The crane company was founded in 1990 and has since expanded to four B.C. locations and five in Alberta. With the head office in Abbotsford, the company currently serves clients on a wide variety of projects, from government infrastructure to commercial, industrial, energy and residential highrise projects. It wields some heavy crane firepower from a 270-ton Liebherr LTM 1220 in B.C. to a 500-ton LTM 1400 in Alberta.
“We were doing a lot of work as a subcontractor to the general contractor to place concrete barriers that other companies were manufacturing,” says Steven Anema, business development manager at Eagle West Crane.
“In 1997, we decided to branch into manufacturing precast barriers on our own, combining manufacturing, delivery and placement. That gave us the ability to control every aspect of a project and offer both parts of the contract with a single phone call.”
The company’s concrete road barriers have since been a part of every major road infrastructure project in the province, from the Port Mann/Highway 1 Improvement Project, to the Sea-to-Sky Highway, the Golden Ears Bridge, the Pitt River Bridge and Highway 10 to name a few.
Anema says that he often takes his work home with him. Driving down the province’s highways he can’t help but recognize his own company’s products lining the road.
“It’s a great feeling to notice something that you helped build, when most people are simply driving by,” he says.
Barriers are cast inside the plant using steel forms, while much of the property is reserved for storage of inventory awaiting delivery.
The company must often deliver large orders on a tight schedule. The Port Mann/Highway 1 project alone, for example, required 60,000 barrier units.
Anema notes that the company is one of about a half-dozen companies in the province competing in the concrete barrier market. The primary customers are the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, municipalities, roadbuilders and maintenance contractors.
Barrier manufacturing is exacting work. The ministry publishes specifications for the barriers, setting exact dimensions and concrete consistency. Some contracts may require barriers featuring rebar, while others require wire mesh or fibre mesh, depending on their ultimate use.
Weighing in at 3,700 pounds apiece, concrete median barriers weigh about 1,000 pounds more than the smaller roadside barriers.
For each ministry project the barriers are subject to a litany of testing, including crash tests. Eagle West Crane uses third-party laboratories to test its concrete according to parameters such as strength and slump.
Once a project order is complete, the barriers are loaded onto a truck and delivered to the road site for crane placement. That typically occurs just after asphalt work has been completed.
“Unseen to drivers, the barriers are attached to each other using a metal hook and eye system,” says Anema. “Once we place them, they’re there for the duration. In general, the only reason they move is if someone runs into them, if a road maintenance contractor needs to move them, or if single damaged units need to be replaced.”
Company employees were particularly gratified by an article posted on the CTV News Vancouver website in December 2015.
The article’s lead paragraph reads: “Two people are in hospital after a charter bus and Jeep SUV crashed on the Sea-to-Sky Highway Wednesday, but Mounties say it could have been much worse if not for a recently-installed concrete barrier.”
The article goes on to quote an RCMP official who notes that all 49 people on board the bus were uninjured, in large part because the barrier probably prevented the bus from dropping off a cliff just metres away from where it stopped.
“We placed those barriers there only two weeks prior to the accident,” says Anema. “That article made its way all around the manufacturing plant. It really inspired a sense of pride in all of us.”