Rocks Roads Ripples N'At:
Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog
Article by Linda Kaplan
Michael D. Flowers, P.E., M.ASCE receives the 2014 Roebling Award for outstanding leadership in construction of the most challenging bridge projects ever attempted by civil engineers in the modern era, particularly the record-setting, single-tower, asymmetrical self-anchored suspension bridge spanning San Francisco-Oakland Bay.
President and CEO of American Bridge, Michael earned a BS from West Virginia University and a MS from University of Pittsburgh. Mr. Flowers has been associated with construction of a series of bridges and bridge retrofits, growing in complexity throughout his career. His penultimate achievement and the basis for selecting him for the Roebling Award is the leadership and construction excellence he brought to the newly completed self-anchored suspension bridge tying Oakland and San Francisco together. With a length of 2,047 feet the SAS Bay Bridge is the longest self-anchored suspension span bridge in the world.
American Bridge Company led a joint venture for the construction of the new $1.9 billion Self-Anchored-Suspension Bridge as a key part of the seismic replacement of the eastern spans of the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge. This signature span involved the construction of a new 625m single-tower, asymmetric, self-anchored suspension bridge. The bridge’s four-legged steel tower is 160m tall, supporting 790mm main cables, from which the cable is suspended. The tower legs at the base weighed 1000mt each. Traffic is carried on twin steel orthotropic box girder roadways, suspended from cables each carrying five lanes of traffic. The massive trapezoidal boxes are nearly 30m in width and over 5m deep, some weighing in excess of 1500mt and spanning 85m in a single piece. The 1,400m long main cable is comprised of 137 prefabricated parallel wire strands of 127 wires each. The cable is a unique continuous loop, anchored in both the westbound and eastbound roadway sections at the eastern end of the bridge, crossing over the tower top through a huge 400mt steel saddle and looping around the pier at the west end of the bridge.
As its name would imply, the bridge had no gravity anchors for the cable, but rather was “self-anchored.” In its final design, this required the roadway sections to carry very large compressive forces in combination with the bending and localized forces. The steel anchorages are roughly 20% of the size of a normal gravity anchorage and are neatly nested below the roadway surface within the box girders. The total weight of the permanent structural steel is about 50,000mt and the tower and roadway sections had to be temporarily supported on 25,000mt of false work to facilitate construction.
Once the tower and the roadways were erected, the cable was installed, and then through a carefully orchestrated complex load transfer process, the roadway sections were lifted off the false work, thereby, transferring the load from the temporary structures into the permanent cables. A build-to-suit marine heavy lift shear leg crane was designed and built as part of the project and facilitated ship unloading and erection of many of the bigger-than-life pieces. The shear leg dubbed the Left Coast Lifter has a 1750mt capacity and was founded on a 400’x100’x22’ custom built barge.
Nearly every aspect of the construction of this one-of-a-kind bridge required careful and thoughtful applications of structural engineering including the completion of all of the stages of our work in a safe seismic condition. The project was awarded in May of 2006 and the seismic safety of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge was restored when we turned traffic onto the new span on Labor Day 2013.
Michael will be presenting this project at an upcoming SEI/ABCD joint dinner event on January 22, 2015. Look for details and registration coming soon.
The Roebling Award recognizes and honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of construction engineering.
Region 2 Governor Jack Raudenbush, PE attended the November ASCE Pittsburgh Section Board of Directors meeting and provided the following thoughts to our leadership team.
Region 2 Governor Tom Imholte, PE and I appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Pittsburgh Section’s Board Meeting on November 6, 2014 at the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania. Tom and I were given an opportunity to briefly touch upon a few topics which we hope were beneficial to the Board. Reiterating a few, the Pittsburgh Section should: contemplate who may be a good nomination for Region Governor in 2015 since no Pittsburgh Section members are currently in these positions; consider continued long range financial planning; and utilize the Region Governors as a conduit to ASCE National.
The order of meeting, and the proceedings of the meeting, made for a very productive morning without extraneous dialogue. Clearly the Officers and Committee members know the Agenda and know what items need addressed. I believe that the actions of the Board are a reflection of the Section and represent why the Section is so successful.
Please contact me at JackRaudenbush@raudeng.com or any Region Governor if we can be of assistance. And keep up the great work.
Article by Nicholle Piper
On November 5, 2014, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) hosted the Civil Engineering Session for the Western Pennsylvania ACE Mentor Program. The ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) Mentor Program is a national effort founded in 1994 to motivate high school students to pursue careers in engineering, design and construction. Over the course of this school year, Pittsburgh-area students will break into groups and progress through the design process for the construction of a museum. Each group is tasked with designing a wing of the museum. Students attend bi-weekly sessions hosted by professionals in the industry, and every session is focused on a different aspect of the design. Session subjects range from architecture to structural engineering to electrical engineering to interior design, etc. The deliverables for each session are combined and presented during a final project presentation at the end of the school year.
CEC has facilitated the Western PA Civil Engineering Session for the past 5 years. Approximately 70 students attended the event on November 5, which began with Nicholle Piper from Langan Engineering & Environmental Services presenting a brief overview of Civil Engineering. Then, Adele Beaves from CEC presented the task for the session. Students were provided with hard copies of a sample ordinance and a base site plan, and then each group designed a unique museum site that complied with the ordinance. Throughout the session, students were allotted time to focus on site layout and parking, landscape design, stormwater management design, and utility design. Mentors offered guidance during the session, but each group’s design was unique and creative. The session wrapped up with every group taking a few minutes to present their designs.
Read more about the ACE Mentor Program or the Pittsburgh ACE program, or contact Linda Kaplan, Karen Mueser, or Nicholle Piper for more information or to volunteer for future sessions.
Article by Gregory Scott, PE, Chair of Pittsburgh Section Government Relations Committee
So the dust has settled on the 2014 midterm elections. Similar to Washington DC, Pennsylvania has aligned itself with the Republicans controlling the House and Senate, while the Executive branch is held by the Democrats. In PA, come January, Republicans will hold 119 seats (up from 111) in the 203 member House, and 30 seats (up from 27) in the 50 member Senate (see maps below). Pennsylvania's new Governor Tom Wolfe will be in the same position as President Obama, attempting to craft an agenda for the next two years with the opposition party being firmly in control of any legislation. What does this divided government mean for America and PA for the next two years? While talk coming out of DC and from the Governor elect's camp is one of finding common ground to work together, there may be a power struggle in the Republicans between the traditional conservatives and the new more right leaning members. This may make finding common ground difficult, if not impossible.
In the Commonwealth, January will mark the beginning of a new session, so all pending bills will die. Fortunately for Pennsylvania, Act 89, a new transportation funding law, was signed into law a year ago. So while PennDOT leads the deployment of the new transportation funding between now and 2018, the consideration on any new legislation will begin again in Harrisburg. The 2014 ASCE Report Card on Pennsylvania's Infrastructure highlighted the needs for additional attention to Schools, Drinking Water, Storm Water and Wastewater. Will the Governor and the Legislature take up this challenge as they did in passing Act 89 to address the State's deteriorating transportation infrastructure?
In Washington DC, the eyes of the industry will be on Congress to address the reauthorization of MAP-21, the long-term highway funding authorization, which was extended until the Spring, 2015. Will Congress be able to find common ground with the Administration? Will the new bill increase funding for surface transportation over MAP-21, which was generally flat from the previous bill 8 years prior? Will the 2016 Presidential campaign impact the willingness of the parties to pass legislation during a lame duck session or will gridlock continue?
ASCE will work hard to advocate for important funding, regulatory, and legislative initiatives that support infrastructure and the design/construction industry. Now is a great time for members to engage in ASCE's government relation activities on the Local, State and Federal levels. If one or more of your elected officials will be new to his or her job come January, please go see them to share your knowledge and expertise on issues. Key Contact members receive details of developments on issues on both the State and Federal levels, so consider signing up for this free benefit and see how some of the questions I asked earlier evolve.
Lastly, if you have ideas on regulatory or policy changes that benefit the industry, please share them with your Section's government relations committee. As experts in the field, you see potential solutions firsthand and ASCE wants to hear your ideas.
Until next time, keep watching C-Span.
The Committee on Younger Members (CYM) hosted the Younger Member Leadership Symposium (YMLS) on September 21-22, 2014 at ASCE headquarters in Reston, VA. Interactive leadership sessions were offered during the course of the two-day event, focusing on tools to assist younger members (35 and under) to grow in the profession. Leanne McConnell and Nicholle Piper represented Pittsburgh YMF at the conference.
Perhaps one of the largest takeaways from the weekend was the difference between Project Management and Leadership. Effective Project Managers are not always effective leaders, and vice-versa. Methods to improve upon leadership skills and project management abilities were discussed extensively during the YMLS. Other topics included assessing your personality strengths/weaknesses, effectively using your younger member group, successfully having difficult conversations, and evaluating your corporate and personal influence sphere.
The CYM provided a reading list that expands on the key topics from the weekend:
For more information about the ASCE Committee on Younger Members or the 2015 Younger Member Leadership Symposium (tentatively scheduled for September 21-22, 2015), please contact Pittsburgh YMF President Linda Kaplan at firstname.lastname@example.org or CYM Programs Member Kelly Doyle at email@example.com.
The Water Environment Federation awarded the 2014 WEF Collection Systems Published Contributions Award to the paper “Green Infrastructure Opportunities in Gray Wet Weather Plans.” The paper presents a local case study on planning green stormwater infrastructure for stormwater and CSO management in the City of Pittsburgh and suburban communities. The case study was a cooperative effort between 3 Rivers Wet Weather, and PWSA..
Section member Larry Lennon of Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering, Inc., principal author, with co-author section members Sam Shamsi (Baker Engineers, now with Jacobs), John Schombert (3 Rivers), Anthony Igwe (Wade Trim) and John Maslanik (Chester Engineers), on behalf of PWSA, participated as team members on the pilot studies performed for 3 Rivers that were the subject of the paper. PWSA incorporated the 3 Rivers pilot study findings into their SWMM models to provide estimates of CSO flow reduction that might be achievable. The authors are grateful to 3RWW for providing the project opportunity and to the R. K. Mellon Foundation for providing the grant for the study.
The full paper can be found by following the QR code and the abstract is provided below.
Low Impact Development (LID) and Green Infrastructure (GI) Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been widely utilized as a method of erosion/sedimentation and water pollution control predominantly for land development programs and, to a lesser degree, urban storm water runoff. Recently the focus is shifting from “green field” development practices to application of GI BMPs in mature urban neighborhoods. Whether retrofit projects aimed at reducing flow into Combined Sewer Systems or neighborhood redevelopment programs responsive to LID regulations, interest in application of GI in urban settings is growing. With the emergence of integrated watershed based Long Term Control Plans (LTCPs), and, Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) permit requirements and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limits for specific pollutant constituents on local streams, inclusion of GI, particularly for retrofit applications in urban stormwater/wet-weather and CSO facilities planning, has gained the interest of the regulatory agencies, permittees and diverse environmental interest groups. This paper addresses application of a GIS-based BMP siting approach to identifying, at a planning level, potential sites for retrofit GI projects intended to minimize runoff to drainage systems.
For more information contact Larry Lennon at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sam Shamsi at email@example.com
Article by Karl Sieg
The best indicator of the cost of maintenance and construction of America’s surface transportation system may be the Construction Cost Index (CCI) of the Engineering News-Record. As of September 2014, the CCI is about double its 1993 value.
In 1993, Congress added 4.3 cents a gallon to the gasoline tax, with the added revenue dedicated to deficit reduction. With the addition of the 0.1-cent-a-gallon levy to finance the leaking underground storage tank trust fund, the federal tax rose to 18.4 cents a gallon. The federal Motor Fuel User Fee still stands at only 18.4 cents-a-gallon today.
Since 1997, the full federal gasoline tax has gone to the Highway Trust Fund.
To prevent the Highway Trust fund from running out of money, Congress extended its life until May, 2015, through what some consider to be ‘gimmicks’ (see previous issues of this newsletter).
The federal government has been taxing our fuel for 82 years. From the beginning, the money was going to things other than roads and bridges. Most Americans favor an increase in the federal motor fuel user fee to adjust for inflation and costs from delayed maintenance and construction, assuming the money is actually used to build and maintain our surface transportation system. However, many of those Americans oppose an increase, due to a distrust of their public policy makers who they believe will vote to use it elsewhere.
The image of ‘snake eyes’ above resembles a pair of eyes, which is appended to the term 'snake' because of the long-standing association of this word with treachery and betrayal. Because it is the lowest possible roll of the dice, and will often be a loser in many dice games, the term is a reference to bad luck.
So, what kind of luck will Americans have in the next 9 months?
Will your Congressman vote to ensure that the user fees you pay are used to build and maintain your transportation system?
How will you vote? Every Congressman is a candidate for re-election on November 4. Your vote is one of an estimated 200,000 construction industry votes in Western Pennsylvania. Your vote counts! A photo of your Congressman is at the bottom of the first page of the May issue of this newsletter (click here to see who's running in your district). The winners in the 2012 General Election and their margins of victory are shown in the December 2012 issue of this newsletter, on the Section website, above.
A recent projection is that only 18 percent of Philadelphia voters will turnout in the November 4 election, but 25% in metropolitan Pittsburgh. Since the Philadelphia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is 60% larger than the Pittsburgh MSA, the tepid turnout of Philly voters may make each vote in Western Pennsylvania more valuable.
Pittsburgh’s long industrial past includes a history not only in steel, but also in aluminum, glass, and transportation. Since the 1980’s, much of this industry-based economy has since transformed to tech-based commerce such as robotics, medicine, and education. And as the industry-based companies closed shop, they left behind land that had been exposed to various industrial compounds. This brought about a tricky problem: what should Pittsburgh do with these former industrial sites, or brownfields.
Brownfield is classified as a “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”(HR-2869-2002) Pittsburgh was a city of industry, and therefore is also city of many brownfields. The economic transformation of Pittsburgh required innovation in brownfield redevelopment.
On September 11th, 2014, EWRI hosted a 2-part seminar on brownfield redevelopment and remediation. During the first part of the seminar, Dr. Deborah Lange, executive director of Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center, described the complex, multi-disciplinary requirements of brownfield redevelopment. Neighborhoods such as Braddock, Hazelwood, South Side Works, and East Liberty were used to describe the nine key characteristics that must be considered when redeveloping a brownfield.
Despite the complications that each brownfield brings, Pittsburgh has endeavored to transform these former industrial sites, resulting in many success stories.
The second part of the seminar focused on novel remediation strategies of a series of compounds that have long contaminated many brownfield sites, chlorinated solvents. Chlorinated solvents were utilized by many industries as cleansers, degreasers, thinners, or resins. Long-term exposure to chlorinated solvents results in damage to the nervous system, liver, or kidneys, and in some cases lead to cancer. Unfortunately, industry’s historic use of chlorinated solvents has lead to current widespread contamination in the groundwater.
Fortunately, many innovative technologies are now being used to reduce the chlorinated solvent contamination. The second part of the seminar featured Dr. Udai Singh, Vice President of CH2M HILL, with a long-term experience in modern remediation techniques. Dr. Singh described the latest practice of groundwater remediation that has been proven reduce chlorinated solvents concentrations. These technologies include:
Preliminary studies have found these technologies capable of reducing the chlorinated solvent concentration by 95-99%. Dr. Singh noted that the technologies varied in cost, with soil mixing as a low-cost remediation solution, and in situ chemical oxidation as a higher cost alternative. However, each innovative process had various advantages and disadvantages, demonstrating there was no silver bullet to chlorinated solvent remediation.
Interested in other EWRI-PGH seminars? Visit http://www.asce-pgh.org/EWRI for upcoming events.
Presented by David Widmer, PLS, NCEES President 2014-2015
Over 50 students and professionals gathered in the University of Pittsburgh O’Hara Student Center for a presentation on the new computer based testing procedures for the FE and PE exams. NCEES President David H. Widmer, PLS gave an overview of the new exam, and discussed what prompted this change.
The traditional pencil/paper based exam has been plagued by security issues. David shared a story of discovering one girl with a jeans jacket full of recording devices taking the exam in Puerto Rico. That jacket is now on display at the NCEES Headquarters in Clemson, SC. The new computer based exam is expected to have less issues as security has been enhanced.
The FE exam was transitioned to computer based testing at the beginning of 2014. This change allows people to sit for the exam up to once each 2 month cycle and to take the test on any day of the week, depending on location of the Pearson Vue Testing Center. There is currently a maximum of 3 takings per year. Additionally, the new FE exam is shorter than the original – down to about 110 questions and 6 ½ hours. Results are provided the Wednesday following the week the exam was taken. David shared statistics showing that there has been good distribution of when people sign up for the test, taking advantage of the new system. He also showed that the pass rates for the computer based test have been comparable to those of the pencil/paper based exam.
The PE exam is expected to be converted to computer based testing in 2016, with a staged implementation plan – not all disciplines will be done at once and civil is expected to be one of the later exam topics to be changed over. The biggest change for the PE exam will be the use of a virtual library. Instead of bringing references with you to the exam, you’ll be using a searchable database provided at the testing site.
David also spoke to the licensed professionals in the room about opportunities to get involved with NCEES and exam development. There is a constant need for exam testers to help write and test questions as they are developed. If anyone is interested in getting involved they should contact David Widmer at DWidmer@widmerengineering.com.
For more information of YMF activities contact YMF President Linda Kaplan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to mitigate combined sewer overflows, cities throughout the nation are making significant financial investments to the implementation of green infrastructure as a viable solution. Some notable cities include: Syracuse ($78 million), Buffalo ($93 million), Cleveland ($42 million), St. Louis ($100 million), Kansas City ($109 million), Milwaukee ($1300 million), New York City ($2400 million) and Philadelphia ($1670 million). The investments from the latter cities (Milwaukee, New York, and Philadelphia) are not a typo - cities are planning to invest billions on green infrastructure. The City of Philadelphia made headlines in 2011 when the Philadelphia Water Department unveiled their near 100% green infrastructure combined sewer overflow plan, “Green City, Clean Waters.” At the time, Philadelphia’s plan was the largest financial commitment ever in United States history to green infrastructure implementation as part of an EPA approved long-term combined sewer overflow solution. Milwaukee soon followed thereafter in 2013 with their plan. New York City trumped them all with their 2014 plan to spend $2400 million on green infrastructure. The nature (no pun intended) in which cities are investing their capital on the combined sewer overflow issue is clearly headed in a green direction.
With such large investments being made in green infrastructure, monitoring long-term performance of constructed sites has become critical to protect the financial investments and ensure proper operation and lifespan of the facilities. To varying degrees, each of the cities above are setting aside some of the committed dollars for monitoring the local performance of green infrastructure sites.
On September 4, 2014 the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute hosted a lunchtime seminar with Stephen White, EIT M.ASCE from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to give a presentation on the department’s long term green infrastructure performance monitoring program and the results to date. A key component of Philadelphia’s “Green City, Clean Waters” plan is to collect long-term performance monitoring data that would help PWD understand and characterize the functionality of the green infrastructure over time. Ultimately the data collected would help PWD determine, 1.) Best management practices for future green infrastructure design and construction, and 2.) Insights for coordinating field crews for on-going maintenance activities.
Some highlights from Mr. White’s presentation included:
Following the presentation there was a lively question and answer session with the audience. The event was attended by a diverse group of professional backgrounds such as: consulting engineers, watershed organizations, community planners, landscape architects, academia, and local government agency/sewer authority representatives. EWRI Pittsburgh will continue to bring the latest updates on green infrastructure findings throughout the nation as part of future events.