Hamilton Kent Blog

Project profile: Reinventing the box culvert

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Like many cities lying in the Texas flatlands, Lubbock relies on playa lakes to collect and hold its stormwater runoff. This system works well during normal rain events however, when subjected to heavy rainfall, the lakes have a tendency to overflow and drain through the city, causing residential flooding and traffic delays.


The City of Lubbock decided the best solution to this problem was to create an underground stormwater transfer system between playa lakes – but that meant building right through the city at depths of between 32 and 38 feet.


This project would have been very disruptive and expensive, if it weren’t for the ingenuity of the consulting engineer. Instead of creating several open cuts and building cast-in-place tunnel segments, hundreds of precast box culvert sections would be used.


The boxes were designed to fit with Hamilton Kent’s pre-lubricated SuperSeal™ gaskets to ensure a watertight seal between sections. On the job site, some of the box sections were lowered into deep pits one at a time and then jacked together into an excavated tunnel. In some locations, an open trench was used by the contractor, wherein the segments were lowered into place and then pulled together hydraulically.


A condition of the project was a physical joint and structure test, consisting of a hydrostatic test of 13psi, which needed to be held with no leaks for 48 hours. This test is so extreme that the tested box sections had to be buried to simulate job-site conditions and ensure that the pressure did not damage the structures. The gasketed box sections met these rigorous standards.


By finding a new way to use gasketed box sections to address the City’s concerns, the project is taking less time to complete and doesn’t require nearly as much open cutting, saving the city’s residents and businesses from disruptive road closures and the accompanying inconveniences. As well, the consulting engineer and the manufacturer were able to reduce the overall cost and still deliver superior performance.



As we noted in last month’s blog post, we are pleased to see new and innovative applications for precast box sections, especially when they can help cities and municipalities reduce project costs and address the infrastructure deficit.


For more information about the new ASTM standard for precast box sections, click here to read our March 2013 blog post.


To view a video of a hydrostatic test, click here.


Book a lunch and learn at your company to learn more about Hamilton Kent connectors for precast box sections by contacting us.