Wren Works Marine Division is Making Waves

Wren Works Marine Division is Making Waves
Duluth Coastal Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project 

Edited by Debbie Reaney 

Sinkholes at seawalls, also known as earth subsidences, are a common phenomenon occurring wherever seawalls encounter forces of moving water, such as tides, waves, or boat and ship traffic. Additionally, they may occur where older seawalls or seawall caps have deteriorated, allowing water to move behind the seawall and attack backfill and infill. In 2016, various small sinkholes were reported along the Duluth, Minnesota waterfront. These subsidences were considered dangerous, posing a particular hazard to the public along the tourist area of the waterfront near the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC), where aging seawalls along the docks have allowed wave, tidal, and other water actions to penetrate the original seawall facade, eroding the soil behind the seawall in areas where pedestrians may walk.

After years of planning, it is now time for that area to become a more inviting, modern-day public space that better connects Canal Park to the Bayfront and Harbor Plaza areas. The City of Duluth is in the final phase of the project, which includes replacing the damaged seawall and aging infrastructure along the waterfront behind the DECC, a high-traffic area for ship-viewing and summer tourism.

Approximately 1,000 feet (about the height of the Empire State Building) of eroded wall will be replaced. By early 2025, the flat spaces between the seawall and the DECC will be transformed into new, safer paths for pedestrians and bicyclists, including new lighting, green-space, and gathering areas. This process will create and define a new harbor plaza area by re-imagining the use and function of the waterfront and Harbor Drive between the Minnesota Slip Bridge and Bayfront Festival Park. Cruise ships are expected to dock on the newly created seawall come the summer of 2025, instead of being forced to dock in the bay and shuttle guests to land by smaller boats. This connection is expected to link Canal Park more comfortably to attractions along the waterfront leading to the Pier B complex, including Bayfront Festival Park and the Great Lakes Aquarium, helping to boost the local economy and strengthen the Duluth area tourism and hospitality industry in the process.

The contractor chosen for this project is Wren Works, LLC, a highway heavy and marine construction company based in Poplar, WI. Wren Works specializes in the maintenance of essential infrastructure, with a particular focus and expertise on projects that involve sheet pile and dock wall construction. Construction began in the fall of 2023 and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2025. The Wren Works crew has been working through the winter to build a more weather-resistant seawall, with completion estimated at the end of 2024. Currently, Wren Works is installing the new seawall stretching from DECC Arena to Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth Harbor. To help place this new seawall, the professionals at Wren Works chose to rent an ICE® 50B Vibratory Driver/Extractor to drive DZ95 steel sheets that are 50 feet in length for the new seawalls and an ICE® IP-3 Hydraulic Impact Hammer to drive 12x53 H Piles and 12x63 H Piles and Pipe Piles approximately 50 feet long (16" diameter) down to bedrock. There have been many challenges on this project, as expected with a project of this size and scope, including time, materials, costs, soil conditions, and structural interference, as the area that the Wren Works crew is driving the new sheeting and associated components in is man-made and was once used as a shipping terminal and scrap yard long before it was turned into a convention center, that hosts one of the best views of the harbor and Aerial Lift Bridge Thankfully, according to Wren Works Project Manager, Jake Magdzas, "there has been a cost and time savings, knowing that the equipment being used is properly sized for the materials being driven. At the end of the day, time is money."

Amazing work, Wren Works, LLC! The work you are doing will repair this deteriorating seawall to better accommodate local maritime transportation and docking, as well as creating a new public plaza with separate pedestrian and bike trails. This $18 million project will not only protect the area from extreme storms and boost the economy, but it is sure to bring pride and a sense of security to the entire City of Duluth! International Construction Equipment, Inc. (ICE®) stands by their products and their team. With over 50 years of providing equipment for specialized deep foundation installation, the experts at ICE® are always available to consult with you when choosing the proper equipment for your project; just call 888-ICE-USA1.

Learn more about the ICE® IP-3 & ICE® Model 50B or contact the ICE® Sales & Service Team 

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Posted in Hydraulic Impact Hammers, ICE Team, Vibratory Pile Hammers. Tagged as Erosion Control, ICE 50B Vibratory Driver/Extractor, ICE IP-3, Marine Foundation, Seawalls.

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