Pensacola’s new port of call
A trio of Bobcat machines and attachments helps transform an eyesore into a new landmark.
Victor Wallace, vice president of Wallace Company, combined the unique features of three Bobcat machines to complete the new community park for the City of Pensacola.
At the water’s edge of one of the oldest settlements in the United States, Pensacola Bay, Fla., has welcomed visitors to its port by sea for more than five centuries. After construction of a sprawling waterfront development, the city is now drawing visitors by land, and Bobcat® equipment helped pave the way with an extensive streetscape remodel.
Muscle for stunning streetscape
Wallace Company’s Bobcat E42 compact excavator and T870, compact track loader along with an MT55 mini track loader, formed a powerful compact welcome committee to beautify a road-narrowing project and build impressive pedestrian paver plazas to greet visitors at the new Vince Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park.
The seaside destination became a reality when the City of Pensacola purchased and remediated the bay area’s formerly polluted industrial fuel storage site. That transformation laid the groundwork for a spectacular 27.5-acre mixed-use development featuring a 5,000-plus-seat multi-use stadium that is also home to the Blue Wahoos, Pensacola's new minor league baseball team — Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Other anchors include a conference/education center, retail space and a large public park and amphitheater overlooking the ocean.
Bordered on the north by historic Main Street, the four-lane roadway that once whisked drivers past a weed-infested field, underwent its own facelift. Architects redesigned a five-block stretch of the thoroughfare to create a lush two-lane boulevard with a spacious green median and 10-foot wide sidewalks serving as a gateway into the park. After years of dreaming, debating and planning, only a 75-day window remained before the Blue Wahoos' ceremonial first pitch of its inaugural season opener.
A Bobcat mini track loader with 36-inch auger attachment dug holes for the new trees.
Digging on deadlineThe scope of the project for Wallace Company included landscaping with trees, shrubs and bushes, installing a drip irrigation system, burying electrical conduit for street lighting and hardscaping three entryway plazas. Assessing the challenging timeframe, Wallace Company Vice President, Victor Wallace, reassured himself he had the right equipment to meet the deadline.
The Bobcat E42 dug a series of 36-inch deep trenches to bury multiple utilities and plant vegetation. Using a slim bucket, the operator could carefully maneuver around shallow fiber-optic trunk lines that feed downtown. The narrow bucket also minimized spoil handling. "With that bucket size, we saved time by not having to move so much dirt," Wallace says.
Wallace’s crew excavated for maximum efficiency, not only to meet the aggressive deadline, but to accommodate hectic traffic and other crews in the confined worksite. The first installation was a series of interlocking panels that formed a vertical root barrier system. Upon its completion, the E42 set a 2-inch electrical conduit in place to house power for new streetlights. It returned fill dirt to Wallace’s specified elevation and installed an extensive drip irrigation system. “We made the most of each hole we dug," Wallace says.
Greening the streetscape plan was the planting of 120 oak trees spaced 25 feet apart in the median and the right-of-way trenches. Like a skipper calling up his closing pitcher, Wallace brought in a Bobcat mini track loader equipped with a 36-inch auger attachment. The auger re-entered the trenches, shaping holes for the 48-inch root balls. Wallace assigned the E42 to work in tandem with the MT55’s auger due to the roadway's challenging subsoil conditions. While the road contractor removed several layers of asphalt — at times 18 inches thick — the heavy-duty Bobcat auger tackled the existing base rock and unearthed some unexpected building supplies.
Wallace’s E42 compact excavator dug trenches for new utilities.
"We used the MT55 and the auger for the added cutting power through old ship ballasts that date all the way back to Pensacola’s port days when ballasts were taken out of the ships and used to build out the coastline," Wallace says.
People-pleasing plazasThe T870 compact track loader stepped up to the plate to haul more than 80,000 brick pavers for the construction of eight separate walking plazas. Flanking each entryway street corner, the high-profile plazas totaled 22,000 square feet, and were topped off with seating walls and raised paver planters. Engineered with a rated operating capacity of more than 3,500 pounds and wide tracks that increase flotation under demanding loads, Wallace says the T870 easily transported base rock and pallets of decorative brick through the congested worksite — a distance of six city blocks roundtrip for each load.
“With the strength of the T870, we could move two pallets of pavers at a time instead of the older, smaller machines that could only pick up one. Its speed and efficiency were key,” he says.
Compact victoriesBy the time the Blue Wahoos’ opening pitch crossed the plate, all of the hardscapes had been wrapped up for several days due to a dedicated work ethic and Wallace’s smart equipment choices. Adds Wallace: “Being compact, we were able to stay working the entire time alongside the road contractor and the paving crews.”
And the game? A capacity crowd of 5,038 fans saw their first Blue Wahoos’ homerun in history, resulting in an exciting 3 – 1 win!