Rocks Roads Ripples N'At: 

Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog

  • 09 Nov 2020 8:57 AM | Anonymous

    In November of 2018 the four sections of ASCE in Pennsylvania (Central Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) released the 2018 Pennsylvania Infrastructure Report Card via the ASCE Pennsylvania State Council. The dire grades the Commonwealth received under the category of Transportation spurred Representative Martina White into forming a House Transportation Infrastructure Task Force in July 2019. The Task Force of 10 House members, representing a diverse cross section of the state, conducted a comprehensive overview of the status of Pennsylvania’s transportation system and its funding mechanisms. The resulting House Transportation Infrastructure Task Force Report issued in the Fall of 2019 cited the 2018 Pennsylvania Infrastructure Report Card extensively and led to the creation of 10 bills implementing some of the recommendations in the Report.

    In August of this year, the ASCE PA State Council decided to change its Legislative Day, traditionally held by conducting legislative visit in the Capitol of Harrisburg, to a series of virtual legislative visits. The Council hired the firm of Mulberry Public Affairs LLC (Mulberry), to provide logistical support for the effort. Mulberry has had a long-standing relationship with ASCE’s Report Card efforts. Their experience and expertise in helping to shape the meetings issue briefs, and strategically scheduling the meetings, was instrumental in authoring a letter of support for the package of bills and facilitating the virtual meetings.

    Between September 1st and October 13st this Fall, a dozen ASCE members from all four Pennsylvania Sections participated in 10 virtual legislative meetings with key House and Senate members. The message the ASCE members delivered was that ASCE supports enacting the Transportation Task Force bill package as a vital first step to address the transportation funding shortfall in Pennsylvania, and would allow for critical investments in the state’s infrastructure. In particular, ASCE Pennsylvania was supportive that the legislative package:

           Expands critical innovative project delivery methods such as bundling projects and design build;

           Provides county governments more flexibility to raise revenue for vital transportation projects;

           Creates new revenue streams for local governments and county infrastructure banks;

           Extends the use of public-private partnerships for eligible municipalities; and

           Develops a pavement condition committee to ensure the safety of our state’s roads.

    In addition, during meetings with Senate members, ASCE members expressed support for the passage of HB 2101 which amends the Engineer, Land Surveyor, and Geologist Registration Law that had previously passed the PA House by a unanimous vote of 202-0.

    The virtual format of this year’s outreach proved to be very successful and provided both ASCE members and the Elected Officials a mechanism for open and detailed conversations. The overall tone was one of recognition of the challenges infrastructure faces in the state as well of support for creative and innovative means of addressing its needs. While Pennsylvania is facing significant economic impact due to the pandemic, and this year marks the end of this Legislative Session, the ASCE members made significant contributions to ensuring these bills either move before the end of the year or are reintroduced in next year’s session.

  • 07 Oct 2020 9:16 AM | Anonymous

    The 2020 Presidents and Governors Forum (PGF) was held this year on September 10-12, when 147 Section and Branch Presidents, Regional Governors, Society Directors, Board Members, and Institute Leaders from across the country and abroad convened virtually. This annual event, sponsored by the Leader Training Committee, provided opportunities for attendees to learn about ASCE resources, network with other ASCE leaders, and develop skills that benefit their Sections/Branches, Regions and Institutes.

    Though I have attended previous ASCE leadership conferences for younger members, this was the first time I have attended the PGF.  I found this conference to be very motivating and had several notes from each section. I think what struck me the most throughout the time was the reminder of the purpose of ASCE.  The opening speaker summarized that the purpose of ASCE is to Foster Engineering Leaders: Help you matter more and enable you to make a bigger difference.  This goal really stayed in my mind during the many discussions on boosting membership, communicating with members, and engaging students.   

    Sometimes I think it can be so easy to get caught up in the membership numbers, or attendee counts for events, that we lose sight of our purpose for coming together as civil engineering professionals. We have extremely bright engineers and academia in the Pittsburgh area who are challenging and advancing the civil engineering profession in order to help make our world safer and more accessible.  I hope through this coming year, and the next while I am section president, to refocus our efforts on highlighting the research and projects happening in our area while also connecting our regional members with resources, and each other, on topics they find useful. 

    The overall community of ASCE is globally reaching and has compiled leadership and technical resources for all.  Please remember to regularly take advantage of your membership benefits by browsing the website for free webinars and information. I also encourage you to post discussion topics on our Pittsburgh Discussion Forum at,  and to begin thinking about nominating any deserving student leaders or projects for 2020 ASCE Pittsburgh Awards or national awards.  All award categories and information can be found on our Section website and the Society page

    For more information about the PGF, please visit LTC’s website at:

  • 10 Sep 2020 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    Jack A. Raudenbush, P.E., F.ASCE, your Region 2 Director is a member of the Central Pennsylvania Section.  Jack will be representing you at the next Board meeting on October 27 and 28, 2020.

    Visit an ASCE designed historic site!  These sites illustrate the creativity and innovative spirit of civil engineers.  Visit to find sites near you.  Share photos of your travels with me and I will post in Region 2 correspondence and on our Region’s social media pages.

    The Mason Dixon Line

    The Mason Dixon line, commonly referenced as the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, also includes a portion of the northern boundary of West Virginia and the western boundary of Delaware.  It was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.  The Mason–Dixon line was marked by stones every mile 1 mile and "crownstones" every 5 miles, using stone shipped from England. The Maryland side says "M" and the Delaware and Pennsylvania sides say "P". The parallel (latitude line) was established as 15 miles south of the then southernmost point in Philadelphia.


    Mason and Dixon started off with a crew of five, but by the time they got towards the end of the survey the party had grown to about 115. They thought at the end of the survey that the stones were accurate within 50ft. But what is realized today is that some of them are as much as 900ft off. The reason is not because Mason and Dixon were inaccurate in their execution nor because the equipment was faulty. It was actually gravity. Gravity had an impact on the plumb bob they were using. They had a 6ft telescope and it used a plumb bob on a fine wire. But gravity varied from location to location because of the influence of mountains.

  • 05 Mar 2020 1:09 PM | Anonymous

    Jack A. Raudenbush, P.E., F.ASCE, your Region 2 Director is a member of the Central Pennsylvania Section.  Jack will be representing you at the next Board meeting in Washington, DC on March 14 and 15, 2020.

    Leadership and Management Training Opportunity for Young Civil Engineers

    Region 2 is offering to reimburse Sections and Branches for the cost of purchasing ASCE’s Professional Skills Series in Leadership and Management training modules.  Please contact me if interested in learning about this limited time reimbursement offer.

    Module = $249/Each    Reimbursement from Region 2 = $249/Each  

    Your Final Amount = $0!!

    Pittsburgh Section Shout-Out

    The Pittsburgh Section was awarded the Outstanding Section and Branch Award for Large Sections and Branches.  The award, presented in January at the MRLC in Philadelphia, recognized the Pittsburgh Section for its exceptional activities and engaged Board Members, Student Chapters and various Committees as presented in their Annual Report. 

    The Pittsburgh Section of ASCE has nearly 1,700 members and hosts over 50 events per year including the Annual Kick-off Dinner, the Life Member Recognition Banquet, and the Engineers Week Awards Banquet.  It has five technical institutes and a very active Younger Member Forum as well as very supportive activities for the local Student Chapters.

    Visit an ASCE designed historic site!

    These sites illustrate the creativity and innovative spirit of civil engineers.  Visit to find sites near you.  Share photos of your travels with me and I will post in Region 2 correspondence and on our Region’s social media pages.

    In February, I visited the historic Rockville Bridge. This railroad bridge was built in 1900-02 and continues to carry rail freight across the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA.  It is the longest stone masonry arch railroad viaduct in the world.  Constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, it has forty-eight 70-foot spans, for a total length of 3,820 feet.

    I look forward to seeing you at ASCE events. 

    Jack A. Raudenbush, P.E., F.ASCE

    Director, Region 2


  • 26 Feb 2020 4:30 PM | Anonymous

    Thanks to all of our ASCE volunteers, we had a great Engineers Week with regional students! This annual two-day activity took place at the Carnegie Science Center from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Thursday and Friday (Feb 20-21).  Over 20 Pittsburgh Section members came out to donating a few hours of their day by encouraging middle and high school students with a potential interest in becoming a Civil Engineer.  

    The watershed model was once again popular with the students!  For those not familiar with it, the students interact during the watershed model demonstration by simulating rain while Section volunteers discuss how Civil Engineers develop methods to control storm runoff pollution and help keep our drinking water sources as clean as possible. Dousing the volunteers in water is always an added bonus for most enthusiastic students!  

    This year we also brought back the wind tunnel to simulate wind effects on structures. This model presents the need for Civil Engineers to consider wind loads during the design process and demonstrates how the shape of the structure might influence the effects of wind forces. Students had a great time with this display, assembling their own ‘masterpieces’ from various geometrically-shaped foam panels and testing them in the wind tunnel. As with any scientists, students were not deterred by failure.  Instead they observed the consequences and went back to the drawing board time and again until they constructed a structure that outlasted those of their classmates.  

    We also had a handful of volunteers participated in small group speed networking sessions with students, where engineers of various backgrounds and levels of experience shared their day-to-day roles as a Civil Engineer in hopes of sparking interest and answering questions that students may be curious about. Five rounds of speed networking were performed, each in one hour sessions.

    Overall it was a great two days. Thank you to all that participated! For those of you that missed this opportunity and would like to participate in future ASCE Educational Outreach programs, please continue to check out our Outreach webpage and Section calendar as there are sure to be other opportunities on the horizon that may be a fit for you.


    Brian Heinzl, P.E.

    ASCE Pittsburgh Section

    Educational Outreach Chair

  • 05 Feb 2020 4:50 PM | Anonymous

    The Pittsburgh Section EWRI has been recognized by national with the 2020 Outstanding Institute Chapter Award!  The award will be presented to the Chapter Institute during the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress 2020 in Henderson, Nevada, held on May 18, 2020.  The Pittsburgh EWRI chapter has completed several outstanding events during 2019 which earned them this recognition.  One such recent successful event brought together students and working professionals on the topic of orthophosphate in drinking water.

    Undergraduate, graduate students and faculty members from local universities and professional engineers, more than 45 people in total, enjoyed a fructiferous evening at the Roland’s Seafood Grill on November 20th, 2019. The evening featured a keynote presentation from Dr. Sarah Haig, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Ronal Bargiel, Chief of Water Quality at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, who are collaboratively working on a project to understand the impacts on urban stream health of controlling lead in drinking water with orthophosphate.

    The joint presentation delved into the history of orthophosphates in water treatment, as well as the chemistry behind orthophosphate treatment. Orthophosphate is a common corrosion inhibitor used by water suppliers to prevent lead pipes from leaching. When orthophosphate is added to a water source, it reacts with lead to create a mineral-like crust inside of the lead pipe. This crust acts as a coating which prevents further lead corrosion.  Ron Bargiel provided an in depth summary of PWSA’s efforts to reduce lead levels in tap water via their orthophosphate program that started in 2019.  Dr. Haig provided a summary of her current research into assessing the ecosystem impacts of drinking water orthophosphate addition. She provided her preliminary research results. You can learn more about Dr. Haig’s research at

    The event also provided networking opportunities among the attendees in a casual environment, not only between students and working local professionals, but students from different universities also had a chance to connect.  These types of networking opportunities strengthen the engineering community in our region and is one of the many benefits that ASCE Institute membership offers.

    During the presentation, there were multiple questions from the audience and engaged discussions that brought the audience even closer and enhanced the experience of students and engineers likewise.

    By Tania Lopez-Cantu

  • 02 Dec 2019 4:39 PM | Anonymous

    According to a new poll from Build Together, a nonpartisan organization, 91% of voters in Pennsylvania support a plan to invest trillions of dollars over the next decade to rebuild and modernize infrastructure (1). Last year, the 2018 Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure gave the state an overall GPA of C-, with infrastructure categories Stormwater, Wastewater, Drinking Water, and Inland Waterways highlighted as opportunities for improvement. The Report Card intends to serve the public by “educating Pennsylvanians about the status of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure so they can, in conjunction with elected officials, make educated decisions on how to prioritize funds to meet current and future needs. The Report Card also makes recommendations to owners and civil engineers on how improve the state’s infrastructure” (2). Although a comprehensive federal infrastructure package has not been passed in the year since the release of the Report Card, as had been expected, efforts to improve continue in Pennsylvania.

    The following accomplishments have been completed since the release of the 2018 Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure last November:

    • Bucks and Montgomery County residents, along with Horsham officials, have nearly completed their ambitious project to build six water filtration systems to remove PFAS contamination (3) related to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station, now closed.
    • Aqua Pennsylvania completed an $8 million wastewater plant rehabilitation in Treasure Lake (4). Additionally, Aqua plans to invest $550 million in 2019 for the communities it serves [Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia] with infrastructure investments of roughly $1.4 billion through 2021 in existing operations that will rehabilitate and strengthen systems (5).

    In our legislature:

    • Around the time the Report Card was released, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (S. 3021 (155)) was passed into law (6).
    • April 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed Restore Pennsylvania, a comprehensive $4.5 billion infrastructure plan (7).
    • May 2019, PA House Bill 1392 was introduced to, “amend Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in size, weight and load, further providing for maximum gross weight of vehicles; in liquid fuels and fuels tax, further providing for definitions and providing for electric vehicle road use fee; and making editorial changes” (8).
    • More recently, Representative Mike Kelly was a lead co-sponsor on the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act (H.R. 2440) which was passed by the U.S House of Representatives (9).
    • On October 29, 2019 the U.S House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act (H.R. 1497) by voice vote. The bill would reauthorize and increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, an essential tool for communities to provide safe water for residents and businesses. The bill would also extend the authorization of sewer overflow control grants and enable communities to better manage their wet weather flows and invest in green infrastructure, stormwater diversion/infiltration, water and energy efficiency projects (10).
    • In the November election, Philadelphia voters approved a local ballot question authorizing the city to borrow $185 million in capital funding for infrastructure projects (11).

    Although much work remains to be done, ASCE is encouraged by the progress made in 2019 and looks forward to advancing the efforts in the next year.

    To read the full Report Card, learn more, and take action - visit:

    Also, follow the ASCE Philadelphia Section on any of our platforms for the featured Category of the Month and use #ASCEPAReportCard and #InfrastructureMatters when sharing.


    1. Israel, Steve, and Ryan Costello. “Infrastructure Is the One Issue Washington Needs to Focus On.” TheHill, The Hill, 31 Oct. 2019,
    2. “Report Card for Pennsylvania's Infrastructure.” Pennsylvania Council, American Society of Civil Engineers, 14 Nov. 2018,
    3. McDaniel, Justine, and Laura McCrystal. “How Three Towns Outside Philly Became 'Trailblazers' on Clean Drinking Water.” Https://, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 30 Aug. 2019,
    4. Haskins, Elaine. “Aqua Pa. Cuts Ribbon on Newly Rehabilitated Treasure Lake West Wastewater Treatment Plant.”, 8 Nov. 2019,
    5. “Aqua America Reports Financial Results for Q3 2019.” Business Wire, 4 Nov. 2019,
    6. Klobuchar, and Amy. “S.3021 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.”, 23 Oct. 2018,
    7. Hughes, Sarah Anne, et al. “Restore Pennsylvania, Explained: Everything You Need to Know about Gov. Tom Wolf's Infrastructure Plan: Pennsylvania Capital.” Star, 14 June 2019,
    8. Legislativate Data Processing Center. “Bill Information (History) - House Bill 1392; Regular Session 2019-2020.” The Official Website for the Pennsylvania General Assembly.,
    9. “Investing in America: Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act: The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.” Issues | Committee Activity | The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
    10. “Water Infrastructure Bills Advance in House.” CitiesSpeak, 5 Nov. 2019,
    11. Madej, Patricia, and Anna Orso. “Marsy's Law Got Wide Support in Pa., Even Though It Won't Count Yet.” Https://, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 Nov. 2019,

  • 14 Nov 2019 7:00 AM | Anonymous
    On September, September 26rd, 2019, the ASCE Pittsburgh Section Geo-Institute and Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG) – Greater Pittsburgh Chapter held a joint kickoff dinner meeting at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania. An outstanding 98 ASCE and AEG members gathered for a presentation regarding the S.R. 0030 Emergency Landslide Repair from Brian Heinzl, P.E..  Mr. Heinzl, a Geotechnical Project Manager for Gannett Fleming Inc. The exceptional attendance marked one of the largest kickoff dinners for both organizations. Mr. Heinzl recounted the events that led to the April 2018 landslide event which left damaged homes and the closure of a principal artery to Pittsburgh.

    The presentation focused on the geotechnical aspects of the project and the expedited schedule of the repair design. The initial work included engineering evaluation while the slope was actively accelerating vertically and laterally, leading to a road closure of S.R. 0030 and an evacuation of surrounding dwellings. Just one day after the evacuation and closure, a major landslide occurred, ultimately resulting in total movement of the slope 300 feet laterally and 50 feet in depth. Mr. Heinzl discussed the work that Gannett Fleming did which allowed them to prepare a comprehensive design package in just ten days, in turn allowing PennDOT to quickly bid and construct the landslide repair. He also described the construction of the repair itself, which took place over the course of only 62 days. The roughly two month repair included the excavation of over 35,000 CY of existing material, over 30,000 CY of rock embankment, and construction of a 400-foot long anchored solder pile and lagging retaining wall.

    Mr. Heinzl also acknowledged the significant cooperation between Gannett Fleming Inc., Golden Triangle Construction, Inc., PennDOT District 11-0, and dozens of subcontractors, vendors, and organizations. The collaboration between all involved in the project limited the impacts of the landslide and reduced the out of service time of S.R. 0030 to 80 days. Aside from re-opening the road an importance was also placed on the well-being of the individuals displaced from their homes and business because of the landslide. Many local organizations were essential in recovering items for displaced residents, providing relocation assistance, and keeping local residents informed.   

    The event concluded with a discussion with the attendees on slope monitoring and landslide mitigation methodologies that could be utilized for similar events moving forward. A timely topic of discussion was the use of drone technology in the surveying and monitoring of the landslide. Both the presentation and discussion allowed attendees to gain insight on the expedited design and construction process and the integration of advanced technologies to assist in the monitoring and repair of landslides. With the number of landslide events that have occurred in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, the Pittsburgh ASCE Geo-Institute and AEG are pleased to provide membership with presentations such as Mr. Heinzl’s for the continued education and awareness of relevant topics happening in the region.

    Prepared by:  Shirley Tang, E.I.T. – ASCE Pittsburgh Geo-Institute Vice Chair

    Edited by:  Taylor DaCanal, E.I.T. – ASCE Pittsburgh Geo-Institute Member-At-Large

  • 18 Oct 2019 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    By Jonathan Shimko

    While there were many takeaways from each session, one particular topic stuck out to me as beneficial to everyone.  Gerald Galloway, P.E., Ph.D., Dist.M.ASCE presented the 11 Principles of Leadership that were first published in an Army Field Manual on Leadership in 1951.  These principles are still used, essentially in their original form, by all of our Armed Forces in basic training and officer training.  These Principles are:

    1.       Know yourself and seek self-improvement.

    2.       Be technically and tactically proficient.

    3.       Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.

    4.       Make sound and timely decisions.

    5.       Set an example.

    6.       Know your people and look out for their welfare.

    7.       Keep your people informed.

    8.       Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

    9.       Ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished.

    10.   Train your people as a team.

    11.   Employ your team in accordance with its capabilities.

    These 11 Principles are relevant to the work we do every day. As engineers and project managers, our day-to-day often involves working on teams that include a diverse blend of personalities, competencies and disciplines. Our projects are often complex with specialized technical and logistical considerations.  Success is often dependent upon our ability to effectively and efficiently manage, communicate, delegate and mentor our colleagues.

    I challenge everyone reading this to post these principles in your workspace as a constant reminder. An expanded summary of the 11 Principles of Leadership can be found in an article published by Tom Deierlein on the Academy Leadership website:


  • 09 Oct 2019 11:07 AM | Anonymous

    By: American Society of Civil Engineers & Jonathan Shimko

    On September 22-23, 2019, 107 Section and Branch Presidents, Region Governors and Society Directors from across the country and abroad attended the annual Presidents and Governors Forum (PGF) in Reston, VA at ASCE Headquarters. This Leader Training Committee sponsored event provided opportunities for attendees to learn about ASCE resources, network with other ASCE leaders, and develop skills that would benefit their Sections and Branches. 

    This year’s PGF was well attended by branch, section and regional leadership from across the country and even a few attendees from Region 10 (International Sections outside of North America).  Pennsylvania is divided into four Sections: Pittsburgh, Central Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia.

     The photo above is of the attendees representing the sections and branches of Pennsylvania in front of ASCE Headquarters. Starting from the left, John Caperilla from Lehigh Valley; Jack Raudenbush from Central Pennsylvania; myself from Pittsburgh; Greg Kuklinski from Lehigh Valley; Kazi Hassan from Philadelphia; and Tim Carre from Central Pennsylvania.     

    The program began on Sunday, with an icebreaker followed by  several sessions including an “Introduction to your Presidency,” “How to Utilize your Governors,” “An Introduction to Region 10,” “Leadership in the Century of Disruption” by ASCE Distinguished Member Gerald Galloway, Ph.D., P.E., Hon.D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE; “Legal Issues for Sections and Branches” and the “Philadelphia Section Mentoring Program.” President-Elect Kancheepuram Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE and Executive Director Tom Smith, CAE, ENV SP, F.ASCE shared their thoughts and experiences on Society activities.  On Sunday evening, the attendees attended a networking social and dinner in Reston Town Center.

    Monday continued with additional Best Practice sessions on Struggling Sections and Branches; Developing a State Infrastructure Report Card; Student Transition Strategies; Running a Successful Section/Branch; and Creating a Successful Website and the Effective Use of Social Media.  Some of the attendees also attended breakout sessions on becoming a Region Governor and learning about ASCE Institutes. The program continued with a Roundtable Discussion sharing measurable goals for their Section/Branch and Resource Breakouts from Society Staff members, followed by a competitive game of JeopardASCE. Closing remarks were made by President-Elect Elect Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, Dist.M.ASCE.

    After two solid days spent with ASCE, attendees left with new knowledge that will be useful in their upcoming year as a Section or Branch leader.

    For more information about the PGF, please visit LTC’s website at: and if you are interested in leadership opportunities within the Pittsburgh Section please email 


 © ASCE Pittsburgh Section. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software