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Nicholas Dierkes, EI, Brown and Caldwell Tom Howard, PE, Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities 309 E. Morehead St, Suite 160 Charlotte, NC 28202

This paper will present innovative uses of established Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to provide simple construction tracking tools and share digital project data with stakeholders. Efficient progress tracking, enhanced customer service, and geospatial analytical capabilities are GIS advantages that can be easily integrated into construction projects with minimal investment in labor or technology. The Highway 27 Pumping Station and Force Main Project for Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities (CMU) provided an ideal testing ground for construction management integration of GIS because of the distributed nature of the construction work. This project involved the installation of approximately five miles of gravity sewer, a quarter mile of force main, and a small pumping station with construction work spread over 7 square miles. Typical pipeline construction inspection duties include tracking of construction and testing throughout the life of the project, as well as coordination with individuals who may be unfamiliar with the project or are managing many projects. Information management of activities at the construction site are typically done with construction drawings, daily journals, photographs, and a variety of paperwork associated with testing (i.e. pressure testing, mandrel pulling, etc..). Retrieval of this information is not generally an easy task and can take a considerable amount of time to assemble and manipulate into a presentable format. ArcGIS was used to combine construction drawings and testing logs into one location. Proposed gravity lines and manholes were extracted from AutoCAD files and a useful schema was applied to store existing data, such as station number and pipe diameter, as well as future data, such as installation date and testing records. This laid the mapping framework for the inspection duties of later construction work. The next step was to update the pipeline and manhole information to reflect the progress of the project. This involved relocating manholes and pipes as required for field changes, entering installation dates, and tracking erosion control measures. This information provided an excellent source for calculating accurate progress reports and evaluating the efficiency of the contractor. This information was also invaluable during monthly coordination meetings in which the Owner could view simple graphic representations of the progress of the project. Finally, the most advantageous aspect of GIS tracking was recording the line integrity and compaction testing for the project. This included pressure testing, mandrel testing, manhole vacuum testing and compaction testing. Testing logs that may normally be in many locations were now located in a single repository. GIS analysis could be quickly performed on this data on short notice and presented in a simple map format. This allowed those who were not intimately connected to the project to instantly be up-to-date on the progress of the project by simply viewing the map. Punch lists were prepared and documented using Trimble GPS equipment. Photographs were documented and later hyperlinked to attribute fields to provide visual queues. Asset specific comments were directly connected to the associated assets for later reference. The ultimate goal of processing this data through GIS is that information is available to all concerned parties through a variety of software options. Information can be disseminated through conventional

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

standards such as paper or pdf. But, the true power of GIS is employed when project data is accessed through Google Earth, (via .kml files), ESRI products (e.g. ArcGIS Server), or directly downloaded to the ever increasing number of portable GPS devices (PDA, Blackberry, etc...). Project information will now be available to anyone with a network connection instead of just within the construction trailer.

Geographic Information Systems, GIS, Global Positioning System, GPS, Construction Management, Construction Inspection

The Highway 27 Pumping Station and Force Main project for Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities began in the fall of 2006 and required the installation of approximately 5 miles of gravity sewer, 2000 linear feet of force main. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was used to track and manage construction progress so that project related data could be queried and analyzed. Statistics and project updates could be quickly distributed to stakeholders with a minimum amount of effort. Specifically, GIS was used to track: gravity sewer installation force main installation acceptance testing compaction tests soil and erosion control issues punch list items for substantial completion warranty follow-up Compiled data for the project was stored in one database which allowed for a one-stop shop of information on construction activities on site. GPS data collected in the field helped pinpoint potential problems and set spatial locations so they could be visited in the future, regardless of significantly different field conditions. For example, if settling had been noticed when developing punch lists the exact location of settling could be revisited before the warranty expired to verify that no further settling had occurred, even if the area had become overgrown or the surroundings developed for housing. GIS tracking of construction data serves two purposes. First, GIS serves as an excellent data warehouse for design information and inspection data. This data can be evaluated at a glance in the field, eliminating the need to reference separate logs where information is typically kept. Second, spatially assigned data can be shown in a simple map that clearly presents the progress of the project to stakeholders. Constantly updated project data created a high level of transparency and made communication clear over the course of the project. This paper will detail the methods used and the materials produced for the Highway 27 project, as well as the potential applications of GIS and GPS technology now that it is more economically accessible.


It is important to understand the underlying GIS and GPS technologies used in this project prior to addressing the construction aspect of pipeline installation. A basic GIS vocabulary will be helpful in understanding the terms used later in this paper. See below for a simplified glossary: Geodatabase A spatially enable access database. This will serve as a data warehouse for spatial information Feature class A collection of assets, such as manholes or pipes.

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

Features The individual assets, each manhole for example Attribute fields The tables used to store the data behind each of the features. GIS (in this case, ArcGIS v.9.1.) is capable of importing files of many different formats, including those from AutoCAD. This compatibility allowed the design drawing files for the project to be viewed in GIS although the data contained no embedded attribute information. This data was then transferred into a GIS feature class which could then be populated with attribute fields such as material, diameter, and station locations at the upstream and downstream inverts. A screenshot of the feature class creation process is shown in Figure 1. Manholes, force main, entrance road and bore locations were created as separate GIS feature classes with appropriate construction and testing attribute fields added. An example schema and domain for the gravity pipe feature class is shown in Table 1. Feature classes would be used throughout the entire project as data repositories for all associated construction information.

Figure 1 Data Entry with CAD and GIS Layers

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

Table 1 Schema and Domain Setup for Feature Classes

Gravity Pipe Fields Domains Line A B C D E G Station In User Entry Station Out User Entry Pressure Tested <Null> Yes MandrelTested <Null> Yes Material DIP PVC

Fields Domains

Installed <Null> Yes

Install Date User Entry

Pipe Diameter 8 12 15 18 24

Percent Installed Calculated

Length GIS supplied

Domains facilitated the process of entering GIS information by creating drop down menus during the editing sessions. Additionally, the drop down menus could be easily checked out to GPS units for data collection. This makes them a benefit both in the office and in the field by significantly decreasing the amount of time and potential errors when gathering data. Data recorded throughout the course of the project was produced into maps that facilitated interaction with stakeholders, particularly those who were not intimately involved with the day to day activities of the project. These maps illustrated current progress, testing, and areas of interest that required attention. Distribution of these maps to the stakeholder group proved to be of great value when it came to creating an effective discourse.

The primary implementation of GIS was tracking the infrastructure as it was installed in the ground. Up to five crews were actively laying pipe distributed over 7 square miles during the course of the project. This included construction of a pump station, gravity main, force main, directional drilling under railways, roads and creeks, tie-ins to existing sewers and demolition of retired facilities. Record drawings were maintained throughout the life of this project as GIS is no replacement for the level of detail achieved with this type of construction tracking. Unfortunately, producing meaningful data from record drawings is difficult and time consuming. Paper records for drawings, specifications, and testing and inspection logs are cumbersome to transport and unwieldy during coordination meetings. Digital tracking of these data sources relieves this burden by compressing essential field knowledge into one database which can be queried or used to produce maps. Maintenance of the GIS database included quick updates to change the installation and testing status of pipes and manholes. These updates could be performed in a few minutes and allowed updated materials to be immediately distributed to the project team. Updating the GIS database throughout the course of the project allowed statistics, such as percent complete, to be easily calculated. Each line segment was assigned a relative percentage of the total project so that adding these percentages from each completed line segment resulted in a total percentage complete for the project. Low performing crews could also be identified by evaluating their efficiencies throughout the course of the project.

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

Monthly invoices detailing the lengths and depths of pipe installed, as well as associated materials and erosion control used, were submitted by the contractor for approval. By tracking the installation of gravity pipe in GIS, the approval process was simplified since pipe material length, diameter and material were already known and installation dates were entered concurrently with construction. Any changes to the original design of the pipeline could be immediately reflected in the GIS as well. This became useful if manholes were deemed unnecessary or if the path of the pipeline had to be altered due to environmental conditions or utility interference. The new manhole locations could then be recorded with the GPS unit and the new lengths of pipe used could be automatically calculated. This was very useful if an updated pipeline path was needed for public distribution or for visitors to the site who may have been unaware of the change. An additional benefit of using the GPS unit in the field is the ability to track exiting utilities as they are encountered. The precise location of utilities, such as gas and electricity, is rarely known. Tracking the locations of these utilities, particularly in relation to the constructed assets, enables the Owner to be aware of potential conflicts when planning future work in the area. This can be done at very low cost to the Owner when compared to the costs and response time of survey crews. It should be noted that an accredited surveyor should always be used when certification is required.

Mandrel testing was required for manholes and gravity pipe, and pressure testing once installation was complete. Construction specifications from Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities require that 20% of installed manholes pass vacuum testing, all gravity pipes pass mandrel deflection testing and air pressure testing, and that all force mains pass water pressure testing. Typically, these records are kept only on paper and may not be maintained in the same log books. Records were still tracked this way for the Highway 27 project, but the results were transferred into GIS on a daily basis as they were completed. By transferring the results to GIS, the data became spatially relevant and easy to assess at a glance. This also simplified the process of dealing with results from 6 separate line installations and their associated testing. Figure 3 shows the testing results when shown in GIS as opposed to the typical tabular format. Compaction testing was performed for all gravity mains and permanent roadways installed over the course of the project. Specifications required that 10 tests be taken for every 1000 feet of gravity sewer installed and roadway constructed or approximately every 100 feet. Passing tests received from the geotechnical engineers were entered based on either GPS locations or station numbers recorded at the time of the test. Conflicts that arose over whether a certain area had been tested and/or passed testing were quickly resolved by referencing maps showing the cataloged information. This eliminated the time consuming process of returning to the construction trailer and digging through the all of the testing logs to find the same information. Labor cost savings were experienced by saving the time of the geotechnical engineers, construction crews and inspector.

Erosion Control
Mecklenburg County has strict erosion control guidelines that mandate inspections weekly as well as within 24 hours of a 1-inch rainfall event. Erosion control was of particular concern over the course of this project as much of the construction was along the banks and tributaries of the Catawba River. Areas where erosion control had failed, such as penetrated silt fence, were logged and brought to the attention of the crew foreman. That point could be navigated back to for follow-up purposes by anyone with a GPS device. The GPS unit could also be used to track the number and characteristics of the erosion control structures used during construction so they could be correlated with the contractors invoiced number at the end of the month.

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

Punch Lists, Close-Out, and Warranty Follow-Up

Field data collected with GPS units complimented the GIS data, which for this project was the Trimble GeoXH unit. GPS software ArcPad and GPScorrect as well as GIS software GPS Analyst ensured subfoot accuracy for any points collected. H-star technology also ensured that navigational accuracy was high. This allowed field crews to navigate to within 4 feet of a previously located GPS point. Punch lists were developed for the installed lines in order to fulfill the requirements for substantial completion. These items ranged from equipment left behind by the contractor to settling that may be occurring over parts of the line. Points were quickly collected with the GPS device and general characteristics recorded while specific comments were written in a journal. A punch list was developed from this information and then submitted to the contractor. The locations of concern were easily returned to so that the contractor corrections could be verified.

Figure 2 Screen Shot of GPS Unit During Data Acquisition


Inspection Ultimately, tracking the installation and testing of six lines over the course of the project saved time and produced better results when managed in GIS. Conveyance of project knowledge was facilitated by easy to interpret maps and quickly calculated statistics. Alternate inspectors, stakeholders and visitors on site could quickly come up to speed with construction progress and orient themselves with useful background

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

data such as streets and parcels. This information was very useful for identifying property owners adjacent to construction activities and navigating the residential neighborhoods where work was being done. General inspection duties were streamlined and required less time in the office, providing more time that could be spent ensuring that the facilities were installed correctly. Delays were avoided and money was saved by creating access to information not usually available outside of the construction trailer.

The key benefit of tracking construction activities in GIS was the enhanced ability to communicate project details to stakeholders. During monthly coordination meetings, the Owner could be quickly and completely updated on recent progress. Figure 3 represents a typical hand out produced for these meetings. Any conflicts or points of interest could be easily identified on the map and the correlating design drawing viewed for further detail. Alternatively, the project data could be shared with stakeholders in a variety of formats. Google Earth, ArcExplorer, PDFs, or the native ArcGIS format all provide excellent outlets for data distribution, depending on the need of the interested parties. Alternative Distribution Methods Another advantage of maintaining the data in GIS is the ability to export the feature classes to a format that can be universally viewed by those with recreational and readily available GIS software, such as Google Earth or ArcExplorer. In this environment, data can be viewed with aerial backgrounds and all attribute data such as installation and testing status can be viewed with an information query. Projects that involve many managers or inspectors can use data warehouse programs, such as Sharepoint, to store the data so that project information is readily available to interested parties. The key point is that data would be available from anywhere with an internet connection instead of only in the record drawings. This level of accessibility means fewer delays when retrieving information and a wider distribution network of that information to interested parties.

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

Figure 3 Typical Update Handout

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

The most important benefit of digital tracking of pipeline construction projects is that integration of GIS and GPS technology will reduce the amount of administrative time spent by inspectors and management on the project and better communication will be provided to stakeholders. The Owner was very pleased with the ease with which project details were communicated during coordination meetings over the course of the project. E-mails could be sent in preparation of meetings, maps and statistics provided during the meetings, and potential issues clearly identified so that the attendees could focus on resolving issues instead of defining them. This provided an overall transparency to the project that made the most efficient use of time for the Owner, Contractor, Engineer and Inspector. In the future, digital data can be accessed by virtually anyone creating a better informed and more effective project team.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities Tom Howard and Stuart Rosenberger Sanders Utilities Freddie Young Brown and Caldwell Andy Mitchell and Rick Carrier

Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration Into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management