May 2019 Vol. 74 No. 5


Trenching In Tennessee

Jeff Griffin  |  Senior Editor





Cleary Construction is involved in a major project to relocate and replace utility lines in Smyrna, Tenn. Moving the utilities is necessary due to a road widening project to improve traffic flow in this growing community located about 20 miles southeast of Nashville.

When construction is completed at the end of the year, Cleary will have installed approximately 20,500 linear feet of pipe ranging in diameters from 4 to 16 inches. The project owner is the town of Smyrna. The primary contractor is Jones Brothers Construction LLC, with Cleary Construction the subcontractor for trenching and installing mainline natural gas, water and sewer lines, and appurtenances.

When the project is complete, pipe installed will include:

  • Gas pipe: 950 feet of 6-inch steel and 100 feet of HDPE
  • Water pipe: 11,300 feet of 12-inch, and 300 feet of 16-inch ductile iron pipe; PVC in lengths of 125 feet of 6-inch, 350 feet of 8 -inch and 150 feet of 10-inch
  • Sewer pipe: 225 feet of PVC sewer pipe.


Excavation is being done with a 630-horsepower Trencor track trencher equipped with a 12-foot boom and Berco rock chain. It is the only trencher
used on the project.




Soil conditions are a thin layer of top soil over clay. and rock. The majority of the project has outcroppings of limestone.

“All pipe is being placed in easements on both sides of the road,” said Darren Cleary, president of Cleary Construction. “Trench width for the entire project is
42 inches, with depths of 4.5 feet to 10 feet. Pipe is bedded and backfilled with approved stone/sand per the owner’s requirement. The remainder of the trenches are backfilled to the surface with native material.”

The work requires multiple moves and setups during trenching, Cleary continued, and calling for extensive planning and oversight by managers, the superintendent and the trenching crew.

Phase one of the project includes water, gas and finishes with sewer. Phase two is more water, then gas.

Support equipment comprises Caterpillar 335 and 321 excavators, a Caterpillar wheel loader, Takeuchi skid steer and John Deere 650 dozer.

In addition to trenching and pipe installation, Cleary is installing valves, hydrants and making service connections.

Communication is a key to making work go smoothly.

“We had to trench across a major highway in several areas,” said Cleary, “and the project involves daily communication with all parties involved and the public, plus extensive planning and execution of traffic control.”

Based in Tompkinsville, KY, Cleary was established in 1985 to do paving, chip sealing and loader work, but also has expanded its capabilities to include water, sewer, gas, site work, bridges, and water and wastewater treatment plant work. Cleary works in eight states.


Cleary Construction, (270) 487-1784,

Trencor, (419) 869-7107,

Caterpillar, (309) 675-1000,

John Deere, (309) 748-0114,


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