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Wick drains in action at port project

Case Studies | June 24, 2011 | By:

The largest and deepest marine installation of wick drains in the world is ongoing at the Port of Virginia.

Mark Palmatier, president and owner of U.S. Wick Drain (Leland, N.C.) said he is working on a project that is the largest and deepest marine installation of wick drain in the world, and his 12.7 million linear ft. portion is only the first phase of a new 500-acre port currently under construction by the Virginia Port Authority.

During the 15- to 17-year, multi-phase project duration, 230 million linear ft. of wick drain will be installed, 54 million linear ft. alone in 2014.

“This first phase is the largest and deepest wick drain ever installed off of a barge,” Palmatier said. It is 150 ft. deep, compared to the 120 ft. depth on the previously deepest project at the Port of Los Angeles. And the L.A. project required only 2 million linear ft. Palmatier noted that 12.7 million ft. is not the largest wick drain job performed, but is the largest installed off of a barge.

He said it’s the “largest PVD (prefabricated vertical drains)” project in the world, significantly larger than the 9 million linear ft. of wick installed at the LPV 109 levee in New Orleans last year.

U.S. Wick Drain is a sub to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, the Chicago-based project contractor for this phase.

To meet the requirements for heavier drain discharge capacity, U.S. Wick Drain developed a special wick, called SoilDrain 1000, Palmatier said. U.S. Wick began installations May 1 and is scheduled to finish Nov. 1.

“For this project, we needed high drain discharge capacity. In marine clay, we had to develop a drain that would handle high consolidation—27 ft. of settlement and consolidation. With the thicker, heavier drain, there is only 600 ft. on a roll instead of 1,000 ft.,” Palmatier said.

He also said: “LPV 109—[that job] put us in a position to go after this project. This is a $6 million job here,” compared to the $2.5 million job in New Orleans. “This is a doorway to a huge amount of wick. There has never been a job like this in the states.

“It’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done,” Palmatier continued. “Wick is so deep, ground pressure problems, working off of a barge. There has never been 12.7 million ft. done off of a barge in the world.”

Angelle Bergeron is a freelance writer based in New Orleans. She is contributing an article about geosynthetics and the post-Katrina New Orleans levees for the October/November issue of Geosynthetics., +1 504 486 7843

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