Have you ever been sitting at home, minding your own business when … WHAM, the power goes out and the room goes black? We all have – because power outages, although costly and a major inconvenience, are not all that uncommon.
There are lots weather events that can cause power outages – tornadoes, hurricanes, a lightning strike or heavy ice dragging down lines past their breaking point. The aftermath can be devastating. Hospitals, nursing homes, those with perishable foods and those in charge of safety and security are among those most at risk. No case paints this picture clearer, or is more timely, than the repercussions in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Irma.
Although no power grid is 100% immune to outages, some are more resilient than others. One option more communities are taking to prevent outages is moving power utilities under the natural weather barrier that is always right below our feet.
Below-ground utilities can make all the difference to keep the power on during weather events. And although the solution makes the most sense when a community is being developed, a retrofit is certainly possible. In addition, unsightly poles and wires are eliminated. While higher costs of going underground must be taken into account, for many, the benefits outweigh the costs.
When implementing underground utilities, there is no better product than precast concrete. Whether it’s vaults, pipes or any other precast product, the benefits are significant. To start, precast concrete products are manufactured in quality-controlled environments, and the result is guaranteed performance. In addition, while work in the field is taking place, the products are being manufactured off-site or are already manufactured and are on their way for on-time delivery and easy installation. This drastically reduces site time – and time is money – and increases safety.
Precast concrete underground utility products, sewer systems, stormwater conveyance systems and tunnels make up the infrastructure all around you and have for many decades. They are tried and true as the go-to product of municipalities, DOTs and utility companies nationwide. They have even proven strong enough for a 24,200-foot-long tunnel in Washington D.C. designed to handle millions of gallons of stormwater runoff and a 26-mile rail project 130 feet below ground in Europe, so they have been tested in the toughest of environments.
Creating more reliable systems by protecting power lines and maintaining beautiful views is an ideal solution. And with continued advancements in tunneling systems and precast manufacturing, the economic reality of this solution is only increasing.