Project Profile: On Track and On Par in Pahrump

May 1, 2000
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About an hour’s drive west from Las Vegas, near the California border, a 3,000-ac. bare expanse of desert is yielding to an extensive planned community-the Mountain Falls Resort Development in Pahrump, NV. When the 10-year project is finished, it will feature two hotel-casinos, 8,300 homes, parks, a fire station, and two 18-hole championship golf courses.

A year and a half and “a couple million yards of dirt” since the first phase of development began, E.A. Collins Development of Las Vegas has installed power and sewer lines, started construction on 20 homes, and-working quickly on one of the development’s top priorities-rough graded all 18 holes of the first 150-ac. stadium-style course.

“I’ve got nine holes finish graded. I’ve got the drainages and the bunkers in on all 18 holes. We’ve been waiting for spring so we could plant, and now we’ve sodded the first six holes,” says E.A. Collins Project Manager Doug Saunders.

Each golf course will be surrounded by homes. “It’s sunk down below the level of the house pads so you have golf course frontage lots all the way around the course,” he describes.

Moving a lot of dirt fast was essential in the first phase. “When you do a golf course, you have to do a mass grade. You can’t just do 50 lots and stop and wait for development. You have to do the whole golf course at once, and all that dirt’s gotta go someplace.”

The dirt removed from the golf course is being used to build up the surrounding lots and various features of the course. “We build the mounding and the waterfalls out of that in the golf course. We also take the dirt and rough grade the pads and the streets,” Saunders explains.

Finding Equipment That Holds Its Ground

Finding the right equipment to move this particular soil was a challenge, however. “This is a silt basin, where all the runoff from the hills is washed into these fields,” Saunders points out. “I’ve got several feet of silt, which instantly turns slick when it rains.” The original wheeled tractors the developer brought in, each with 25-yd.3-capacity paddle scrapers, tended to slide and get stuck under a load.

After seeing a demonstration of tracked vehicles competing against the wheeled tractors at the site, E.A. Collins Development has now leased six Case IH Quadtrac 9380 tractors from Booth Machinery in Yuma, AZ. “The Quadtrac, because of its increased traction and reduced ground pressure, just goes right through it,” says Saunders. “It’s like the difference between a snowmobile and a regular car on snow.” The Quadtracs have 30-in. rubber tracks, and each track assembly pivots 10º, allowing it to follow the contour of the ground.

Maximum Carrying Capacity

To move as much dirt as quickly as possible, each Quadtrac is equipped with two Reynolds International Carry-All 17 CS scrapers, the second-largest scraper of its type Reynolds offers. Each has a 144-in. cutting-blade width and a 17-yd.3 capacity. The price of this equipment-about one-third that of the competition-and the extremely large capacity made it an attractive option for the project. “If you’ve got the horsepower to pull it, you want to get as much yardage per trip as you can to maximize the efficiency of the haul,” notes Saunders. With 360 hp, the Quadtrac easily handles the tandem scrapers. The four-tracked Quadtracs also handle similarly to a four-wheel-drive tractor, pivoting and maneuvering under load. Some competitors offer two-track tractors, says Dennis Booth, owner of Booth Machinery, but “four tracks allow better balance with those loads.”

The first phase of development is scheduled to be completed in June. And then? “We’ve got a layout for the second golf course,” says Saunders.