November 2019 Vol. 74 No. 11


Stormwater Pipe Replacement in Florida

Allison Grettenberg

Communities large and small across the United States are facing a hidden crisis – failing underground water and sewer pipes. 

According to a report published in the New York Times in November 2017, more than 1.6 million miles of water and sewer pipes were nearing the end of their useful life. In fact, by 2020, the average age of the pipes will hit 45 years. The cost to replace water and sewer pipes over the coming decades may reach more than $1 trillion, according to the American Water Works Association.

While this seems like a large feat, A.W.A. Contracting, Inc. – a concrete contractor, road construction and underground utility company based in Jacksonville, Fla. – is doing what it can in its area to help alleviate this nationwide infrastructure challenge.

“We complete a lot of maintenance contracts for St. Johns County, Putnam County, Marion County, among others,” said Artie Allen, owner of A.W.A. Contracting, with more than 30 years of experience in construction. “This includes road repairs after major storms, DOT fast-track jobs, box culverts and installing underground utilities. We’re on call 24/7.”

When cities like Palatka, Fla., located in Putnam County and situated near the St. Johns River, needed to replace failing stormwater pipes in a residential area, A.W.A. Contracting took on the challenge. As part of this drainage repair project, the underground utility company was tasked with replacing underground pipes with new 60-inch reinforced concrete pipe on a section of Campbell Street. “The city had some failures from pipe that was installed in the early 1970s,” Allen said.

The project was particularly difficult because it was in a residential neighborhood, where homeowners needed to access their driveways and traffic passed the construction along Campbell Street.

Right-sized Machines

To efficiently complete this project on schedule, A.W.A. Contracting used a Doosan DX350LC-5 crawler excavator and a DL220LC-5 wheel loader purchased from its local dealer, Bobcat of Jacksonville. While the DX350LC-5 weighs approximately 80,000 pounds, Allen explained that the crawler excavator is still maneuverable in residential areas, as encountered on this project.

Working alongside Campbell Street, Allen’s operators used the crawler excavator to excavate, remove the old pipe, trench approximately 13 feet, then lift and place the new 60-inch reinforced concrete pipe. Working in tandem with a truck, the excavator efficiently loaded the dirt into the truck bed with minimal disruption to passing cars. The wheel loader was paired with a pallet fork to lift the pipe from a nearby staging area and transport it next to the excavator. Once in position, the excavator lifted and placed the new 60-inch pipe using the excavator’s lift eye.

“This excavator was the perfect size for digging a trench and laying the pipe for this project. It gave us the maneuverability and the strength that we need to accomplish this project on time and within budget,” Allen said. “The wheel loaders worked well with the pipe crews. It was the right size machine for this project. Plus, the visibility from the cab allowed us to clearly see the job site and the task at hand.”

As the Palatka project wrapped up, A.W.A. Contracting had plenty of other projects lined up in northeast Florida. With more work ahead, Allen is confident his right-sized equipment is well-positioned to handle the work.

“We want to do the best we can every time,” Allen pointed out. “When the county does its final inspection, we’re proud to say that we were a part of the process, and our equipment helped us get to the finish line.”

Starting Early

Artie Allen’s father was an engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation. Following in his father’s footsteps, Artie was an inspector before he started his own company.

“I took my college money, what little bit I had back then, and started my own company,” Allen said.

He was just 21 years old when he started A.W.A. Contracting Company, Inc. The firm has survived the ups and downs of the economy, and today is on the uptick with numerous construction projects in the works.


A.W.A. Contracting Company. (904) 262-4157,

Doosan Equipment, (877) 613-7970,

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