High-tech fix won’t clog up traffic flow


About the district

The Grand Valley Drainage District is charged with maintaining roughly 250 miles of drainage ditches and pipe systems in the Grand Valley. It is funded by a mill levy.

Each house within the district contributes about $50 per year to the district.

The discovery of a deteriorating drainage pipe underneath one of the busiest roads in the Grand Valley normally would mean not only time-consuming work for employees of the Grand Valley Drainage District, but a disruption for the tens of thousands of motorists who drive the road every day.

But new technology employed by the drainage district will enable workers to replace the pipe without disturbing a pebble on Patterson Road, saving taxpayers money and drivers headaches.

A little more than a year ago, drainage district employees performing a routine check of a culvert that crosses F Road just west of 29 1/2 Road found the corrugated metal pipe was leaking and deteriorating on the bottom, Grand Valley Drainage District Manager John Ballagh said. The 48-inch, 158-foot pipe, which was installed at least 35 years ago, collects ground water, waste irrigation water and stormwater runoff from 600 acres of land between F and G roads and 29 1/2 and 30 1/4 roads.

The culvert’s failure could have eroded the road and caused a sinkhole. Replacing it traditionally would mean staging heavy equipment along F Road and closing it to dig up the old culvert and install the new one.

“In high traffic areas, for instance, that would have been horribly disruptive to move traffic because we’re cutting across the road,” Ballagh said.

Instead, the drainage district learned about a product known as Snap-Tite, a culvert rehabilitation system that consists of specially designed plastic pipe sections. The 36-inch pipe is coupled together using chains, then inserted into the failing culvert. One of the advantages of the smooth plastic pipe is that, because there are no corrugations to restrict flow, it can move the same amount of water in a smaller pipe.

Ballagh said the drainage district hired Mays Concrete to fill the void between the new plastic pipe and the old metal culvert with a concrete mixture.

The overall project cost was $30,000, which is $10,000 to $20,000 less than it would have been if the drainage district had to tear up and repave F Road and hire a firm to provide traffic control, Ballagh said.

The project should be completed by March 1.

Ballagh said he believes the drainage district could use Snap-Tite in future projects.


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