HDD Culvert Cleaning Proves Effective

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | March 2010 Vol. 65 No. 3

Harr is enthusiastic about the future. "Our research documents indicate there are hundreds of thousands of culverts in the United States that need immediate cleaning," he says. "Our system provides a new application for HDD equipment that can safely and quickly restore culverts and save tax payers millions of dollars."

Developing A New Method Of Culvert Cleaning
With experience in various types of construction including mining and pipelines, Bob Harr, now owner of Harr Technologies, Kasilof, AK, was operating a construction company specializing in underground telecommunications power construction in the late 1990s.

As the telecom building boom slowed, Harr began investigating other markets they could serve, especially any which could benefit from using horizontal directional drilling technology.

Alert to new opportunities, one day Harr, living in Colorado at the time, observed a crew cutting a road to reach a culvert buried under the road to remove obstructions that had stopped the flow of water. The work was slow and difficult, interrupted the flow of traffic, and it would require street repairs after the culvert was cleared.

Further investigation by Harr revealed that clogged culverts were a problem nationwide. Many culvert failures, he found, were attributed to inadequate or often no maintenance. He learned, also, that methods used to clean culverts were not effective in many situations. At short time later, Harr had become a self educated expert in culvert maintenance and cleaning.

It became clear to Harr that HDD provided a way to access blockages in culverts, and he began developing specialized downhole tools that could clear blockages and remove the debris in less time than conventional methods. The new tools and the method of using them were extensively tested and improved. He began calling on highway department and railroad officials to present information about his new culvert cleaning process. Harr has called on the DOT in every state explaining the system and its benefits and urging that it be approved for use.

Harr became a member of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). He was invited to make a presentation at a meeting of the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Following that meeting, an AASHTO representative from Alaska invited Harr to that state to evaluate culvert problems there. He recognized an opportunity to develop trenchless culvert technology in extremely challenging soil and weather conditions.