Paving the way: National award for tricky project

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Fann Contracting won the award for its work on Diamond Bar Road on the Hualapai Indian Reservation.

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Fann Contracting won the award for its work on Diamond Bar Road on the Hualapai Indian Reservation.

Fann Contracting, to the award podium ...

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) awarded Prescott's Fann Contracting Inc. a 2014 Quality in Construction Award for excellence in construction of an asphalt pavement.

The award was presented Jan. 28 at the association's 60th annual meeting in Florida.

Fann Contracting won the award for its work on Diamond Bar Road on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. The project - easy enough, on paper - consisted of paving 8.5 miles that lead to the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Putting down asphalt might sound like a breeze; not so, on this $25 million project that was full of challenges and controversy.

"The project challenges included blasting and excavating 800,000 cubic yards of hard rock excavation in a narrow canyon - while maintaining two-way traffic the entire time," said Mike Fann, owner of Fann Contracting.

"Another challenge that we confronted was the rancher (Nigel Turner) located in the middle of the project that was in a battle with the Hualapai Tribe.

He blockaded the road while we were under construction and the tribe directed us to accelerate construction around the rancher's blockade. We were able to restore all of the traffic going to the Skywalk within a few days."

At one point, Turner had armed guards charging tourists $20 to drive on the portion of the road that passed through his property.

There were other issues, in addition to the headline-grabbing showdown (at the tribe's request, Fann workers bulldozed a new path around Turner's roadblock). The Fann crew worked in an environmentally-sensitive and culturally-important area, staying on schedule and completing the project last summer.

"Quality pavements are something every road builder strives to construct," said William C. Ensor III, NAPA chairman. "Projects that earn a Quality in Construction Award have been measured against industry best practices designed to live up to that promise.

"I'm proud to say that, in earning a 2014 QIC Award, Fann Contracting Inc. has met or exceeded these rigorous quality standards."

Fann credited Mike Shivers, the project superintendent, and Dave Gregson, the project manager.

Fann had some 80 employees (many from the Prescott area) on the job that most involved will remember for decades.

"Probably one of the toughest projects ever," said Fann, who has been in the business for 40 years.

And though the paving is done, the "project" continues - as Turner is suing Fann Construction.

"Exclusive of that," Fann said, "the project was well worth it. We built a quality road while maintaining safety for all concerned, so it was a success."