What's Happening in Las Vegas? Project Roundup

Raiders Stadium Image Credit: Cashman Professional Photography
Image Credit: Cashman Professional Photography

Las Vegas is a one-of-a-kind city set in the Southwestern desert and surrounded by open land. A new stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders will fill up some of that space, as will Amazon’s Tropical Distribution Center. The city of glitz, with abundant hotels and entertainment, is also getting a new water-pumping station to deal with the perpetual need for a reliable water supply for its growing population. ECs are involved in each of these projects.

Las Vegas Raiders Stadium—Morse Electric

Get ready for 2020. The Raiders are coming to Vegas.

“It’s a pretty exciting project for the Las Vegas community and its future growth and expandability as well as being a great draw for the hospitality industry,” said Lou Rotello, president, The Morse Group (Morse Electric), Las Vegas.

 Construction began in September 2017 on Las Vegas Stadium, future home of the NFL’s Raiders and the Rebels, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas football team. The project is on track to be completed in August 2020 with a construction budget of $1.33 billion and an additional $31 million slotted for utilities and infrastructure.

The stadium will have a translucent roof with large operable doors facing the Strip. Image Credit: Cashman Professional Photography
The stadium will have a translucent roof with large operable doors facing the Strip. Image Credit: Cashman Professional Photography

The Raiders’ new home promises to be stunning. The 10-level, domed, air-conditioned stadium will have a translucent ETFE roof with large, retractable, curtain-like windows designed to reveal a view of the Strip in the distance. When the stadium is completed, an 80-foot eternal torch for Al Davis—principal owner and general manager of the Oakland Raiders from 1972 until his death in 2011—will be in the north end zone and visible inside the stadium from the freeway and the Strip.

With a $1.9 billion budget for the 65,000-seat, 1.7-million-square-foot facility, the companies, currently working with a crew of 150-plus midway through the project, expect that number to increase significantly as the project progresses and they complete work for all electrical systems, including site facilities, power distribution, lighting, controls, HVAC systems, fire alarm, fiber backbone, broadcast, audiovisual systems, security and access controls within the facility, and more.

“Gephart Electric of St. Paul, Minn., had been a part of the construction of the Minnesota Vikings Stadium in Minneapolis, so we brought our vast experience together as a joint-venture for this project,” Rotello said.

Morse-Gephart aligned their companies with the general contractors who had also formed a joint venture: M. A. Mortenson Co. of Minneapolis, a company with prior experience in sports construction, and McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. of Las Vegas.

“It simplified the approach of a mega project under a tight schedule,” Rotello said. “Mortenson-McCarthy is the design-builder, and Morse-Gephart is a design-assist partner for their scope of the design-build.”

 “Architecturally, it’s not a typical project that is designed and engineered with available construction documents before it is under construction,” Rotello said. “In doing the design-assist, our team helped with looking at ways to economize, save and streamline, for example, re-evaluating systems as they were designed with cost-saving substitutions, prefabrication of components, integration of switchgear, and economizing the normal and emergency distribution systems.

 “Everything was coordinated between the mechanical/electrical/plumbing trades through the use of BIM and Revit, an ongoing process with folks working on-site and off-site in other offices that were collaborative with the team of Mortensen-McCarthy. Plan-of-the-day meetings, a method of coordinating construction tasks, took place daily, with all superintendents going over the tasks and issues of the day as well as concurrent pull-planning sessions for the construction side, as well as ones for the commissioning phase,” he said.

“It’s gonna be awesome sitting in the stadium and having the doors open to a view of the Strip, bringing the NFL to Vegas and Vegas to the NFL!” Rotello said.

Employee picking at FC Amazon Robotics. Image Credit: Amazon
Employee picking at FC Amazon Robotics. Image Credit: Amazon

Amazon Tropical Distribution Center—Mojave Electric

Have you ever bought something from online retailer Amazon? Amazon ships those items from multiple distribution centers located throughout the country.

Mojave Electric of Las Vegas worked closely with general contractor Layton Construction of Salt Lake City and the Amazon design team, using 85 electricians over a 10-month schedule, to build Amazon’s third distribution center in the Las Vegas area. Constructed in North Las Vegas on a 73-acre site, the four-floor facility sits on an 850,000-square-foot slab, supporting approximately 2.25 million square feet of floor space that will be staffed by up to 1,300 full-time employees and approximately 1,000 Wi-Fi-controlled robots.

“The biggest challenge was the very aggressive schedule, to construct over 2 million square feet of build-out in 10 months,” said Rod Markland, senior project manager for Mojave Electric. “When you compress this kind of a job into that time frame, you have to stack trades. There was a lot of congestion with multiple trades under different supervision working in the same area at the same time trying to accomplish a lot of work. We initiated a swing shift for a period to alleviate the pressure, and we did ultimately move into working a lot of overtime to meet the schedule.”

Electricians installed 400 miles of wire in the facility, along with 9,680 lighting fixtures, and worked with mechanical crews installing air handling and duct work, and plumbing crews installing pipe to move water throughout the building. The electrical service in the facility is provided by four 3,000-ampere distribution panels with emergency power provided by one uninterruptible power supply and two 400-kilowatt generators. The facility also includes 177 subdistribution and branch-circuit panelboards.

 “It was like a puzzle,” Markland said. “To make everything fit was a bit challenging because of the clear space required from the floor to just inches below the structure. We had to be clear for the material­-handling equipment path, and, in some areas, all we had was 6 inches to get our work in place around the other utilities.”

“One unusual aspect of the project was that, once the floor was populated with robots, it was pretty surreal because they seemed to be autonomous pieces of equipment with a mind of their own,” Markland said. “We could be watching 10-15 of them moving all at once, yet they never crossed into each other. At any given time, hundreds of them were working at the same time on four different floors.”

Another unusual aspect of the project related to the timing.

The Mojave crew started construction of the North Las Vegas distribution center while an identical project was being completed in Salt Lake City.
“As the Salt Lake City project identified issues, they made changes to our design to avoid the same issues at the new facility,” Markland said. “We had to make changes in the middle of construction and, hopefully, before we had it bolted to the floor. If not, we unbolted and redid it.”

Since it was its own individual project, safety was a bit challenging due to the time lines of the schedule.

A safety plan was implemented and continuously evaluated as the job progressed,” said David Warnock, safety supervisor, Mojave Electric. “However, the main importance was to develop a safety culture to make the connections between all the trades. A program called ‘the Safety Circle’ allowed all employees to share or contribute their concerns with the general contractor and, in turn, allowed upper management to address or eliminate concerns throughout the project.

Before work started, the foreman wrote up and presented the daily plans to all employees and “called for all of them to sign off on the plans, thus preparing all trades for the tasks at hand for the day,” he said.

If you live in the area, your next Amazon purchase could be shipped from there.

The Lake Mead Intake No. 3 pump pad houses all the pumps that transfer water from the forebay into the facility. The gantry crane, which trolleys up and down and side to side on the pump pad, was used to install the pumps and for maintenance. Image Credit: Bombard Electric
The Lake Mead Intake No. 3 pump pad houses all the pumps that transfer water from the forebay into the facility. The gantry crane, which trolleys up and down and side to side on the pump pad, was used to install the pumps and for maintenance. Image Credit: Bombard Electric

Lake Mead Pump Station—Bombard Electric

Las Vegas draws 90% of its water from Rocky Mountain snowpack runoff, which flows into the Colorado River and Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam. Drought conditions in the area have persisted for almost 10 years, and Lake Mead’s elevation has fallen by more than 130 feet. Efforts to conserve water in the area are continuing—so far, a 30% decrease in water use has already occurred. However, a predicted further decline of levels in Lake Mead could result in a situation in which the city will no longer be able to draw water from the lake using the two existing intake pump levels.

For that reason, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) prompted construction of Intake No. 3, at a lower depth, which began conveying water to the SNWA’s water treatment facilities in September 2015. As a companion to it, the SNWA is constructing a low-level pumping station 500 feet away from that intake.

“The pumping station combined with Intake No. 3 will provide access to the water supply even if the lake levels lower due to continued drought conditions,” said Aundra Williams, project manager, Bombard Electric, Las Vegas. Bombard worked with general contractor Barnard Construction, Bozeman, Mont. “The purpose of this project is to get out into the deepest portion of the lake so that, when those low lift [water] conditions become a reality, we will have a lot more capacity to pump water. But for the whole project to work, you have to provide power to those pumps. The electrical equipment is at the heart of this project. Without it, nothing runs.”

The pumps are installed approximately 250 feet below ground, and they pump water above grade to two treatment facilities. One is capable of pumping 600 million gallons per day. Another that will direct water to a different treatment facility is capable of pumping 300 million gallons per day for a total of 900 million gallons per day to provide water for Las Vegas.

Bombard Electric Project Foreman Adam Baldonado stands in the electrical maintenance building among the medium-voltage switchgear that is the heart of the project. Image Credit: Bombard Electric
Bombard Electric Project Foreman Adam Baldonado stands in the electrical maintenance building among the medium-voltage switchgear that is the heart of the project. Image Credit: Bombard Electric

As part of the project, a 500-foot-plus shaft is being drilled, and the large submersible pumps equipped with mechanical and electrical systems designed to power the equipment now sit on an underground floor bank. The water will be pumped to the SNWA’s water treatment facilities from the forebay (an artificial pool of water in front of a larger body of water).

Using a crew of 15 to 20, Bombard was required to work around the huge mechanical piping, while ensuring the electrical does not interfere with any of those components and to create good pathways to the pump loaders.

 “Our biggest challenge was the coordination of all the trades: mechanical, plumbing, carpenters and masons. While the paths of the different trades are planned in BIM, the geography of the area sometimes interfered with the plans. When you get out there, everyone has their own path, and it might work on paper but not in real life,” said Adam Baldonado, Bombard Electric project foreman.

“Down 300 feet, the machinery might get off track a few inches because drilling in hard rock can cause a shift. We had to verify every step of the way and double check. We met with parties involved, and everyone had a different idea of how to correct the shift, which sometimes called for a meeting of all the trades. Everyone has their own path, and we have to make sure everyone’s in the right location so no one runs into each other.”

ECs help to grow cities and supply needs through their projects, even if they are as different as a stadium, supply center and water pump station.

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