Contracting Archives - Infrastructure Digest

Contractors Get Reprieve At the Pump

As the price of crude oil bottoms out at its lowest market value in more than four years, the bottom-line fuel costs of many construction-fleet managers are lighter. But equipment managers are taking this market depreciation with a grain of salt, knowing from experience that the price will bounce back sooner rather than later.

“It’s very nice to have the dip right now,” says Arne Ruud, corporate equipment manager for Broomfield, Colo.-based Guy F. Atkinson Construction LLC. “But there’s no assurance it’s going to go on for any length of time.”

Why should you read this? News you can use. ENR, January 2015

Critical Financial Documents…You Need to Know

“These reports are simple to understand and should be easy for your accountant or bookkeeper to create and maintain.
Two reports each track your profitability, your cash, and your expenses. First, let’s look at the reports by name then we’ll present a brief overview of the report’s importance.”

Why should you read this? Good overview of the essentials. FCP, January 2015

Sinking Soils Further Impede Efforts To Extricate Alaskan Way Viaduct’s Stuck TBM

Differential settlement of more than an inch has temporarily shut down efforts on the already-stalled Alaskan Way Viaduct project under downtown Seattle. Excavation had been underway on an access pit that was designed to repair “Bertha,” the stuck tunnel-boring machine (TBM), as crews continue to monitor the movement on surrounding buildings.

The 57.5-ft-dia machine has been stuck since December 2013, just over 1,000 ft into its 1.7-mile route under downtown Seattle as part of an effort to replace the aging viaduct after settlement was first detected a month earlier (ENR 2/24 p. 21).

Why should you read this? Schadenfreude? ENR, December 2014

Sewer Jetter Winterization

If the distance between two jobs is short (10 min or so), some jetter owners opt to keep their unit on with the water recirculating, rather than re-winterizing. However, this is not recommended when temperatures are extremely cold (subzero), or if the travel time between jobs is too long.
Please note that jetters should be winterized with “pink” or “RV” antifreeze only, not the “green” antifreeze most often used in automobiles. Besides being more environmentally friendly, pink/RV antifreeze is far less caustic and won’t cause premature wear on your jetter’s inner workings. As for the antifreeze-to-water ratio, a popular saying is that “50/50 will get you 50 below.”

Why should you read this? It’s Winter! This is news you need. Trenchless Technology, December 2014

Southeast Directional Drilling Puts the Bend in Hickory Bend Project

“When Associated Pipe Line Contractors needed approximately 16,800 ft of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work done on the Hickory Bend gathering and processing system in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Houston-based company turned to Southeast Directional Drilling.

Southeast Directional Drilling (SEDD), one of the first horizontal directional drilling contractors to work in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, is familiar with and has the necessary equipment to tackle the hard rock formations common in these emerging shale plays.”

Why should you read this? HDD is becoming more practical in recent years for all sorts of projects. This is a complex project in difficult terrain, and a good example of what is now possible. Trenchless Technology, November 2014

K&E Excavating Says It’s D7E Hybrid Dozer Cuts Fuel Costs In Half

““At first our operators were skeptical that an electric-drive tractor could outperform what we already had,” recalls Kuenzi. “But after just a few weeks on the job, they were convinced the D7E was the way to go. The more they used it, the more they liked it.”

Performance was tested for the D7E on its first two jobs: One was at a substation moving 250,000 cubic yards of dirt and boulders; the next job was at an airport hauling out material and debris (more project detail below).”

Why should you read this? Excellent, detailed analysis of ROI on the new Cat D7E, based on actual project use. FCP, September 2012

Contractors Fuel Savings With Biodiesel

“Biodiesel is quickly becoming more than a fad as contractors discover the benefits and develop experience with this alternative fuel source. Snohomish, Washington-based Earthwise Excavation has been an innovator in the use of biodiesel. This commercial and residential excavation company has been powering its entire fleet — including excavators, mini-excavators, skid-steer loaders, a dozer, a dump truck and a lowboy truck — with biodiesel since the 1990s.”

Why should you read this? Maybe you buy a lot of diesel? FCP, September 2012

Swagelining Technology Renews Life of Large Diameter Pressure Pipelines

“Specifying an HDPE pipe with an outside diameter larger in size than the inside of the host pipe, Swagelining reduces the HDPE pipe temporarily below the ID of the host pipe, allowing it to be inserted. While the towing load keeps the liner pipe under tension, it remains in its reduced size. The HDPE pipe remains fully elastic throughout the reduction and installation process. As the liner pipe is not permanently deformed by Swagelining, the release of the towing load after insertion is the catalyst for the liner to start reverting back toward its original size. As its original size is larger than that of the host pipe, the HDPE pipe expands until it is halted by the inside diameter of the host pipe. The HDPE pipe has been prevented from continuous expansion back to its original state. This produces a residual strain that is locked in the liner and keeps it pressed tight against the inside of the host pipe, even with no internal pressure from the product conveyed. A digital animation that illustrates this concept is available at”

Why should you read this? I write and read a lot about trenchless pipe rehabilitation, and I don’t really know much about swagelining. If you’re in the same position, and are dealing with underground pipes, this is a good overview and explains how swagelining fits into the trenchless repair universe. Trenchless Technology, November 2012

Model Behavior

“Having coped with power outages and other operational havoc wreaked by three hurricanes during a two-year span, they also wanted a building that could survive a Category 4 (140-mph)storm. To satisfy these two equally challenging requirements, it was essential that all project team members meet regularly. But as is often the case, not everyone was using the same building information modeling, design, engineering, and project-management software.” 

Why should you read this? The cool kids call it “distributed collaboration,” and it’s basically a way to leverage scarce design talent by finding the right consultants, wherever they are, and using online tools and, increasingly, BIM-based design processes, to put together a team that can get the job done without being physically in the same room. This article goes into detail about one successful project, including software specifics. Public Works, November 2012

Making or Rather Overcoming the Grade

““We had used the Axis system on city projects previously so we were familiar with the technology,” Gaynor says. “The guided boring system was used on a storm drain job in the downtown business district and the contractor suggested using it to help minimize street disruption. We also found the costs for using the boring system, compared to open cut, to be a wash; or perhaps slightly in the favor of the Axis system when considering the expense of hauling away spoil, asphalt and street repaving. What you can’t put a dollar amount on is the value of reducing disruption and minimizing public inconvenience.”

The Axis system is a pit-launched trenchless installation method designed to achieve pinpoint, on-grade accuracy while eliminating some of the difficult steps associated with other installation techniques. The Axis system is ideal for manhole-to-manhole installations and is capable of maintaining the strict tolerance and accuracy required for sewer and water projects. This combination combines on-grade accuracy with efficiency while helping to lessen street restoration costs.”

Good detail on use of laser guided boring in sensitive residential area. Trenchless Technology, July 12th, 2012

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