Construction Through Crude Oil

by Kyle R. Ott, Supervising Engineer; Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc., New York, NY,
Richard J. Switalski, Manager; Sewer Design, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland, OH,
Dale J. Sadowski, Principal Engineer; Montgomery Watson, Inc., Cleveland, OH,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 2, Pg. 56-59

Document Type: Feature article


When the Hilltop Interceptor project in Cleveland confronted oil-saturated sandstone, designers had to rethink their shaft construction and support procedures. Among the hazards were volatile fumes and special excavated material. Drilling for crude oil is one thing, construction through crude oil is something else altogether. During the design phase of the $29 million Hilltop Interceptor Contracts H-1 and H-2 in Cleveland, the subsurface exploration struck black gold. The slick, volatile substance was enconutered at depths between 6.1 and 61 m below ground surface in oil-saturated Euclid sandstone. Though the tunnel itself would run beneath the sandstone, the hydraulic design of the interceptor required access and drop shafts that would have to penetrate the layer of petroleum hydrocarbon-saturated rock. Engineers developed a $1 million special lining method for the shafts and special handling procedures for the excavated material. Engineers from Parsons Brinckerhoff Ohio, Inc. (PBO) consulted on the geotechnical/tunnel engineering of the tunnel and shaft designs. Diameters of the shafts, which served as either access manholes or a combined manhole/baffled drop structure, varied from 5.3 to 6.6 m, depending on the type of final structure constructed in the oil-saturated rock. For shafts below the oil-saturated rock, diameters varied from 4.9 to 6.1 m. Montgomery Watson, Cleveland, performed the hydraulic and structural design for the interceptor, which will convey sanitary flow from South Euclid, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Highland Heights, and Mayfield to the Hilltop Interceptor Contract G for ultimate treatment at the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant. The contractor, KM&M, a joint venture of Cleveland's The Kassouf Company, Murray Hill Construction and Mole Construction, commenced construction of the H-1 in April 1992 and of the H-2 contract in March 1993.

Subject Headings: Shafts | Hydraulic design | Construction companies | Sandstone | Contracts | Rocks | Construction management | Hazardous substances | Ohio | United States

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