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January 2024 – JHL Constructors Implements Innovative Helicopter Approach for Maybell Diversion Restoration Project

Maybell, CO – JHL Constructors (JHL), The Maybell Irrigation District, The Nature Conservancy, JUB Engineers, and River Restoration, have successfully implemented an innovative solution to overcome complex challenges in the Maybell Diversion Restoration project. Aiming to restore the historic 1896 Maybell Diversion structure, the project faced a unique hurdle when snow rendered transportation of tracked concrete mixers unsafe down steep embankments with slopes exceeding 25 degrees across three miles of rough off-road conditions.

Recognizing the need for an alternative approach, the JHL team prioritized safety, efficiency, and innovation by partnering with local helicopter hoisting firm, Mountain Blade Runner, LLC (MBR) from western Colorado. This solution not only ensured the safety of the crew but also significantly improved productivity and adherence to the project timeline.

JHL Sr. Project Manager Charles Bisbee shared insights on the inventive approach, stating, “Facing the onset of winter and challenging weather conditions, we recognized the need for a creative solution to transport concrete safely and efficiently to the river concrete diversion structure without risking our crew’s safety. Through extensive team discussions, we proactively engaged a local helicopter company with expertise in mountain terrain, high altitude, and extreme weather conditions—MBR, a highly recommended choice.”

The helicopter-assisted concrete placements took place on December 14th and 28th of 2023 and January 11th and 12th of 2024 and marks the completion of all concrete work on site, positioning the project significantly ahead of schedule. The concrete forms in-river grouted rip rap boulders, a crucial design element aimed at stabilizing the boulders during high flows along the Yampa River and minimizing maintenance for the district, directly benefitting local farmers, ranchers, and recreational river users.

Bisbee further attributed the modern method to the exceptional collaboration and trust within the team, stating, “Throughout my career, this project stands out as the most technically demanding, yet remarkably smooth, thanks to the strong relationships cultivated among team members. The level of trust is unparalleled, with everyone consistently delivering on their commitments. I truly believe that the entire team, being local, including our suppliers and subconsultants, shares a genuine passion for making this project exceptional because it’s our home.”

The Maybell Diversion has been a vital water source for agricultural and livestock producers in northwest Colorado. The restoration project ensures the continued functionality of the Maybell Ditch and is anticipated to be completed in December of 2024.

Additional project information can be found HERE