In my July 2018 column, “Construction Without Disruption,” I said directional boring and microtrenching are the least disruptive construction practices used in urban areas, so I was pleased to stumble upon an excellent example right in my home town of Santa Monica, Calif.
The installation crew was on Santa Monica Boulevard in the middle of downtown half a block from the ocean. They were boring along the center of the street, taking up the center lane, but traffic was moving well on either side.
Further down the street a tech with a locator was monitoring the drill head and looking for other utilities. That shows they know what they are doing, and they know to be very careful in urban areas where the space underneath the street can be crowded with utilities.
Four blocks up the street where the boring was completed, the cable installers were preparing the ducts installed earlier for the cable installation.
They needed to remove several paving blocks to run their ducts into a vault under the sidewalk. Pedestrians had no problem moving around them, or hanging around to shoot pictures.
Looking more closely, you can see they are installing several ducts—regular fiber ducts and a bundle of microducts.
They were installing three regular fiber ducts and a bundle of six innerducts, which shows this crew was planning ahead. I think they must follow Dig Once policies, which means installing extra fiber ducts whenever you do underground construction. Having extra ducts means the next time you need to install fiber you don’t have to do any more construction. Dig Once has become U.S. policy; here is the DoT page about it. All those ducts can eventually be filled with cables handling thousands of fibers and what may be needed in the future in a busy city such as Santa Monica with lots of businesses, including movie production companies that work in digital video now and high-tech companies.
Here is the same vault after the first cable was pulled into the ducts. It’s a microcable with a prefab termination box attached to allow installing drop cables to buildings by simply pulling cables and plugging them in.
This is a good example for both installers and city managers. Directional boring, when carefully done, can be accomplished with little disruption, and with planning, multiple ducts can be installed to accommodate future expansion of the networks without further construction.