School District Goes Underground To Enhance Internet Connectivity

Utilizing HDD, Project Connects 44 Schools, Admin Buildings With Fiber
December 2013, Vol. 68 No. 12
Rex Schick, K&W Underground

According to Schick, the ground conditions for this particular job, as typical for most all the projects completed by K&W Underground in the Kansas City metropolitan area, cover a wide gamut including soft loam soil to hard clay and sandstone – even a fair presence of limestone rock, depending on the area. As specified by the drill plan, bore lengths averaged approximately 400 feet, at depths ranging from 36 to 60 inches, depending on ground conditions and existing infrastructure congestion.
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Assembly line approach
The project, which involved installing two-inch HDPE conduit to house 24- to 144-count high quality fiberoptic cable for nearly 19 miles – all using horizontal directional drilling (HDD) — was completed using what Schick describes as the company’s assembly line approach.

“K&W basically has crews that specialize in each phase of the job,” he describes. “We have a job coordinator to start with, and his job is to go out and make sure the utility locates have been marked. One of the biggest challenges we faced with this project – like most all of our projects – is congestion presented by the right-of-ways of the other underground utilities.”

The job coordinator determines the running line, in effect, where K&W crews plan to drill, and marks the utilities that need to be potholed and that will either be close to or crossed during a specific bore. Then a vacuum excavation crew goes in and visually verifies the location of the utilities.

“The utilities do their best to try and determine where their lines are, but they’re not always 100 percent accurate,” Schick says. “That’s why K&W takes the approach of positive verification of all marked utility lines with vacuum excavation equipment.”

“What I do could almost be considered risk management,” says Michael Myers, vacuum excavation operator with K&W Underground. “I go out in front of the drill and find the buried or marked utilities using our Vermeer vac.

“This has been a rough project because of the rock, tough dirt and hard clay,” Myers says. “When you hit the hard dirt or the clay, you have to have a vacuum excavator with the power to get through it and get you down to where you need to be to pinpoint the exact locations of existing utilities.”