December 2014 - Infrastructure Digest

Sinking Soils Further Impede Efforts To Extricate Alaskan Way Viaduct’s Stuck TBM

Differential settlement of more than an inch has temporarily shut down efforts on the already-stalled Alaskan Way Viaduct project under downtown Seattle. Excavation had been underway on an access pit that was designed to repair “Bertha,” the stuck tunnel-boring machine (TBM), as crews continue to monitor the movement on surrounding buildings.

The 57.5-ft-dia machine has been stuck since December 2013, just over 1,000 ft into its 1.7-mile route under downtown Seattle as part of an effort to replace the aging viaduct after settlement was first detected a month earlier (ENR 2/24 p. 21).

Why should you read this? Schadenfreude? ENR, December 2014

“Urban Metabolism” Could Beat “Sustainability” in a Buzzword Contest

“In the past two years, Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology has published a special issue devoted to “urban metabolism for the urban century” and a paper on “an urban metabolism approach to Los Angeles.” The phrase has also turned up in books such as Sustainable Urban Metabolism, published in 2013 by MIT Press.

Clearly, certain precincts of academia are abuzz about this concept. And if still another recent paper — “Mainstreaming Urban Metabolism” — has any sway, the term could become as familiar in urban circles as “resilience” and “Vision Zero.” But what exactly does it mean? For the next time you encounter it — when you read about it in a planning journal, or an urban-nerd friend mentions it at a cocktail party — here’s a cheat sheet.”

Why should you read this? Know your buzzwords! Next City, December 2014

Sewer Jetter Winterization

If the distance between two jobs is short (10 min or so), some jetter owners opt to keep their unit on with the water recirculating, rather than re-winterizing. However, this is not recommended when temperatures are extremely cold (subzero), or if the travel time between jobs is too long.
Please note that jetters should be winterized with “pink” or “RV” antifreeze only, not the “green” antifreeze most often used in automobiles. Besides being more environmentally friendly, pink/RV antifreeze is far less caustic and won’t cause premature wear on your jetter’s inner workings. As for the antifreeze-to-water ratio, a popular saying is that “50/50 will get you 50 below.”

Why should you read this? It’s Winter! This is news you need. Trenchless Technology, December 2014

Municipal masterpieces: Cities around the globe turn humble hunks of manhole metal into works of art

Calcutta, India, loses upward of 20,000 manhole covers annually. And losses total about 24,000 in Beijing, China, every year.

Why should you read this? Pretty! And a very nice slideshow! Public Works February 2014

Step-by-Step Basics for Camera and Pipe Locating

“5. Select the proper frequency setting. Most camera transmitters operate at 512 Hz. More advanced locators can be switched to multiple frequencies to locate other objects. For instance, if you want to look for buried active power lines before you dig, you can switch the locator to look for the 60 Hz signal radiating from the power line. If you need to locate buried gas, phone or cable TV lines, you can switch the locator to receive 1, 8, 33 or 65 KHz and, using a separate transmitter of the same frequency, locate these lines using the tracer wire buried with them.

You can also locate metal drainpipe with this system, but using the camera locator is much easier. You can locate cast iron pipe to depths of 10 feet, or to depths of 20 feet in plastic or clay pipe. Metal pipe blocks part of the signal radiating from the camera.”

Why should you read this? An excellent blog post that could serve as the basis of an in-house training program on locating. Municipal Sewer & Water, November 2014

Utility Cuts Water Loss

“With some 50 different pressure zones in its service area, the Water Department is constantly dealing with pumping, valving and storage issues as it strives to deliver a reliable stream of high-quality water to its 56,000 customers on a daily basis.

Related: From the Editor: Fixing the Leaks

“Elevation is always a problem here,” says Ivan Thomas, the Water Department’s operations manager. “The pressures amplify water loss. We are looking at ways of reducing pressures [which can reach 400 psi in some places along the system] and are being proactive.”

Through a comprehensive team approach – including a water loss audit program and departmentwide understanding and acceptance of the goals – Asheville has cut those losses from 6 million gallons and approximately $3,600 of lost revenue a day in 2012, to 5.4 million gallons and $2,792 a day in 2014.”

Why should you read this? Non-revenue water is a big problem for most water departments, and Asheville NC was able to make a big reduction and establish some ‘best practices’ that may be new for you. Municipal Sewer & Water, January 2015

Three Ideas That Are Likely to Change the Way DOTs Work

The key to solving the ‘Big Data’ problem is figuring out a way to take advantage of using it for work that is performed day in and day out. Data should be accessible by everyone who needs it and provide value at every stage of a project, from early stage planning, concept definition, design, construction and into operations and asset management.

Poised to change the way DOTs work with Big Data is technology that achieves spatial awareness within a 3D modeling environment, where all that robust data can be used for virtually anything and by anyone. Think about how the processes would change if a single aggregated infrastructure model was used to view, interrogate, search, analyze and extract data. It might come as a surprise to some that this technology already exists.

Why should you read this? Interesting editorial for anyone involved with roads, traffic, or design. Informed Infrastructure, November 2014

City of Columbus, Ohio, Designs ‘Blueprint’ to Control Overflows

However, as the City began to enter subsequent phases of the tunnel program that focuses on controlling separate sanitary overflows, it decided to take a different tack. Rather than continue to build out the tunnel program, the City decided to address the cause of the overflows rather than the symptoms by refocusing its efforts on eliminating inflow-and-infiltration (I/I) through a comprehensive rehabilitation program and green infrastructure improvements. City officials believe that this approach — dubbed Blueprint Columbus — will achieve greater water quality benefits in a manner that will offer economic and social advantages that will benefit the City for generations to come.  

Why should you read this? Everyone loves a good I&I reduction story… Trenchless Technology, November 2014

Trenchless Technology Announces Its 2014 Top 50 Trenchless Design Firms

Trenchless Technology magazine, the leading publication covering the worldwide trenchless marketplace, has released its 2014 Top 50 Trenchless Design Firms. 2014 marks the 18th year the magazine has put together this annual list of trenchless engineering work in North America.

All trenchless and overall billings represent work in North America only (does not include worldwide earnings). Participants were also asked to include their percent of trenchless work relative to the total company billings, number of trenchless specialists and the number of trenchless projects completed between the years 2008-2013.

Why should you read this? If you need trenchless design, this is news you need. Trenchless Technology, December 2014

Who’s clogging Seattle sewers with concrete?

Seattle has a public works mystery. In less than a month, two different sewer lines were found to be blocked by concrete, causing at least $350,000 in repairs, according to multiple reports.

The first incident occurred on Fairview Avenue North, clogging 70 feet of the pipe, reported KIRO 7.

“We don’t know who did it. We’re fairly certain we’ll find out who did it because that amount of concrete is probably coming from a construction site nearby,” Cornell Amaya, with Seattle Public Utilities told the station.

Why should you read this? Is it vandalism, terrorism, stupidity… or all three at once? Seattle will be analyzing the concrete to find the origin. Public Works, November 2014

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