Work began in earnest this week on the foundation for the new Comal County Jail, as crews began drilling what will eventually be more than 1,600 steel piers deep into the ground.
The steel, known as helical piers, is an innovative breakthrough expected to save the project nearly $1 million by reducing the need for expensive concrete piers. The foundation is laid on top of a system of piers and lifting mechanisms that both support the slab and keep it lifted above the ground enough to avoid damage as the soil expands. The use of more than 1,000 helical piers also allows for a thinner slab.
Each pier is driven at least 15 feet into the ground and most are expected to support up to 70,000 pounds, with some larger piers supporting even more weight than that.
Tella Firma, the company drilling the helical piers, will continue doing so for the next three to four weeks, while drilling for the smaller number of concrete piers is expected to begin next week. Underground mechanical, electrical and plumbing work is expected to begin before the end of May.