Awards Out West

Sarah Brown | Thursday November 4, 2021

As usual, our friends to the West have been up to some pretty cool stuff. Achen-Gardner Construction (Achen-Gardner), a partner company of our Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS) family, recently earned some shiny new hardware, news that we couldn’t resist sharing. Thanks to the Arizona Chapter American Public Works Association (AZ APWA), two of Achen-Gardners’ projects were selected for a Project of the Year Award. Not familiar with the accolade? We’ll tell yuh.

The APWA is a nonprofit organization with over 30,000 members and local chapters across the country. The awards program recognizes outstanding individuals, groups and chapters representing the best in public works. Enter, our Achen-Gardner team. 

Geoff Tucker, Project Manager for Achen-Gardner can speak to these accomplishments. “Both of these projects resulted in firsts for Pima County, something our teams are very proud of. I would like to extend a big kudos to one of our operators, Ernest Lopez, and Jesus Rodriguez, a Cement Mason here at Achen-Gardner for being critical components in the success of both of these projects. We continue to set the bar higher, and these award-winning projects are a testament to that.” 

🏆🏆 Congrats Achen-Gardner! Let’s explore each project. Don’t forget to check out the photos below or if you just need an excuse to pretend you’re in the mountains, that’s fine too.



This 5-mile design-build project for Pima County involved the installation of a new gravity sewer system. In order to fast-track the schedule, our Achen-Gardner team divided the project up into three segments. Achen-Gardner employee-owners began construction at the intersection of Blue Bonnet and Twin Peaks Road, where the new sewer line would connect future developments to the gravity system.

Throughout the duration of the project, the Achen-Gardner team held weekly meetings with all stakeholders involved. This collaboration became imperative to handling project challenges along the way and fast-tracking the resolution process. Whereas the typical Request for Information (RFI) process tends to induce longer wait times, our progressive design-build team and the owner were able to solve issues right then and there.

What’s award-winning, you ask? In 18 months’ time, our folks completed this design-build project, ultimately providing Pima County their first ever SaniTite sewer line. What did it take? We’re talking the installation of 57, 5-foot diameter manholes, a total of 25,381 linear feet of 15-inch sewer install, and an additional polymer junction manhole. Might we also add that this project received a Common Ground Award by the Metropolitan Pima Alliance in 2019, in addition to its 2021 Public Works Project of the Year Award!




Thanks to our incredible Achen-Gardner team, Valencia Road now holds the first ever 60-inch Predl PVC hybrid manhole system. They didn’t stop there. By the end of this project, Pima County now has 19 Predl PVC manholes, every one of them installed by Achen-Gardner. This significant installation allowed for the rehabilitation of the existing concrete manholes.

How was this accomplished? In order to get this job done, it required an extensive manhole installation process including excavation and removal of existing manhole sections and base. A new base liner and 54” PVC riser were installed in its place, in addition to a grouting annular space, slurry backfill, new flattop, grade rings, and concrete collar.

This project was unique in the sense that it involved coordination with an intergovernmental agency, where the land required permissions in order to begin construction. In addition to this obstacle, there was a bustling bike loop that ran through the project, beginning in Tucson and all throughout Pima County. Maintaining access was critical for the project but the Achen-Gardner navigated the pedestrian traffic flawlessly.