Rehab Under The Runways: EcoCast Technology Matched Project Demands At Cecil Airport

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | July 2013, Vol. 68, No. 7

Methods to rehabilitate and replace old and deteriorating underground pipelines have advanced rapidly in the past decade, and today there are multiple trenchless procedures for replacing, rehabilitating and repairing buried infrastructure.

Indeed, utility and facility owners today are quick to turn to trenchless methods when open-cut construction is too costly, impractical or impossible.

The Jacksonville Airport Authority routinely uses trenchless construction to address issues with underground infrastructure beneath runways, taxiways and other locations where extensive excavation would seriously disrupt airport operations.

Jacksonville’s busy Cecil Airport supports government and civilian aviation operations and aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul activities plus aviation training. In 2012, total airport traffic was 45,397, ranging from more than 3,700 to 9,300 take offs and landings per month.

Obviously a priority of any type of construction at the facility is that the work does not disrupt air traffic and other airport activities, often making trenchless construction the best option for maintenance and improvements to the airport’s underground water, storm water and sewer pipes, many of them beneath runways and taxiways.

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A recent example is the rehabilitation of approximately 1,400 feet of storm water lines beneath a Cecil Airport tarmac and taxiway. Storm water is collected from grates across the facility and is transported to an outfall area located just to the east and south of airport runways, said Jacksonville Airport Authority Project Manager Art Waczkowski. The pipes have been in the ground for more than 40 years and he described their condition as “poor.”

“Some of the concrete above the pipe had begun to settle, so it was time for rehabilitation,” he added.

Selecting the method
Clearly the project called for trenchless construction. For this project EcoCast -- an advanced geopolymer liner that is centrifugally-cast onto the inner wall of the deteriorated pipes -- was the method selected.

“Because this is a major aircraft maintenance and repair facility, it was important that operations continued throughout the project,” said Waczkowski. “The EcoCast set up was only a fraction of the construction footprint we originally planned for. Any other form or repair would have forced us to adjust airport operations. For example, we have used cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) lining in the past, and the presence of the crane needed for CIPP work would have violated height restrictions and required closing one runway.”