Friday, September 30, 2011

9/11 Memorial Is Centerpiece of World Trade Center Redevelopment

Courtesy of National September 11 Memorial & Museum Panels with 2,983 names of victims can be heated or cooled for the comfort of visitors.

Photo by Nadine Post/ENR Sole surviving tree from 9/11. Related Links: At New York's New World Trade Center, Uncommon Cooperation Key Links Help Reshape Manhattan Below Grade at WTC Hub, a Transit Tango Tower Crews Get Royal Treatment Editorial: In Close Quarters, Spirit of Cooperation Reigns Slide Show: ENRs World Trade Center Saga Continues Port Authoritys World Trade Center Site All Coverage of Rebuilding Ground Zero Video: Progress in Rebuilding Ground Zero Video: An Overview of Ground Zero

The building team for the eight-acre urban park of the $700-million National September 11 Memorial & Museum—the emotional focal point of the $19-billion World Trade Center redevelopment in Lower Manhattan—is obsessed with something as mundane as surfaces: ground, water, stone and metal.

But the team has a huge burden on its shoulders, one that goes deep down. In the hubbub of activity at the 16-acre WTC site, crews have to deliver 80% of the structured park—a giant green roof topping the site's five-level basement— in pristine condition for the looming Sept. 11 ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The memorial team is giving extra-special care to the heart and soul of the project: the 2,983 names of the 9/11 victims etched into the surface of bronze-covered parapets bordering each of the memorial's pools. The pools—each of which is 31,264 sq ft and contains 485,919 gallons of water—are set into the footprints of the original 110-story Twin Towers, destroyed by the terrorists.

While each pool has a pumping system powerful enough to recycle 52,000 gallons of water per minute, it is the surface of the nearly 1,600 lineal ft of parapets that had to be robust enough to withstand rain, scorching heat, snow and ice as well as the wear and tear of three million annual visitors. For the comfort of the millions of hands that will touch the etchings, the parapets have a heating and cooling system.

"The [National September 11 Memorial & Museum non-profit foundation] was very concerned about making the experience as pleasurable as possible for visitors," many of whom will want to touch the engraved names, says Robert Downward, an associate with the project's local MEP engineer, Jaros Baum & Bolles.

JBB and Service Metal Fabricating, the parapet's Rockaway, N.J.-based supplier, knew of no prototype for a project like this, so they started from scratch to build a back-mounted tubing system that would work within the parapets and the nameplate system. The fabricator built a prototype of the panel, tested it under sunlight and then analyzed the results using computational fluid dynamics modeling.

"We calibrated the model so that it produced results in line with real field conditions," Downward says.

The result is a network of tubes that feed water behind the bronze plates. The tubes, nearly camouflaged, are underneath the plates and parallel to the rows of names.

"The spacing between the tubes was critical to maintaining comfortable temperatures at the panel surface," Downward says.

Each parapet section was shipped to the site with the tubes attached. Then, using a series of manifolds, workers connected the tube sections to the piping. The piping is connected to below-grade equipment that supplies the heated or chilled water.

With all 152 parapet sections installed, crews should be finishing up backlighting by Aug. 20, says Kevin P. Murphy, project executive for construction manager Lend Lease, formerly known as Bovis Lend Lease.

The memorial, at the site's plaza level, is a green roof that covers the 185,000-sq-ft subterranean museum as well as the PATH commuter rail line from New Jersey. More than 400 swamp white-oak trees—each nearly one ton—surround the pools. The memorial's designers are local architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, Berkeley, Calif. (ENR 1/12/04 p. 7).

When completed, the memorial and museum will contain 8,151 tons of steel and about 49,900 cu yd of concrete, according to the WTC landowner, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

About a year ago, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the chairman of the foundation's board of directors, decided to open the "Reflecting Absence" memorial plaza to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. That decision jolted the memorial team into overdrive. Some 525 workers from about 50 firms have been putting in 12-hour days, seven days a week, since last August to finish 80% of the park, says Salvatore Adinolfi, executive vice president of design and construction for the foundation, which is charged with developing the project. Completion is set for September 2012, after work on the other WTC projects is further along.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Construction Week: Gang's MacArthur, New Holland Withdraws, TBW Agreement Snagged, AAA Pushback

People

Chicago Architect Jeanne Gang Named MacArthur Fellow

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named architect Jeanne Gang as one of this year's 22 MacArthur Fellows. Founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects in Chicago, Gang, 47, over the next five years will receive a no-strings-attached cash prize of $500,000 as part of the award, which the foundation announced on Sept. 20. Gang's recent work includes the critically acclaimed Aqua Tower, Chicago, which created "optical poetry," says the foundation. Gang currently is working on an exhibit at New York City's Museum of Modern Art titled "Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream." "It's really time now to think about urbanizing the suburbs," Gang tells ENR. "People want to have city life, even in the suburbs." Gang says she will use the award to fund research projects to help her firm move forward new design ideas, especially in sustainability.

Equipment

New Holland To Pull Heavy Line From North American Market

New Holland, Racine, Wis., is exiting the North America heavy construction equipment market in 2012, focusing instead on landscape and residential compact machinery. New Holland's skid-steer loader had a 13.3% market share in 2010, making it the firm's most popular machine, reports Manfredi & Associates, Mundelein, Ill. Parent company CNH Global N.V., which also owns Case Construction, recorded $4.9 billion in second-quarter net sales, partly thanks to a 24% year-over-year gain in construction equipment, with demand up 37% in North America for both light and heavy equipment. New Holland next year will withdraw its crawler dozers, motor graders, large wheel loaders, heavy-duty excavators and telescopic handlers. The brand will continue to offer compact skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders, tractor loaders, loader backhoes, compact wheel loaders and compact excavators.

Disputes

Settlement Between HDR and Tampa Bay Water Hits Snag

On Oct. 17, the Tampa Bay Water board is planning to vote again on a proposed $30-million legal settlement with HDR Engineering, Omaha, over flaws at the utility's 15.5-billion-gal reservoir. The utility's board voted 4-3 on Sept. 19 to approve the settlement, and later that day Tampa Bay Water announced the deal. However, lawyers for Tampa Bay Water soon pointed out that the vote was not valid because all legal settlements require five members to approve. The utility says it is considering the Sept. 19 vote a "conditional approval" of the settlement until the board meets on Oct. 17. The settlement included an agreement by HDR to pay $30 million to Tampa Bay Water, well short of the $162.4 million the utility is paying Kiewit Infrastructure South to repair and expand the facility. HDR was the engineer for the $140-million construction of the reservoir, which opened in 2005. Just over 12 months later, significant cracking was discovered in the internal embankments of the reservoir.

Transit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Senate Deal Clears Way for Stopgap Spending Bill

Related Links: Delayed FEMA Projects, Listed by State

Thanks to another near-the-deadline deal in the Senate, Congress seems to be on the way to averting a government-wide shutdown and replenishing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s nearly empty disaster-aid fund.

On Sept. 26, the Senate approved a short-term spending measure that, if the House agrees to it, will keep federal agencies operating through Nov. 18.

The new stopgap, which the Senate passed by a strong 79-12 vote, also would provide $2.65 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The Senate action on the continuing resolution, or CR, came just four days before the 2011 federal fiscal year’s end, at midnight on Sept. 30. If no 2012 funds were appropriated by that time, federal agencies would have had to shut down.

Before the 2012 money can start to flow, approval by the House is required. Although the House was on a recess until Oct. 3, it had slated a pro-forma session for Sept. 29. The hope was that the chamber would pass the seven-week Senate bill at that time.

However, as a backup, the Senate also cleared a small stopgap that extends only through Oct. 4, hoping the House would approve at least that four-day CR by Oct. 1 and then clear the seven-week CR by Oct. 4.

The two Senate-approved stopgaps would fund federal construction programs and other agency activities at slightly less than their 2011 levels, based on the overall 2012 discretionary-spending cap set by the Budget Control Act.

The new, almost-final CR is the latest in a series of funding headaches for design and construction companies that pursue federal projects. For many months, those firms have had to weather the uncertainties caused by multiple short-term appropriations stopgaps as well as a series of extensions for highway, transit and airport authorizations.

The end of stopgap funding is not yet in sight, however. Congress will have to approve another spending measure by Nov. 18. If this year’s bitter partisan fights over 2011 appropriations, the Budget Control Act and an aviation authorization are any guide, a sudden d├ętente between Democrats and Republicans is unlikely.

A key to the Senate deal was FEMA’s ability to conserve spending from its Disaster Relief Fund, which has been strained by a wave of summer disasters, including Hurricane Irene in the East and wildfires in Texas.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

OVERVIEW: Rail Ramps Up as Global Development Tool

Related Links: Benguela Railway Promises To Open Angola's Interior China Offers To Build $2-Billion Iranian Rail Link Opening of Harbin-Dalian High-Speed-Rail Line Postponed Rail Network Construction in Libya Stalled by Rebellion Saudi Arabia's North-South Railway Will Upgrade Passenger and Freight $11.3-Billion China Rail Link Tunnels 63% of the Way Saudi Arabia Upgrading Rail Passenger and Freight Service Central Asian Rail Link Will Redirect Export Paths Brazilian $3.21 Billion Rail Revitalization Project Tracks for 2012 Arrival

In 2008, American transportation officials were bullish on rail programs. Voters passed a majority of November ballot measures across the country to fund significant rail and transit projects, including a $9-billion measure in California for high-speed rail. Industry groups consistently called for a dedicated national freight rail program in the next federal transportation reauthorization bill.

Three years later, a sagging economy and partisan warfare in Congress has stifled the progress of rail programs in the U.S.—even as massive rail efforts have ramped up in developing countries like China and India, as well as in rich areas like the United Arab Emirates, prompting major U.S.-based firms to look overseas for rail work.

Governors killed an $8-billion commuter rail extension in New Jersey and a $2-billion high-speed-rail effort in Florida. The transportation reauthorization bill continues to undergo short-term extensions. Major efforts still move forward, notably some $11 billion worth of new subway and commuter rail in New York City and a planned $4-billion budget for new rail in Los Angeles. In August, the Los Angeles Exposition Construction Authority awarded a $542-million contract for the design and construction of the 15.2-mile second phase of the so-called Expo Corridor light-rail project to a joint venture of Skanska and Rados. In Denver, a public-private partnership is building 34 miles of new commuter rail and received a $1-billion federal grant last month.

But it is in developing countries such as China and India where the most massive new starts in freight and commuter rail are taking off. Although the global economy is still an issue, governments in these countries see rail as a vital tool for economic growth.

"You’re seeing rail move from the mature markets to the more developing markets," says George J. Pierson, president and chief operating officer with Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York City. "They are seeing that rail is a development tool, not a luxury."

One factor propelling railway construction projects is the increasing trade flows between developing nations. Economists at HSBC Holdings Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc describe these links as the "new Silk Road." Another geopolitical factor in the railway building taking place across Africa is China’s need for raw materials. Often China finances the projects, and in return the contractor and most of the laborers are Chinese.

Niklas Swanstrom, program director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University, notes: "For the Chinese it's sort of a missing link. The further the Chinese can link their rail network to the Middle East, the less dependent they will be on ocean transport." Additional linkages to Europe will help the country spread its investments.

Tieming Liu, an officer with China Railway Group, Beijing, says that along with building 30% of the projects in China, the company is building many smaller projects in Africa and a $7.5-billion, 471-kilometer line in Venezuela. So far, about $1.5 billion of work has been completed. "The project is slowed down due to lack of cash flow from the owner," he says. "About half of what is completed has been paid for so far. The rest of is funded by us."

Such private investment in rail is key to many of the megaprojects around the globe. "On the one side, governments understand the importance of rail. But they also know that the bill is heavy, so more public-private partnerships are emerging," says Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, director-general with the Paris-based International Union of Railways, a consortium of rail industry agencies and companies. "It’s not a new tool, but the difficulty is that it can be 10 years between idea and integration." He notes that there are two P3 deals in the works for two high-speed-rail lines in France.

Private money is not scarce in the United Arab Emirates, and the sheiks there are investing heavily in all kinds of rail. Parsons Corp. and AECOM recently won a project management contract for the first phase of an $11-billion job in Abu Dhabi. The impetus is largely the region’s desire to evolve from a gas- and oil-fueled economy and to embrace sustainability.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saudi Arabia's North-South Railway

Map by ENR Art Department The North-South Railway, a 2,400-kilometer-long branching system, will link Saudi Arabias northern mineral belt with smelters and a port on the Persian Gulf.

Cost: $3.5 billion

Construction period: 2007-2013

Saudi Arabia, though late to adopt rail service, has embarked on an ambitious program that will feature both freight and passenger service.

Its North-South Railway, a 2,400-kilometer-long branching system, will link Saudi Arabia’s northern mineral belt with smelters and a port on the Persian Gulf, enabling the country to better reach export markets. Further, passenger service will connect Riyadh with cities in the north and extend to the Jordanian border.

The construction work has been divided into four phases. The Saudi Binladin Group, the nation’s largest contractor, won the phase-A contract for the 576-km segment linking the bauxite mines at Az Zabirah to an aluminum smelter and refining complex at Ras Azzawr. This phase has been completed.

Phase B will be handled by a joint venture of China Railway 18th Bureau and Al Suwaiket Co., which will construct a 440-km section from Az Zabirah junction to the middle of the Al Nafude desert. Construction is under way.

A consortium of Barclay Mowlem of Australia, Mitsui of Japan, and Al Rashed of Saudi Arabia is overseeing phase C, which entails building the northernmost 750-km section, from the middle of Al Nafude to the phosphate mines of Al Jalamid and Al Haditha station on the Jordanian border. A portion of this phase has been finished.

The phase-D contract, for the southernmost segment between Riyadh and Al Qassim, has not yet been awarded.

The overall construction will encompass 120 million cu meters of embankment fill and 60 million cu m of excavation.

Freight service commenced this past May on portions of the line that are complete, with trains carrying phosphate concentrate from Al Jalamid to the port of Ras Azzawr.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The World Trade Center's Tower Crews Get the Royal Treatment

Slide Show Photos courtesy of Tishman One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, currently 960 ft tall, is on target to grow to 1,776 ft before the end of 2013. Related Links: See All Of ENR's Rebuilding Ground Zero Stories, Videos and Photos Video: An Overview of Ground Zero Video: Progress in Rebuilding Ground Zero A Slide Show History of the World Trade Center At New York's New World Trade Center, Uncommon Cooperation Key Transit Links Help Reshape Manhattan Below Grade at WTC Hub, a Transit Tango 9/11 Memorial Is Centerpiece of World Trade Center Redevelopment Slide Show: ENRs World Trade Center Saga Continues Port Authoritys World Trade Center Site

For workers raising the Western Hemisphere's soon-to-be tallest skyscraper, "fast food" has an extra dollop of meaning.

With hundreds of eateries in Lower Manhattan, crews erecting the frame of the $3.2-billion One World Trade Center—on schedule to stand 1,776 ft when substantially complete in fall 2013—have only two options when the lunch bell rings: They can frequent a Subway sandwich shop on high or "brown bag" it. However, they can't leave the premises.

The 36 shipping containers that house the shop are dubbed "the hotel" because they also contain lockers and restrooms. The hotel scheme not only minimizes vertical commute times, it prevents hoist congestion.

"The goal is to make the whole tower job move up as if workers are on the ground," not 900 or 1,200 ft in the air, says Mel Ruffini, project executive for the local Tishman Construction Corp., a unit of AECOM Technology. The construction manager is under contract with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to build 1 WTC's $2.1-billion core and shell.

The hotel is novel in its own right, but it serves more than one purpose.

As part of its $256-million contract, local steel contractor DCM USA Erectors Inc. also designed the hotel to stabilize the tower's steel perimeter-tube moment-resisting frame. Under Tishman's "steel first" scheme, the hotel minimizes the needed erection-steel until the structural concrete core, 10 floors behind the steel, catches up.

There's more. Each half of the three-level hotel sits in the core void like two square donuts, each with a tower-crane mast that rises through the donut's center. The location puts a protective roof over Collavino Construction Co.'s concrete crews, who work below the ironworkers.

The roof is also a shield that allows the slower concrete operation to continue in the rain, allowing the concrete to keep pace with the steel. And hatches in the hotel floors let crews install risers on weekends, when the steel and concrete operations are idle.

The hotel is but one prop in a meticulously staged play to meet a demanding schedule for the 3.5-million-sq-ft 1 WTC, originally named the Freedom Tower. Having two tower- crane hooks for two steel operations is another prop that lets DCM jump each crane separately, followed by each hotel half. And that avoids a shutdown of steel erection. "It's like a vertical freight train," says Ruffini.

A sky-lobby hoist system is another part of Tishman's efficiency plan. To avoid disruptive exterior-hoist shutdowns when winds exceed 30 mph, Atlantic Scaffolding, LaPorte, Texas, is providing hoists inside the building. The hoist scheme had to be planned with the structural engineer because creating a 70-story shaft to floor 100 required leaving out permanent floor beams temporarily and adding temporary beams.

Staying Out of Each Other's Hair

Tishman also developed a tactic to keep the core and curtain-wall operations out of each other's hair. A "slider" crane, which cantilevers off the tower's sloping-in northwest corner, is used exclusively for concrete rebar and lumber. The slider and its mast travel up just above the curtain wall.

These strategies facilitate the erection of two floors every two weeks. The pace is needed to keep the steel frame, currently at 960 ft, on course for topping out in March at 1,386 ft.

Tishman, which reports no deaths or major injuries to date, is obsessed with worker safety. To protect crews, expected to peak at 1,500 this year, Tishman devised another first for a steel frame in New York City: A two- story, lightweight-steel traveling system, called a "cocoon," wraps the upper limits of the frame in heavy netting and drapes nets down 16 to 20 floors. The cocoon, lifted by crane as the steel grows, contains work platforms that hang off the steel. Ironworkers no longer have to balance on beams.

The skyscraper sits in the northwest corner of one of the world's busiest and most congested construction sites: the 16-acre WTC replacement for the 10-million-sq-ft office complex destroyed by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. The port authority's PATH rail tunnel crosses under the site. Construction gates have to be shared with seven major projects under way, complicating deliveries. Security is tight. Deliveries are screened.

Before construction began in 2006, Tishman spent months plotting operations, schedules and logistics to determine how to deliver a 1,368-ft office tower, topped by a 441-ft spire, on time, on budget and safely. "We micromanage to the max," says Tishman's Ruffini. Any delay has a cascading effect on the rest of the operations coming up behind it, he adds.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Former ENR Researcher Turnay, 82, Dies

Gabriella L. Turnay, a New York City-based editorial researcher who worked for McGraw-Hill's education division and Engineering News-Record during her 48-year career, died on July 20 following a long illness. She was 82.

Turnay joined ENR in 1967 as an editorial research associate; she compiled the ENR Index, a semi-annual listing of topics covered in the magazine, until it was replaced in 1984 with computer databases. Turnay also proofread the magazine, managed payments to freelance writers and supervised reprint permissions. Prior to joining ENR, Turnay worked for 16 years as an editor in McGraw Hill's education division, where she was involved in textbook sales to school systems in India. She retired in 1998.

Born in Poland, Turnay, her parents and her sister left Warsaw following the German bombings in September 1939. She and her family lived in Budapest, Paris and Lisbon before settling in the U.S. in 1941. A graduate of Wellesley with a B.A. in English literature, Turnay spoke English, German, French and Polish.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wind Energy Industry Setting Safety Standards as It Grows

Photo courtesy AWEA EVOLUTION As development in the wind industry reaches maturity, safety-standard requirements are growing. Workers are often perched 60 ft to 100 ft off the ground during installations.

As the wind industry expands its reach across the nation and prepares to begin building offshore wind farms, federal agencies and contractors are focusing on improving safety for the growing industry.

"Whether you are erecting a wind farm in the mountains of Colorado or the cornfields of Iowa, you can run into a totally different situation and weather can change in a second," says Brian Sturtecky, area director at the Jacksonville, Fla., Office of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. "If you erect one tower and have to do 150 the same way, you cannot become complacent [because] that's when accidents occur."

In 2010, the U.S. wind energy industry installed 5,116 MW of electricity. Total nationwide capacity totals 40,181 MW, up 15% from the beginning of the year, says Michele Mihelic, manager of labor, health and safety policy for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in Washington, D.C. Installations in 2010 alone supported about 75,000 jobs.

Building a wind farm requires work in confined spaces at dangerous heights in windy, remote jobsites that can stretch 50 to 60 miles and are often subject to severe weather. Although the industry does not track accidents, it recognizes hazards for installation workers: for example, falls from the 60-ft to 100-ft-high turbines and, toppling cranes on soft ground.

Chris Lau, vice president of wind construction at Olsen Beal, a heavy industrial erecting firm in Lyndon, Utah, says that while his firm has not had any crane accidents, problems can occur while moving a turbine from one location to another on soft or uneven ground after rain. Cranes exert pressures of between 3,000 psf and 5,000 psf, which can be a problem on temporary gravel roads. "If a crane straddles a 20-foot-wide gravel road in rain, it can get ugly," he says.

Issued last year by OSHA, a new crane standard addresses cranes and derricks in construction and is expected to help prevent accidents. OSHA is also writing a rule to address confined spaces in construction. While Sturtecky says there is no need for standards to specifically address safety for wind-farm construction, OSHA on Aug. 8 signed an alliance with AWEA, which he says will assist in training OSHA compliance officers.

Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis, has completed some 11,000 MW of wind-power projects across North America. Tom Wacker, Mortenson senior vice president for renewable energy, says the firm manages wind safety in a similar way to other commercial construction—employing on-site safety training, for example—but it recognizes some unique logistical needs because of the remote areas in which many wind farms are built. Many of Mortenson's remote wind sites have nurses and first-aid stations, he says.

Jack Bynum, director of environmental health and safety for Siemens Energy, Orlando, Fla., says it's a challenge to manage construction in the high-growth wind- energy business. In the U.S., Siemens has installed wind turbines with a capacity of more than 4,600 MW and uses a "Zero Harm" safety program to manage wind- farm construction. The rigorous technical training takes several weeks. Bynum says the firm goes beyond OSHA safety requirements. "We try to understand what the risks are and whether there is a standard or not," he says.

Siemens also incorporates standards from the American National Standards Institute and cross-references standards of other organizations, including the National Fire Protection Association.

As interest grows in wind-farm development, other government entities are beginning to address safety. "But it is confusing now since jurisdictional issues have not been 100% clarified," says Mihelic. While the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement requires offshore wind-farm developments have a safety management plan in place, it has no specific regulations or requirements, Mihelic says.

Regulations for offshore wind-energy construction and operations cannot simply mirror existing regulations for offshore oil and gas. "We need our own set of regulations," Mihelic says.

safety and health

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Caterpillar Lauches $5B Global Mining Plan After Bucyrus Deal

Related Links: Caterpillar CEO: We Want To Stay in Peoria CAT Moves Forward in Purchase Of Bucyrus for $8.6 Billion Caterpillar Buys Mining Giant Bucyrus For $8.6 Billion

Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., has announced a $5-billion investment in a new global mining initiative, less than two months since the equipment maker finalized on July 8 its acquisition of Bucyrus International, South Milwaukee, Wis., in a deal valued at $8.8 billion.

Historically known for its construction equipment, Bucyrus in recent decades did most of its business in the mining sector, building draglines, excavators, giant trucks and continuous miners. Caterpillar already offers a selection of surface mining equipment, and company officials say the acquisition of Bucyrus now allows Cat to offer a broad array of machines for both surface and underground mining.

However, the $5-billion mining investment goes beyond the Bucyrus integration. "That $5 billion is in two areas," says Steve Wunning, Caterpillar group president. "One is in developing new products: electric-drive trucks, [fully autonomous equipment] and developing products for the lesser-regulated developing markets. We are also going to be significantly increasing the capacity of our factories for mining, a roughly 70% to 80% increase in capacity compared to what we produce today."

The integration of Bucyrus equipment into the Cat lineup will go much further than painting the white machines yellow, says Rod Bolhous, a former vice president of Bucyrus who now is overseeing the manufacturing at Caterpillar’s Milwaukee campus. "We came to the decision that we had to go Caterpillar from day one." Engines in Bucyrus equipment made by Cummins or other manufactures will be replaced with Caterpillar-made engines, and many smaller components, such as hoses, will be replaced with Caterpillar-made versions, too. The former Bucyrus headquarters in Milwuakee will serve as the new Caterpillar Global Mining Division headquarters.

While the new mining strategy is considered global, there are specific international markets Caterpillar is hoping to penetrate. The world's largest equipment maker enjoys a fair share of the U.S. mining market but faces stiff competition in China, Russia and India, markets seen as growth areas as mining technology and methods improve in the regions.

In a statement released on Aug. 24, Caterpillar announced an agreement with the Xitong Technical Industrial Park Administrative Committee to build a proving ground and large wheel-loader manufacturing facility in Tongzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.

The new model wheel loader is being developed at Caterpillar’s Wuxi Research and Development Center and will be targeted at China and other developing markets. Both facilities are expected to be on line in the second half of 2012.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

COST REPORT: Construction Equipment Prices Inch Back Up

The Producer Price Index (left), which measures prices for new equipment, and Rouse Value Index (right), which tracks used-equipment values, both show upward pricing pressure this year. Related Links: Concerns About U.S. Economy Deflate Industry Confidence Chinese Heavy Equipment Digs In Globally

Rising commodity costs, scaled-back production and scant availability of late-model used equipment has bumped up construction equipment prices this year.

"We saw an exodus of equipment leaving North America over the last five years because it was cheaper to buy here," says John Crum, national sales manager for Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Inc., Dublin, Pa. "The auction market has become well known, enabling people to see prices and easily sell in this recession. It's now perceived as a smart move."

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, Vancouver, saw a record $2 billion in proceeds for the first half of 2011, 16% more than a year ago and the largest six-month haul in the company's history. "Competition for late-model equipment remains intense," says Ritchie CEO Peter Blake.

IronPlanet similarly saw robust bidding activity this year with $162 million in gross auction sales for the first quarter, a 25% year-to-year increase. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based firm was helped by 21 global auctions in the first three months of 2011, 61% more than last year.

Caterpillar, meanwhile, announced in August plans for a 40,000-sq-ft work-tools building in Wamego, Kan., for churning out buckets and blades, among other devices, as part of $3 billion in capital expenditures planned for this year. Half of the total will be spent in the U.S.

While the Peoria, Ill.-based equipment maker ramps up long-term production capacity, rental companies are reaping short-term rewards. High prices, market uncertainty and anxiety over looming emission standards have contractors deferring big purchases in favor of equipment rentals as stopgap solutions.

United Rentals Inc. doubled its second-quarter net profit to $27 million, with time utilization reaching a record 69%. The Greenwich, Conn.-based firm is investing $650 million on fleet expenditures in 2011, triggering an estimated 5% rental-rate increase this year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Construction Is Lukewarm on First Fuel-Economy Rules

Courtesy of Inland Kenworth A piece of heavy equipment loads a large dump truck. Large construction trucks will be required to cut fuel economy 10% by 2018 to meet new federal greenhouse-gas rules. Related Links: First Fuel-Economy Standards Hit Construction Trucks The Flip Side of Fuel Economy: Less Cash for Road Construction Heavy Truckers Say Goodbye to the Stick

While construction industry leaders aren’t objecting to the new efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that were announced on Aug. 9, they are not pleased with the likely long-term repercussions of the standards.

"It's probably a good thing," explains Brian Deery, senior director of the highway and transportation division for the Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va. "I’ve been hearing [members] say for a long time that we need more efficient vehicles, but this will just add to the dismalness of the Highway Trust Fund."

According to construction industry trade groups, road-maintenance funding will come up short some $800 million to $900 million each year as a result of the fuel-efficiency requirements.

Under the new national program announced by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Dept. of Transportation, large trucks, vans and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will be required to reduce fuel consumption by a projected 530 million barrels of oil and greenhouse-gas emissions by about 270 million metric tons.

The standards were developed at the request of the manufacturers, purchasers and drivers of the trucks, said President Barack Obama when introducing the new emission limits. Environmental groups applaud the standards as a good step toward reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and helping the nation become energy-independent.

"Despite representing only 4% of all the vehicles on the road, the trucks covered by today’s announcement consume 20% of all on-road transportation fuel used each year but have never been subject to federal fuel-efficiency or carbon-pollution standards," says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, in a statement.

William Buechner, vice president of economics and research for the Washington, D.C.-based American Road and Transportation Builders Association, says the 10% fuel-efficiency improvement in diesel trucks will result in a 10% cut into the $8 billion to $9 billion in revenue generated by diesel trucks each year.

"Nobody is objecting to the standards, there is just no consideration to what [they are] doing to Highway Trust Fund revenues," Buechner says. Both Deery and Buechner say that, in combination with the even bigger hits the trust fund will take when upcoming fuel standards for light-duty vehicles go into effect, Congress needs to find another revenue stream for transportation upkeep.

"The Highway Trust Fund is already down to fumes, and it could be cut as much as 35% in the next six years," Deery says, adding that there is talk about moving toward a mileage fee as a replacement funding source for the trust fund.

For Thad Pirtle, vice president and equipment manager for Evansville, Ind.-based heavy-civil contractor Traylor Bros., the impact is more than theoretical. "Any change in emissions standards always costs us money," he says. "It makes it difficult to plan."

Monday, September 19, 2011

People on the Move: Strategic construction industry executive news

 

DAVEY  

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Aug. 4 that he will appoint Richard A. Davey as Transportation Secretary and CEO of the state Dept. of Transportation, effective Sept. 1. Davey will replace MassDOT Secretary Jeffrey Mullan, who said in July he would resign. Since 2010, Davey has served as MassDOT’s rail and transit administrator and as general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He also had been general manager of Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, a private firm that operates the authority’s commuter rail system. According to published reports, Mullan is returning to the Boston law firm of Foley Hoag, where he was a partner before joining the Patrick administration in 2007. He has been criticized for a breakdown in communication at MassDOT following the collapse of a tunnel light fixture in the Big Dig tunnel system in February that put agency operational procedures under scrutiny.

 

MURPHY  

Dave Murphy has been elevated to CEO of PM Group, a Dublin, Ireland-based engineer and project management firm. A 22-year company veteran, he had been managing director of the firm’s western Europe region. Murphy, a corporate board member since 2006, succeeds Pat McGrath, who becomes deputy chairman for international development. PM Group ranks at No. 89 on ENR’s list of the Top 200 International Design Firms, with $91 million in non-Ireland revenue in 2010.

AECOM Technology Corp., Los Angeles, has named David Glover as its London-based deputy CEO of building engineering, "with specific responsibility to lead the business line’s global market sectors," the firm said on July 29. He joins AECOM from a previous role as a senior partner and chairman of the U.K., Middle East and Africa building practice at Arup, which he joined in 1989. The AECOM group that Glover now joins includes 4,000 building engineering professionals in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, says the firm. J. Parrish, formerly Arup director of global sports, joined AECOM earlier this year in a similar role, along with "a number of his colleagues," says Peter Flint, head of AECOM’s global sports group. Parrish was among the Arup managers involved in the firm’s design of the Bird’s Nest stadium at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. ARUP has named Tristram Carfrae to replace Glover. He remains leader of its global buildings practice, says a company spokeswoman. Carfrae also was named in July as a fellow of the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering.

Ghassan Salameh and Gary Schulman have joined CH2M Hill Cos., Denver, as vice presidents following the Aug. 1 completion of the firm’s acquisition of the state and local government transit unit of consultant Booz Allen Hamilton. They had been executive vice president and senior vice president, respectively. Salameh now leads international business development for CH2M’s transportation business group, and Schulman becomes chief technologist for its transit and rail practice. CH2M Hill says the unit has $50 million in revenue and that more than 160 employees are joining the new parent. Matthew McGowan has also joined as senior vice president for corporate development, responsible for merger and acquisition activity and public-private partnership initiatives. He was managing director at Conway, DelGenio, Gries & Co. LLC, where he led the M&A unit, and also had served as managing director of the engineering, construction and infrastructure services team for Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc. CH2M Hill also named David Anderson chief information officer. He was vice president in the global services, transportation and construction group at Oracle Corp. Paul Swaim, CH2M Hill vice president and senior principal technologist, was elected president of the International Ultraviolet Association, Washington, D.C. The 500-member group promotes UV science, engineering and technology application, particularly for water and wastewater treatment.

 

CASTRO  

Daniel Castro has been elevated to chairman of Georgia Tech University’s School of Building Construction, Atlanta. It is part of the university’s College of Architecture. Formerly interim chairman and associate professor of building construction, he is an expert in materials procurement, automation protocols and sustainable energy for buildings. As interim chairman, Castro prepared the proposal for a new building construction Ph.D. degree, which is set for approval in the fall. In 2014, the school also will host the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Construction Research Congress. Castro joined the faculty in 2006 from Ohio University.

Carol Lockhart and Dushan Arumugam have joined Woolpert, a Dayton, Ohio, engineer and geospatial firm, as project director and hydrographic operations manager, respectively. The new roles follow the firm’s July 15 acquisition of Geomatics Data Solutions, a San Diego hydrographic and bathymetric survey firm, of which they were founders and co-owners. Bathymetry is the study and mapping of underwater terrain.

Dennis Thompson has rejoined Manhattan Construction Co., Tulsa, Okla., as executive vice president of business development, responsible for all market segments in the U.S., Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. He had been president of the western region at Walton Construction. Thompson originally joined Manhattan in 1995 and left in 2001.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Massachusetts Delays $1-billion Boston Line Extension to 2018

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced on Aug. 2 that it plans to delay construction of the $1-billion Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford until fall 2018 or as late as summer 2020.

It plans to purchase the required land and obtain permits before putting out a bid for design and construction to avoid loss of time and money—which happened to a commuter-rail project completed south of Boston in 2007. A day after the announcement, the city of Somerville circulated a petition stating that a four-year delay was unacceptable and demanded an accurate timeline for the project. It noted, "The state must do better than declare it is going to miss the legally mandated 2014 deadline for the extension."

The authority was unable to estimate how much added cost would be incurred because of the delay. MassDOT and MBTA are considering staged construction of stations and other ways to accelerate project completion.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

P3s, Design-Build Key to L.A. Projects

The widening of I-405 marks one of the few major design-build projects in Los Angeles to date. But thanks to an ambitious initiative to build 12 major transit projects by 2019, rather than over three decades, alternative project delivery methods are expected to be deployed on some of the county's biggest rail and highway projects.

One of the highway projects that might benefit is the decades-old Interstate I-710 completion. "This project has the most promising P3 potential," said Doug Failing, executive director of highway programs for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or L.A. Metro. His remarks came during a May conference of the International Chinese Transportation Professionals Association.

Although L.A. Metro is primarily a builder of transit systems, it also has $8 billion in its $40- billion program allocated for highways.

That $40 billion is the result of a ballot measure passed in 2008. Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R, a half-cent sales-tax increase. Then Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villagaroisa (D) introduced the so-called 30/10 Initiative to accelerate the projects.

The L.A. Metro board adopted a policy to combine long-term county sales-tax revenue from Measure R with alternative project delivery and financing methods for highway projects. That strategy includes exploring the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) to accelerate delivery of highway projects.

One such project would be the extension of the 23-mile, north-south I-710 route, which is a key artery for trucks driving to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. But the last 4.5 miles, meant to reach the city of Pasadena, have been stymied for years due to community opposition.

According to Failing, the state has permission to take the project through the environmental process. A request for proposals for the project has been released.

URS Corp. is preparing the final environmental impact statement for another I-710 project that would widen existing lanes and add a four-lane freight corridor. "There is a huge tolling possibility and potential for P3s," says Failing.

Another candidate for a P3 will be the High Desert Corridor, a planned 55-mile greenfield highway connecting Los Angeles to San Bernadino County. Environmental analysis is expected to be complete in 2013.

On the transit side, L.A. Metro expects a $1.75-billion light-rail line to receive final environmental clearance this year. Failing said the agency will conduct industry outreach to determine if it will be built using design-build.

Design-build isn't a surefire method. Rick Thorpe, CEO for the Exposition Line light-rail project, tried "negotiated design-build" on the first phase of the $640-billion program, now more than $800 billion, which began in 2006. "Rather than getting fixed prices, we had [the Flatiron-Fluor-Parsons joint venture] do preliminary engineering and take design to the 85% level, then negotiated the construction packages," he says. But unexpected system additions and issues with local agencies bogged down design, he says. The first phase is a year behind its 2010 slated completion.

For the second phase, he says, "we hired the two best contractors we could find and gave them each half the preliminary engineering funds." Five teams competed for the opportunity, and two were chosen. The teams then came up with firm fixed prices and made best and final offers," says Thorpe. A team led by Skanska and Steve P. Rados Inc. won the $542-million contract in March.

But moving forward on future design-build and P3 projects depend largely on whether Metro can obtain an an overall $1.7 billion grant, and legislation for transit improvement bonds and federal credit assistance. The funds would accelerate construction, and Metro would then pay Washington back for 20 more years with Measure R revenues.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kiewit Earns $300,000 Bonus On Quick Finish of L.A. Freeway Bridge Demolition

Slide Show AP Photo/Reed Saxon Traffic returns after demolition of bridge over Interstate 405 is completed before noon in Los Angeles Sunday, July 17, 2011. Related Links: The Sepulveda Pass Widening Environmental Impact Statement Precast Overview, Contract Amount for Overall Project

But thanks to a massive media attention and some lucky construction breaks, the work was completed 17 hours ahead of schedule and "carmeggedon" was avoided.

"We were before the world, streaming live and we needed to perform," says Dan Kulka, communications manager for Kiewit Infrastructure West, the project’s lead contractor. "And we had an enormous amount of work to do and we only got 53 hours."

Kulka says everything went smoothly on the project from the second the contractor and the California Dept. of Transportation closed a 10-mi portion of the freeway between the I-10 and U.S. 101 on Saturday night to tear down half of the iconic, three-span box girder Mulholland Bridge.

"If you gain a few minutes on every single different operation then you end up way ahead of schedule," he says.

One of the most obvious reasons for the early, 11:30 am Sunday opening was public awareness and cooperation, which allowed Kiewit to close ramps precisely on time and utilize a full force of machinery and at least 100 workers.

Another reason was the freeway road surface below the bridge. Mounds of dirt were piled below the demolition work to catch falling bridge debris, but because of the possibility of damage to the roadway, Kiewit allowed significant time for repair. When the freeway was cleaned and swept, a team of inspectors went through and found zero damage, says Kulka.

"It was in great shape so we just striped it and opened it up," he says.

But one of the biggest reasons for a timely completion was the strategic placement of two bridge columns once they were taken down. Kulka says that rather than demolish the columns on the spot, they were laid down on an adjacent hillside. He says the columns will be demolished when the second phase of the bridge project resumes next year.

"We could have sat there and chipped on those columns for another 17 hours and it would have been more efficient for us but we would held up the freeway that much longer," he says.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Peace Group Protests Award of Turner Prize to Caterpillar

The National Building Museum has cancelled a Sept. 14 public ceremony to honor Caterpillar Inc. with this year's Henry C. Turner Prize after a U.S.-based Middle East peace advocacy group demanded the award be rescinded. At issue is the Israel Defense Forces' alleged use of Caterpillar bulldozers to destroy Palestinian settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Civilians were killed during the operation. The museum declined the group's request to rescind.

Cat has "been on notice that these bulldozers are used for human-rights violations," says Craig Corrie, head of the Olympia, Wash.-based Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, which protested the award in an August letter to the museum. Corrie's 23-year-old daughter, Rachel, died in 2003 when an IDF dozer operator ran over her. "When you give out these awards, you need to think about how these machines are used."

Caterpillar says that it sells military-grade equipment through a U.S. purchasing program that supplies goods to allies, such as Israel. Further, it says it is legally bound to adhere to federal anti-boycott laws prohibiting private sanctions that the U.S. government does not recognize.

"We have compassion for all persons affected by the political strife in the Middle East and support a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," says Cat in a statement. However, the company "cannot monitor the use of every piece of equipment around the world." It goes on to say that it "does not condone the illegal or immoral use of any Caterpillar equipment."

This is the first time that the museum has cancelled the public ceremony for the award, which was first issued in 2002 in honor of Henry C. Turner, founder of Turner Construction Co. Winners are awarded a trophy and a cash prize of $25,000, funded through a Turner endowment. Cancelling the ceremony in Washington, D.C., was a joint decision among Turner, Cat and the museum. They feared that protests and counter-protests would pose a safety risk.

"We feel the environment … has become politicized, and this will divert attention from construction engineering, which is the purpose of the prize and central to the museum's mission," says the museum in a statement. Corrie is still asking the museum to rescind the award.

Five industry judges, including one of ENR's leaders, voted unanimously to give the prize to Caterpillar for its long history of innovation and for boosting sustainability and productivity in the field.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

LightSquared Faces Critics, Floats GPS Plan Changes

Physics problem or engineering challenge? Wireless networking company LightSquared argues that, with some technical engineering work, its $14-billion plan to expand wireless broad-band to millions of consumers can work without disrupting the majority of the industry's global positioning systems.

But on Sept. 8, during a hearing in the House, major U.S. government agencies that rely on GPS disagreed, calling the company's plan a major physics problem that essentially would create too much signal noise in spectrum bands adjacent to sensitive GPS networks, causing widespread disruption.

For example, the U.S. Geological Survey's David Applegate told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology that tests of LightSquared's network plans would disrupt GPS systems that collect seismic monitoring data from earthquakes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Mary Glackin said at least five of its systems would be affected by LightSquared's network plan, including GPS that it uses for weather and space-storm monitoring. Anthony Russo, who directs the Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing, saidthe LightSquared networkplans would disrupt more thana billion satellite systems usersworldwide and urged that the company's plans not be licensed until all the technical issuesare resolved.

Facing stiff opposition to its network by other major U.S. agencies—including NASA, the Dept. of Transportation and the Dept. of Defense—LightSquared, Reston, Va., has floated a new network plan to the Federal Communications Commission, which is mulling over approval of LightSquared's network proposal. Filed with the FCC before the House hearing on Sept. 8, the proposal calls for more testing with lower transmission power using its ground-based towersas well as use of filtering technology to quell disruptionof other GPS bands.

LightSquared's chief counsel, Jeff Carlisle, says the company won't implement any plan that disrupts existing systems.

"This is not a zero-sum game between a GPS and a competitive broadband network,"he countered at the hearing."This is an issue of responsible receiver design."

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Generation of Iranians Displaced by Revolution Put Their Math and Science Savvy to Work

Photo courtesy of kleinfelder ENGINEERING GEN Makarechi (second from left), Behboodi (second from right), Moossazedeh (right).

Graphic by Justin Reynolds A special ENR feature. Related Links: Main Story: Where Progress in Diversity is Changing the Face of the Construction Industry Korean-Americans Build Cultural Inroads in U.S. Construction Chinese-Americans Find Themselves Bridging the Gap Between the U.S. and China Minorities Lament their Low Numbers in Engineering and Construction How a Support Group for Gays in Aviation Took Flight An Ecuadorian Immigrant and AGC Iowa Create a Multicultural Curriculum for Jobsite Communication

But many have visited Iran. "When you go there, they look in your eyes, and they know you don't live there," says Saiid Behboodi, a Kleinfelder vice president. An Iranian shop owner once told one of Behboodi's colleagues, "I can tell you are not from here because you have a sparkle in your eye."

Behboodi and his peers—including Nick Bokaie, Khashayar Hadipour, John Moossazadeh and Houman Makarechi—are all in their fifties, and they all came to the U.S. in their late teens to get the best education possible, with plans to return to Iran and earn a good living there. They had been well prepared in their homeland.

The group recalls how much tougher math and science exams in Iranian high schools were compared to many American colleges' at the time. Eager to import engineering talent, the U.S. offered them scholarships and green cards. With limited room in Iranian universities at the time, plus the prestige of American engineering degrees beckoning, a flood of Iranian students poured into the U.S., each harboring dreams of contributing to a building boom back home.

"Civil engineering in Iran is an upper-echelon job," says Bokaie, transportation director for program management. "Engineers there are like doctors and lawyers here."

Plus, he adds with a smile, "I wanted to get the chicks."

Then came the 1979 revolution, which changed Iran from a Western-influenced secular monarchy to an Islamic theocracy. Their future there was no longer clear, so they stayed and helped build U.S. infrastructure instead.

The engineers experienced mild racism in America during the 1979 hostage crisis. "Overnight, we became Persians," recalls Bokaie. Makarachi recalls having to get fingerprinted at a visa station. A telephone operator hung up on Moossazadeh.

But they distinguished themselves along the way.

A 2008 report by polling research firm Zogby International confirmed a 2004 study by an Iranian-American student group at MIT. That 2004 study stated, "Iranian-Americans [are] among the most highly educated groups in the United States, with an average per capita income that was 50% higher than [the national average]."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Obama Tells EPA To Pull Ozone Reg

In a move that business praised and environmentalists decried, President Obama told the Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 2 to withdraw an ozone rule issued in July. He said the rule would harm the economy. The rule required utilities in 27 states to trim emissions or buy pollution allowances starting in 2012. Then, in 2014, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions would have needed to be cut by 73% and 54%, respectively, from 2005 levels.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Equipment-Failure Fatalities Spur Fines in Ohio, Colorado

Separate incidents of equipment failure caused two construction-worker fatalities in Ohio and Colorado, prompting probes and fines by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is looking into a July 26 scaffold collapse that killed one cement mason and injured two others at a site near Denver.

The trio, employed by B-W Masonry Inc., a Denver subcontractor, were on a scaffold 30 ft in the air when it collapsed. Support planks that broke away may have been to blame, says a firm spokesman.

In Defiance, Ohio, Advantage Powder Coating received a proposed $159,600 OSHA fine for 15 safety violations linked to the Jan. 24 death of Alex Bevins, 21. The pedestal- grinder operator died when the abrasive wheel of his machine exploded and struck him.

The firm faces violations for improperly adjusted pedestal-grinder safety guards and work rests. "Employers have a responsibility to protect the safety of their workers, and that includes having proper machine guards installed," said Michael Connors, OSHA's regional director in Chicago.

Friday, September 9, 2011

ENR Product Snapshot: Hydraulic Breaker and Chain Vise

Slide Show The Atlas Copco SBU 220 Hydraulic Breaker has a one-piece housing, with the percussion mechanism and guide system in a single block of steel. The breaker has an operating weight of 494 lb and is intended for carriers in the 6,150-lb to 13,230-lb range. It has an impact of 720 to 1,380 blows-per-minute, with an oil flow rate of 11 to 20 gallons per minute. Atlas Copco Construction Equipment; 800-732-6762; www.atlascopco.us

ENR's weekly look at construction products and gadgets includes a single-body hydraulic breaker and a rugged portable chain vise for jobsites. Click on the slide show for more details. Manufacturers can send information on new products to ENR_Products@mcgraw-hill.com.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Tools See Use in Fighting Midwest Floods

Photo Courtesy of Portadam LAST LINE OF DEFENSE Flood control products such as Portadam were deployed on short notice at the Fitzgerald Casino in Tunica, Miss., to provide protection from the rising waters of the Mississippi River.

As cities and municipalities in the Midwest deal with seasonal floods, a new crop of flood barrier products have emerged in recent years.

When Mark Bittner, city engineer for Fargo, N.D., planned for this year's floods, he had a budget in hand. While many towns and cities must wait for federal and state aid, Fargo has a dedicated half-cent sales tax for flood control.

When the Red River began to rise this spring, Bittner had more than sandbags. "We had used some Hesco [Concertainer] bastions in 2009 and 2010, but we had some real seepage problems on soft ground," Bittner says. "This year we used a mix: some Hesco, some AquaFence and TrapBags. The rapid deployment stuff is very attractive to us."

Contractors and municipalities fighting seasonal floods are almost spoiled for choice when it comes to flood barrier products available today. Hesco's Concertainer gabions and DefenCell's geotextile fabric forms were originally developed by the British-based defense contractors for military use. These quickly erected containers for sand and fill were designed to stop bullets and shrapnel, but they have found a new market in flood protection.

Sentinel Barriers, Ft. Myers, Fla., built upon the traditional sandbag concept with TrapBags, five-sided polypropylene bags up to 6 ft in height that require heavy equipment to fill. Former heavy-highway and underground contractor Everret "Buzz" Ward invented the TrapBag while serving as disaster recovery contractor for Ft. Myers. "I developed the TrapBag while trying out different containment vessels. I settled on an unequal pentagon with the bulk of the weight at the bottom."

Flood barriers from Norway-based AquaFence and Williamstown, N.J.-based Portadam consist of lightweight metal frames with waterproof panels or sheeting. The speed with which this type of barrier can be erected is a major draw.

"We are primarily a rental business," says Bob Gatta, CEO of Portadam. "Ninety percent of our business is cofferdam or retention related, but we get calls from contractors who are handling flood control and they know our brand."

One such call came into Portadam in early May. A subcontractor working on flood protection at the Fitzgerald Casino in Tunica, Miss., along the Mississippi River, needed to erect a flood barrier. Within three days 2,100 ft of Portadam was delivered, and a 20-worker team installed it within a day.

While most buyers want to see flood barriers in action before buying, there is one trusted option for testing in a controlled setting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Engineering Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss., runs trials on various flood control barriers in a specially designed basin equipped with three powerful wave machines. Initially used to test a handful of products in 2004 at the request of Congress, the ERDC facility has offered vendors the chance to have their products put to the test for a fee of about $60,000.

No regulations

"There are no regulations requiring testing of [flood barriers], but the whole purpose is for manufacturers to sell their product, and people ask if it has been tested at the ERDC," says Don Ward, research hydraulic engineer with the Corps of Engineers. "Some products are about to go to market and the vendors want testing done, other times they have revised their design and want more testing." The Corps does not endorse or recommend any products, and test results are the property of the vendor.

Not all vendors seek out the ERDC tests. "Our product has been used by the Corps for nearly seven years. They did a demo project outside of Baton Rouge and liked the results," says Sentinel Barrier's Ward. "Some people, not the Corps, mind you, say the best testing is in the field."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where a New Inclusiveness Is Changing the Face of the Construction Industry

Slide Show Graphic by Justin Reynolds for ENR A special feature in ENR Related Links: Minorities Lament their Low Numbers in Engineering and Construction How a Support Group for Gays in Aviation Took Flight Korean-Americans Build Cultural Inroads in U.S. Construction Chinese-Americans Find Themselves Bridging the Gap Between the U.S. and China A Generation of Iranians Displaced by Revolution Put Their Math and Science Savvy to Work An Ecuadorian Immigrant and AGC Iowa Create a Multicultural Curriculum for Jobsite Communication

"We are in an ongoing crisis with regard to diversity in engineering," claims Donna Riley, associate professor of engineering at Smith College, Northampton, Mass., and author of "Engineering and Social Justice." "We've created a lot of programs that have been successful at both recruitment and retention," she says. "These efforts are focused on helping underrepresented people find, be attracted to and survive in a system that is still not inclined to be welcoming."

Some industry segments, such as environmental and industrial, have improved, says Daryl Chubin, director of the Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity, Washington, D.C. Others, such as civil-engineering college departments, have lagged in comparison. "Engineers have been late in engaging the challenge—to their detriment," he says. "You certainly see this in the composition of engineering faculties. Students want to see people who look like them in the institution."

Technical skills are no longer enough, Chubin says. "The so-called soft [interpersonal, communication] skills are the skills of the 21st century. Engineers must be able to solve problems with a variety of people," he says.

In 2008, the American Society of Civil Engineers published "Diversity by Design," a guide that encompasses a swath of diversity issues. Experts say public entities are well ahead of diversity inclusion efforts in the private sector and higher education.

At San Diego International Airport, the diversity push includes a discussion on transgender issues. "We continue to stretch ourselves," says Jeff Lindeman, the airport's director of human resources. "When we first introduced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] issues to the mix, there was pushback. People have deeply held beliefs. But we are not asking them to give up their beliefs."

Rather, it's about not imposing those beliefs on others in the workplace, says Thella Bowens, a black woman who is the CEO of the city's airport authority. "Often we say and do what's politically correct in the appropriate environment, but I believe we don't always walk the walk," she says.

Robert Van Cleave, chairman and CEO of Balfour Beatty Construction, concurs. "The industry is not where it needs to be," he says. "It's not malice, but we've meandered." He adds, "Our clients are more diverse than ever. The talent pool that we all must draw from is our main advantage. If you only go after a percentage of that pool, you're handicapping yourself."

Balfour Beatty is one of six engineering-construction firms rated as most diverse among Fortune magazine's 2011 list of Best Companies To Work For. Diversity criteria include percentages of minorities and women, a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and domestic partner benefits.

Design firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, listed as a diverse firm on Fortune's 2010 list, doesn't meet the last two policy criteria. "We don't condone discrimination on any non-merit factor," says Barry Barber, HR director. "For our base policy, we take a minimalist approach. Various clients require that we contractually state that we will not discriminate based on many things, and we adhere to those."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bud Nelson, Fire Safety Engineering Innovator, Dead at 82

Harold E. "Bud" Nelson, known to many as "the most influential fire protection engineer of the 20th century" and the father of the emerging discipline, died on July 21 in Fairfax, Va., from complications after a fall, according to the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE). He was 82 and lived in Bethesda, Md.

Fire protection engineering is considered a unique subset of construction, but its high-profile industry status today may stem from the pioneering 60-year career of Nelson, who developed many innovations in fire protection design, modeling and systems ap-proaches that have improved building safety, particularly in high-rise structures.

Nelson began and ended his career analyzing the effects of spectacular building fires. As a young government engineer in 1959, he probed a basement fire in the Pentagon that burned 4,000 sq ft of the giant office building and caused $30 million in damages. Nelson's analysis led to a new industry-wide fire protection standard for IT equipment. In 2002, at age 72, Nelson was tapped by two federal agencies to investigate fire-related factors in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers after the 9/11 attack. His analytical prowess was in demand—although not always appreciated, as when he was critical of a federal guide on design practices (ENR 3/14 2005, p. 21).

Nelson advocated design based on how a fire, a building and its occupants would interact, says an SFPE spokesman. He was an early developer of computer-based fire simulation tools that used algebra to predict fire effects, the spokesman adds. His FPE TOOL is "the most widely used fire modeling program ever developed," according to Fire Chief magazine.

 

NELSON  

Following a career with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other agencies, Nelson joined Hughes Associates, a Baltimore consultant. He was a past president and fellow of SFPE, among numerous other industry honors. Nelson also was the first recipient of SFPE's top annual service award, which was named for him.

Says Frederick W. Mowrer, director of the Fire Protection Engineering Program at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo: "He was always a passionate advocate for the profession, and he left a unique and indelible mark on it."

Monday, September 5, 2011

High-Strength Steel Cheaper Overall Than Conventional Rebar

Courtesy Cary Kopczynski and Co. Once thought to be just a seismic product, high-strength rebar is paying off for general builders because they can use less steel reinforcement. However, it is not yet widely available. Related Links: When Does It Pay To Use Innovative Concrete Products?

Materials

High-strength rebar reduces overall building costs compared to traditional steel reinforcement, according to a new study from the Construction Industry Institute.

Compared to traditional rebar, typically rated at 60 kips per sq in., the high-strength variety, rated at 100 ksi, costs twice as much to buy up front. However, it reduces overall reinforcing steel by 14% to 49%, translating into a net cost reduction of 12% to 33%.

This calculation assumes a 100-ksi rebar cost of $1,200 per ton versus 60-ksi rebar's $600 per ton, with a labor cost of $710 per ton for both.

"The high-strength steel definitely seemed to be on the winning end," says David MacNeel, operations manager at Baker Concrete Construction. He is part of a team studying productivity for Austin, Texas-based CII. Researchers presented the results in Chicago on July 26 at CII's annual conference.

The team studied three recent innovations in concrete—modular formwork, self-consolidating concrete and high-strength reinforcement—and compared them to their traditional counterparts.

The advantages of high-strength steel, the team found, are reduced rebar congestion, reduced weight and increased design strength. The downsides are higher cost, brittleness, complex structural analysis and limited availability.

Only one supplier, MMFX Technologies Corp., Irvine, Calif., currently offers 100-ksi rebar, and not every building code yet accepts it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Working Toward Quality Standards in Construction

Related Links: Dont Blame The Workers

As a civil engineer and a licensed professional engineer, I found your article "Rethinking Wrench Time" to be of great interest. I also have a master's degree in industrial engineering, specializing in quality control, and am a longtime member of the American Society for Quality.

For many years, I have been promoting the application of quality-control principles to construction work, and I think this article gives an example of how it may be accomplished. To its credit, the [New York City Transit Authority, or NYCTA] now requires contractors to provide a quality-control manager on major projects. I have personally served as a quality-control manager on two NYCTA projects in recent years, including a $40-million bus maintenance and office facility in Maspeth, Queens, for Granite Construction.

To paraphrase your concluding paragraph, just as with safety, applying quality-control principles to construction is a team approach and will take some leadership for government agencies to push forward.

Allen Parmet

Principal

Parmet Engineering LLC

Springfield, N.J.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Pulls Strings For Kansas City Music-Goers

Slide Show Photo By Tudor Van Hampton for ENR Steel rods arranged radially like a stringed instrument are tensioned to an average 400 kips, supporting a glass atrium inside the lobby of the 286,000-sq-ft Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

 

Video by Tudor Van Hampton JE Dunn Construction's Kyle McQuiston takes us on a hardhat tour of the Moshe Safdie-designed Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to a swooping, stepped concrete and sloped stainless-steel roof-line, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City, Mo., features a radial glass atrium that hangs on finely tuned steel cables. The privately funded, $413-million job is set to open Sept. 16 after more than a decade of planning, design and construction.

Locals have likened architect Moshe Safdie's design to the Sydney Opera House—or to a pair of armadillos. The atrium was envisioned to resemble a cello's strings fanning over a bridge and fret-board. The cables span the 300-ft-long, 105-ft-wide glass lobby to support 48,300 sq ft of high-performance glass panels, each roughly 1.5-in. thick. To keep the ceiling and walls from caving in, a series of 27 threaded rods and corresponding cables are tensioned to an average 400 kips, or 400,000 lbs, creating the effect of a 250-mph wind load as they pull against the building superstructure.

"The cables were by far the dominant force that we needed to consider," says G. Kelley Gipple, principal of locally based Structural Engineering Associates Inc., the main building's engineer of record.

Though most work was smooth, the project hit a snag in 2009 when a 125-ft-tall boom lift failed, tipping over and killing the operator. The family is suing the manufacturer, JLG, and others for wrongful death in Jackson County court.

Double Yolk

Organized like two egg yolks within a single shell, the building contains 4,500 tons of steel brace frames and curved box trusses. They support a precast concrete and stainless steel outer structure, which encases two cast-in-place concrete bowls: a 1,800-seat proscenium theater and a 1,600-seat orchestral hall. For acoustics, each space is isolated from each other and the over-arching canopy.

Like a stringed soloist in concert, the elegant cable-glass atrium, built by Germany-based Novum Structures LLC, took center stage during a key period of construction last year, forcing the general contractor, locally based JE Dunn Construction, to carefully sequence work around the delicate glazing operation.

"It's a one-of-a-kind structure, so there was a lot of cutting-edge planning that had to go into it," says Kyle McQuiston, project executive for JE Dunn.

For eight weeks last summer, as the cable system was tensioned (from the center grid outward), Dunn had to stage the finishing of the building's exterior precast concrete walls, interior walls and elevators as the pulling job was done. Once the tensioning work was complete, the building's steel members had shifted 2 in. to 6 in. from their original locations. Workers were then clear to finish the build-out.

The big pull took place outside the glass atrium, across a driveway that lies underneath the stringed fanfare, where 27 rods anchor into a 50-ft-tall, 4-ft-thick concrete wall bolted into bedrock. On one side of the wall are the below-grade portions of the performance halls; the other is a 1,000-space parking garage.

At about 50 ft high at their opposite ends, the rods pull against articulating, 20-in.-thick mast tubes that frame out the glass-wall's radius. Inside the atrium, one cable follows the roof slope while another curves downward, forming a truss shape. Both cables pin to 70-ft-high brace frames, which bear on columns.

Arup, the building's design engineer, chose hardier rods outside for safety. Fire models showed that a bus exploding in the driveway would pose more risk to melting connections than would an interior fire.

The enclosure's vertical load is taken by the massive concrete wall. For extra support, concrete struts attached to the wall tie back into the main structure. This supports the driveway slab and resolves the horizontal tension with compression forces. "If you can provide a building a circular load path—keep all of the forces from the tensioned net within the building—then the foundation is much smaller," explains Brian Markham, an associate and structural engineer in Arup's New York City office. "We could take this building and pick it up off its foundation, and the cable nets and the glass atrium would maintain their integrity."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fire Delays Completion of World's Largest Desalination Plant in Algeria

ENR The $632-million plant is being built at Magtaa, near Algeria's second-biggest city, Oran.

Completion of the world's largest desalination plant, in Algeria, will be delayed by nearly a year as a result of a fire that destroyed crucial equipment and other supplies meant to be installed at the 500,000-cu-meter-per-day facility.

Singapore's Hyflux Ltd., the contractor building the $632-million desalination plant at Magtaa, near Algeria's second- biggest city, Oran, said the July 28 blaze—the cause of which has yet to be established—destroyed a warehouse and stored equipment. As a result, the completion date for the project has been moved from August 2011 to May 2012.

"The warehouse [that] caught fire is sited a few hundred meters away from the construction site for the project and houses equipment [that is] required for the project," said Cho Wee Peng, Hyflux's group chief financial officer.

Hyflux, through its subsidiary MenaSpring Utility, is part of a joint-venture team—Tahlyat Myah Magtaa SPA, formed with Algeria's state-owned Algeria Energy Co. (AEC)—that is building the facility to supply at least five million people with drinking water.

The team had procured various equipment from international suppliers for installation at the facility. Much of that equipment will need to be re-procured, Peng said.

The suppliers include Tokyo-based Toray Industries Inc., which supplied reverse osmosis membranes, and Energy Recovery Inc, a Californian energy-recovery products and technology solutions provider. Through its recently acquired Pump Engineering LLC, Energy Recovery supplied 25 HTCAT-7200 turbo chargers for the plant.

Earlier, Hyflux had awarded a $28-million supply contract to ABB for the design, engineering, supply, installation and commissioning of electrical systems for the desalination plant.

Hyflux could not confirm the type and the supplier of the destroyed equipment but, in a statement, estimated the damage and other related costs at $50 million. Peng noted, "The project is covered by [a] comprehensive construction all-risk insurance policy with internationally reputable insurers."

Built on a design-own-operate and transfer basis, the desalination plant will be 51% owned by MenaSpring, with AEC taking the remaining 49% stake.

Construction of the desalination plant is critical to Algeria's infrastructure development. Key beneficiaries include the country's water utility, ADE, and the national oil company, Sonatrach, which are projecting increased supplies of drinking water and hydropower for the Mediterranean coastal town and its surrounding communities.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DOE Advisory Panel Pushes for Safe Shale Gas Development

Photo Courtesy of Chesapeake Energy Critics have said the entire natural gas production cycle poses environmental risks; industry sources say they are working to improve the process. Related Links: View the Fraking/Drinking Water Infograph DOE Advisory Panel Releases Shale Gas Recommendations

Industry sources say they are generally supportive of the recommendations of the Dept. of Energy’s Subcommittee on Shale Gas Production released on August 11. But environmental groups say the report lacks substance, and some are calling for a moratorium until safety and environmental concerns can be addressed.

The DOE advisory panel, established at the request of President Obama this spring, in large part endorses shale gas as an important part of the nation’s energy portfolio as well as the method used to extract the gas, hydraulic fracturing, or "hydrofracking."

"We see a very positive message for shale gas development," says Erik Mileto, director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute. He says the enormous growth of the shale gas production market has shown to create jobs and benefit the economy. "We’re glad to see that this is all recognized" by the panel, he says.

In its draft recommendations, the panel called for industry leadership in improving environmental performance, underpinned by strong regulations and rigorous enforcement of those regulations. But the subcommittee stopped short of specifying what those regulations should be or which agencies should oversee their enforcement.

Key recommendations of the report include systematic measurement of methane and other air emissions during shale gas production to improve air quality and taking immediate steps to reduce those emissions using proven technologies and practices.

Additionally, the panel called on shale gas production companies as well as the agencies that regulate them to make information about shale gas production operations more accessible to the public through a new national database.

"As shale gas grows and becomes an increasingly important part of our nation’s energy supply, it is crucial to bring a better understanding of the environmental impacts—both current and potential—and ensure that they are properly addressed," Subcommittee Chairman John Deutch says. "The current output of shale gas and its potential for future growth emphasize the need to assure that this supply is produced in an environmentally sound fashion, and in a way that meets the needs of public trust."

Mileto says industry has already taken voluntary steps to develop best practices to ensure that shale gas is extracted and produced safely to minimize the impact on the environment. For example, API has developed a standard of best practices to ensure that methane does not migrate into water sources during well construction, a standard that many energy companies are adopting voluntarily. Moreover, the industry has voluntarily moved toward recycling a larger quantity of the "frack" wastewater. More than 70% of the water used during hydraulic fracturing is recycled, he says. "Industry stands committed to continuous improvement."

Matthew DeMarco, principal of Advanced GeoServices Corp., West Chester, Pa., an environmental engineering firm that works in the Marcellus Shale region, notes that the panel’s recommendations, if implemented, should create opportunities for firms not only in the oil and gas sector, but for traditional environmental engineering firms as well. For example, the panel’s recommendation that air emissions be monitored and measured could provide work for firms that work on air quality projects, he says.

But some critics say the DOE report ducks the central question of whether hydraulic fracturing should remain exempt from most federal environmental regulations, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. Such environmental laws "are riddled with exemptions for the oil and gas industry," says John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America.

Rumpler says that although the panel’s recommendations are a good "first step," they do not go far enough to address the safety and environmental concerns raised by the public. For example, "merely disclosing the chemicals used [during fracking] doesn’t stop the chemicals from getting into the water," he says.
At a minimum, the administration should ensure that the nation’s major environmental laws apply to hydraulic fracturing; and that forests, parks and areas that supply drinking water should remain permanently off-limits to fracking operations, he says.

Environment America and other groups have called for a moratorium on hydrofracking until the industry takes the steps necessary to adequately prove to the public that the practice is safe. "The onus is on industry," he says.
Officials from the Environmental Working Group say that the subcommittee seems to be sending a message to communities in states where shale gas is plentiful, such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Colorado, that the administration is more concerned about maintaining the growth of the industry than it is in addressing the environmental problems communities are facing as a result of shale gas production.

EWG, a consumer and environmental advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., published a report on Aug. 3 highlighting a case of well-water contamination as a result of hydraulic fracturing in West Virginia. Industry has long claimed that no instances of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing have been identified.
Advanced GeoServices’ DeMarco notes that it was not necessarily the DOE’s mission to establish a regulatory framework for shale gas production in the preliminary, 90-day report. That will likely fall to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is working on a study of its own.

In the meantime, the industry will continue to move forward in developing better, safer methods, and states will continue to strictly enforce their own regulations, says API’s Mileto. DeMarco concurs. "We don’t want to smother the industry right now while best practices are still being developed," he says.
The DOE panel will release a final report in November.