Winners of the Underground Construction Awards Honored at UCT

(UI) – Innovative organizations and individuals spanning the diverse underground construction industry were honored Wednesday night when winners of the inaugural Underground Construction Awards were announced during the Underground Construction Technology International Conference and Exhibition (UCT) in Orlando, Fla.

Twelve new Underground Construction awards were presented at the Rosen Plaza hotel gala, along with the MVP Award recognizing the most valuable industry professional for the year. The MVP Award, sponsored by the Underground Construction Technology Association and Underground Infrastructure magazine, has been awarded annually at UCT for more than 20 years.

The award winners announced Wednesday include:

Community Impact Award

According to the World Health Organization, over 2.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe water at home – and 40 percent of those people live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Oklahoma-based Water4 has provided clean water to 1.6 million people since 2008 and is set to increase that number exponentially using new Ditch Witch technology.   The idea of Water4 was born out of a philanthropic endeavor of the Oklahoma-based wholesale water pumps supplier, PumpsOK, owned by Dick and Teri Greenly. Water4 is working to solve the water crisis by establishing and facilitating water infrastructure across Africa.

In supply water pipelines to local villages, accomplishing Water4 this goal will required a sizeable trenching task. Water4 is set to trench and install water pipeline across 250,000 miles of the African landscape. However, this year Water4 used the first powered trencher in the company’s history – the Ditch Witch RT45 ride-on trencher, which was donated by Travis Wilkey, CEO of Ditch Witch of North Carolina.  

Electric Transmission Project of the Year

The SDG&E San Ysidro Gateways 12K project was performed by Teichert Energy and Utilities (TEU) for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE), in San Diego, CA.  The project consisted of constructing a substantial pour-in-place Substation Manhole Vault (26'x12'x12'), building a 30-foot-long retention wall, and hillside reconstruction that included approximately 2,000 cubic yards of backfill material.  Multiple obstacles and constraints existed onsite including numerous power lines located directly over the work zone, a narrow road which severely limited equipment transportation in and around the site, and a severe slope in the roadway.  The slope completely eliminated the team’s ability to utilize a crane on the project.  Due to the aforementioned site conditions and obstacles, the TEU team determined that the best way to construct the vault was to utilize the ‘pour-in-place’ methodology. Despite multiple challenges, the San Ysidro Gateways 12KV project was completed within budget, on-schedule, and with zero safety incidents.

Emerging Rehabilitation Technology of the Year

Ringtech 360 Robot for installation of SIPP in trenchless pipe rehabilitation. 360Ringtech Robotics are capable to consistently apply high pressure, heated, fast set plural component elastomeric polyureas and polyurethanes for use as liners in the rehabilitation and new construction of liquid gathering, storage and distribution systems. The equipment can also apply all ancillary products required of any liner installation, including: single and plural component primers, surface cleaners and surface treatments.

360Ringtech Robotics deliver a complete application process, all remotely controlled, from vault to vault or manhole to manhole. The products are processed and applied using complete 360-degree rotation, delivering consistent liner thicknesses, regardless of substrate type, diameters, transitions, risers or penetrations, with little disruption to traffic flow.

Emerging Software/Mapping Technology of the Year

Flexspection is the new sewer video platform for ROVVER X by Envirosight that captures crystal-clear, HD inspection footage. Flexspection provides the flexibility to throttle video resolution between three options (SD, 720p HD, and 1080p HD) on a case-by-case basis. Easily change file size, video resolution and quality to best serve individual regulators and customers. With Flexspection for ROVVER X, you can take on a wider range of jobs than ever before—all with the same crawler.

Emerging Technology of the Year - General, All Markets

GE Research, Warren Environmental and Garver, LLC are collaborating to develop PipeLine Underground Trenchless Overhaul (PLUTO). PLUTO is an innovative long-distance minimally invasive pipe repair system that will structurally rehabilitate gas pipelines at unprecedented speed and at a significantly reduced cost compared with traditional open-cut excavation replacement. This system: validates the material properties for a high-performance spray-on lining system to predict lifecycle characteristics; evaluates multiple approaches to selective surface preparation to ensure an intimate bond where necessary (to seal interfaces) and structural independence elsewhere; a high-pull capacity robotic delivery system; and evaluation of pre-and-post lining inspection technologies to ensure that any issues that may prevent a successful lining can be detected ahead of time and also to detect any residual life-limiting defects post-lining.

Energy Pipeline Project of the Year

The project was construction of the Air Products Hydrogen 16-inch pipeline by HardRock Infrastructure. This line crossed Galveston Bay and involved barge to barge crossings. There were 11 total crossings in the Galveston Bay totaling 33,438 feet by utilitzing horizontal directional drilling. This project was completed utilizing three HDD crews all working off barges. It was started on Jan. 3, 2022 and was completed by March 3, 2022 so not only was the project completed in an efficient manner, but also completed safely with zero injuries. 

HardRock proved that a project of this size can be completed on schedule and remain safe. This was accomplished by pre-planning and being prepared for everything. It was also accomplished by well-trained crews that believe in the safety culture at HardRock.

Environmental Awareness Award

Insituform has designed a technology to address the environmental concerns regarding steam cured CIPP.  This filtration device is patented technology that has specially designed baffle system that breaks down the steam effluent and then a specifically designed carbon filter that is designed to capture the styrene vapors that are released.

This technology has already positively impacted the CIPP industry. There has been a concern regarding the steam CIPP emissions containing styrene vapors that could impact the general public, homeowners and employees. This technology has been used on a number of project where there is a high risk of concern.  Also, we have seen clients starting to add this technology into specifications to protect environmental release of hazardous air pollutants during the CIPP process.

Rehabilitation Project of the Year

The city of Evansville, Ind., was experiencing significant sink holes of about 60 and 72 inches in reinforced concrete pipes on the inside of the cloverleaf on US 41/Lloyd Expressway which is located near the Ohio River and downtown Evansville. After inspection by the City and Arcadis (engineer), it was determined that the pipe was deemed to be in good structural condition, but the joints needed to be sealed and the loose soils and voids surrounding the pipe stabilized to eliminate the danger of future sinkholes in the area. The Expressway averages an average of 100,000 motorists every day, so the safety of the community was at danger. After careful consideration, it was approved to use injection grouting for the job, specifically using hydrophobic polyurethane grouts from Avanti. The job was awarded to Culy Contracting of Winchester, Ind. Culy is an experienced underground utility infrastructure contractor with over 40 years in the construction business.

Through Phase 1 of the project (June 2021 – November 2021) and Phase 2 June 2022 – August 2022), Culy injection grouted approximately 12,000 gallons Avanti hydrophobic polyurethane grouts. The grout was injected through the pipe joints and into the surrounding soil, filling voids, stabilizing the pipe and creating a waterproof barrier for infiltration. Due to the cloverleaf, the pipes had to be internally bypassed.  After the completion of grouting, the joints were coated using Madewell’s Mainstay ML-72 and Epoxytec’s Cladliner, and over 4,000 linear feet of the pipes were cleaned. Culy Contracting executed the project on time and on budget for Evansville.

Rising Star of the Year

As Managing Director of Vortex Companies’ European Division, Quin oversees the day-to-day and long-term growth strategy as the company continues to expand its products and services businesses throughout Europe. He has been instrumental in managing Vortex’s cross-border transactions and managing strategic relationships. In the past few months, he’s succeeded in establishing manufacturing capabilities for Vortex mortars and polymerics in Europe, entered into strategic partnerships with other European companies, and opened Vortex’s new European headquarters in Munich, Germany. Quin also continues to expand the European sales and operations team. Quin’s efforts are helping bring much-needed technologies, expertise and services to the European market.

Sewer & Water Project of the Year

Lake Lure, NC, is a popular destination during the summer season. Aging manholes located along the shoreline of a large man-made lake were a source of I & I that was placing excessive burden on the town's small treatment plant during summer. The sewer system runs on the floor of the lake with manholes located along the shoreline with connected property laterals and from there into mainlines on the lakebed bottom which are held by cribbing. Sewage is conveyed by gravity feed to the town's wastewater treatment plant. It was decided that the system’s 65 manholes needed rehabilitation inside and out to reduce I & I.

Many of the structures had odd positions along the shoreline as well as unusual lateral tie-ins with odd connection heights and placements.  CTR Coatings of Knoxville, Tenn., was contracted to perform the rehabilitation project and on average were able to complete six to 8 manholes a week as the only way to access them was by watercraft. A thorough cleaning and filling with hydraulic cement to remedy holes and gaps was performed followed by drying with indirect heat wagons and propane torches to prepare surfaces for the spray-applied lining. CTR Coatings applied OBIC 1200, by OBIC Products, a semi-structural material designed for culverts and wastewater applications due to its high impact resistance.

Telecom/Fiber Project of the Year

Hypower designed and installed 197 miles of communications infrastructure to accommodate seven long-distance carriers and the new Positive Train Control fiber for FEC and Brightline’s new high-speed train. Brightline is a privately funded high-speed railroad currently being built between Orlando and Miami within the Florida east coast right-of-way.

Gas Distribution Project of the Year

RAVAN AIR, alongside their sister company, Tru-Tek, recently completed a milestone project installing a natural gas line underneath Chartiers Creek in Washington, Penn., contracted by NPL. This project took place in February and March of 2022. RAVAN AIR performed pre-inspection services to accurately locate existing sewer pipes laying under the creek to provide data to engineers designing the new pipe installation. While Tru-Tek bored and placed the new natural gas pipeline, RAVAN AIR performed underground inspection services with a mapping probe to precisely record the location of the new bore and pipe during its construction replacement and provide data to engineers for the existing bridge. RAVAN AIR also performed the post-inspection to ensure the existing sewer pipes were not impacted during the installation of the new natural gas line and that the installation overall was completed to plan.

Most Valuable Professional (sponsored by the Underground Construction Technology Association and Underground Infrastructure magazine)

The award for the Most Valuable Professional of the underground infrastructure industry will be presented to Richard (Rick) M. Howard, P.E., retired public works director for the city of Orlando. 

Howard worked for Orlando, Fla., from 1985 until his retirement in April 2022. He served as Public Works Director since 2011. In that role his responsibilities the administration and management of the Public Works Department with manpower of 630 dedicated professionals and an average annual operating and capital expenditures of $300 million. The department, in various configurations, has included seven divisions managing the operations of Capital Improvements, Engineering, Solid Waste Management, Streets and Stormwater, Parking, Transportation Engineering, and Wastewater. 

Howard led the PWD with a focus centered on providing Orlando’s citizens a quality, sustainable environment, energy efficiency and intelligent transportation technology. Some examples include experimenting with super critical water oxidation for the control of biosolids, MSW waste-to-energy processes, accelerated development review program, artificial wetlands creation and reclaimed water distribution networks, among many others. 

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