As our utility systems age, the need for replacing infrastructure in tight spaces has greatly increased.  At the same time, the general public has become less and less tolerant of the hassles associated with underground construction projects.  The horizontal directional drilling (HDD) method of utility installation can help your agency overcome these challenges and potentially save money at the same time!

Open-cut utility projects can be time consuming, carry expensive restoration costs, disrupt traffic, and require significant space where right-of-way or easements may be limited.  This can make it both difficult and expensive to replace underground utilities, often causing much-needed replacement projects to be deferred or abandoned.  Historically, trenchless methods of construction were not cost-effective unless the project was fairly large and had significant space in which to work.  Significant technological advances in horizontal directional drilling, however, have made it a very practical and cost-effective solution in many commonplace situations.

Modern pipe materials now facilitate the use of horizontal directional drilling in very tight spaces, such as a crowded road right-of-way or backyard easement.  Also, the cost of directional drilling has decreased to the point where it can be a cost-competitive solution in most situations.  As such, whether you’re replacing a backyard storm sewer, a water main under a busy roadway, or just trying to avoid cutting down trees, you can employ horizontal directional drilling on your next local neighborhood utility project. 

Relatively small drilling equipment can install pipes 18” in diameter and even larger, with or without casing pipe, and in a variety of pipe materials, such as ductile iron, PVC, and others.  So, if you’re looking to save time, money, and reduce public disruption on your next underground project, horizontal directional drilling might be a good option to consider.

Not all projects can benefit from HDD and should be evaluated in the early stages of design. Contact an expert today to learn more about whether HDD is a good option for your next project.


About the Author

Andrew J. Sikich

Andrew J. Sikich, P.E., CPESC, CFM
Illinois Manager

Andy serves as the Illinois Manager with over 20 years of experience in municipal engineering, program management, civil engineering design, land development, project management, and construction management. His experience includes a wide variety of engineering projects, including work in the municipal, industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential sectors for both private and public clients.

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