Features

MJS’ Civil Engineering excellence recognised

22 Jun , 2022  

For their exceptional workmanship on the outstanding Kilbogget Park Flood Storage System project, MJS Civil Engineering have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Civil Engineering Under €10m category at the 2022 Irish Construction Excellence Awards. Building Ireland spoke to director Michael Storan about this wonderful, innovative project, delivered on behalf of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

MJS Civil Engineering has a recognised Reputation for completing complex Civil Engineering projects safely and on time. MJS Civil Engineering is an industry-leading contractor boasting over 35 years of experience. MJS is a family owned business to which each project is given personal attention. The company has accumulated a wealth of experience delivering a vast array of specialist drainage, water main, reservoir, coastal defence, flood defence, WWTP construction and public park / walkway projects across Ireland and the UK.

High-quality, bespoke civil engineering works – specifically tailored to each project – are invariably delivered and the vastly-experienced and –knowledgeable team at MJS have the capacity to problem-solve and construct to achieve outstanding solutions on even the most challenging structure. One such undertaking was the Kilbogget Park Flood Storage System (which effectively uses a busy public amenity park as a flood storage area), for which MJS Civil Engineering have been shortlisted for a prestigious Irish Construction Excellence (ICE) Award.

“This is the first time we’ve gone for an award like this and it’s nice to get the recognition after so many years in business,” comments Michael. “Looking at the other companies in contention for the award, we are in good company and are delighted to have been selected as one of the finalists. Our site team who worked on the project are also excited and invigorated by the recognition of their efforts on the scheme. We’re all very pleased to be on the shortlist.

“We are very proud of the outcome of this particular scheme which is the result of a collaborative team approach by the client, the design team and the contractor, based on relationships built up over many years and various projects.”

Elaborating on the reason why MJS opted to enter the ICE Awards for the first time, Michael continues: “It was actually the client who approached us. They felt that the project had turned out very well, exceeding their expectations, and asked would we consider putting it in. Our application was successful and we are delighted to have got to the final.”

Construction on the €910,000 Kilbogget Park flood alleviation scheme commenced in October, 2020 during the height of Covid restrictions and was completed to programme, within 24 weeks. The structure was constructed within the park on the outlet of Deansgrange stream into an existing culvert, which runs beneath sports facilities and pitches. It was built to hold back water in the stream during very heavy rainfall and to allow waters to build up safely in the wetland area for a short period of time. The water is then slowly released in order to protect properties downstream in the Wyattville and Killiney environs from flash flooding.

The large screen within the structure is designed to prevent blockage by river debris, with three penstocks fitted on the internal walls to control the flow of the river through the structure. A temporary diversion pipeline was laid at the outset of the works to divert the river, with the new pipeline being cored into the side of the existing culvert downstream.

A temporary dam was subsequently erected to divert water flow to the new pipeline, while a 700mm deep blinding layer was poured before the main concrete works commenced. The structure has been clad in granite to blend in better with the environment and a viewing platform provided to afford visitors to the park a clear view of the river.

Having previously completed a number of projects similar in nature and complexity – including Mungret Sewerage Scheme, New Ross Sewerage Scheme, Dungarvan Storm Water Relief Sewer and New Ross Flood Alleviation Scheme – MJS Civil Engineering approached the Kilbogget Park Flood Storage project with confidence and conviction. Drawing on decades of experience, they were able to make a number of suggestions and amendments to the client’s original plans, which greatly improved and enhanced the project both during the course of the works and the finished structure itself.

While the originally-designated site entrance and site compound would have caused significant disruption to the general public using the park (a much-used facility with a labyrinth of footpaths throughout, where the footfall had increased substantially due to Covid-19 restrictions), MJS identified an alternative access. “We had the idea of using a near by cul-de-sac which allowed us to reduce the works area footprint to one-third of the area originally planned,” Michael confirms.

The ability to control water and work with it was critical to the successful completion of the innovative Kilbogget Park Flood Storage System works. To this end, one of the key challenges posed was to control the existing water flow in the stream without disturbing or adversely impacting on the natural habitat of the area.

“When working with a pond or stream, controlling water during the works is extremely important,” says Michael. “The initial idea was to put a pipe through the works and funnel the water through the build area but we came up with the idea of damming off and diverting the stream to bypass the works completely. We have a lot of experience of deep drainage and the Council recognised this and agreed to our suggestion.”

The temporary diversion through a 900mm pipeline ran outside the works and connected back into the RC culvert downstream. MJS then introduced a deep sump with a 24-hr pumping regime to deal with any groundwater or springs encountered. They constructed a gravel drainage layer beneath formation level to direct any flows to this sump. A series of settlement tanks were introduced in the delivery line before being discharged into the downstream culvert.

The viewing platform is a vital feature of the scheme and its position and the design of the foundation was left to achieve the best fit on site in the steep embankment. MJS’ site staff collaborated with the design team and client to best position the platform with the optimal oversite of the valley containing the structure and ensuring the base was founded on solid ground.  Their experienced stone mason was able to advise on cladding type and finishes to coping and kerbs, while their steel fabricator adjusted the handrail design to suit the built platform.

“We had very skilled subcontractors on board, who finished the structure off to a very high standard,” Michael continues. “The stone mason and steelworks contractor were selected for their high standards in finishing works, while our work involved all aspects of the contract which started with getting the basics right, for example putting in the sump properly so that we were not constantly fighting with water. We had done concrete structures and flood defences before, but not to this scale. You have to understand working with water and provide an outlet to control water ingress to the works was vital to the success of the project”

Corbawn Lane coastal defence in Shankill was another recent project MJS Civil Engineering completed for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, comprising the refurbishment of an existing access structure, cliff stability works and coastal protection works. Here, as rock armour couldn’t be transported to site by road, MJS hired specialist barges to carry 7,000 tons of material to the beach during high tide. This is indicative of the ingenuity, adaptability and creativity that epitomises the best civil engineers, who form the cornerstone not just of the construction sector but of modern civilisation.

In 2015, MJS Civil Engineering demolished and replaced Lamberton Reservoir in Arklow. The works also involved the refurbishment of the existing Tower Reservoir with complex scaffolding required both internally and externally.

Another complex project was the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant valve replacement project in 2018, the works involved in upgrading existing valves and meters had to be carried out during an eight-hour shutdown period. “It was important that everything went smoothly and according to plan as we had to knock off the water supply to 500,000 people in Dublin while we were changing over the valves,” reflects Michael, who was overseeing the €1.45m High Hill Norman Garden public park works in New Ross on behalf of regular client Wexford County Council at the time of writing.

Michael Storan has worked in civil engineering for almost four decades, having qualified from UCG in 1983, and spent time working in the UK before setting up MJS in Ireland in 1999. To say that he is enthusiastic and passionate about his work would be a huge understatement: “I honestly believe it’s a great industry to be involved in. It’s the excitement of the challenge and working with a great team to overcome the many obstacles and difficulties each site presents  that keeps me going,” the Wicklow civil engineering contractor enthuses.

“I suppose we are like boys with big toys. As a relatively small firm, we generally only take on one or two jobs at a time and this allows us to manage them efficiently and effectively. We can give a high standard of service to our clients and, as my name is on the company, we take all our work very seriously.

“We’re very comfortable with waterworks, having done a lot of dredging, flood defence and deep pipework. We’ve a nice portfolio of work behind us – working for clients such as Wicklow, Wexford, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Meath, Cork and Limerick County Councils as well as Shannon Airport Authority, Irish Water, etc. – and we are established long enough now to have built up a strong reputation and a wealth of experience, we feel we are trusted within the industry to produce top class work with a strong team of direct employees and established sub contractors. We feel we are in a good place going forward.”

Michael is particularly attracted to the problem-solving element of civil engineering and it is for this reason that MJS tends to gravitate towards more complex projects: “We tend to go for work that is awkward and unconventional and which requires planning and co-ordination,” he concludes.

“We are very good at overcoming challenges in very awkward and difficult conditions. Personally, I prefer unorthodox or unconventional projects as opposed to repeat – standard ones – jobs with specific requirements that might make them unattractive to others who wouldn’t have the time, energy or patience to invest into them.”

MJS Civil Engineering,

Kilday Farm,

Kilday,

Newtownmountkennedy,

County Wicklow.

Tel: 01 2011895

Mobile: 087 2908868

Email: [email protected]

Web: mjscivil.com

This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, June 2022, Vol 8 No 6

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