From a 7.5-mile forced main in Florida to the longest pedestrian bridge in Utah to a small soccer field in Haiti, plastic pipe and tubing help convey water, people, rain and other resources in some innovative ways.
Those three infrastructure projects were among those recognized in 2021 by the Plastics Pipe Institute, an Irving, Texas-based trade association representing the plastic pipe sector.
For more than 10 years, PPI members have selected a Project of the Year in the divisions of building and construction, drainage, energy piping systems, municipal/industrial and power and communications.
This year, the biggest of the winning projects is a $62 million redundant force main that moves wastewater from a Florida lift station to the G.T. Lohmeyer Wastewater Treatment Plant, which serves the Fort Lauderdale area.
The municipal project creates redundancy with a 50-year-old sewer main plagued by breaks and in need of repair. Fort Lauderdale officials plan to use the new force main while they upgrade the aged wastewater transmission line with the goal of later having both to create a redundant and reliable system.
The new force main uses 54-inch high density polyethylene pipe from Los Angeles-based JM Eagle and Georgetown, S.C.-based Agru America.
With estimated sales of $3.14 billion, JM Eagle is the No. 1 pipe, profile and tubing extruder in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.
"HDPE pipe was chosen because it is more resistant to corrosion, has fewer mechanical joints and is more flexible than traditional ductile iron sewer pipe, so it will reduce maintenance and improve the infrastructure's resilience to rising groundwater tables and sea level rise," according to a news release on the city of Fort Lauderdale website.
Also, HDPE pipe can be installed with a trenchless method called underground directional drilling, which causes less disruption to streets, traffic, residents and neighborhoods, Fort Lauderdale officials noted.
In another infrastructure project, Utah Valley University put out a high-tech welcome mat when it built the state's largest pedestrian bridge — it spans more than three football fields — with heated concrete, 125 lights and 18 security cameras. The $30.7 million, 970-foot-long covered bridge, which crosses over Interstate 15 to connect UVU's main and west campuses in Orem, contains a snow melting system that uses plastic tubing and pipes produced by Leesburg, Va.-based Rehau and Apple Valley, Minn.-based Uponor Inc.
The project incorporates about 35,000 square feet of Rehau's Raupex O2 Barrier cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) tubing for the snow melting loops, which are supplied with heated antifreeze by 1,900 feet of Uponor pipe made from polypropylene, random copolymer, with modified crystallinity and temperature resistance (PP-RCT).
With $397 million in estimated sales, Uponor is the 13th largest pipe, profile and tubing extruder in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.
Rehau ranks in a tie for 28th with $185 million in estimated sales.
The companies' products are in a bridge that gives 5,000 students and counting a faster and safer way to get to campus, according to UVU President Astrid Tuminez.
"As Utah Valley University grows on the west side of I-15 and residential developments expand, that number could reach 20,000. Regardless of the reason for coming to our campus, this bridge will provide another welcome path to our front door," Tuminez said in a news release.