Due to the frequent early onset of winter, underground construction projects in the Canadian Rocky Mountains are often cut short. For many contractors, the combination of working against winter’s arrival and the difficult ground conditions that come with the terrain is enough to deter them from even bidding on a project.

However, when Paladin Crossings Inc. saw these challenges in a waterline replacement project located in Revelstoke, British Columbia, their prior experience working in similar harsh conditions gave them the confidence they needed to get the job done.

“Ground conditions were extremely challenging,” said Jarrod MacKenzie, president of Paladin Crossings. “I know a lot of companies don’t like taking that risk, but as long as we planned accordingly, we were comfortable and confident in taking on a project like this.”

The Importance of Planning

With a project that began in the fall of 2019, Paladin Crossings, a full-service project management company specializing in trenchless construction, knew that investing time in planning and choosing the right equipment were imperative to its success.

“We had to travel 10 to 12 hours from our yard to the project location before boots could even hit the ground,” MacKenzie said. “If anything were to break down, it would jeopardize the project and any downtime would cost us money.”

MacKenzie and his team spent three-plus weeks planning exactly how, and how long it would take, to get equipment to the jobsite. They had to load the equipment onto special trailers, which could only travel six hours a day to avoid hightraffic areas. In addition, all equipment loads had to be regulated to meet the specific height and weight restrictions of roads through the mountains. Ultimately, it took Paladin Crossings four days to get equipment to the jobsite.

A High-Risk Jobsite

The Paladin crew arrived onsite in Revelstoke in October to replace and upgrade a waterline, which was exposed in a riverbed due to high run off from the previous winter. With winter conditions fast approaching, the new crossing needed to be installed before snowfall and spring break-up, when the melting snow causes the ground to become soft, muddy, and unstable.

When the Paladin Crossings crew bid on this job, it was a “no hole, no pay” operation, and drilling through difficult ground conditions with unreliable equipment could cause the hole to collapse if breakdowns occurred. This would mean starting over with an entirely new bore, spending extra time and money on the jobsite.

“If our equipment broke down, the integrity of the hole would be jeopardized,” MacKenzie said. “That’s why planning for a jobsite like Revelstoke requires durable, reliable equipment.”

Reducing Downtime with a Durable Solution

MacKenzie and his crew chose equipment integral to supporting fluid management and creating the proper mud mixes needed to secure the hole, minimizing the potential for costly errors.

“We had American Augers equipment out there with us for three weeks,” MacKenzie said. “I could tell it was built to last, and I felt we could actually depend on these machines if we were to get into a pickle.”

While Paladin Crossings’ experience working in isolated areas with unconsolidated materials was an asset on a project like Revelstoke, investing their time in planning and choosing the right equipment was what helped make the project a success. The crew was able to beat winter’s arrival as they finished just three weeks after they arrived.

“The customer was expecting a lot of trouble with this crossing,” MacKenzie said. “But we made it look easy. From my experience, durability and reliability do a lot for projects when timing is of the essence.”