December 2015 Vol. 70 No. 12


The Thrills! The Chills! Ten Underground Infrastructure Stories From 2015

by Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, Art Director

As 2015 quickly moves into history, let’s take a look back at the thrilling days of yesteryear and some of the underground infrastructure stories that peppered the pages of UC in 2015. There were awards given and records broken and lumps of rock and the loss of an industry innovator. Here is a list of 10 stories that helped shape the year 2015 for Underground Construction:

10. LMK Technologies Named Winner of 13th Annual Chicago Innovation Awards: From our January issue — LMK Technologies, a company at the forefront of underground infrastructure innovation not only received this prestigious award, but also got the opportunity to ring the NASDAQ Bell in New York City. And, who doesn’t like ringing a bell in New York City?

9. HDD Plays Major Role In Maintaining Florida Keys Ecosystem: From our March issue — The Florida Keys relied on the use of cesspits and septic tanks for wastewater disposal. Sorry, forgot to warn you this might be NSFL (not safe for lunch). However, the Keys are now livin’ large in the 21st century of wastewater infrastructure. This story details the enormous undertaking of connecting all of the islands to central sewer lines to replace the use of septic tanks.

8. Rod Thornhill Named 2015 Industry MVP: From our April issue — At UCT 2015, Rod Thornhill received the UCTA/UCT MVP award for his extensive contributions to the underground infrastructure industry. At cocktail parties, Rod tells people he’s a civil engineer. Perhaps telling someone in the middle of a cracker bite you work in a sewer might not be the best conversational strategy.

7.  Lump Of Rock Threatens Christmas Bore: From our May issue — ‘Twas a few days before Christmas when all through the bore, not a problem was had, it was really a snore, when all of a sudden the machine seemed to lock. What could it be? ‘Twas a big honkin’ rock!

6. HDD In Modern Times: 17th Annual HDD Survey: From our June issue — UC’s annual HDD survey goes into the trench(less)es of the HDD industry asking contractors, owners and operators about the HDD industry, where it’s been and where it’s going. According to one Midwest contractor, “It’s a tough racket…” Sometimes, not digging a ditch can be hard work.

5. How To Encourage Leadership At All Levels: From our July issue — This was a popular essay by Allen Powell President/CEO, S&N Communications about how to encourage leadership in employees at all levels of an organization. Basically, if you are a boss he’s telling you stop with the Darth Vader routine and get in touch with your inner Yoda.

4. Laney Complete Record-Setting Direct Pipe Installation: From our August issue — Laney Directional Drilling installed a 36-inch water pipeline beneath the Sabine Neches Waterway (in Texas) using the relatively new trenchless technology – Direct Pipe. The amazing part is, when the cutter head emerged on the other side of the waterway it was just inches off the target “x” painted on the surface. That would be a 9.8 in Olympic scoring. It’d be a 10 but for the Russian judge, always the Debby downer.

3. Record Setting Houston Ship Channel Crossing: From our September issue — Another record setter, this time from Michels Directional Crossing. This stuff is old hat for Michels, they’re always setting records. In what was one of the most difficult and challenging crossings ever undertaken by the trenchless industry, they installed 2.4 miles of 18-inch steel pipeline under the Houston Ship Channel. The planning took two years and the installation took three days. Like Thanksgiving dinner on a much larger scale.

2. CIPP In Jail: From our November issue — Rehabilitation in jail! Oh the irony. In this case, Estrella Women’s Jail in Maricopa County, AZ, got a sewer rehab inside job using cured-in-place pipe (CIPP), which saved the taxpayers considerable expense over a traditional demolition and replacement.

1. Ed Malzahn Left Lasting Impact Upon Underground Construction Industry: From our December issue — Perhaps the biggest story of the year was the passing of Ed Malzahn, founder of the Charles Machine works, on December 11. Ed was like the Steve Jobs of the underground infrastructure industry and his contributions cannot be underestimated. At 94, his was a life well lived and one to be celebrated. He will be missed.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year! See you at UCT in Atlanta.

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