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GME Clears Path to Water Main Repair Under OH’s I-75

Sat June 19, 2004 - Midwest Edition
Doug Murphy

Andy Kloenne is accustomed to jobs that pose all kinds of difficulties to contractors. Currently vice president of Ford Development Corporation, a highway and heavy contractor, he has been with the Cincinnati-headquartered company for the past 17 years. He is responsible for setting up work crews and coordinating the type of equipment used for each job.

In the process, he becomes very familiar with the demands of each job: the obstacles to work around, the limitations and advantages of certain kinds of equipment and most importantly, the need to maintain a safe environment for the workers at all times.

Ford Development Corporation has long been focused on worker safety. A safety officer oversees the company’s many safety programs and seminars organized each year and an outside consultant monitors their efforts. With roughly 150 workers, Ford Development Corporation has made it a priority to make every job safe for its workers.

In March 2003, Ford Development Corporation began work on a project on the Crescentville Water Main in Cincinnati, OH. Right away the job posed a major challenge in terms of safety and logistics: the section of the water main that they needed to get to was directly underneath Route I-75.

Kloenne recalled, “We needed to dig a boring pit in order to jack and bore a steel casing underneath I-75. Since we could not open up the highway, we had to find a way to work underneath it.”

Moreover, the pit needed to be unusually deep to accommodate the steel casing. With dimensions of 30 ft. deep, 12 ft. wide and 40 ft. long (9 by 3.6 by 12 m), this was one of the deeper pits that Kloenne had ever encountered.

“This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill job” he explained. “We might come across pits this deep only one or two times in a year. The depth of the pit made safety a special concern in this job.”

Ford Development Corp. considered a number of shoring options to find the one safest and easiest to use given the overhead constraints. The company found that solider piling and lagging could do the job, but the installation and removal would probably be a lengthy process. Another option was the GME/ES Slide Rail, a shoring method recently introduced by GME, a leading supplier of trench and shoring equipment in the U.S. and Canada.

Although new to North America, the GME/ES Slide Rail system has been used in Europe for more than 30 years. This slide rail system eliminates overhead clearance issues by using an open track rail that allows for panels to be pivoted into place rather than the typically cumbersome method of threading panels into a closed rail from above.

This makes the GME/ES Slide Rail well suited to congested worksite excavations, especially ones with overhead obstacles. Since overhead clearance is not an obstacle, the contractor can utilize smaller excavators to place the rails and panels.

Even though it had never used this shoring method before, Ford Development Corp. decided to try the GME/ES Slide Rail. They obtained the equipment directly from GME, who also provided a safety consultant to take charge of the first-time installation. The whole process went smoothly: the installation took two and a half days and the removal took only one day, proving to be much easier and faster than other shoring methods.

“We estimated that it would take at least three weeks total to install solider pile and lagging,” Kloenne said. “The GME/ES Slide Rail was quicker to install and what’s more, it was half the cost of our other options.”

Like Kloenne, other contractors have found that the GME/ES Slide Rail requires much less time for installation and removal and can be applied to a variety of different jobs.

In Wisconsin, an area contractor working on the installation of a lift station opted to use the GME/ES Slide Rail for a job estimated to take roughly five days. The installation and removal went off without a hitch and instead of taking five days, the contractor was able to complete the entire job in less than 12 hours — all in one day.

Another contractor working on the installation of a fuel tank for a hospital in California had similar results with the GME/ES Slide Rail. The entire process took less than a week, with the slide rail installed and removed within four days.

Moreover, the job was done in a very congested work area — the contractor not only had to cope with surrounding hospital buildings, but the work was done next to an emergency helicopter landing pad, which remained in use throughout the four days.

Despite these obstacles, the contractor was able to finish up within the week. By their estimate, the job would have taken twice as long without the GME/ES Slide Rail.

Ford Development Corp. used the GME/ES Slide Rail in the pit for two months and the entire job on the Crescentville Water Main took three months. Looking back on the job, Kloenne was pleased with their shoring decision.

The GME/ES Slide Rail was easier to put in than conventional shoring and the nearby highway had no effect on the installation process. It is a good system that is simple to install and very economical and I would use it again for any job with a pit that deep.”

(Doug Murphy is Slide Rail Specialist for GME)