NAMA: Shaping the Microtunneling Market

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In 2012, microtunneling contractors from across North America came together to create the North American Microtunneling Association (NAMA). The goal of the association was to advance the interests of contractors heavily involved in microtunneling work in North America.

The group, now 16 member companies strong, seeks to promote interaction, dialogue and education to its members and to the public on issues of importance to microtunneling contractors in North America.
Among its primary purposes is to provide a venue for microtunneling contractors to meet and engage in discussion regarding issues of mutual interest, foster education, exchange views, promote interaction with others having an interest in microtunneling, be proactive to help engineers and owners to understand issues of importance to microtunneling contractors and to promote safety and advancement in the microtunneling industry. NAMA will also study and evaluate proposed reforms, innovations and other issues within its industry in order to seek ways to improve it.

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The members of what would become NAMA first came together at a meeting during the annual Microtunneling Short Course in Colorado at the urging of Tim Coss, who worked as microtunneling contractor before launching Microtunneling Inc.

“At the time I saw a fragmented industry that was really being driven by the owners and engineers,” said Coss, who recently stepped down as executive director. “The contractors really needed to have more of a say in what was happening in the industry, especially with regards to specifications and what was practical in terms of construction. I think the formation of NAMA has given contractors more of a voice in the industry.”

One of the first initiatives of the fledgling association was to provide input on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ publication “Standard Design and Construction Guidelines for Microtunneling,” which was being revised at the time of NAMA’s founding. With the input of NAMA and its members, ASCE was able to produce a consensus document of best practices in the microtunneling industry.

“NAMA has had a significant impact on the microtunneling industry,” said NAMA member and Interim Board Chairman Lester M. Bradshaw Jr. “By representing the interest of microtunneling contractors in North America, NAMA members have made major contributions to numerous industry committees that are creating or updating microtunneling guidelines, standards and/or specifications.”

Following the two-year effort working on the ASCE guidelines, NAMA worked on the committee revising the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) specifications. This resulted in the inclusion of the micotunneling method and the use of interlocking steel casing joints in lieu of welded joints being added.

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Currently, NAMA members are working on the ASTM C13 and ASCE CI-27 committees to revise the design and manufacturing guidelines for reinforced concrete (RC) jacking pipe. There have been several extremely costly failures of RC jacking pipe in the United States over the past 10 years, and NAMA has recognized a clear need for a revised RC jacking pipe design standard and an ASTM standard that must be included in specifications and for fabricators. NAMA believes improving RC jacking pipe standards is critical if the U.S. market is to adopt curved microtunneling as practiced throughout the world.

As NAMA moves forward in its latest endeavors, it will do so under new leadership as Coss, the executive director since the association’s founding, has stepped down. New by-laws were drafted eliminating the executive director position and replacing it with an elected chairman of the executive board. Bradshaw was elected by the executive board as Interim Chairman until the annual membership meeting in February 2018 when all members will vote for a chairman to serve until 2020. There will also be an appointed Executive Assistant and Kirsten E. Young was recently appointed to that position. This new NAMA structure will mean a contractor member will be leading NAMA from now on.

“NAMA is very grateful to Tim Coss for working with the microtunneling contractors to form and lead NAMA since 2012,” Bradshaw said.

As industry innovations such as curved microtunneling eventually become standard over the next 5 to 10 years, NAMA will provide input and guidance to owners and engineers as the industry gains experience with the innovations.

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“The microtunneling method came from Japan and Europe in the 1980s, but it took 20 years to spread throughout the United States. Any innovation in infrastructure work takes decades to implement in the United States and NAMA will be there to see it through in microtunneling,” Bradshaw said.

Members of NAMA include the leading microtunneling contractors in North America. Any microtunneling contractor with offices in North America can apply for membership. Membership is limited to contractors with demonstrated microtunneling experience.

The contractors involved in NAMA are: Bradshaw Construction Corp.; BRH Garver Inc.; BT Construction Inc.; Frank Coluccio Construction Co.; Cruz Construction; Huxted Tunneling; James W. Fowler Co.; Michels Corp.; NADA Pacific Corp.; Northeast Remsco Construction; Northwest Boring Co.; SECA Underground Corp.; Super Excavators; Vadnais Trenchless; and Ward & Burke Construction Ltd.

The association is governed by an Executive Board consisting of Lester Bradshaw, Bradshaw Construction – Interim Board Chairman; Cal Terrasas, Nada Pacific – Secretary/Treasurer; Don Bergman, Frank Coluccio Construction Co.; Richard Palmer, Northeast Remsco; Brendan Tippets, Michels; and Kirsten E. Young (Executive Assistant). Tom Rosenberg of the law firm of Roetzel & Andress LPA in Columbus, Ohio, is general counsel to NAMA.

NAMA meets several times a year, typically at the annual Microtunneling Short Course in February and at related industry events. The next course is scheduled for Feb. 5-8, 2018, in Boulder, Colorado.


NAMA’s Mission

Among its primary purposes shall be to provide a venue for microtunneling contractors to meet and engage in discussion regarding issues of mutual interest, foster education, exchange views, promote interaction with others having an interest in microtunneling, be proactive to help engineers and owners to understand issues of importance to microtunneling contractors and to promote safety and advancement in the microtunneling industry.

Jim Rush is editor of Trenchless Technology.

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Jim Rush

Jim Rush is the Publisher and Editor of Trenchless Technology magazine.

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