Underground Construction - June 2020 - 29

Pioneers of HDD Inducted into Hall of Fame
Before pioneering the development of horizontal directional
drilling in Sacramento and making headlines with first-of-theirkind HDD river crossings, Martin Cherrington gained broad experience working on dams, tunnels, pipelines, telephone and power
cable projects with his father, a construction industry contractor.
Always looking for a better and faster way to get things done,
Cherrington's willingness to leap into new technologies led to
plenty of successes but didn't always prove to be the best career
move, as he told a crowd that gathered to honor the HDD pioneer
at the 2020 Underground Construction Technology International
Conference & Exhibition.
Cherrington was working as foreman of a project to lay
telephone cables in Los Angeles the first time he witnessed how
effectively drilling technology could be used to place cables and
conduits underground.
"I was already on my job, open-cutting with backhoes, and it
was the biggest mess you've ever seen. Then across the street came
in Irish Construction Company, and they were using this pothole
drilling method," Cherrington said. "They came in a couple of
weeks after me, and they left a couple of weeks before I did."
It wasn't just that the process was faster, but it also was less disruptive, allowing residents to come and go from their driveways with
no impact on work schedules. After finishing the L.A. project and
returning to his employer's home base of Sacramento, Cherrington
was so enamored with the new process that he went out and charged

a Chicago Pneumatic air motor to the company's account.
"The one thing I forgot to do was to have a work order or an
acquisition sheet. I didn't tell the company, the bookkeeper or
anyone that I was going to spend $900 and this was back in the
early '60s. The first thing I knew I had my pink slip," he said. The
short-term setback led to a groundbreaking future in HDD.
In 1964, Cherrington built his first drill rig and started Titan
Contractors, specializing in utility road boring. His fledgling company benefited from a growth spurt in Sacramento, the state capitol,
as well as a national beautification effort spearheaded by President
Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, who sought to rid America's
neighborhoods of unsightly utility poles and cables. Sacramento
County decreed that all utilities be placed underground, and Titan
had to build a fleet of rigs to keep up with demand after contracting
with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to install underground cables throughout its service area.
Over the years, Cherrington amassed 27 patents related to horizontal directional drilling, drawing widespread recognition and helping
to gain acceptance of HDD with his first river crossing, a 500-foot
crossing under the Pajaro River of a 4-inch gas line for Pacific Gas &
Electric. Despite the success of that project, however, he found that
many were not ready to make the leap to horizontal drilling.
"At the very beginning of the contracting when we were
drilling under rivers, it was a long space between getting jobs,"
Cherrington said.

UConOnline.com | JUNE 2020

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Underground Construction - June 2020

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Underground Construction - June 2020 - FC
Underground Construction - June 2020 - IFC
Underground Construction - June 2020 - Contents
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