The Runner Up for Trenchless Technology Project of the Year for Rehabilitation was a pneumatic pipe bursting project in Atlanta that had an end goal of increasing sewer capacity in the rapidly developing Buckhead Community.

There were several proposed developments being planned at or near the intersection of Peachtree Road and Piedmont Road. The project goals were to reduce sewer overflows in the area, increase the size of an existing sewer line from 10 to 15 in. in diameter and extend the sewer line south toward Peachtree Road.

Southeast Pipe Survey Inc. (SPS), Patterson, Ga., was selected to perform the work. “The construction plan consisted of two phases, which were performed simultaneously in order to minimize the impact of the construction of the new sewer line to the Buckhead Community and businesses,” said SPS president David Herrin. “The schedule of the project was intense — 24 hours a day, seven days a week for five weeks.”
Pipe bursting, utilizing a pneumatic Grundocrack pipe bursting system from TT Technologies, Aurora, Ill., was selected.

Because the project ran through an extremely busy and congested area of one of the largest cities in the United States, it was very high profile and very highly supervised. Piedmont Road is one of Atlanta’s busiest thoroughfares and is in the heart of Buckhead, one of its most upscale communities. Through TV coverage (provided by helicopter) and radio and the city’s Web site, the entire city was updated continuously on the progress of the project.

According to Herrin, public information played a huge role in the project. “The Department of Watershed Management’s Communications and Public Outreach office was responsible for informing and educating communities about the potential effects of the Clean Water Atlanta projects,” he said. “The public information manager for the sewer inspection and rehab projects began outreach efforts with a presentation to the community’s Neighborhood Planning Unit more than two months prior to the project startup. Three weeks prior to startup, all residents and businesses within a square mile of the project received letters explaining the project and the traffic difficulties it would create. Traffic advisories and updates were posted on the Department’s Web site throughout the project.”  

The businesses most directly impacted were in two shopping centers located on either side of Piedmont Road. SPS public information officer David Barker kept in daily contact with the business owners, updating them of progress and giving advance notice of any work-necessitated changes to the entrances/exits of the shopping centers.

The main entrance to one of the centers was completely closed during the first week of construction. Traffic from a 170-unit condominium complex was re-routed twice during the project due to the closing of an access street. Barker also notified the residents 24 hours prior to each closing by posting letters on their doors. Daily updates also went out to the City’s customer call centers, Georgia DOT, the media, area businesses and even some elected officials.

On the Job
The specifications of the burst were impressive. Upsizing the existing 10-in. line to 15-in. ID required using a 16-in. HDPE/DR17 with an OD of 17.40 in. and an expander with an 18-in. diameter. That represents an increase in size of 80 percent of the original pipe diameter.

TT Technologies pipe bursting specialist Eddie Ward said, “Pneumatic pipe bursting was chosen for several reasons, the first one being power. That line had been down there for so many years, we had no idea what kind of point repairs we would encounter. So we went with the power of a 14-in. diameter Grundocrack Koloss. The pneumatic tool also gave us some flexibility in how we set up the jobsite and the size of launch and exit pits.”

SPS crews started near the center of the project area and pipe burst north toward Lenox Road approximately 1,000 lf, upsizing the existing 10-in. diameter line to 15 in.  At the same time from the center point, a new 12-in. sewer was installed and 100 lf of 12-in. DIP was installed under Piedmont Road by jack-and-bore method.

More than 15 utility lines were identified as existing throughout the project area. In addition to traditional marking by locators, extensive ground penetration radar and pothole methods were used to determine the depths of these lines. Jobsite meetings with City of Atlanta Water Department, Atlanta Gas and Georgia Power representatives were performed to identify potential problems.

Jim Schill is a technical writer, based in Mankato, Minn.