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And Then the Rains Came

Thankfully, the historic downpours spawned by Hurricane Harvey dealt only a glancing blow to San Antonio. But parts of the Vista Ridge pipeline route did not fare nearly so well.

At the far end of the project, parts of Burleson County reported up to 20 inches or more of rainfall in just three days. Similar totals were recorded in parts of Lee, Bastrop and Caldwell counties — all of which are traversed by the Vista Ridge route.

So how were construction sites affected in those areas? For the most part, it was all about dewatering — pumping out accumulated rainfall to begin drying out the area.

At some sites, the dewatering process took an entire week — especially in areas where tunnels or open trenches were completely inundated. Here you can see the top edges of a steel shoring box barely peeking out above the water line in a trench that’s probably 12-15 feet deep:

flooded area

In other places, a vacuum truck had to be brought in to suck out the mud, as was the case with this access pit next to an under-construction tunnel beneath Texas 183, north of Lockhart:

vacuum truck mud pit

In a few cases, pipes that had already been staged for installation actually washed away and had to be retrieved from nearby creeks, like at this site in Bastrop County:

washed away pipe

Needless to say, the mud and water prevented any pipe installation from taking place last week at most sites along the route, save one: a crew in Burleson County managed to overcome the elements and install 350 feet of 54-inch diameter steel pipeline:

steel joint pipe

All in all, not a great week for pipeline construction. But given the devastation Harvey hurled at other areas of the state, it certainly could have been worse. A lot worse.