Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 48-05. The Use of Trenchless Utility Pipe Installation and Replacement Techniques Under Highways to Minimize Traffic Disruption and Other Direct and Indirect Costs

Trenchless installation of stormwater conveyance conduits is the process of installing and replacing underground infrastructure without open-cut excavation. The use of technology like pipe jacking, micro-tunneling, horizontal directional drilling, guided boring, pipe bursting, and pipe splitting have significantly increased in recent years, driven by the need to install new pipe systems and rehabilitate aging stormwater conduits. Critical applications include conduit crossings under highways, streets, railroads and other transportation lines, where use of trenchless technology can reduce disruption to transportation and problems associated with backfilled trenches. While use of this technology is increasing, it is largely a contractor driven industry and engineers representing state departments of transportation (DOT’s), infrastructure owners, geotechnical consultants, and others still have questions regarding disturbance to overlying infrastructure like pavements, and buildings, and other buried infrastructure that occurs in the vicinity. The expansion of soil around pipes being replaced or the excavation of ground for installation of new pipes can result in ground heave or settlement. The soil loads, pulling forces, and possible damage to the new pipes being installed are also influenced by the trenchless construction processes. Use of pressurized drilling mud, particularly during directional drilling, can lead to blowout or hydrofracture of the soil surrounding the boring, and significant environmental consequences. The objective of this synthesis is to summarize available trenchless technologies being used for the installation and rehabilitation of stormwater conduits, and document successful practices for all trenchless technologies used for the installation and rehabilitation of stormwater conduits. Information will be gathered through a literature review of all existing research on both the effects of open-cut technologies on the surrounding environment, and a survey of state DOTs. The study will also include case studies involving successful and unsuccessful use of this technology. Finally, the study will compare the relative total costs of trenchless and open-cut technologies.


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  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 48-05

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Zwhalen, Tanya

  • Start Date: 20160509
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40814

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01598969
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 48-05
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 11 2016 1:00AM