Tucked away between Highway 101 and the Bob Jones Bike Trail, the San Luis Obispo Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) is unassuming in the City landscape. However, construction at the WRRF for the SLO Water Plus upgrade—a project that will enhance water resiliency—has been very visible around town due to a large crane fondly known by the project team as “Big Blue.” Big Blue is a Lampson crawler crane with a 260-foot-long boom and a 230-ton lifting capacity. The crane is so big that project staff had to coordinate its mobilization to the site with local officials to make sure it stayed below SLO County Airport airspace! Big Blue can be seen from almost every corner of the City, and the crane has been instrumental in the transformation the WRRF has undergone over the last two-and-a-half years. Big Blue is operated by Mark Legacy, who has been operating cranes since 1989 and has been part of the PCL construction team since 2009. Big Blue has been strategically positioned near the center of the site where the crane has supported construction of the facilities that will allow the City to produce a more consistent supply of recycled water for beneficial uses, as well as replace aging infrastructure, meet new regulatory requirements, and provide benefit to the City in the form of enhanced odor control.
Although Mark and Big Blue have played a critical role in the SLO Water Plus Project, they are only one small part of an incredible team that has been working non-stop to build the largest project in City history including City staff, the general contractor, numerous subcontractors and suppliers, the construction manager, the design engineer, and the program manager. On an average day, over a dozen office staff and over 50 craft workers are hard at work delivering the project improvements that will improve the safety, resiliency, and reliability of the WRRF. The collaboration and teamwork of the project staff has formed a solid foundation that has helped the project achieve numerous successes and milestones to date.
As Big Blue’s role on the project nears an end, we reflect on the numerous accomplishments that have been made over the course of the project and the efforts of hundreds of individuals that made it happen. The team looks forward to the completion and commissioning of the liquids treatment process in spring 2023 and final project completion in 2024.