Courtesy of Crux Subsurface, Inc.Crux Subsurface, Inc. takes an active role in innovation

By Barb Feldman

Crux Subsurface, Inc. (Crux), a Quanta Services company headquartered in Spokane Valley, Wash., is a specialty geotechnical drilling contractor providing geotechnical exploration, geotechnical construction and design-build foundation solutions in North America. Crux specializes in logistically challenging and environmentally sensitive projects where access and subsurface conditions present difficulties.

Crux was founded in 1998 with a focus on geotechnical exploration and engineering design support through geotechnical data acquisition. The founders were already experienced geotechnical drillers and fabricators, and chose the name “Crux” (“an essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome”) to emphasize their mission and their strength – solving difficult logistical problems.

A history of problem-solving
When Crux first began installing micropiles in 2002, the company was already known for providing difficult-access geotechnical exploration services throughout the western United States for tunnel, dam, highway and slope stabilization projects, including the Hoover Dam Bypass. Crux initially utilized micropiles for structure foundation support and slope stabilization before adapting the technology as a foundation alternative in the electrical transmission market. Micropiles provide the ability to install a high capacity deep foundation system in remote or environmentally sensitive locations, says Scott Tunison, Crux’s vice president of operations.

“Micropiles are replacement piles constructed using high-strength grout and steel, and can be installed using lightweight equipment,” he explained.

In 2004, Crux began construction on the 57-mile-long Swan Lake-Lake Tyee Intertie between two hydroelectric projects in Southeast Alaska. This was the first project of its magnitude to use helicopter-supported micropile foundations exclusively for its whole alignment, relying on Crux’s customized drills, skilled helicopter support and specially trained drillers.

“There was no road access and no development for miles, so custom barge camps were used as mobile living quarters, machine shops, helicopter landing zones and whatever else was needed,” Tunison recalled. “Between access restrictions and the tight window we had to complete foundation work, this was an extremely challenging project. It’s what really launched us into the transmission market.”

Crux grew steadily within this market, and now provides design-build foundation solutions for lattice, self-supporting single shaft and guyed transmission tower foundations located in remote areas, or where geotechnical conditions present a challenge to conventional foundation construction. Landmark projects include installing the first micropile foundations for lattice towers on Southern California Edison’s Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project in 2007, and implementing Crux’s patented steel micropile cap design on San Diego Gas & Electric’s Sunrise Powerlink Project in 2012.


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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.