Developing a Successful Specification for Horizontal Directional Drilling

Aaron Cohen, Samuel Ariaratnam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


Contract specifications are critical to the success of all construction projects. This is especially important when engaging in horizontal directional drilling (HDD) projects given the general lack of knowledge of the technology by the design community. Specifications serve as the tool to communicate the requirements and expectations of the owner and the owner's representatives, and are the foundation for the construction documents that contractors rely upon to build the project. A poorly written specification does an inadequate job of communicating the owner's expectations and is generally the cause of construction claims. The adoption of HDD for the installation of underground utilities and pipelines has increased over the past two decades further necessitating the need for comprehensive specifications. Unfortunately, HDD specifications often fall short of effectively communicating project expectations. In many cases, these specifications are constructed by "cutting and pasting" sections from numerous specifications thus often being unrealistically restrictive or falling short of addressing critical issues specific to HDD. This paper discusses some of the key elements for developing a successful horizontal directional drilling specification as well as identifying some of the pitfalls to avoid. Examples of both effective and ineffective HDD contract specifications are discussed, demonstrating the consequences of poorly written specifications. Additionally, the paper discusses the new Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Specifications Section 608 "Horizontal Directional Drilling", which was released in January 2016.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPipelines 2017
Subtitle of host publicationPlanning and Design - Proceedings of Sessions of the Pipelines 2017 Conference
EditorsAnna Pridmore, Jim Geisbush
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780784480878
StatePublished - 2017
EventPipelines 2017 Conference: Planning and Design - Phoenix, United States
Duration: Aug 6 2017Aug 9 2017

Publication series

NamePipelines 2017: Planning and Design - Proceedings of Sessions of the Pipelines 2017 Conference


OtherPipelines 2017 Conference: Planning and Design
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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