I was in Irvine and decided to drive over to one of our job sites in Orange County. I was surprised to see this grading project, the Ferrari and Maserati of Newport Beach service center open for business.
What a pleasant surprise to see the building completed, parking lot regraded, and all the drainage devices in place. But really I was like a kid in the candy shop when I spotted the cars parked inside. This project has been one of my most favorite projects I have worked on in my career, as I went into engineering purely based on looking at the Acura NSX while in school. As I started college at UC Irvine, I would always see Ferraris and Lamborghinis driving around the campus area. From that point on I have been a fan of Formula1, racing, and cars in general. This project was something special, almost bringing a tear to my eye. The Architect was great to work with and he also designs the interior spaces for a lot of the exotic car shops in Southern California. Go figure that myself, my partner and he all went to High School together. I think most people can appreciate fine Italian Exotic cars, and I know all of us were excited to work together on this site.
So what did we do on this project? We had the chance to regrade the parking lot. But not just any regrade, we needed to keep as much of the existing as possible to make this site cost efficient; a typical requirement on every Civil Engineering project that we take on. I also try to design based on low cars driving around and this would be my chance where this would make even more sense than usual. We kept the drainage pattern nearly the same. Though we did have to adjust portions to make the ADA walkways and ADA parking stalls to have the maximum 2% in all directions. That was very difficult to work out between the front door to the ADA walkway going to the sidewalk. Once the walkway worked with the parking stalls we added a new curb and gutter to the side of the driveway fronting the street. That curb and gutter would lead to a catch basin that would flow about half of the site through pipes outletting into the street’s storm drain system.
On the front of the property we removed some of the existing swales to keep the ADA paths as smooth as possible. I would have preferred to completely remove all of the swales in the way of parking cars, but we were able to minimize the brutal existing drainage layout. Brutal as in driving a cushy car over the existing swales would make the car hop up and down. Now its possible to get into a parking spot without going over one of those swales. The other driveway entrance was regraded to smooth everything out. We decided to use the existing downspouts and have them outlet directly onto the driveways. No need to have some complicated system to drain under the parking lot, like we would design for an area with purely pedestrian traffic.
Onto the back of the property a ramp was created as one of the existing loading docks would not be used. There would also be a proposed wash off area that needed to separate the stormwater from the dirty water. This can sometimes be tricky as stormwater is not allowed to enter the sewer system, and dirty water isn’t allowed to enter the storm drain system. Not to mention that this loading dock area had some really crazy grades to make a truck able to back in. So we tied into the flattest parts of the back driveway and regraded to flatten the pad out. Another issue that popped up was an existing pump that took out all of the stormwater out of the low points. This grate on top of the pump became our tie in elevation. After tying everything together we needed a way to separate the areas of the water. So we created a minimal swale between the parking and wash area. The end result was executed perfectly. I got a chance to see the swale in action. The wash area goes into a trench drain, then into a clarifier that cleans out the junk as much as possible and then goes into the sewer system.
After seeing the completed project I am very happy to see everything built to our design. I got to quickly walk through the building and know I had the biggest smile on my face during this unexpected site visit. Thank you to the service manager for letting me walk through the building instead of around to take pictures. The inside is spotless.