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Three Companies Shore Up Route 95 in New Haven

Thu July 16, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

Three companies have recently joined up — or “shored” up — on a project in New Haven, Conn.: Efficiency Production Inc. of Mason, Mich., Bunce Shoring LLC of Billerica, Mass., Concord, N.H., and Berlin, Conn., and Waters Construction of Bridgeport and New Milford, Conn.

Each has worked cooperatively with one another, particularly on reconstruction of the Howard Avenue Bridge over Interstate 95 and relocating the main sewer lines on both sides of Route 95 in New Haven, Conn.

Efficiency Production manufactures a slide rail shoring system, sold by Bunce Shoring to Waters Construction and now being used under the highway to protect workers as they rebuild the bridge — a $15 million project under the auspices of Connecticut DOT.

Bill Duffy, shoring specialist of Bunce Shoring LLC, and Mike Archer, superintendent of Waters Construction, talked about the advantages of shoring up the work and the industry.

CEG: You’ve supplied some innovative equipment to Waters Construction. Describe the equipment and its uses.

Duffy: Waters Construction is utilizing a slide rail shoring system, manufactured by Efficiency Production Inc. Efficiency’s universal slide rail is a component shoring system comprised of steel panels, similar to trench shield sidewalls and vertical steel posts.

The versatile system can be used in a variety of configurations, such as small four-sided pits; large unobstructed working pits as big as 50 by 50 feet with Efficiency’s ClearSpan system; or in a linear Multi-Bay configuration to install length of pipe over 40 feet. Waters is utilizing more than 80 feet of slide rail in a five-bay, Linear Multi-Bay configuration.

CEG: How does it differ from the usual shoring equipment?

Duffy: Slide Rail is installed simultaneously as the trench or pit is excavated by sliding the panels into integrated rails on the posts — either double or triple rails depending on needed depth — then pushing the panels and posts incrementally down to grade as the pit is dug; a process commonly referred to as a “dig and push” system.

CEG: Explain shoring. How does it help highway jobs? What are the various kinds of shoring techniques?

Duffy: There are three basic types of protective systems for trenches: Sloping, shielding or shoring. Trench Shielding is the most common trench protection technique, normally utilizing a steel trench shield, or “trench box,” which keeps workers safe while they are in a trench, in the event of a trench wall collapse. Unlike shielding that only protects workers inside of a shielding device, Shoring actually applies pressure against trench walls to prevent collapse.

The most common shoring device is aluminum vertical hydraulic shore, which uses hydraulic pressure to activate cross-trench cylinders that are connected to 8-inch vertical rails, thus creating a pressure arch that prevents the trench wall from collapsing.

Sloping is the process of excavating a trench with sloped sidewalls to a safe angle so that they will not collapse. The steepness of the slope is determined by the soil conditions; the “looser” the dirt, the bigger the slope must be. Efficiency’s slide rail is a combination of shielding and shoring.

It is installed and removed incrementally, which allows the trench to be properly shored and safe for workers to be in the excavation throughout the entire installation or removal process. The advantage to highway jobs and others is that the excavation always remains perfectly vertical with no need for sloping, which allows the system to be installed in tighter spots, around existing utilities or structures such as a highway.

CEG: What is your company? Where is it located?

Duffy: Bunce Shoring LLC is a shoring and safety equipment distributor for companies including Efficiency Productions Inc., DBI/SALA, Honeywell, and Lumidor Systems.

Our products range from slide rail systems and trench boxes to safety harnesses and gas monitors. We are located in Billerica, Mass., Concord, N.H., and Berlin, Conn. All locations have a stocked yard and professionals suited to help [customers] with [their] safety needs.

CEG: What is your history in the industry?

Duffy: I have been in the construction industry my entire adult career. I entered into the shoring business in the early ’90s from my facility in Billerica. The Company was Equipment Leasing Services, or ELS. We continued our operation of equipment sales of leased returned equipment as well as trench boxes and street plate. This area was very successful.

In 1993-1994, we took on the SBH slide rail line directly from the manufacturer, SBH, in Germany. We were once again very successful in slide rail rental in the Northeast. We had a good product and provided knowledgeable installers to assist the contractor on the job site.

After many years of record rental income, I sold the company to United Rentals in 1999. I retained the property in Billerica and this is the same very convenient location from which we operated the Bunce Shoring/Efficiency Companies.

We currently have in excess of $2 million in rental ready trench boxes, slide rail, and street plates at the Billerica location. This location is very central to the Boston area, North and South Shore, as well as New Hampshire and Maine.

CEG: Describe slide rail.

Duffy: I love the challenge of slide rail. Every job is different but made very simple using the Efficiency slide rail system. There is nothing like it in the industry.

I am in my 60s and I love the daily challenge and installation of Efficiency slide rail. The Waters job in New Haven posed numerous obstacles and utilities as we moved up Fifth Street, which is a residential area. The use of the Efficiency Shore-Trak Sheeting System in lengths from 12 to 24 feet allowed us to move up Fifth Street in record time at depths to 26 feet.

CEG: Shoring equipment keeps workers safe so that trenches don’t collapse on them. Can you provide any stories of how it saved someone’s life or really helped a dangerous job?

Duffy: An excavation project is by nature dangerous, and the law requires all excavations greater than 5 feet to utilize one of the three trench protection systems. According to Efficiency Production, a worker has never been killed or injured when properly using one of their manufactured shoring systems. In that sense, countless lives have been saved that would otherwise have been in extreme peril in the absence of manufactured trench protection equipment.

CEG: Describe Waters Construction.

Archer: Waters Construction is a multi-divisional construction company specializing in heavy highway and road construction, site work and asphalt paving. It was incorporated in 1960 in New Milford, Conn.

It has grown into a company constructing an average total of $25 million per year. Waters Construction’s offices in Bridgeport and New Milford, Conn., serve owners throughout Connecticut and eastern New York.

CEG: Describe the New Haven project. What part of the project are you using the shoring equipment on and why?

Archer: The project is DOT #92-603, Reconstruction of Howard Avenue Bridge Over I-95. The general contractor for the project is Brunalli Construction from Southington, Conn.

The existing Howard Avenue Bridge is being replaced to allow for the construction of additional travel lanes on I-95 under future contracts. The shoring equipment is being used for the installation of the new sanitary sewer system. The sanitary sewer system must be installed prior to the demolition of the existing bridge.

The existing sewer system is encased in the footings of the Howard Avenue Bridge. The slide rail shoring is being used for the sewer system installation due to the deep cuts and tight work areas. The trench excavations ranged in depths from 14 to 24 feet deep.

Shoring also was required for the installation of eight manholes. The manholes were between 6 and 10 feet in diameter. United Concrete Products in Yalesville, Conn., supplied the manholes.

The slide rail shoring is being used for the following reasons. The depth of the excavations doesn’t allow for the stacking and dragging of conventional trench boxes. The sandy soil on the project would have exerted too much pressure on stacked trench boxes, so that they would not have been able to be dragged ahead while maintaining stable excavation.

There were a multitude of utilities crossing the trench that had to be supported and shored around. The versatility of the shore-track sheeting system around the utilities allowed each utility to be supported and shored around.

CEG: This is a ConnDOT job. What is their involvement? What is the total cost of the project?

Archer: The Connecticut DOT District 3A Office administered this contract. The DOT’s consultant engineer for the project is Gannett Fleming. The staff from Gannet Fleming handles the daily inspections and office administration. The total cost of project is approximately $15 million.

CEG: Please provide specifics of the project? Earth removal? Amount of concrete or steel being used, etc?


• 3,204 cu. yds. (2,450 cu m) trench excavation up to 7.5 meters deep

• 196. cu. yds. (150 cu m) granular fill

• 490 cu. yds. (375 cu m) bedding material

• 344 linear ft. (105 m) 35 in. 900 mm) SDR35 pipe

• 393 linear ft. (120 m) 29 in. (750 mm) SDR35 pipe

CEG: How has shoring and trenching changed over the years?

Archer: Shoring and trenching has changed over the last 10 years primarily from a safety standpoint. It is imperative to maintain a safe working environment for the employees when exposing them to deep trenching operations.

The slider rail has replaced the installation of sheet piling and lagging to achieve trench depths that were required on the project. The slide rail allowed for the trench excavation and pipe installation to progress steadily and not have to wait for sheet pile installation or removal. The slide rail system also is very adaptable to changing job site conditions due to unknown utilities.

CEG: What other jobs are you working on that don’t require slide rail?

Archer: We are completing the site work for FUSCO, which is the general contractor for the DOT’s new bus maintenance facility in Hamden, Conn. We are completing the roadwork in Norwalk, Conn., for the new Reed Street RR Bridge for Brunalli Construction.

CEG: What is it like doing business with Bunce Shoring LLC?

Archer: Working with Bill [Duffy] has been a great experience from day one. Bill not only represents the product well, but more importantly he knows what the system can and cannot accomplish. From the time we started, we had the right equipment whenever we needed it and if something came up we got what we needed when we needed it.

Both Bill and the people at Efficiency are very responsive to the specific needs of the project. Another thing I really liked about Bill and Efficiency’s staff is their attitude. They never spoke adversely about any of their shoring competitors or the flaws in their competitors systems, but always spoke about what they have done to improve their products and make the most efficient slide rail product on the market.

This entire project was based on extensive prior planning and forming relationships with the best companies in the business for a specific application. The slide rail system is essentially another machine that is added to the crew for deep trenching applications.

It is important for the lead excavator operator to work with laborers who are watching the system progress to the depths that are required. The entire crew must work together and constantly communicate on what is required to make the system work as efficiently as possible. There are times when the operation must take a few steps back to get ahead in the overall production.

The basic principle of starting the system installation “square and plumb” goes a long ways towards a successful installation. We look forward to using an Efficiency system on the next project that requires slide rail shoring. CEG

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