Project Profile: Little America Fuel-System Replacement

Little America, Wyoming

Don’t let the name fool you: the Little America Travel Center on I-80 near Green River, Wyoming, is a big fueling station built for serving big trucks – lots of them. Since CGRS finished replacing its fuel station earlier this year, it now has the tanks – two 50,000-gallon tanks and one 40,000-gallon tank and 18 new dispensers – that ensure its ability to serve those trucks far into the future.

Under Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations, owners/operators of underground storage tank (UST) systems that dispense more than 500,000 gallons of fuel per month are required to replace them with double-wall tanks and products lined with interstitial leak monitoring no later than June 30, 2012, or 30 years from the date installation, whichever is later.

Little America’s USTs were installed nearly 30 years prior and its fuel system was dispensing more than 450,000 gallons a month – and steadily increasing – when Little America Resorts & Hotels, Inc., officials decided to replace the entire system, said Spencer Riggs, General Manager.

“We’d be out of compliance,” he said. “We had every intention of doing 1 million gallons a month. We believed that getting bigger tanks and a better system would bring more business to us. We didn’t want half of a brand-new system.”

Replacing even part of the system would cause a major disruption to the fuel center, so Little America officials decided to just have it all done at once, Riggs added.

“Digging up the tanks and lines is a huge project, so we figured we might as well finish it up with the new concrete and dispensers and everything you need to make it nice,” he said.

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But Little America had one condition: the fuel center needed to stay open during the entire project. To make up for having less than half of the pumps operating during the first and biggest phase, Riggs said the center lowered its prices during the project to increase fuel sales.

“That was our strategy and we felt it worked well,” he said. “Sales were actually higher than they ever were before.”

While Little America’s staff made sure that trucks moved smoothly and quickly on the open side of the fuel center, CGRS’ Refined Fuels Construction staff went to work removing the old fuel system and installing a new one. Preparation for the project began in April 2021 and on-site work began that summer, starting with the removal of nine dispensers and associated piping, followed by installation of the three tanks. The first phase of the system was operational at the end of October 2021, and the team removed the remaining seven dispensers and the old tanks in January 2022. The remaining dispensers were operational in February and the team recently returned to the site after the landscaping was completed to wrap up the project.

The scope of work included:

  • Fuel-system design, engineering and permitting
  • Installation of two 50,000-gallon diesel USTs and one 40,000-gallon spilt diesel and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) UST (30,000/10,000 gallons) with all associated piping and equipment
  • Installation of 18 dispensers with point-of-sale equipment
  • Electrical work
  • Emergency equipment and signage
  • Concrete surfacing of 17,850 square feet over USTs and fueling islands and 1,625 square feet of 8-inch asphalt over product-piping trenches
  • Post-installation testing
  • System startup and product-lines purge
  • System registration
  • Removal and disposal of four 20,000-gallon double-wall USTs and 16 dispensers and associated piping and equipment
  • Backfill of the old UST basin and placement of sod, curb and gutter

“Keeping only half of the old system in operation presented quite the challenge, as it was installed as a whole system but being replaced in phases,” CGRS Project Manager Drew Higgins said. “We had to dissect the system to act as two, which included many electrical adjustments, system controls, many mechanical isolations and several other hurdles.”

Other challenges the team faced included:

  • Excavation of the new tank basin proceeded slowly because the existing system’s design and whether utilities were buried in the area was unknown; the team didn’t want to damage existing power lines that would shut down the fuel system (the team ultimately found no utilities in the area).
  • The center’s existing power supply would not accommodate the new system, so CGRS altered the design to operate with the voltage available.
  • The center’s location – several hours from CGRS offices and a distance from stores, hotels and equipment rental companies – required more time and planning.

Due to the complexity of the system and the volume of business during construction, the CGRS field team remained available around the clock to handle any issues that arose at the request of the client.

“We were really happy with CGRS,” Riggs said, noting that Little America had struggled with getting refined-fuel service companies to come to the site. “After interviewing CGRS, we felt like this was a company that knew their stuff and cared.”

He added that Higgins stayed actively involved throughout the project to ensure the center had everything it needed, communicating with him regularly and making frequent site visits.

As far as the field team, “I was impressed with their knowledge and their professional capabilities and they got along with the Little America staff,” Riggs said.

“I’ve always been really impressed with them,” agreed Danny Patterson, Fuel Center Manager. “They handled everything and knew their jobs. They were the experts. We knew we could call them day or night and they would respond.”

Overall, the project was a success for both Little America and CGRS. And, since the new system has come online in February, the fuel sales have exceeded all expectations.