Shifting silt soil moved to build Eagle school foundation on bedrock |

Shifting silt soil moved to build Eagle school foundation on bedrock

The site of the new Eagle Valley Elementary School Thursday in Eagle.
Chris Dillmann | |

$144 million plus interest

In November, Eagle County voters gave the school district permission to borrow $144 million — $230 million with interest — to construct and remodel schools and facilities around the valley.

The lion’s share will be spent in Eagle and Gypsum:

• $31.2 million at Eagle Valley High School

• $23.1 million at Eagle Valley Elementary School

• $25.7 million at Eagle Valley Middle School

Prior to November’s election, the school board helped its cause when it announced a point system to give local contractors the inside track in getting some of that business. Also helpful was the $1.2 billion overall economic impact of that $144 million in construction projects.

EAGLE — The new Eagle Valley Elementary School is being built where glaciers deposited shifting clay and silt soil. The soil is fine, generally, but it won’t stand up to anything as heavy as a school building and is being replaced before crews can build there, said Jeff Chamberlain, with RLH Engineering.

“It’s all part of the process for designing a high-performing building,” Chamberlain said.

They’ve known about the soil for years — since the new gyms were built at Eagle Valley Middle School a decade and a half ago, Chamberlain said. They have already dealt with this at Berry Creek Elementary School, Eagle Valley High School and Eagle Valley Middle School, Chamberlain said.

Glaciers gave it to us

Glaciers left us with basically two kinds of soil in our region: soil that expands and moves and soil that sinks and moves.

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Those same glaciers also left some great riverbed aggregate to build on. You’ll find that in the Gypsum Creek Valley, where Gypsum Creek Middle School and Red Hill Elementary School stand, Chamberlain said.

In December, RLH engineers tested the soil under what will be the new Eagle Valley Elementary School and found the shifting clay-silt they thought they would. Their tests show that the silt and clay is 60 to 80 feet deep. That has to come out to reach bedrock before crews can move forward with a foundation, Chamberlain said.

It will be replaced with several feet of structural grade aggregate fill from United Companies gravel operations in Eagle and Gypsum.

The soil they’re pulling out is being redistributed around the site to “nonstructural” places, Chamberlain said. An athletic field is being raised about two feet, and berms are being built, along with other landscaping features.

Eagle Valley Elementary School is new and large, and if they want the foundation and core to last the 50 to 75 years it’s supposed to, then they need to improve the soils, Chamberlain said.

They have similar soil at Eagle Valley Middle School, Chamberlain said, but because those additions are smaller and don’t weigh as much, they do not have to import the structural fill.

“It’s part of the design and construction process and is one of the reasons we bring in geotechnical and structural engineers in the design of those buildings. Then they’re reviewed by the state of Colorado,” Chamberlain said.

It’ll cost $700,000 to do Eagle Valley Elementary dirt work, money that’s built into the countywide project’s contingency funds, Chamberlain said.

“The community has made a significant investment in these schools,” Chamberlain said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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