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   The new St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland is set to open later this month and Quality Testing and Engineering Inc. has been involved in the project since before the first shovel broke ground.
   Mike Widman, president of QTE, says his firm provided geotechnical and environmental services early on in the project and continues to perform the construction materials testing services.
   There were a few small complications at the beginning of the project, Widman says. The building site was a farm and the development team got a bit of a surprise when they discovered an underground storage tank on the property. Farm tanks are pretty common, says Widman, but the owner of the farm had died and none of the ancestors remembered that the UST was there. It slowed down progress for a while - but not for very long, he says. QTE provided environmental consulting services and oversaw the remediation prior to closing the sale.
   QTE encountered another snag when soil borings revealed soils that were softer than what the architects had expected. It was fairly common Illinois soil, Widman says, but the architects were not familiar with it so footings had to be expanded to provide a proper foundation. QTE performed the geotechnical work for the final design.
   Once construction got underway, QTE performed construction materials testing, observed placement, the chemical stabilization of the soils and tested the concrete and asphalt that went into the project to ensure good strength and quality.
   Widman says testing asphalt can be done in one of two ways. Cores can be drilled and then taken back to the laboratory for analysis. Or, a nuclear density gauge can be used to test compaction. Nuclear density gauges are also used to test compacted soil and rock.
   Widman founded QTE in 2000 and has become a favorite of contractors because of his reputation for being in the office before dawn every day. Construction starts early, he says, and with larger-scale pours, grading days or big paving days, scheduling will start from about 4:30 a.m. on. QTE’s office phones are ringing at 4:30 in the morning.
   Contractors were his original claim to fame, says Widman. He is known in the industry as an early guy, arriving in the office at 6 a.m. A lot of contractors and job superintendents are calling even at that hour, looking for early information, adjusting schedules as well as the, “Whoops, I forgot to call you” scenarios. Not many engineers are reachable at 6 a.m., he adds, and even fewer owners are reachable at that hour. That’s a big reason for his loyal clientele, Widman says.