Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way: Treacherous Terrain Tests The Skills Of An Arkansas Contractor

May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5

If Ronald Cline was the type to back away from a challenge, it’s entirely possible that a natural gas gathering line, now securely in place in central Arkansas, would likely not have been installed underground. But this conscientious and ingenious native Razorback devised a trenchless approach that resulted in the successful completion of a continuous bore amid some of Arkansas’ most treacherous terrain, and through some of the state’s toughest and trickiest rock.

More than 56 percent of the state -- some 18,720,000 acres -- is forest land, characterized by steep cliffs of varying layers of hard rock, with hundreds of clear streams and rushing rivers nestled within. Suffice it to say that Little Rock, the Arkansas state capital, is most appropriately named.

Cline, owner and president of Cline Trenching, headquartered in Bono, AR, just outside the city of Jonesboro (pop. 67,000), started his company more than a quarter century ago. In the early days -- with assistance of an older-model used trencher -- he got by installing water lines and digging house footings. Today, more than 25 years later, Cline Trenching has nearly 30 employees, and a loyal customer base that resembles a who’s who of energy and communication companies including AT&T, CenterPoint Energy and Crestwood Midstream Partners.

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The company specializes in pipeline, fiber and, given the abundance of the hard stuff throughout the state, rock quarrying. Cline is personally present on every jobsite -- in the trenches working right alongside his crews in addition to supervising their progress.

“I’m on the job every day and still involved with all aspects, from actual drilling to day-to-day operations,” Cline says. “I think my hands-on involvement, and the fact that my crews see me working as hard as I expect them to work, motivates them to do their best. We do quality work; and we do it on time. I tell my guys, ‘It’s not how much we get done today, but what we do get done has got to be done right.’ My word is good and our customers know that.”

One bore, multiple obstacles

Earlier this year longtime customer Crestwood Midstream Partners, headquartered in Houston, approached Cline about installing a natural gas gathering pipeline through the heart of Arkansas’ rugged, rocky terrain. The job involved installing a 12-inch steel line using horizontal directional drilling (HDD) through some of the hardest, most unpredictable layers of rock in the country -- conditions all too familiar to Cline and crew.