August 2012 - Infrastructure Digest

Which Urban Freeways Are Ready to Go?

“To many city-dwellers, the obsolescence of aging urban highways is obvious. Here in Philadelphia, for instance, I-95 is fast-approaching the end of its design life. What will become of it — particularly a three-mile stretch along the Delaware River that divides the city from its waterfront — has occupied the concern and imagination of residents and city planners alike.

It’s an issue that many U.S. cities face as they still reel from the legacy of mid-20th century highway construction and the present threat of infrastructural failure.

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), which has long been a proponent of more walkable and less automobile-oriented cities, hopes to quicken the process by identifying urban freeways primed for demolition crews. Following a similar report in 2010, CNU’s 2012 Freeways Without a Futures report lists 12 urban freeways throughout North America based on the following factors: “The age and design of structures, redevelopment potential, potential cost savings, ability to improve both overall mobility and local access, existence of pending infrastructure decisions, and community support.”

Here are the freeways listed:” As infrastructure professionals, we don’t often think about which freeways to remove; but, it’s bound to be the right thing to do sometimes.  Next American City, August 30,2012

Green Goes Nationwide

“The business climate in America is starting to see some major changes as more and more companies are beginning to understand the important correlation between the economy and the environment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to fight climate change policies that inhibit innovation, sustainability, and regulating harmful carbon emissions. Frustrated by these policies, major companies such as Apple, Microsoft, PG&E and Nike – to name a few – have even left the agency outright, while a huge proportion of American businesses remain excluded completely. But with a burgeoning green sector sweeping the nation, the need for a new kind of chamber of commerce has become more apparent now than ever.

That’s where the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce comes in.” The ‘Green’ Chamber of Commerce? That’s a thing? Energy & Infrastructure

The Survey Association: The Past, Present and Future

“Like most surveyors, I live in a world of fantasy assuming that everyone knows what I do and what TSA attempts to do on behalf of its members. I studied surveying at college in the early 60’s and assumed that everyone knew about it. After all, without surveying no construction would ever take place. As part of a recent major political lobbying campaign on behalf of TSA a number of meetings have been held with Members of Parliament. It was at one of these meetings that my naiveté was proven. A very well-known UK MP told me in a meeting that he also owned a survey company. This, I thought, was a major breakthrough as it would make my job of explaining the role of the modern surveyor so much easier. On asking him what his company surveyed, I was told washing powder, clothing, and newspapers. It then struck me that he was talking about undertaking telephone surveys; quite different to the role of the land surveyor as I perceive it. Herein lays the problem, both in the word surveyor and the perception of what it entails.” A UK surveyor’s perspective on surveying associations. The American Surveyor, June 30, 2012

Port of Stockton

“Today, the Port stretches across an 809-hectare operating area, World Port says. In addition, it can berth 17 vessels and has 102,000 square meters of dockside transit sheds and 715,000 square meters of warehouses, which are served by rail.

“The Port is near the country’s highway system and two transcontinental railroads,” World Port says, adding that the Port of Stockton handled more than 2 million tons of cargo in 2008.

Its channel averages 11 meters deep, leaving it capable of accommodating 45,000- to 55,000-ton vessels that are up to 275 meters long. “All berths are operated by the Port of Stockton and can accommodate vessels with maximum draft of 11.3 meters,” World Port says.” Interesting overview of an important but lesser-known port. Energy & Infrastructure


“For years, construction of a people mover to connect the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Coliseum Station with the Oakland International Airport instead of using buses has been considered. Finally, after years of planning and funding challenges, the design/­build project is under construction by a joint venture of Flatiron, a Firestone, Colo.-based heavy civil construction company, and Parsons, a Pasadena, Calif.-based engineering firm.

In a development familiar to the San Francisco Bay area’s residents, instead of using the operated self-propelled vehicles powered by a third rail on the tracks – which would require a heavy concrete structure and track supports – the connector’s automated people mover vehicles will be cable-propelled in a modern version of the cable cars that made so many visitors leave their hearts in San Francisco.

Designed, supplied and operated by Doppelmayr Cable Car, a Wolfurt, Austria, company, the system applies the company’s decades of expertise in mechanical ropeway technology to solve another transportation challenge. “Their background and history has all been in ski lifts and gondolas throughout Europe,” Project Manager Tony Inocencio explains. “So what they’ve done is use that technology that they’ve perfected for the ski lifts and applied it to the automated people mover system.”” Brief look at innovative, cable-propelled people movers at Oakland Airport. Energy & Infrastructure

To All Those Who Work…

“To all those who work come moments of beauty unseen by the rest of the world.”  – Norman Maclean

Just a favorite quote of mine, from an essay on loading pack mules properly.

Push Comes to Shove Over the Ohio River

Murray Johnson had performed this sort of heavy lifting before, but the previous feat was just a warm-up. This time, the executive engineer for North Vancouver, British Columbia-based Buckland & Taylor Ltd. is shooting for a world record. He and his colleagues believe that the Milton-Madison Bridge, now being built over the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana, would involve the biggest truss slide in history. “We have specialized over the years in many crazy—I mean high-end—erection schemes. From that point of view, we have confidence,” says Johnson.” Heh, he said ‘high end erection schemes, and your correspondent could not resist commenting on same. And also, GREAT article for bridge geeks like me. ENRMidwest, July 23,2012

So You Think You Want to Cut Hard Rock?

“Before you bid on a hard rock bore make sure you consider the following questions. Do you have the equipment to handle the compressive strength of the rock? Is the overall bore design compatible? Do you have the proper personnel to run a successful hard rock bore? If you answer yes to these questions and you win the bid for the next hard rock bore, then make sure you use the latest technology in cone, bearing, seal and insert design. Failure is easy, but success will set you apart.” Detailed overview of boring rock. I mean, rock boring. Trenchless Technology, May 21, 2012

Report: New water supply reservoirs risky ventures in the southeast

“Southeast U.S. communities should think twice before building new water supply reservoirs, according to a report released recently by American Rivers… “Many leaders see reservoirs as a historically proven way to secure water supply, but looking in the rearview mirror is not the prudent way to navigate the challenges ahead,” said Hoffner. “Local leaders need to know there are lower-risk, lower impact ways to secure water supply. A new reservoir should be the last option on the list, not the first.”” If you are involved with water supply in the American Southeast, I suppose you better read this. Public Works, July 26, 2012

Transformational Leadership

“Despite the staggering size of these figures, inadequate government funding for infrastructure projects is not to blame, even in these times of lean budgets. It’s certainly true that we haven’t spent enough on infrastructure in recent years, but serious funding constraints on government investment are relatively new and can’t explain underinvestment in infrastructure over the past quarter century. Plus, there’s still enough money in the hands of private investors to meet our infrastructure needs. So, if the problem isn’t the money, or any significant deficits in technology or skill, then what is it and how can we make it right?” Opinion piece laying out an infrastructure investment program. Preaching to the choir, maybe. Energy & Infrastructure

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