In September of 2007 W.A. RASIC construction company out of Bell Gardens California, began working on what would be one of there biggest projects to date.  The Project is known as the "North Reach Perris Valley Pipeline" and is located just east of the 215 freeway in Riverside.  The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) has been needing a new pipeline to feed the growing Perris and Riverside areas, and once completed this pipeline is scheduled to deliver an additional 150 million gallons of water per day. With a labor and equipment cost alone of  $39.3 million dollars and length of just over 2.5 miles (of almost all solid rock), not too many contractors were willing to attempt this task, but W.A. RASIC was the winning bidder.  
     The Pipeline starts at MWD's  Henry J. Mills water treatment plant at the top of Alessandro Blvd. and travels west down Alessandro to just before the 215 freeway.  Once by the 215 it parallels the freeway for a little over half a mile down to Cactus street. This will be the where the north reach section ends. W.A. RASIC company will be heading all the construction while Butier Construction Management will be working with the MWD and watching over progress of the pipeline to make sure deadlines are being met.
     Because of the massive scale of this project, and the depths they are digging, as well the material they have to dig through, not to mention weight of each pipe segment they are laying, RASIC purchased multiple pieces of heavy equipment just for this project.  Some of the large excavators being used are 2 brand new CATERPILLAR 385C L excavators, 1 brand new CATERPILLAR 365C L excavator, a HITACHI  EX1200 excavator, a HITACHI EX800 excavator, a HITACHI EX750 excavator, 2 JOHN DEERE 450CLC excavators, a KOMATSU PC1000 excavator, and a KOMATSU PC1250-8 excavator. Wes Brodeur, Project manager for W.A. Rasic on this project, said the KOMATSU PC1250-8 (Pictured above) was purchased from the dealer and brought in on six trucks and then assembled on site. The newest addition to the site he noted was the HITACHI EX1200 excavator, this machine was purchased used (with very low hours), and  brought over from the east coast to finish up the  third of three different pipe headings.  Wes said  that these are the largest machines available to the  construction industry, anything bigger is  considered mining equipment. All the excavators  on site have been fitted with quick couplers to  make switching attachments much faster and easier  Brodeur also mentioned.  (Like the HITACHI  EX1200 excavator shown in this picture on the left  disconnecting its ripper tooth attachment) Other large  pieces of machinery on site include; a new  CATERPILLAR 980H loader, new CATERPILLAR 972H loader,  and a new JOHN DEERE 400D rock truck.
      Even with all this heavy machinery to tear up the earth, the pipe's path needed an extra bit of preparation before excavation could begin.  Wes described they used a method called, fifteen-inch-rock-perforation, or "FIRP" for short. This process makes the hard rock they have to dig through like swiss cheese.  To do this, large 15 inch "relief" holes were drilled into the rock to make excavation easier.
Even with these relief holes large hammers, like the one pictured on   this Hitachi EX800 excavator on the right, are still being used to break up the solid rock. Wes said that the rock they are facing is some of the world's hardest rock, blue granite. This rock has a strength of over 20,000 PSI.  The hammer proven to be the best workhorse on site is a new 15 ton BTI breaker they purchased. (shown in this picture below attached to a HITACHI EX750 excavator) In other areas 
 where the  material is softer  and breakers  aren't needed  large teeth or  "rippers" are being used by the machines to tear up  the ground.  Below is a close-up of the dual ripper attachment being used by the  Komatsu  PC1250-8  excavator.
     The average depth of  this pipeline is between  20 and 30 feet deep.  To  safely and affectively  get the job done W.A.  RASIC created HUGE trench boxes to shore up the holes being dug.  These HUGE trench boxes are 45 feet long and weigh in at 56,000 lbs each.  Due to the depth of the pipeline and the long segments of pipe these special high clearance trench boxes were the only solution.  Two different sections are used, first they put a 45' long by 10' box into the trench and then they place an additional 45' long by 8' box on top of that one, these two sections are bolted together creating one incredibly large  trench shield. As the pipe progresses forward these  mammoth boxes are dragged forward in the trench as well  by the large excavators. A total of 3 of the huge 45' stacked  trench boxes are on site. ( Pictured on the left is one of the 3  trench boxes on site, this  one at heading one. )
     To keep construction moving at a fast pace RASIC  actually has the pipeline being laid in 3 different areas,  known as headings, at once.  Three different crews are all  working at once in different areas of the site, each is  digging and breaking through hard rock to create the  needed trench, and then laying a segment of pipe once  enough trench has been dug to fit one of the 40' long pipe  segments. Project Manager Brodeur said with these three  crews working on different headings at once they lay an  average of 120 feet of pipe a day, as long as they are not  hitting too much rock. Each heading crew has its own  pieces of machinery for getting the job done. Heading crew  one had the KOMATSU PC1000, CAT 385C L, and HITACHI EX750. Heading crew 2 had the KOMATSU PC1250-8 and  CAT 365C L excavator. Heading crew 3 was using the HITACHI EX1200 and EX800. The machines bounce around site between headings and are used wherever  needed most.  ( Below right pic shows the KOMATSU PC1250-8 bringing over a new segment of 40' long pipe to lay into the trench )                          
     The pipe (supplied by MWD) being laid on this project is called CMLC (Concrete Mortar Lined Coated steel pipe).  This is a heavy duty steel pipe lined with concrete on the outside. The pipe starting from the Henry J. Mills treatment plant is 108" wide and 40' long. As it travels down Alessandro the pipe narrows down to 97" wide by 40' long. Each of these huge pipe segments weighs an amazing 33,000 lbs explained Brodeur.  Some of the excavators on site weigh in around 120 tons and extra counter weight still had to be added to aid for when lowering these massive pipe segments into the trench. ( Below left shows the rear of the HITACHI EX1200 excavator and how additional counter weight has been added )
    After each pipe has been put into the trench a special  backfill called "birdseye"  is placed around the pipe.  After the birdseye the trench is backfilled and  compacted with screened earth. W.A. RASIC even has  their  own screening facility on site. All the dirt dug  from  the trenches is loaded into dump trucks and  hauled  down the street to a large lot by the 215 freeway  where it  is screened and then reloaded into trucks to be  used for  backfill.  Wes said that the soil they are  screening here is  so fine and good for backfill that they  are actually selling it off to some of their company's other job sites. (below right is a photo of W.A. RASICS on site screening facility)

     Ground water is always a factor when deep trenching  and this site is no exception. The ground water flows  pretty heavily is some areas of this site. RASIC has installed several pumps that pump out the ground water. The pumps then send the water through de-silting chambers  before releasing it.
    The majority of this pipeline is being dug and laid by  excavators, but in some areas hidden underground  work is taking place.  Once the pipe reaches the bottom  of Alassandro Blvd. it will actually tunnel beneath the  roadway. W.A. RASIC came in and dug a huge 60 foot  deep access pit (through solid rock) on the opposite side of Alessandro and then contracted FoxFire constructors inc. to tunnel some 400' diagonally beneath the road and then tunnel another 400' east under the active in service train tracks that lie in the pipes path.  Wes described that tunneling beneath the road and tracks was part of the contract with MWD.  It's a slow process but luckily we are allowed to use blasting to create these tunnels. On the rest of the pipeline blasting is prohibited because of the close proximity to other active underground utilities.  (Below left shows a picture of the access pit, notice the still active 60" RCP storm drain pipe RASIC had to work around and then fasten to the concrete wall they created  
     From within the access pit FoxFire is working  on both the northwestern tunnel that goes  beneath Alessandro Blvd. and the eastern  tunnel that will go beneath the active train  tracks at once.  First crews come in and drill  holes for the blasting charges. They then set of  the charges blasting the solid granite rock. Then  the next crew comes in with a special lowloader  to remove the rock and muck. The lowloader  hauls the rock and muck out of the tunnel to an  awaiting bucket attached to a crane above, once  the loader fills the bucket it is hauled out of the  pit. The two crews  work in tandem, one is in one tunnel drilling  and blasting while the other is in the other  tunnel clearing out the materials. Once  complete they switch tunnels and continue the process until the tunnels are completed. Currently the tunnels are at about 120'  in each direction. 
( The top left picture below shows Wes Brodeur walking into the eastern tunnel. The top right photo is from within the eastern tunnel looking outwards, the pipe above is pumping in fresh air. The bottom left photo is a picture of FireFox's special lowloader. The bottom right picture is a shot of the lowloader filling the haul box with rock and muck.)

     The tunnels are progressing at an average rate of 6 feet per day said Wes.  As they blast and haul out the muck they support the tunnel by adding steel frame structuring (shown in the top right picture above) and in soft areas line the structuring with wood to prevent the tunnel from caving in. Wes also noted that they decided to do a small tunnel at the top of Alessandro Blvd. just before the Mills plant, to go beneath a set of high voltage overhead power lines and some passing underground utilities. This was not initially in the plans but they thought it was much safer route. Once the tunnels are complete the 97" pipe segments will be lowered into the access pit and then inserted into the tunnels. Once all segments are in the tunnels a special concrete mixture will be pumped around the pipes to seal them down into the rock.
     The tunnels will be one of the last things to  finish up this pipeline.  The above ground  excavation is nearing completion and should be  finished up by the end of the month Brodeur  said. Crews have worked 10 hour days and as  well as every other Saturday throughout the  pipelines construction, and lately even some  nights. Last week crews closed a small street and   worked throughout the night, two days in a row,  to put in a segment of pipe before morning.  The  MWD wants to have the pipe pressure tested and  have water flowering by mid July.  Because the  MWD changed the pipes route and last minute  and major amounts of unforeseen rock was hit,  Brodeur says this is an unreal expectation from   them. RASIC faces a $10,000 a day fine for each  day the water is not flowing after the deadline.
 (left pic shows crews working on heading 3 nearing the  end of Alessandro blvd. where the tunnel will meet up  with the trench) ( Below a CAT 365C L excavator  backfilling other end of heading 3 where the pipe segment has already been placed and welded)
     After completed and water is flowing, W.A.  RASIC will then finish up the project by fixing all  the roadways, traffic signals, medians, sidewalks etc. affected by construction.  In order to lay this pipeline RASIC had to do some major temporary traffic control.
Wes told how this was a major feat in itself. Alessandro Blvd. had to be widened from 3 lanes to 4 lanes on the eastbound side and then divided in half, 2 lanes on each side. All the westbound traffic was moved onto the newly added eastbound lanes so that the entire westbound side could be used for construction of the pipeline.  They had to install temporary traffic signals at all intersections and road signs throughout the near 3 mile stretch. Wes said all this should be returned back to its normal state and they will be gone by years end.
     This project is proving to be a huge mile stone for W.A. RASIC and putting them in the books for heavy pipeline contractors. For more information about the RASIC company visit their website at www.WARASIC.com . Construction of the South Reach portion of this pipeline should begin within the next few months. This will take where the pipeline leaves off at Cactus Street and parallel the 215 freeway all the way down to Oleander Ave. completing the Perris Pipeline. W.A. RASIC was not the winning bidder for this project and will be done by Texas based Oscar Renda Contracting company according to the MWD website.
written 6/18/2008  by


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