ECP Helps Build Success Along the Boardwalk

Although the job was challenging, ECP won praise for completing its work on time and under budget.

A mile-long boardwalk project in Arkansas was originally designed for cast concrete piers. However, a problem developed when a family of six beavers built a series of dams below Lake Bentonville, a popular recreational area in the northwest corner of the state. The beavers’ ambitious work caused flooding of the adjacent flatlands, making installation of a conventional drilled concrete pier boardwalk impossible. 

Although the beavers were building without a permit, they “were deemed by the owner to have priority over budgetary concerns, so the owner’s representatives reached out to the general contractor looking for alternate solutions that would be minimally disruptive to the area and allow the beavers to maintain their newly constructed environment,” says Mike Malina, chief marketing officer for Earth Contact Products (ECP) LLC, based in Olathe, Kan. “We were contacted to provide a project concept that would utilize a series of helical piles as an alternate for the previously designed concrete pier foundations.”


Atlas Piers of Atlanta and Stephan Tremblay, PE, designed the alternate foundation system for the boardwalk. The new design used a pair of vertical helical piles at each 10-foot span of the boardwalk. 

ECP Torque Anchors™ were installed at downward angles in alternating directions at every second support span. These battered anchors provided lateral stability to the structure. 

In addition to constructing the mile-long boardwalk, eight small fishing docks, two observation platforms and a kayak launching dock were also constructed where future lake expansion would extend navigation into the existing Lake Bentonville. 

A total of 902 vertical ECP Torque Anchor™ compression piles and 228 helical anchors were installed for lateral support on the project. The large number of placements and short time frame dictated that Atlas Piers of Atlanta team up with SEMO Mudjacking and Piering, a Torque Anchor™ installer from Cape Girardeau, Mo. 

These two crews, which together totaled 10 workers, were able to complete the project in only four weeks.

Serious Challenges 

Atlas Piers of Atlanta faced some serious challenges. Governmental agencies were highly involved, and EPA allowed a wetlands easement that was only 10 feet on each side of the boardwalk centerline. This made logistics and staging of materials difficult. 

Also, nearby airports requested the FAA monitor and enforce a 12-foot height limit for the equipment in all areas near the runways. 

“The threat of a $20,000 fine for encroachment kept us very aware of the wetland’s limits and threat of project cancellation kept our heads low near the runway,” Malina recalls. 

Other challenges on the job included:

• A brisk production rate of approximately 40 placements per day made it difficult for the surveyor to keep far enough ahead of the ECP team. “We had to dedicate men to help facilitate his efforts,” Malina says.

• The use of two varieties of wetlands machines required coordination because the machines’ sizes in relation to the placement of the piles prevented them from being backed out once the piles were installed. Plus, he says, “The extremely sticky Arkansas mud made it difficult to transverse across the site without getting stuck, even with tracked machines.” 

• The battered piles had to be installed at precise angles and depths to not interfere with the timber framing of the boardwalk. 

• One half of the ECP Torque Anchors™ were installed in 5-foot-deep lake water, which risked workers coming into contact with the beavers’ neighbors. “There were recent news reports of large alligators and piranha being caught living in Lake Bentonville, along with the typical Arkansas water moccasins who had just arose from hibernation,” Malina notes. Fortunately, the animals did not raise NIMBY issues and interfere with the execution of the project.

The Solution

An assembly line system was set up that permitted the work to proceed with no backtracking or encroachment on forbidden areas. A Marsh Master machine was used along with a sled for staging materials about every 100 feet along the path of the boardwalk. 

In addition, a second wetlands excavator was used with a three-worker crew for helical pile installation. 

After pile installation, benchmarks were set by the surveyor at 100-foot intervals. A rotating laser was attached on one of the helical pile shafts. This provided accurate cut-off elevations for two workers in chest waders who cut and capped the piles.

“Although it was challenging, the project was a great success and our team was recognized by the general contractor to have done an exemplary job, completed on time and under budget,” Malina concludes. 

For more information about Earth Contact Products and details on the company’s foundation repair products and capabilities, call 866-327-0007 or visit


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