced the sustainable design aspect of the project but increased the amount of space available for sale by 40%.

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