by Angus Stocking
Camden, in Kershaw County, South Carolina, is a small, pretty town (pop. 7,100) with deep historical roots going back to 1730 and it happens to be the “Steeplechase Capital of the World.” Camden also deals with prickly roadway maintenance challenges, and in 2020 one of these fell in the lap of Project Engineer and GIS Specialist Caleb Frase, PE. “We resurface some roadway every year, as budget allows,” he explains. “and in one neighborhood we’d actually added 4 inches of new asphalt in two projects over the years, and as a result 18 catch basin grates were now dangerously lower than the pavement surface.” Up to 8 inches lower than pavement in some cases, creating pockets or pits that could cause problems for residents. “You wouldn’t want to drive a sports car into one!” says Frase.
Raising the grates to grade conventionally would have been a major project, requiring quite a bit of jackhammering, excavating, and new brickwork, not to mention days of labor, heavy equipment, and a lot of hauling. Assuming there had to be a better way, Frase turned to the internet and came across Catch Basin Risers from American Highway Products. “I googled “catch basin risers” and they’re all that came up,” he says.
AHP Catch Basin/Inlet Risers are sturdy, galvanized steel frames that set into original utility openings and provide a clean new rim at the desired height. Their main advantage, in Frase’s view, is that they can be ordered for custom fabrication in very fine incremental sizes, so he could measure the existing catch basins and get exactly sized risers for his needs. As a test, he ordered just four risers initially, to see how the ordering process went and to check installation in the field. On both counts he was impressed. “They were very prompt and friendly and easy to get on the phone,” he says. “So ordering was straightforward and we got them right away. And installation was even easier; they all fit perfectly and using a polymer cold patch and a 3-man crew—one man on a tractor to lift grates—it only took about 15 minutes per catch basin to get a safe repair at the right height.” After the successful pilot project, Frase ordered the remaining risers and installed them “in spurts”, just a couple per morning as schedule permitted. “They all went in perfectly, and after eight months or so they’re all still snug and at grade. They’re a great product and I expect to use them again.”
One thing that impressed Frase, in addition to convenience and efficiency, was the cost-effectiveness of the catch basin risers. “This was actually a fairly big project for us, and would have cost $20,000 or more to put out to bid for conventional raising,” he says. “And that’s if we could have found anyone who wanted to do it. This way, we could do the work with our staff, at a big savings.” Even better, all American Highway Products products are made with American steel and the risers qualified for state funds.
“They really are a unique product from a great company, and perfect for our needs,” says Frase. “I’m sure we’ll use them again in a similar situation.”