Founded in 1948, Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church (OLL) parish has occupied its current building since 1987. The parish is undergoing major repairs and renovations to preserve and improve their ministry for the next sixty-seven years of service to Waterford, Michigan and its surrounding communities. As part of this preservation, a facilities master plan prepared by the parish identified that over 95% of the parish’s grounds needed some form of repair or rehabilitation.

Working with OLL and the Archdiocese of Detroit, SME provided an entire suite of geotechnical, site civil, pavement, building, laboratory, and construction phase services to design and oversee the needed site work identified in the parish’s facilities master plan. This work incorporated major pavement rehabilitation including repaving of all asphalt parking lots and entry surfaces; installing a new storm sewer system; replacing exterior property lighting and support fixtures on the property which needed to be replaced due to weathering; replacing cracked, uneven, and sunken sidewalks in front of school and outside of immediate church area; and improving vehicular / pedestrian access. SME also assisted OLL and the Archdiocese during the subcontractor and paving contractor interview process and provided our recommendation for project award.

Since the church conducts mass seven days a week, the design and construction was conducted in two phases so there was no interruption to the church’s daily schedule. In addition, the church operates a preschool through 12th grade school so all work had to be completed during the summer months while school was out of session. The selection of the phasing was based on a needs assessment conducted by SME and OLL to determine the minimum parking requirements in order to design the phasing and parking limits.

SME’s Geotechnical Team conducted pavement and subsoil assessments, and obtained bulk material samples. Challenges encountered during pre-construction included finding the existence of unknown utilities and an undocumented septic system. Before construction could continue, the septic system was abandoned and backfilled with engineered fill. Additional pre-design and construction difficulties included installation of a new storm sewer system which involved significant site grading and earthwork to prepare revised site grades.

SME recommended that the parking lots be repaved using full depth reclamation (FDR), which rebuilds worn out asphalt pavement by recycling the existing material. We evaluated the site conditions and determined the validity of an FDR process and the benefits provided to OLL. During FDR, the pavement’s old asphalt and base materials were pulverized using a reclaimer machine and the area was regraded. Then the subgrade soils were regraded and the pre-pulverized salvaged base was reinstalled on the graded subgrade to the specified thickness and stabilized prior to paving the surfaces with new asphalt. Keeping the crushed material on-site added to the parking lot’s foundation layer, which added thickness and stability for the new asphalt surface while significantly reducing construction costs. SME prepared site specific FDR mix designs for the pavement rehabilitation program.



Site lighting design was performed by a SME subconsultant, however, we were responsible for design QA/QC and the lighting engineer’s documents were added to SME design documents. SME’s experience with the lighting firm provided a seamless team and bid process for the church.

Throughout construction, SME provided oversight and inspection; construction material testing, laboratory services, and coordination of contractor services on behalf of OLL. We also conducted and provided an end of project punch list inspection and contract close-out information. SME will provide two year warranty review on behalf of the owner as an extended warranty was requested as part of the bid documents prepared by SME.