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Iowa State University--Becoming the Best

Identification of Practices, Design, Construction, and Repair Using Trenchless Technology

Directional drilling machine


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Project status


Start date: 03/01/07
End date: 10/01/10


Report: Identification of Practices, Design, Construction, and Repair Using Trenchless Technology (9.14 MB pdf) October 2010

Tech transfer summary: Practices, Design, Construction, and Repair Using Trenchless Technology (266 kb pdf) Oct 2010



About the research


Trenchless technologies are methods used for the construction and rehabilitation of underground utility pipes. These methods are growing increasingly popular due to their versatility and their potential to lower project costs. However, the use of trenchless technologies in Iowa and their effects on surrounding soil and nearby structures has not been adequately documented. Surveys of and interviews with professionals working in trenchless-related industries in Iowa were conducted, and the results were analyzed and compared to survey results from the United States as a whole. The surveys focused on method familiarity, pavement distress observed, reliability of trenchless methods, and future improvements. Results indicate that the frequency of pavement distress or other trenchless-related issues are an ongoing problem in the industry. Inadequate soil information and quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) are partially to blame. Fieldwork involving the observation of trenchless construction projects was undertaken with the purpose of documenting current practices and applications of trenchless technology in the United States and Iowa. Field tests were performed in which push-in pressure cells were used to measure the soil stresses induced by trenchless construction methods. A program of laboratory soil testing was carried out in conjunction with the field testing. Soil testing showed that the installations were made in sandy clay or well-graded sand with silt and gravel. Pipes were installed primarily using horizontal directional drilling with pipe diameters from 3 to 12 inches. Pressure cell monitoring was conducted during the following construction phases: pilot bore, pre-reaming, and combined pipe pulling and reaming. The greatest increase in lateral earth pressure was 5.6 psi and was detected 2.1 feet from the centerline of the bore during a pilot hole operation in sandy lean clay. Measurements from 1.0 to 2.5 psi were common. Comparisons were made between field measurements and analytical and finite element calculation methods.