Niko Projects Inc. has been a family-owned company since 1980, specializing in slipformed concrete curb and gutter and sidewalk projects in the Nanoose Bay area of British Columbia, Canada. The three brothers, Stan, Harvey and Gary Kuramoto, purchased their first GOMACO Commander III in 1981. Ever since then, it’s been nothing but Commander IIIs for the Kuramotos’ projects.
“Versatility and quality are an important part of our operation,” Stan Kuramoto, an owner in Niko Projects, said. “We pride ourselves on being efficient and the industry leader, and that’s why we use a Commander III in our operations.”
Niko Projects is currently working on a project that will soon have the focus of the world’s attention on it. They are slipforming 10,000 lineal meters (32,808 ft) of curb and gutter in Whistler, British Columbia, the host mountain resort of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
“We are constructing the infrastructure road works for the future housing of the Athletes’ Village,” Kuramoto explained. “It will be where all the participants and support staff will be housed during the 2010 games. Once the games are done, the housing will be used for workers of the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain resorts, as there is quite a shortage in the area.”
The project required four different curb profiles, two of them unique to Whistler. The profiles are designed to minimize damage to the face of the curb that could be potentially caused by the blades on snow plows when removing snow.
The four profiles are: Type “A” with a 600 millimeter (23.6 in) wide gutter and 300 millimeter (11.8 in) tall curb; Type “B” with a 600 millimeter (23.6 in) wide gutter and 250 millimeter (9.8 in) tall curb; flat curb that is 600 millimeters (23.6 in) wide and 200 millimeters (7.9 in) tall; and swale curb that is 600 millimeters (23.6 in) wide and 200 millimeters (7.9 in) tall in the center of the valley with two steel rebar inserted.
The concrete is 32 MPa (4641 psi), with five to eight percent air added, water reducer, fly ash, fine and coarse sand, and glacial water. The base material utilizes rock that had been blasted out earlier in the project. It is crushed on site and then placed on grade.
“It creates a very hard base for us, but the Commander III has more than enough power to get through it,” Kuramoto said. “We trim and pour on all of the profiles except for the swale curb. On that, we pretrim, back up on the stringline, sideshift the trimmerhead out of the way, and slip the swale curb feeding the two strands of steel through holes that we created in the front of the mold.
“The ability to lift and swing the trimmer has saved us many hours on this job. It also allows us to reduce the amount of handforming we have to do. Due to the different areas of phasing we have to complete, we have a lot of areas where we have to slipform up to existing curb that we’ve done earlier. We only have to move the trimmer out of the way to connect to the existing, and that saves us time and labor.”
Production averages well over one kilometer (0.62 mi) per day, even with the constant mold changes caused by four different profiles.
Working conditions are crowded and Niko is constantly working around other contractors trying to complete their work. Added precautions on the site also have to be taken to avoid wandering bears.
“This particular site was formerly a dump site, so this has been the bear’s domain a lot longer than ours,” Kuramoto said. “There are strict rules on where you can keep your lunch and how you dispose of your garbage on the job site. The inspectors don’t allow graffiti, but don’t mind us leaving the bear paw prints in our fresh concrete curbs.”
Niko’s work on the project is scheduled for completion later this year. As the world tunes in to watch the 2010 Olympic games, the Kuramoto brothers will know they slipformed a quality project in challenging conditions.
“We have tried to remain unique in a niche market, from a white curb machine to business cards shaped in a curb profile,” Kuramoto said. “People on the streets know us as the ‘curb guys’ because they see us all over town. Niko has stuck with GOMACO because we know it’s a brand we can rely on and trust. We’ve been a part of each other’s family since 1981.”
Editor’s Note: Gary Kuramoto stopped by our World of Concrete 2009 stand with photos of this project on a USB flash drive. He described it in detail and with great enthusiasm and we enjoyed visiting with him that day. Always feel free to send me your high-resolution photographs from your slipforming projects. We enjoy seeing GOMACO equipment at work, because no two job sites are ever alike.