Top Jobs Water Distribution: Colorado Springs Water Main Replacement Program

Downtown Colorado Springs
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In 2015, the citizens of Colorado Springs, Colorado, voted to fund a massive project to resurface 1,000 lane miles of city roadways. But there was a serious problem. Beneath many of those new-to-be-repaved streets, the timeworn water distribution lines were failing at an alarming rate. In order to preserve the integrity of the new pavement, the oldest water mains needed to be completely replaced prior to paving – but there was a very limited voter-approved window for completion; and the clock was ticking.

Colorado Springs Utilities selected Pate Construction from among three prequalified contractors to replace and/or renew approximately 60 to 70 miles of 6- to 42-in. diameter existing potable water distribution pipelines and infrastructure within the City of Colorado Springs throughout 2019.

The water distribution pipelines and infrastructure being replaced were generally deteriorated cast iron, ductile iron and steel potable water pipes with operating pressures between 60 psi and 250 psi.

The new lines are a combination of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and ductile iron pipe (DIP). The scope of the project included replacing fire hydrants and all appurtenances and associated infrastructure to ensure a complete and efficient installation.

According to Bret Sutton, Vice President of Pueblo West, Colorado-based Pate Construction Co., one of the major challenges associated with the project was working in a high-profile area within the downtown historic core of Colorado Springs.

“The work must be perfect,” he said. “The quality of work for this high-profile voter-approved project is key. Voters were assured that the roadways would not be disturbed for many years to come. The Mandatory Exceptional Performance contract dictates that Pate Construction guarantee the underground water main replacement for a minimum of 10 years – or pay enormous penalties.”

Historic Downtown Colorado Springs

Project Challenges

The age of the water infrastructure being replaced was a challenge. The average age of the lines being replace was over 100 years old, and planning was complicated by a lack of accurate records for the water infrastructure itself, but also adjacent utilities. In fact, crews uncovered old trolley lines from the early 1900s that were above the water infrastructure in historic downtown Colorado Springs.

Additionally, Pate Construction crews recovered and replaced “Valve No. 2” – the second water valve ever installed in Colorado Springs, which had remained in operation since 1888. Valve No. 2 and portions of the historic trolley lines were given to Colorado Springs for display in its history museum.

Other challenges included:

  • Durations for project completion were short with a critical timeframe – each project is to be completed ahead of paving and cannot run late – because paving is on a critical schedule.
  • Weather cannot delay the project – including cold, snow, and seasonal run-off.
  • The replacement crews needed to precisely navigate through every major underground utility system to include: fiber optic cable, electrical, gas, telephone, sewer, and storm sewer.
  • Projects weaved through busy pedestrian and high vehicle traffic areas including congested downtown Colorado Springs and historic residential neighborhoods.
  • Intricate logistics for heavy traffic areas – for example the Lake Avenue project required three to four crews working simultaneously in extended shifts, with significant elements of the work performed overnight due to high traffic volume.

Work was coordinated with the local Parks Department and Historical Society to ensure the downtown area and medians were preserved. Disturbed areas were restored in accordance with Parks Department guidelines. Pate Construction re-tooled its equipment fleet with Caterpillar rubber-tracked excavators to minimize the threat or disturbing historic areas.

Subcontractors, Suppliers, Equipment

Work Zone Traffic Control Inc. provided traffic control planning, barricades, signs, temporary lights, and traffic control employees as needed. Work Zone has been in operation since 2004 and successfully performs projects throughout Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. They are committed to providing superior service, quality and safety to benefit the project, the employees, and the public.

Trax Construction Inc. served as the asphalt subcontractor. Trax Construction has maintained a working relationship with the City of Colorado Springs since 1983. Trax focuses on governmental agency contracts, specifically The City of Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and all Departments of Colorado Springs Utilities (Water, Waste Water, Electric, Gas, Facilities, and Claims).

Benefit to the Client and Community

In partnership with Colorado Springs Utilities and The City of Colorado Springs, Pate Construction and its local subcontractors have delivered this multi-year, multi-million dollar city-wide infrastructure improvement to benefit the community through:

  • The assurance of a reliable, modern water transmission infrastructure to serve the community for many years to come.
  • Improved water quality and increased water pressure for homes and businesses throughout Colorado Springs.
  • Updated underground utility records for city planning and maintenance.
  • High-quality roadways with drive-able surfaces that are unlikely to be disturbed for 10 to 20 years.
  • A renewed walk-able, drive-able, enjoyable downtown historic district.

“Pate Construction Company has been an invaluable part of the Colorado Spring Utilities “2C” water main replacement program since the initiation of this effort. They have continuously delivered a high-quality product on time and within budget for thousands of linear feet of water main replacement. Their knowledge, understanding and tireless commitment puts them in our priority group of underground utility contractors here at Colorado Springs Utilities,” said Jason Miller, PMP, Project Manager for Colorado Springs Utilities. “Pate Construction is an asset for not only Colorado Springs Utilities but to the industry as a whole. I would highly recommend them to help maintain our nations network of infrastructure.”

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