Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way: Treacherous Terrain Tests The Skills Of An Arkansas Contractor

May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5

The drill plan specified a 1,170-foot continuous bore that included a 100-foot underground river crossing at a depth of 150 feet approximately 480 feet into the route. Cline was confident that his Vermeer D80x100 Series II Navigator horizontal directional drill, with 200 horsepower and 10,000 pounds of rotational torque, could handle the rock as proven many times before. The only hesitance was his ability to provide Crestwood with an accurate cost estimate.

“At first I told them [Crestwood] this probably was not the job for me,” Cline says. “I knew the drill was capable of completing a bore of that length and in those conditions. But it was difficult to estimate with a lot of certainty the amount of time it would take, given all the unpredictable variables. We really hadn’t completed a continuous bore combining all those obstacles and challenges before.”

But Crestwood was persistent. Cline had always been their contractor of choice on jobs located within reasonable distance of his home base. Because Crestwood personnel were well aware of the complexity of the bore, they really wanted Cline to be the one to handle it. Yet before committing, Cline consulted with his sales representative at Vermeer Heartland, based in Murfreesboro, TN, for an objective perspective. After their conversation, Cline decided to accept.

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“I have as much experience with the conditions here in Arkansas as anybody,” Cline says. “And I didn’t want to put a loyal customer in a bad situation with a contractor from outside the area who was not familiar with the conditions. The rock here in Arkansas is different than anywhere else. I’ve seen contractors from outside come in here unprepared, low-ball their price, then pack up and leave. I didn’t want to see that happen to Crestwood. They trusted us to complete the job as quickly and efficiently as possible. The upfront bid didn’t matter; they just knew we’d get the job done right.”

Challenge No. 1 — Cadron Creek

In devising his drill plan, Cline started by taking GPS readings. First to the bottom of Cadron Creek -- a popular scenic paddling stream that flows in a westerly direction from its origin near Heber Springs in central Arkansas -- followed by a second reading at the site where the Vermeer D80x100 drill would be positioned. Measurements from the edge of the creek up the side of the hill toward the drill site were then registered so Cline’s crews could accurately calculate drilling depths and distances.