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Dr. Sam Ariaratnam Provides Technical Expertise in BART Extension Project Pipe Installation Controversy

Friday, March 18, 2016

samariaratnamphoto ASCE Pipelines Division Secretary Dr. Samuel Ariaratnam Ph.D., P.E., P.Eng., F.ASCE provides technical expertise in NBC's investigative story on the CA's Valley Transportation Authority project of the BART extension from the East Bay to San Jose. Dr. Ariaratnam is a Professor and Program Chair of Construction Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University and he has been a long-standing member of the ASCE's Pipeline Division Committees.

Dr. Ariaratnam received his B.A.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo and his M.S. & Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  His educational and research interests lie in the area of trenchless construction methods with an emphasis on Horizontal Directional Drilling and Pipe Bursting.  Sam has published over 200 technical papers, holds four patents, and is active in numerous professional organizations.  He served on the North American Society for Trenchless Technology Board of Directors from 2001-2006.  Dr. Ariaratnam served as the Immediate Past Chairman of the International Society for Trenchless Technology.  Additionally, he is a co-author of the Horizontal Directional Drilling Good Practices Guidelines and the Pipe Bursting Good Practices.  Dr. Ariaratnam is a registered professional engineer in the State of Arizona and the Province of Ontario.

In 2013, Dr. Ariaratnam traveled to New Zealand after a magnitude of 7.1 earthquake hit near Christchurch to work with the city's rehabilitation team.  He observed the brittle cast iron pipes in the ground across the (Christchurch) city were badly damaged during the quake.

Dr. Ariaratnam stated in his interview with NBC Bay Area News:

"In this particular case, being in the Bay Area, which is a seismic area, using a flexible pipe like a PVC or some sort of other plastic pipe is a prudent engineering practice as opposed to brittle pipe.  They (City of Christchurch) made a very wise decision that they were replacing all of those pipes with plastic pipe.  So they're actually installing PVC and high density polyethylene pipe in those places that had brittle pipe before.

It is important to follow the prescribed specifications in any construction project.  In the case of the Bart Expansion, the potential for a future earthquake event in the regions makes it even more critical that proper piping is installed."

View the full NBC Bay Area report  

Pictured above: Dr. Sam Ariaratnam