Large Steel Water Main Project Pushes Static Bursting Envelope

October 2009 Vol. 64 No. 10
The total length of the bursting project was 2,529 feet. The water main ran under a highly traveled roadway in Colorado Springs.

Static pipebursting continues to flex its trenchless muscles in projects around the United States.

The method has received a great deal of attention recently in regards to the usage of various product pipe materials, which has made static bursting more accessible and acceptable. A recent project for Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Springs, CO, however, has turned the attention back to the method’s ability to take on tough projects and large diameter host pipes.

Colorado Springs Utilities provides water, wastewater, natural gas and electricity service to over 600,000 combined metered accounts. The utility’s potable water system consists of 1,780 miles of water mains. A portion of that system is comprised of steel mains installed in the 1950s.

For 15 years, the utility has been battling with a deteriorating 2,500 foot, 24 inch steel, coal tar-coated water transmission main that runs under one of Colorado Springs’ busiest thoroughfares, Galley Road. Crews have been patching the main for years with a variety of different temporary fixes including screws, wood plugs, welded patches and other materials. Its high traffic location and disruption factor prevented the utility from moving forward with a conventional open cut remove and replace solution.

Trenchless contractor Global Underground Corporation, Colorado Springs, has an annual maintenance contract with the utility and approached them with the idea of utilizing trenchless pipebursting to replace the failing main.

Global Underground President Robert Meadows said, “They have been talking about replacing this main for three years. They had been repairing the main with every method possible to keep it in service. They just looked at it and said ‘this is how many dollars we’re spending to maintain this water main every year and it’s time to just replace it.’

“It was a design build project and we were involved from the beginning. We did look at directional drilling as well, but there’s just no room down this street as the existing utilities have filled up the right of way. In order to get this water main in there, it was either going to be remove and replace, open cut or pipebursting.”