Triple Threat Creates a Tough Challenge for Pennsylvania Water Authority

The original 100-year-old 6-inch cast iron pipe located in front of PSU’s iconic “Old Main” building was replaced with 3,000 feet of 12-inch AMERICAN Fastite pipe, using AMERICAN Fast-Grip gaskets.

State College Borough Water Authority, State College, Pennsylvania

Project Summary:
A well-known university, a busy main street, a 100-year-old pipeline and a tight deadline made for a tough challenge for crews attempting to install a 12-inch AMERICAN Fastite pipe in State College, Pennsylvania, this past summer. In early May, the State College Borough Water Authority began a project to replace the old 6-inch cast iron pipeline located on College Avenue across from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) before the beginning of fall classes in August – a timetable of just 15 weeks.

This project was the last of a four-phase, $6 million water main distribution replacement project that began seven years ago. The project, in total, replaced more than 10,000 feet of pipe over a 2-mile distance on Beaver and College avenues, two highly traveled streets that run parallel to each other. Phase four of the project included replacing 3,000 feet of the original 6-inch cast iron pipe on College Avenue with 12-inch AMERICAN Fastite pipe, using AMERICAN Fast-Grip gaskets.

“This new, larger 12-inch Fastite pipeline will provide better fire protection to the city in the event of an emergency, and residents and business owners can all rest easier,” said Mark Campolongo, project manager for Leonard S. Fiore, Inc.

The 100-year-old cast iron main had been buried 5 feet below the surface in front of PSU’s own, iconic “Old Main” – a five-story limestone structure first built in the 1850s that housed 400 students, classrooms, labs, a chapel and the president’s office. Like the water authority’s old main, time and heavy use took a toll on “Old Main,” and the building was demolished in 1929 and rebuilt. The current old main is a symbol of history and pride among the more than 45,000 students who live and learn on the PSU campus.

The installation went smoothly but the area of the project posed several challenges. Crews were allowed to work Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., but to avoid causing a snarl with the heavy downtown traffic, they constantly had to readjust their schedule to work with the more than 40 restaurants, retail stores, banks and other businesses the pipeline serviced on that street, as well as accommodate special downtown events and bus routes. To deal with the traffic, construction crews worked block-by-block, barricading off certain lanes and streets as they reached them. Throughout phase four, the project was completely demobilized — work had to cease, the area had to be cleaned and all construction signage removed — a total of 30 different days to maintain the integrity of the business district during downtown summer festivals including Fourth Fest and the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. New blacktop was laid over the roadway and the road relined on Aug. 19. College Avenue was officially reopened for business by Aug. 21, one day before Penn State welcomed students to campus.

Key Players:
The State College Borough Water Authority maintains more than 14,000 metered services and 270 miles of water mains in State College and other townships, and serves more than 72,000 people with an average usage of 5 million gallons per day. Because of the high volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area of the project, State College Borough, the Downtown State College Business Association, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Centre Region Transportation Authority and Penn State University also helped with project coordination.

The engineering consultant on this project was Gwin, Dobson & Foreman Engineers, and the contractor was Leonard S. Fiore, Inc., all of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

What They Said:
“I have had experience with AMERICAN products, not only with the State College Borough Water Authority, but also during my work with other water utilities, and AMERICAN always provides an excellent product. This was a challenging project, but everyone involved rose to the challenge.” – John Lichman, executive director of the State College Borough Water Authority

“My relationship with AMERICAN goes back almost 20 years. The company always provides quick service. Their customer service is excellent; if we ever have an issue or just need further information on a product, they are quick to respond. Everyone, from Sales to Engineering, was helpful on this project. AMERICAN makes an excellent product.” – Mark Campolongo, project manager for Leonard S. Fiore, Inc.

“There are always challenges with any project you do, but this one went well. Communication and coordination were the toughest part of this project. The retail shops and restaurants in the area still had to have water, and they still needed to receive merchandise deliveries. Pedestrian traffic was heavy. Overall the project went great, and the coordination was well managed.” – Matt Orner, project manager with Gwin, Dobson & Foreman Engineers

What They Used:
AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe supplied approximately 3,000 feet of 12-inch Fastite pipe using AMERICAN Fast-Grip gaskets, which resulted in a 100-percent restrained joint system.