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All the World’s a Stage - All the Helical Piles and Anchors Merely Players

(with Apologies to Shakespeare)

Regular readers of HPW are quite familiar with the many virtues of helical piles and anchors. Access, no vibration, no spoils, mobilization, immediate testing, and environmental sensitivity feature prominently in helical hero stories.  However, there is another regular featured player, that does not get the same attention, but deserves some recognition.  Recently, we had a project, the Gateway Confined Disposal Facility, which benefited greatly from the advantages often derived from the “staging” of helical piles on a tight site with two contractors competing for workspace.

Gateway involved the building of a road through New Jersey wetlands near Atlantic City to reach a dredge spoils site. The GC, Joseph M Sanzari Inc., was charged with building the road, but needed to jump a pond to reach the spoil site. The New Jersey Wetlands Commission has strict rules for construction (if any) through the wetlands.  Minimal disturbance to the area prohibited the use of timber piles, and the road was not permitted to have a shoulder, which would destroy even more habitat.  In addition to being nature friendly, helicals provided the ability to stage material on site, thereby allowing the simultaneous construction of the road by Sanzari and the bridge foundation by helical installer Arthur Henry & Sons.

The Gateway bridge was constructed on above grade 3 ½” IDEAL helical pipe piles surrounded by stone gabion baskets and helicals imbedded in concrete bridge abutments. Henry was able to transport their material out to a small “lay down” area and neatly stack the bundled leads and extensions, while staying clear of the road under construction by the GC. Each contractor could work independently of each other, and this helped keep this job moving, on budget, and on schedule.

Danbro and our installers have done extensive work, usually pedestrian walkways, in sensitive environments including the Marsh Discovery Trail for the NJ Wetlands Commission more information here That project required minimal disturbance to the wetlands, restrictive staging for material, and “build as you go “construction.


On several pedestrian walkways for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and a private job in New Hampshire for the Gun Stock Ski Mountain more information here, helicals needed to be installed by hand-held portable equipment with the helical material staged off site and transported piecemeal to the point of installation.  The helicals were then screwed-in and the boardwalk was constructed one section at a time.  

At Gun Stock, the installer stored the steel in his yard and transported enough material each day to the site. The pilings were only going 10’ to 15’ deep, so production amounted to approximately (20) piles per day.

On one job on the Appalachian Trail more information here volunteers needed to carry or use wheelbarrows to transport the hand-held set up and piers up to a mile on a narrow trail from the staging area to the site.  Similarly, for a residential project in lower Manhattan, the material was staged curbside and hand-carried down an alleyway to the rear of the property more information here

In Danbro’s experience, staging issues seem to arise in two distinct and vastly different environments:  remote, environmentally sensitive areas like Gun Stock and the Gateway Confined Disposal Facility, or crowded commercial projects in urban areas.  Working in metropolitan areas often drives the decision to go helical based on the ability to stage the material on tight sites, while simultaneously allowing other trades to work unimpeded.  

The world’s many locales, whether natural or man-made, provide settings where the staging of construction material comes into play and makes helicals a featured performer.

by Pat Haffert

Danbro Vice President

April, 2020

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