Microtunnel Project Updating Tampa Wastewater Infrastructure

October 25, 2023
Share this article:

The rapidly growing City of Tampa has planned major initiatives to update the aging Tampa wastewater infrastructure, including a dramatic microtunneling project currently in its final phases of completion.

More than 3,000 linear feet of advanced microtunneling are helping to ready Tampa wastewater infrastructure for the future, replacing the current 72-year-old, 54-inch-diameter Harbour Island force main sewer system. The project was implemented in four phases over four years, with the microtunneling being one of the final phases.

Although the Harbour Island force main sewer system had benefited from numerous pipe replacement projects conducted in select segments of the system over the years, in 2017 during routine maintenance on the Harbour Island Bridge, leaks and signs of deterioration in the force main system that is suspended beneath the bridge were detected. Additional assessments in other areas followed, revealing more leaks.

What is Microtunneling and How Was It Used to Support Tampa Wastewater Infrastructure?

Microtunneling is a trenchless construction method that generally involves remote-controlled drilling and a pipe-jacking system. By providing support at the excavation face, microtunneling offers a nondisruptive method of installing utility tunnels by thrusting pipes through the ground.  

Using a slurry microtunnel boring machine, Kimmins Contracting Corporation, one of Tampa’s oldest civil construction and design-build firms, led the placement of a 72-inch-diameter steel casing pipe in a 65-foot-deep underwater crossing of the Ybor Turning Basin. Kimmins worked in partnership with Wade Trim, the project’s principal designer, and engineer of record, along with specialty general engineering and microtunnel contractor Vadnais Trenchless Services, and specialty microtunnel and geostructural consultant Brierley Associates.

In an article published in the ASCE Civil Engineering Magazine, Civil Engineering Source, authors Ron Queen and Tyler Lirio describe the project saying, “Involving one of the largest, longest microtunnels ever attempted in North America, this solution exemplifies a prime example of overcoming obstacles inherent in navigating a densely populated, commercially essential, and geographically diverse area.”

Tampa Wastewater Infrastructure

The Tampa Bay area is ranked among the top fifteen fastest-growing cities in the United States. Last December, Business Observer Florida cited the area’s growth at 5.6 percent in the years between 216 and 2021. This translates to nearly 200,000 more people in the area showering and flushing every day, taxing the capacity of the Tampa wastewater infrastructure.

Tampa Mayor, Jane Castor recognizes the scope of the challenge. “Tampa is a growing, waterfront city facing serious threats of climate change and volatile weather, and much of our infrastructure is long overdue for replacement or upgrades,” says Castor. “Wastewater projects are critical to making our booming community more resilient and sustainable.”

The Harbour Island Force Main Replacement Project is only one aspect of Mayor Castor’s historic PIPES (Progressive Infrastructure Planning to Ensure Stability) program.

Learn more about this project here: Tampa wastewater upgrade features major microtunnel project

Related articles on Wastewater Visibility News:

Share this article:

More Recent Posts


Get news delivered straight to your inbox the day it gets published.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.