Bats, Water, Soil, and Bridges- an Engineer’s dream

Want to know how bats may effect your engineering plans?  Want to hear about cool new bridges?  Read on.

Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of attending two events hosted by the North Carolina Chapter of the ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies).  The first of these was the Joint Transportation Conference, held in conjunction with the NC DOT.  The second was the annual ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards.  At both events, I learned interesting information that engineers should know. Today, I will discuss the Transportation Conference, including some new regulations and unusual design methods.  I will save the highlights from the Excellence Awards for later this week.

Northern Long-eared Bat

Northern Long-Eared Bat

  1.   It’s a cave, it’s a bat, it’s bats, man!     Did you know that your future bridge project may be effected by the Northern Long-Eared Bat?  It’s true.  Right now, the federal government is considering listing the bat on the Endangered Species List, due to the 98-99% mortality rate the bats are experiencing due to “white nose syndrome”. Over 1,700 projects in North Carolina could be impacted, including work on bridges, culverts, abandoned buildings, and guardrails–essentially, any activity involving tree clearing, structure demolition/removal, or structure maintenance. On November 26th, 2014, the US Fish and Wildlife Service extended the comment period to discuss the implications of listing the bat on the endangered species list. If the bat is listed, there is no grandfathering of projects.  All projects will immediately be required to engage in protective activities. Stay tuned, but be aware that your transportation projects could be effected starting sometime next year.

 

2.  Is that a pirate on your map or is it worse–soil contamination? 

known and possible soil contamination

known and possible soil contamination

At the conference, we also heard from the GeoEnvironmental Section of NC DOT on their geologic symbols for known or potential contamination. Known contamination consists of soil or ground water samples that have been analyzed; or by evidence of such contamination as cracked transformers, battery casings, unusual odors while excavating, or new anecdotal information about past use. Potential contamination, in contrast, is for areas where there is no data, but historical maps or photos which indicate current or assumed past uses of possible contamination, such as gas stations, dry cleaner facilities, auto body facilities, chemical manufacturers, landfills, and manufacturing plants. Both known and potential contamination sites are important for designers, as they consider:

  • large cuts, drainage, utilities, or stream relocations in contaminated areas
  • selecting chemical resistant construction materials
  • additional costs for materials, remediation
  • other unanticipated costs or complications

 

highway stormwater program     3.  Water, water everywhere!  We also heard what’s new with the Highway Stormwater Program, including the updated Post-Construction Stormwater Program and the companion Stormwater BMP Toolbox manual. To learn more about these programs, check out:

  • The NCDOT Stormwater website, which contains useful links; and
  • The Highway Stormwater youtube chancel of training videos, which is still in development but will include environmental sensitivity maps, nutrient load accounting tools, and stormwater management plans.

 

Dragon Bridge

Dragon Bridge

4.  Cool, cool bridges  One of the highlights of the conference was hearing about some truly unique bridge designs, including:

  • The Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing, in New York, featuring twin-tower cable stayed structures and all electronic toll collection
  • Vietnam’s Dragon Bridge, a truly working piece of art; and
  • The Milton-Madison Bridge Slide, (Indiana/Kentucky) the longest bridge slide in North America.  The Milton-Madison Bridge Slide was  a feat of engineering design.  Using “truss sliding” a new 2,427 foot long truss was moved along steel rails and plates and “slid” into place atop the existing, rehabilitated, bridge piers.

 

What about you?  Did you attend the conference?  If so, what insight did you take away?  Share in the comments, below.

 

Photo credits:  Bats ; soil marks from NCDOT presentation; Dragon Bridge

Need some HSW or PDH credit hours? Come here me speak in Chapel Hill on Wednesday!

For my local readers, if you are looking to earn up to 7.0 HSW contact hours or  7.0 PDHs, come here me this Wednesday at the Halfmoon Seminar on Construction Law in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

 I’ll be speaking on “Making Changes and Resolving Disputes During the Construction Process“. 

changes construction sign

Other topics include:

  • Construction Contracting in Traditional and Alternative Project Delivery Systems
  • Entering into Construction Contracts and Subcontracts
  • Accessibility Review and Update
  • Ensuring Environmental Compliance During the Construction Process
  • Protecting Entities Seeking LEED Certification

Registration is here.

If you register, be sure to let me know! Would love to meet more blog readers in person! 

 

Joint Ventures & Geotechnical Agreements (two free seminars) (Tue Tip)

ConsensusDocsTwo upcoming, FREE webinars from ConsensusDocs might be of interest:

 Venture to Manage Your Partners Wisely (with the ConsensusDocs 298 Joint Venture Agreement)

September 19th, 2012 at 2:00-3:30pm ET (this Wednesday; i.e., tomorrow!)

– and — 

What Lurks Below?  Using ConsensusDocs 246 to Get the Answer  (discussing the importance of consulting agreements for geotechnical services)

September 26th, 2012 at 2:00-3:30pm ET (next Wednesday)

Registration for both webinars is here

Do you know of upcoming seminars or other items of interest to  Construction Professionals?  Drop me a note so I can help spread the word.

Understanding & Modifying Key Construction Contract Terms

As I mentioned, I  was one of three amigos who spoke on a Construction Contract webinar last week.  We had a good turn out and lots of very astute questions during the Q&A portion.  While you will miss all of my witty insightful helpful commentary, you can check out the slides for my portion, on understanding and modifying key terms, here:

Drafting Construction Contracts

My comrades’ presentations can be found by visiting Chris’s blog (for payment provision issues) and Craig’s blog (for damages and dispute resolution issues).  Happy viewing!

Key Construction Contract Provisions– a CLE Webinar featuring yours truly!

Happy Friday everyone!  Just wanted to drop you all a note to tell you of my upcoming webinar on construction contracts.  In connection with Strafford Publishing, and my blog buddies Chris Hill and Craig Martin, on Tuesday we’ll be presenting a webinar entitled: 

Drafting Construction Contracts:  Key Provisions and Common Pitfalls 

 3 knit dogs

(Photo definitely NOT a realistic representation of the speakers!)

Course Outline

  1. Strategies for drafting key payment provisions
    1. Terms & requirements
    2. Payment methods
    3. Progress payments & payment withholding
    4. Retainage & final payment
  2. Understanding & modifying key construction contract terms
    1. Scope of services
    2. Duties of the parties
    3. Changes to the project
    4. Termination issues
  3. Dealing with default
    1. Damages
    2. Dispute resolution

When:  this Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Time:  1:00 pm- 2:30 pm, ET

Registration:  Click Here to register for 50% off  the list price, as my blogging guest.  I also have a few free tickets to the event, so if you are a client and want to attend for free, shoot me an email.

“See” you there!

Photo: (c) karkovski.

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