Upsizing 10-inch diameter pipe to 15-inches.

Pneumatic Pipe Bursting Project Under the Microscope: SPS Pulls Off High Profile Burst in Atlanta

Trenchless projects can go unnoticed sometimes. Usually that’s the way everyone involved likes it. Limited disruption and minimal restoration are the calling cards of any good trenchless project. But sometimes a project takes place that receives scrutiny and attention like never before. That was the case recently in a suburb of Atlanta, Ga. The Piedmont Sewer Replacement Project seemed destined for fame, or infamy, from the start. A large scale sewer replacement under one of Atlanta’s busiest roadways, traveling to one of the area’s most upscale communities, had the potential to grab the public’s attention. If handled poorly, the project would be a public relations nightmare. If handled well, the project would be celebrated.

Project Overview

Pipe going into Entry Pit.

The Piedmont Sewer Replacement Project objective was to increase sewer capacity in the rapidly developing Buckhead Community.

The Piedmont Sewer Replacement Project objective was to increase sewer capacity in the rapidly developing Buckhead Community. There are several proposed developments that are 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 inches to 15 inches in diameter and extend the sewer line south toward Peachtree Road.

Southeast Pipe Survey, Inc., Patterson, Ga., was selected to perform the work. SPS President David Herrin said, “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. The schedule of the project was intense: 24 hours a day, seven days a week for five weeks.” Pipe bursting, utilizing the pneumatic Grundocrack pipe bursting system from TT Technologies, Aurora, Ill., was selected.

Under the Microscope

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

According to Herrin, public information played a huge role in the project. He said, “The Department of Watershed Management’s Communications and Public Outreach group was responsible for informing and educating communities about the potential effects of the Clean Water Atlanta projects. 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 a month prior to 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 website throughout the project.”

Those 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, GA DOT, the media, area businesses as well as elected officials.

On the Job

Upsizing 10-inch diameter pipe to 15-inches.

SPS crews started near the center of the project area and pipe burst north toward Lenox Road approximately 1,000 linear feet, upsizing the existing 10-inch diameter to 15 inches.

The specifications of the burst were very impressive. Upsizing the existing 10-inch line to 15-inch ID required using 16-inch HDPE/DR17 with an OD of 17.40 inches and an expander with an 18-inch 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’d encounter. So we went with the power of a 14-inch 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 linear feet, upsizing the existing 10-inch diameter line to 15 inches. At the same time from the center point, a new 12-inch sewer was installed and 100 linear feet of 12-inch 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.

The project ultimately was completed a full week ahead of schedule. Celebration.

  • Project Owner: City of Atlanta, Dept. of Watershed Management
  • Project Engineer: City of Atlanta, Dept. of Watershed Management PM Team
  • Contractor: Southeast Pipe Survey Inc.- Patterson GA
  • Equipment Manufacturer: TT Technologies, Aurora, Ill

Trenchless Technology, October 2007