Fiber Connections Support Transportation Systems Operations

From daily transportation management operations to incident and event planning, an effective transportation management system can help make the movement of people and goods safer, quicker and more efficient. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are more than four million miles of roads in the United States, and the average American drives over 13,000 miles a year. Every day more infrastructure is being built, repaired or updated to accommodate the ever growing population and economy, but the funding for these projects is often restricted by costs, environmental issues and reduced land availability. Although Delaware is the second smallest state in the U.S., they alone have more than 11,000 lane miles of roads in addition to an extensive network of other transportation outlets. To meet the challenge of maintaining their infrastructure, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) implemented a system which combines technology, processes and procedures to improve operations.

Incorporating all modes, Delaware’s integrated transportation management system, recently renamed DelTrac, aims to provide the infrastructure that enables the movement of people and goods throughout the state. Using fiber cabling as its backbone, DelTrac brings together multiple subsystems allowing DelDOT to monitor and gather transportation data. The agency can then use this information to effectively allocate their limited funds to various projects throughout the state that will help improve overall transportation operations. KCI Communications Infrastructure has provided on-going construction services in support of the system rollout, including a recent expansion that faced a challenging timeline, material and storage constraints, and the project’s coastal geography.

As part of an open-end contract KCI was asked to provide pathway enhancements, including splice points and trenched and bored conduit runs, along a five-mile section of Delaware’s State Route 1 between Bethany Beach and Dewey Beach, two of the state’s most popular vacation destinations. With only a few short weeks to prepare, it soon become apparent that there was limited time to order the necessary materials. DelDOT uses a very specific fiber for their jobs and with a 30-week lead time needed to acquire the fiber, our crews had to work directly with distributors to pull in materials from across the country. “We got what we could depending on what our suppliers had in stock, and then had deliveries ship from the factory directly to the job site,” said project manager Brian Temple. “Our phones were constantly ringing with pre-calls to meet the trucks at the delivery location to unload materials.” Because KCI doesn’t have an office or a yard near the project site, our technicians also had to locate a storage area along the project route in order to keep the fiber safe and have it readily available.

DelDOT Fiber Installation

With materials ordered, our team still had to find a way to meet the project’s short deadline. Pulling in resources, KCI scheduled multiple crews and worked with several contractors, including Bel Air Underground, Aptus Group, Max Advantage Solutions and Right Way Flagging. To minimize disruption to seasonal beach traffic, it was decided to start the project during the winter, before the weather warmed up. Since the area is a popular tourist destination during the summer, an increase in visitors and road congestion often create restrictions on road improvement projects, limiting the timeframe of when work could be done. The off-season schedule allowed crews to work 10-to-12 hour days, six days a week.

We laid out what the project entailed and made sure everyone knew what their job was. The project managers were out in front coordinating with the subs and had things in order so everything would flow.

Arch P. NohaVice President, Regional Practice Leader

Arch P. Noha

The project’s compressed schedule also required an additional level of communication. Numerous meetings and conference calls between KCI, the subcontractors and the client helped project managers map out a plan that would allow certain tasks to be completed simultaneously. With multiple installation crews, up to five at one time, fiber could be pulled while construction was still proceeding, and splicing, termination and testing could begin before previous tasks were complete.

The project’s close proximity to the beach also required crews to take extra caution. Since Route 1 parallels the coast, many of the area’s underground storm drainage pipes run under the beach so that stormwater runoff can be deposited into the ocean. However, the depth of each individual drainage line is different, and in some cases crews had to directionally bore below sea level in order to place fiber. Due to the amount of water saturation in the sand at this level, shoring materials were used to keep the bore pathway from caving in.

In less than 10 weeks, crews installed, spliced and tested all cable along the project’s five-mile route. Our team also documented the entire system by providing GPS coordinates and labeling per DelDOT standards