PCL’s civil construction experts love a challenge — and that’s exactly what they got when building Lift Station 87 in Sarasota, Florida. On a compact lot close to the downtown core, major attractions and busy roadways, our team was tasked with demolishing and rebuilding a lift station facility capable of handling 9.5 million gallons of effluent per day, one-third of the city’s total flow.

The team delivered the new facility to the City of Sarasota after three years of construction. The fully enclosed two-story structure not only meets the demands of the city and its residents, but also blends in seamlessly with its urban surroundings.

Situated on the west side of Florida, near the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota can experience extreme weather events. Lift Station 87 was designed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane and the accompanying storm surge. It boasts six 125-horsepower pumps with auxiliary backup systems, an odor control system and both on-site and off-site tie-ins to the existing transmission main. The lift station’s foundation is located 41 feet below sea level, while the top of the structure sits at 70 feet of elevation for a total structure height of 111 feet. 

While operational specs were important, so were the aesthetics of the Lift Station 87 building. Its location near downtown Sarasota and residential areas meant it had to look as good as it worked. During public consultations, residents asked that equipment be hidden from view.

The final design of the building mimics the historic Hover Arcade on Sarasota Bay, completed in 1913, and fits right in beside its residential and commercial neighbors. The design includes two towers at the entrance, which are used for stairwell access to HVAC equipment on the roof and for air intake and exhaust.

Adding to the challenges, Lift Station 87 was squeezed in to a “postage stamp-sized” lot near the dense downtown core. The original job site layout had only one entrance off a main highway. This backed up traffic into downtown Sarasota as trucks and people moved in and out of the site. Delivery trucks had to reverse into the site, bringing all three lanes of highway traffic to a standstill.

Recognizing that the situation was untenable, the team contacted the Florida Department of Transportation and got a permit to build a temporary deceleration lane during the construction period. This allowed delivery trucks to use an access road so that highway traffic could move more freely.

Our crews also found solutions for underground challenges. The Lift Station 87 design called for a 55-foot-deep coffer cell for the wet well. With the groundwater level five feet below the existing grade, the site required constant dewatering, making excavation and construction difficult. The team persevered and completed the job with the help of an electric pump with a constant power source.

Another consideration for the team was making sure the odor that comes with treating sewage didn’t permeate nearby neighborhoods. A two-stage odor control system was implemented, consisting of a biological process and a carbon filter.

The biological process removes most of the hydrogen sulfide and other odor-causing compounds from the station’s exhaust. Then it passes through the carbon filter, removing even more compounds before it is released 60 feet above the ground through one of the entrance towers. The biological process requires no additional chemicals and system maintenance is minimal, meaning the plant offers high-quality odor control for a low cost.

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