The American Society of Civil Engineers is a tax-exempt professional body founded in 1852 to represent members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. Based in Reston, Virginia, it is the oldest national engineering society in the United States. Wikipedia.
News Article | May 24, 2017
Dam engineers and safety experts say the drama that unfolded in February at California’s Oroville dam, when trouble with the main and emergency spillways led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents, could be a good thing for dam safety in the U.S. “The Oroville event represents an opportunity,” says Martin McCann Jr., director of the National Performance of Dams Project and a civil engineering professor at Stanford University. “The dam didn’t fail. The spillway didn’t fail. No one got killed. So, let’s count our blessings and seize the opportunity.” An expert panel of engineers this fall will present a forensics analysis to pinpoint the likely causes of the spillway failures. The more pressing concern is the lack of money to upgrade the 81,051 smaller, state-regulated dams, say dam engineers and officials. In 2015, following a record rainfall, 51 of these smaller dams failed in South Carolina. Of the 90,000 dams in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ National Inventory of Dams, 58,000 are privately owned, and some, as in the state of Alabama, are not regulated at all. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) estimates the cost exceeds $64 billion to rehabilitate the nation’s non-federal and federal dams. The combination of these factors—not just the threat of big dams such as Oroville—led the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to give dams a D grade in its latest report card. “We watch our federal dams really well,” says Dusty Myers, president of the ASDSO and chief of Mississippi’s dam program. “Our states are really stressed.” Dam engineering and regulation has come far since the 1970s, when a series of failures killed dozens of people and caused billions of dollars in damage. Subsequent reviews showed that dam safety laws and regulations were inadequate. In response to those reviews, ASDSO was created in 1984. Oversight is “definitely stronger,” says Mark Ogden, a technical specialist at ASDSO who helped to write ASCE’s dam report card. “Some states didn’t have a program back then.” Since about 2010, ASDSO has put a new focus on learning lessons from previous dam failures. Along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the group has created damfailures.org to share information about past failures. They expect that the Oroville case will yield a wealth of new information. “You want to know the physical cause of the problem” but also what human factors may have contributed, says Mark Baker, chairman of ASDSO’s dam-failure committee. Even as improvements have been made, dams are posing an increasing risk because they are getting older—in the U.S., the average age is 56, and about 4,400 are more than 100 years old. Further, the dams were not built to today’s seismic standards, and real-life storms and new storm models show many dams are inadequate to handle heavy rainfall. Dam owners’ responsibility for public safety has expanded with the growing number of people building and living in the dam-failure flood path. In the national inventory, the number of dams considered “high hazard,” or exhibiting the potential for fatalities after a failure, has grown to 15,500 in 2017 from 10,213 in 2005. “It’s not because we are doing anything wrong,” says Bob Beduhn, director of dams and levees for HDR. “It’s that we are allowing people to live within the flood plain of the dam.” Beduhn adds that there’s a disconnect in the national flood insurance program, which doesn’t necessarily require flood insurance in dam flood plains. To tackle the ever-increasing number of dams that need work, federal agencies, utilities and a growing number of states are turning to a risk-based approach to analyze and address problems at the nation’s dams. “It would be impossible to rehabilitate all the dams at once,” says Roger Adams, chief of dam safety for Pennsylvania. By employing a risk-based approach to its 700 dams, the Corps of Engineers has avoided $7 billion of work, says Eric Halpin, deputy for dam and levee safety for the Corps. “We couldn’t afford not to do it,” he says. Major work is ongoing at several dams, including the Corps’ Isabella Dam in California, which was created in the 1950s in a remote area of the state, but now puts more than 300,000 people downstream in Bakersfield at risk. A risk analysis determined the dam needed seismic updates, had seepage issues and could be overtopped. Other federal agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the Oroville Dam, are currently incorporating risk-based practices. States and individual owners have been slower to adopt a risk-based approach because of costs and resistance from owners. The cost issue may be a red herring. Dan Wade, director of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s water improvement program, says the risk-based analysis doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Where a large dam might have a 100-page risk-management plan, a small dam may need a three- to five-page plan. “It needs to fit the project,” Wade says. “We need to get past the concerns about cost.” However, after the problems have been identified, the biggest problem of all—funding—comes next. “We can issue orders, but what happens if they can’t come up with the funding, especially on private dams? Those are the biggest struggles,” says Jon Garton, who manages the dam safety program in Iowa. Only about half the states have some type of low-interest loan program to help pay for rehabilitation. The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation bill, signed into law last year, established a $445-million fund to remediate high-hazard dams, but Congress has yet to appropriate any money for the fund. “The only way that work is going to uptick is if funding is provided some way,” says Craig Harris, western water division director for MWH, a unit of Stantec. That’s not to say that work isn’t occurring. Communities that use their dams for water and recreation, utilities and states are spending billions to upgrade and maintain their dams. “Many communities consider their dams forever after and spend a lot of money to make sure they are operated safely,” said Mike Manwaring, business development director for Stantec’s water and dam division For the past decade or more, new seismic modeling has driven much of the dam work. Even before Oroville, there was a great emphasis on spillway work. Most dams and spillways were built based on old weather data. Now, more recent information shows that dams don’t have adequate capacity for downpours or their spillways are undersized. While it may be impossible to build all dams to withstand the 1,000-year event that occurred in South Carolina in 2015, dams can be built to be more resilient, says Hermann Fritz, a Georgia Tech civil engineering professor who led the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance team that analyzed the South Carolina dam failures. For the most part, South Carolina provided a model for what is not being done in dam management, design and operations. For example, Fritz says, there were old, unknown materials that created seams and points of failure in dams. Turbines couldn’t be operated because power failed; gates had to be opened manually in the deluge; spillways weren’t designed properly; stop logs, meant to be removed in the event of a storm, had been cemented in. “It showed all of the challenges of operation of these smaller dams,” he said. In the end, the international team that has come together to analyze and learn the lessons from Oroville represents the path forward for national dam safety and the mind-set that supports it. Says James Demby, senior technical policy adviser for FEMA’s National Dam Safety Program, “Dam safety is really a shared responsibility.”
News Article | May 24, 2017
As the country hits the road for the long Memorial Day weekend, the latest HNTB America THINKS survey brings new urgency to the nation’s infrastructure debate, finding most Americans have safety concerns when driving on its roads and bridges. While 92 percent of Americans believe it is extremely, or very important, to maintain existing highway and bridge infrastructure to improve highway safety and reduce congestion, just 35 percent believe their local highways and bridges are extremely or very safe, and 51 percent say they are only somewhat safe, according to the findings of a new national HNTB Corporation America THINKS public opinion survey. The HNTB survey, “Roadway Safety and Congestion-2017” found 85 percent of Americans agree that increased traffic congestion directly contributes to highway fatalities. Also, more than six in 10 Americans (61 percent) believe decreasing traffic injuries and fatalities and decreasing traffic congestion should be the most important surface transportation priorities. For slightly more than half of Americans (52 percent), the best way to address highway safety is through enforcement of traffic laws, such as those for speeding and drunk driving. Other approaches include encouraging automobile manufacturers to include new safety technologies as standard equipment (45 percent), use of higher safety standards when building or improving roads (44 percent), and 42 percent believe making low-cost improvements such as signage, enhanced pavement markings and guardrails where traffic accidents are prevalent, are some simple ways to improve highway safety. “Americans expect and want a surface transportation network that delivers safe and reliable travel,” said Ananth Prasad, PE, transportation practice leader and senior vice president at HNTB. “It is imperative that we invest needed resources into our entire surface transportation network of highways, bridges and rail systems. But we must do more than just repair our existing infrastructure required for today. Policymakers should establish clear priorities and make smart investments to create transportation systems capable of meeting future demands and growing our economic strength.” Congestion Almost half (48 percent) of Americans believe providing more public transportation is the best way to reduce congestion. Other ideas include adding capacity to critical corridors (40 percent), providing timely information about traffic conditions, alternate modes of travel and alternate routes was favored by 36 percent, and providing technology, vehicles and roadways that improve traffic flow (30 percent). Making low-cost improvements to get as much out of current capacity was the best option for 22 percent of Americans. “State departments of transportation are working hard to find and implement solutions that can help decrease congestion, but are hampered by needs outpacing budgets,” said Prasad. “Federal funding identified by the current administration is needed now.” In 2016, the U.S. was identified as the most congested developed country in the world, according to a study by the research firm INRIX. That study concluded drivers spend an average of 42 hours a year in traffic during peak hours, and calculates total nationwide costs of congestion including fuel, time wasted and freight costs passed on through higher prices—as $300 billion, an average of $1,400 per driver. Technology is one way out The survey also found that for more than six in ten Americans (62 percent), the priority for new transportation technologies should be to reduce accidents and increase safety. Almost half of Americans (46 percent) believe the use of connected vehicle technologies will increase highway safety and (45 percent) feel there will be fewer traffic accidents. The HNTB survey also asked Americans about the technologies they want in their personal vehicles, and more than six in 10 (63 percent) were interested in blind spot notification and 57 percent wanted information on road conditions. The ability to know when vehicles are too close or approaching quickly was cited by 55 percent of respondents. Other technologies chosen were autonomous automatic emergency braking (45 percent), warning that vehicle speed is dangerous for the driving conditions (39 percent) and 37 percent wanted notification of approaching emergency vehicles. “The need for more transportation funding to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure is emphasized by the D+ grade by the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card,” said Prasad. “That priority also was apparent from statewide referenda last November, when voters in 34 states agreed to fund local transportation projects. “States are stepping up to the plate and doing their part--we need the Federal Government to do the same.” About the survey HNTB’s America THINKS “Highway Safety, Congestion and the State of Infrastructure-2017” survey polled a random nationwide sample of 1,182 Americans, ages 18 and older, between April 7 and April 10, 2017. It was conducted by Russell Research, using an email invitation and online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable representation of the entire U.S. population ages 18 and over. The margin of error is +/- 2.9 percent. About HNTB HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and contractors. With more than a century of service, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program management and construction management. For more information, visit http://www.hntb.com.
News Article | May 24, 2017
America's bridges received a grade of C+ on the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, put out by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Aging is a factor in this score -- almost four in 10 of the 614,387 bridges in the U.S. are 50 years or older, and the average age keeps climbing. But repair and rehabilitation are extremely costly -- the most recent estimate puts the nation's backlog of bridge rehabilitation needs at $123 billion. In 2013, the Delaware Department of Transportation decided to explore the effectiveness of a novel rapid replacement approach for a two-lane bridge just north of the C&D canal that was nearing the end of its useful service life. They collaborated with researchers at the University of Delaware on design and construction of a new bridge, which continues to be monitored via a custom-designed instrumentation system. The old bridge was replaced with what is known as a geosynthetic reinforced soil integrated bridge system (GRS-IBS). Developed and promoted by engineers at the Federal Highway Administration, this system lends itself to rapid and cost-effective construction. Christopher Meehan, the Bentley Systems Incorporated Chair of Civil Engineering at UD, explains that the novel design borrows from the field of retaining walls, where geosynthetic materials -- including textiles, grids, strips and nets-- are used to provide tensile reinforcement to soils, enhancing their overall strength and stability. "It turns out that concepts from these technologies can also be applied to bridges, saving money and reducing construction time," Meehan says. "The new bridge is basically a composite bridge structure that incorporates GRS abutments and prefabricated bridge superstructure elements. This approach eliminates the costly downtime associated with cast-in-place concrete, which can take a few weeks to a month to cure." For this project, the GRS abutments were constructed by laying locally available concrete masonry blocks in rows, filling behind them with gravel and covering the wall facing elements and backfill with a geosynthetic fabric. This process was repeated in layers to build each bridge abutment, and then a precast-concrete bridge superstructure was placed on top of the abutments. Next, some finish work was performed to bring the approach ways up to the grade of the bridge, and the entire bridge and roadway area was then paved. The resulting bridge superstructure spans approximately 37 feet, with a clear span over the inlet channel of a little more than 28 feet. The UD research team provided extensive technical support on the project, including designing and implementing a custom structural health monitoring system that comprises more than 150 sensors to continuously monitor the bridge's long-term performance. Meehan credits graduate students Majid Talebi, Tyler Poggiogalle, Dan Cacciola and Matthew Becker with making significant contributions to the design, construction and monitoring process. "The DelDOT journey to construct a GRS-IBS bridge actually began when Chris approached us with the idea to construct and monitor one of these innovative structures," says Barry Benton, chief bridge engineer at DelDOT and a 1992 graduate of UD in civil engineering. "From the very inception of the project, he worked closely with us to choose a location and assist in both the design and the monitoring plan. Since this was to be the first GRS-IBS bridge in Delaware, it was very important for us to understand how it would perform." DelDOT has since built another GRS-IBS bridge in Sussex County, which is performing well to date. Benton believes that this technology will yield the largest cost savings if an internal maintenance crew can be trained to do the work. "The beauty of the system is that it can be constructed quickly with small equipment, so it's a perfect fit for utilizing the talents of our own staff," he says. Meehan calls the GRS-IBS an accessible technology that can be built almost anywhere. "Geosynthetic reinforced soil structures are well-suited for construction all over the world, as geosynthetic materials are fairly light and can be easily imported," he says. "Beyond that point, various types of walls and bridge abutments can be constructed using locally sourced materials, with little need for cast-in-place concrete. The resulting structures are cost-effective and fairly forgiving with respect to settlement and lateral deflection, and they have been shown to perform relatively well in earthquakes."
News Article | June 5, 2017
RESTON, VA--(Marketwired - June 05, 2017) - The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the leader in lifelong learning for civil engineers, recently launched a series of new, premium guided online courses (GOCs) that provide rigorous learning for international civil engineers in high-demand topics such as construction, architecture, structures, water, forensics and sustainability, to name a few. ASCE's GOCs deliver top-tier online instruction via six- or 12-week modules. The courses offer in-depth exploration of topics that couldn't be covered in a 90-minute webinar or even a two-day seminar. With a flexible format, peer-instructor interaction, dynamic video lectures, peer collaboration and interactive course content, GOCs offer a faster way for engineers to meet their continuing education goals and earn continuing education credits (CEU) or professional development hours (PDH). Upcoming courses (available starting June 6 and continuing through 2017) include*: *course schedule is subject to change ASCE is also offering a new Construction Engineering Certificate Program which comprises six GOCs - four courses in the core path and two elective courses. Learn more at https://asceglobaltraining.org/product/construction-engineering-certificate-program/ Along with GOCs and the Construction Engineering Certificate Program, ASCE offers a vast library of on-demand learning that allows civil engineers in multiple disciplines to keep pace with fast-moving developments in safety, water, structures and engineering forensics. ASCE offers engineering firms and associations the ability to build a custom catalogue of ASCE courses that fit their employee/member needs along with group pricing. Firms and associations can also use ASCE's course distribution and reporting tool to order courses on demand and track learner activation and completion of courses. To learn more and view the ASCE course catalogue, go to www.asceglobaltraining.org. About American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. Through its strategic initiatives, ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation's infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and seeks to "Raise the Bar" on engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit www.asce.org.
News Article | May 12, 2017
FEDERAL WAY, WA, May 12, 2017-- Thomas E. Gates has featured in numerous editions of Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.Mr. Gates parlays his knowledge into his roles as a civil engineer, researcher, waste management administrator and lawyer. He has served the people of his community not only in law, but served politically for two terms on the City Council and Mayor for the City of Richland. He is dedicated to serving the people of Washington State, and was the King County Bar Association's Volunteer Legal Services Attorney of the Year in 2004. He has repeatedly been identified as a Rising Star by Washington Super Lawyers. He started his career by serving as a state inspector, field supervisor and consultant for Riley County Public Works, after which he earned a Bachelor of Science from Kansas State University. His degree propelled him to join his alma mater as a graduate research assistant for two years before he earned a Master of Science from the institution. Backed by a strong educational foundation, Mr. Gates began working for Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories as an engineer, research engineer and senior research engineer between 1981 and 1986. He then joined BWIP for two years, Westinghouse Hanford Co. for five years, Sonalysts for three years, and PLG, Inc., for a year. After garnering experience in a number of different roles, he furthered his knowledge by earning a JD from Seattle University in 2001. He opened his practice, Gates Law PLLC, in 2004. His areas of expertise are in estate planning and probate, personal injury, and small business. In 2014, he was nationally ranked among the Top 10 Under 40 Attorneys by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys and he holds a Preeminent 5.0 out of 5.0 Martindale-Hubbell rating. In 2015, he was the recipient of the Excellence in Legal Services Award from the U.S. Commerce & Trade Research Institute.Mr. Gates is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Concrete Institute, the King County Bar Association, and the Knights of Columbus. Throughout his career, he has contributed his extensive knowledge into seven different articles and 14 technical reports. In recognition of his efforts, he was named Outstanding Young Man of America in 1978, and was named one of Washington's Rising Stars through Super Lawyers. Additionally, he has been named to Who's Who of Emerging Leaders in America once, Who's Who in Science and Engineering eight times, and Who's Who in America 14 times. Looking forward, Mr. Gates intends to experience the continued growth and success of his career.About Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com
News Article | May 9, 2017
Infrastructure! We’ve really got your attention now, right? Here’s the thing, though: It’s what makes modern life possible. Showers, cellphones, pizza delivery, toilets — all those fail without infrastructure. Much of what we’ve got now is old, dangerous, and needs replacement, and voters of both political parties agree on the need to do something about it. (That last statement in itself should be shocking enough to keep you reading.) So President Trump, seeking an issue slightly less divisive that yanking health care away from millions of people, has promised to present a $1 trillion spending proposal to Congress sometime in the next three weeks, claiming it will “completely fix America’s infrastructure.” Never mind that the American Society of Civil Engineers has said we need to spend $3.6 trillion by 2020 — they’ve obviously never seen Trump make deals. The question is, where to start? Although Republicans and Democrats are united on the need to fix the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, and sewer drains, they largely disagree on how to spend the money — a split that’s largely rural-urban in nature, with Rs preferring highways and Ds preferring public transit, for starters. As with his border wall, Trump has suggested he’ll get someone else to pay for the rebuilding effort — the builders themselves, who would be compensated in the form of tax write-offs and user fees. We talked to a lot of experts over the past few weeks, from both ends of the political spectrum, about where the money for infrastructure should go and how to pay for it. Just about all of them panned Trump’s ideas. “When we look at our infrastructure investments, for the most part, they all lose money,” says Chuck Marohn, founder of the nonprofit Strong Towns. “So I’m deeply skeptical that, without financial shenanigans, there are any good investments out there for a business.” What would get built under Trump’s let-it-pay-for-itself plan? A bunch of toll plazas, basically, Marohn says. So, instead of asking what will happen under Trump’s infrastructure proposal (sigh), we asked the wide range of experts we talked to what should happen. What would they do with $1 trillion to spend on the country’s corroded pipes, crumbling bridges, and iffy transit systems? Here are their wishlists, as told to Grist. Lynn Richards, president and CEO, Congress for New Urbanism When you look at infrastructure needs in the United States, we’re trillions and trillions behind where we need to be. We can’t afford to spend our money on infrastructure that just meets one objective. So my budget focuses on projects that fulfill multiple needs. Expanding biking infrastructure, green streets, and parks gives you a good return on investment and improves mobility and public health. Let’s start with the smallest part of the budget: biking infrastructure. I bike from Georgetown to our office in DuPont Circle and often take up a whole car lane going 20 miles an hour max. Give bikers like me a protected lane, and you will not only make it easier for people to bike, but ease congestion. People want mobility in the most efficient manner possible. But we make it so difficult to take transit, bike, and walk that of course people drive. It becomes the easiest way. So many cities need more transit but aren’t ready for light rail. Let’s meet communities where they are. For some the answer is BRT, bus rapid transit. It looks and operates just like a rail system, but it’s cheaper and more flexible. Hartford, Connecticut, has been putting in miles and miles of BRT lines. High-speed rail is an investment for the future even though we need it right now. It’s a seven-hour drive from Washington, D.C., to Boston and an eight-to-10-hour train ride. That should be a trip you can make on high-speed rail. Let’s link other major metropolitan areas, like New Orleans to Houston. We need to give people a wide range of transportation options. There are freeways around the country that split neighborhoods and separate cities from the water, like the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, or I-81 in Syracuse. Many of these are nearing the end of their life. So instead of paying to repair them, take them down and create boulevards. The Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco came down, and look at the boulevard now. Let’s build parks in economically disadvantaged communities. We know from research that parks have a great economic impact, leaving aside the public health benefits. Infrastructure is more than just sewer and roads. It’s about the very foundation of our communities. The most important principle of a federal infrastructure bill should be a maniacal focus on maintenance. Politicians always prefer cutting ribbons on new things to maintaining something that already exists. We put a large percentage into new roads and new transit systems when our old ones are falling apart. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. I don’t favor building more highways. That’s not a national economic driver the way the original interstate highways system was back in the ’50s. A lot of people think we can build our way to prosperity. Look at China, people say. Well, China didn’t have infrastructure before. To the extent that we need to spend on roads, there could be a stimulus-style, one-time grant program for roadways designed specifically to repair crumbling local streets and structurally deficient bridges. Local streets are where people live, and so many of them are in bad shape, but for the most part they’re not eligible for federal aid. Toledo, Ohio, estimates that it has $1.3 billion in needed repairs. Is Toledo better off with moonscape streets? I’m not interested in reducing transit funding. But a lot of money goes to dubious projects in cities that aren’t a great fit: They don’t have the density, the big downtowns; $3.3 billion for the Durham-Orange light rail project in North Carolina makes no sense. The money should go where there’s established transit — San Francisco, Chicago, New York City; otherwise, you risk losing ridership. The metro in Washington, D.C., is losing ridership because it’s breaking down all the time. The federal government used to have a grantmaking program for water and sewer retrofits, but it was eliminated long ago. The post-industrial cities Trump championed are precisely the places where much of the nation’s obsolete water and sewer infrastructure is located. The federal government is telling them to make repairs. Cleveland, for instance, is spending $2.7 billion to retrofit its sewers for Clean Water Act compliance. That’s the most expensive capital project in the region. People in struggling post-industrial cities are taxing themselves to pay for necessary repairs. And many of these people are poor. If the public is going to spend money, it must lead to good outcomes for the public. That hasn’t always been the case. When we are thinking about some of the shovel-ready projects, we need to ask: Have we truly thought about the next generation of people that they will serve? Some of these plans have been on the books for decades. After all that time, do those plans still align with what that community looks like right now, and what is coming up? We are literally living on what is 1960s infrastructure — it qualifies for AARP! When it was built, this was a different world. There weren’t civil rights laws in place, and infrastructure often reinforced inequities. Today, even as we talk about those inequities, we are, for example, reinforcing some of those highways that divided communities and continue to exacerbate the divide we see in America. The majority of money should go to local communities — as local as possible. You can go to any city, any bar, and you can find someone who knows what needs to be fixed. When the money goes lower down — rather than stopping at the state governor’s level — it allows communities to ask for what they really need. I’d say 25 to 35 percent should go to the state level for fully funding programs we know work well: Making sure state revolving funds for clean water and drinking water are fully funded. That will alleviate situations like what’s happening in Flint. We still need some money at the federal level. Small communities know what they need, but they also need technical assistance — staff support and oversight — like the support that the EPA provides to communities that want to clean up brownfields. In all of this, instead of using outdated building materials, use cleaner and greener materials. It may cost more upfront, but the benefits last longer and outweigh the costs over time. Yonah Freemark, founder of The Transport Politic and PhD student at MIT Over the past 30 years, American cities have spent billions on the expansion of their transit systems. Of the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, 27 have some sort of urban rail network in operation — but in 1989, only 14 did. We’ve collectively spent huge amounts of money making transit systems larger. And yet the share of commuters using transit to get to work is the same nationwide now as it was in 1990 — and the share of people walking or carpooling to work has declined considerably. What gives? Fundamentally, we’re bad at using the transit we have. Per-mile ridership on recent American light rail lines in mid-sized cities, for example, is typically a third of that on similar French tramways. At the heart of the problem is that the land uses around our transit stations are typically at a very low density, and driving is encouraged through required-parking provisions. What’s made the problem worse is the fact that we’ve spent even more expanding the freeway network. In the end, we’ve thrown a ton of money at our transportation system to make it less environmentally friendly. If we’re going to spend a trillion dollars, let’s focus on intensifying land uses around existing transportation infrastructure, not expanding it. Cities around the country are suffering from a tremendous housing affordability crisis for working and middle-class households — why not find ways both to reduce their housing and transportation costs? Rather than investing in new transit or highways, let’s provide cities with grants to support a massive boom in housing for low- and middle-income families around transit stations. Let’s encourage little downtowns of high-rise, mixed-use, green buildings. Not only will this investment produce more affordable housing, but it will make our transit systems more effective and get more people out of their cars. Charles Marohn, founder and president of the nonprofit Strong Towns Right now we have this huge maintenance backlog. We have this stuff rotting in the sun. Are we going to let it rot while we build a bunch more? That’s just reckless. We’ve built an entire economy around large-scale infrastructure that ends up costing cities. So first you put in a road and a frontage road, and sewer and water, and what you get is a Walmart and a Costco and a housing development. The problem is that then we have a bunch of infrastructure to maintain, and that often costs more than the tax revenue that comes in from those new buildings. It’s not viable. We’ve been building infrastructure this way for two generations, and it’s slowly bankrupting our cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Instead of building new things, we need maintenance, mostly in older, poorer neighborhoods and mostly below ground. Many of our sewer and water systems are approaching 100 years old. When these core pipes fail, the problems cascade throughout the system. The neighborhoods that have the highest tax return per acre today — and where a little bit of investment could have a big payoff — are the places with the highest poverty. So you look at those neighborhoods, and what do they need? They need just a little bit of love. Patch the sidewalks. Repave the streets. Fix the pipes. They also need new infrastructure. I’d put about 5 percent into what I would call neighborhood venture capital: Small, experimental projects: Put in some street trees. Put in a crosswalk. Connect to commercial centers. I think the modern environmentalist needs to be a pro-city person, but our pattern of infrastructure investment hurts cities. It induces people to spend their money inefficiently, by getting on the freeway to go to Walmart rather than walking to a store across the street. The more we can invest in making cities viable places — places where people want to live, places that can take care of themselves — the more cities will serve the aims of environmentalists.
News Article | February 24, 2017
"After two weeks that saw evacuations near Oroville, Calif., and flooding in Elko County, Nev., America’s dams are showing their age. Nearly 2,000 state-regulated high-hazard dams in the United States were listed as being in need of repair in 2015, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. A dam is considered 'high hazard' based on the potential for the loss of life as a result of failure. By 2020, 70 percent of the dams in the United States will be more than 50 years old, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers." Roy Griggs, Gregor Aisch, and Sarah Almukhtar report for the New York Times February 23, 2017.
News Article | February 16, 2017
SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--California and Hawaii American Water have named Richard Svindland their new president, effective March 1, 2017. Svindland replaces Robert MacLean, who has served as president of California American Water since 2009. MacLean will now become senior vice president of American Water’s Eastern Division, which is comprised of New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Maryland. MacLean also will serve as president of New Jersey American Water. “We are so pleased to promote both Rob and Rich. It is well-deserved,” said Walter Lynch, chief operating officer at American Water. “I know Rich will take over where Rob left off, ensuring our customers in California and Hawaii receive the best service possible, while continuing to focus on the successful completion of the Monterey Peninsula water supply project. His deep utility experience makes him well-suited for this new role.” Svindland has more than 25 years of experience in the water and wastewater fields, most recently serving as California American Water’s vice president of operations. Prior to that role, he led Engineering at California American Water, where he managed all of the company's capital projects to ensure timely and cost-efficient delivery. He also developed capital planning strategies and provided an operational review of existing infrastructure to ensure California American Water’s systems met both the current and future water needs. Prior to his roles in California, Svindland worked extensively in American Water's southeast region on various projects and was named 2003 Civil Engineer of the Year in Industry by the Kentucky section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky. California American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), provides high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than 660,000 people. Hawaii American Water provides quality wastewater services to approximately 28,000 people. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,700 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and Ontario, Canada. More information can be found by visiting www.amwater.com.
News Article | February 27, 2017
RYE, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Gabelli & Company is pleased to announce that Mark W. Woodson, P.E., L.S., D.WRE, F.ASCE, the 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers President, will deliver a keynote address on America’s critical infrastructure spending needs at its 27th Annual Pump, Valve & Water Systems Symposium on March 1 in New York City. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries. Founded in 1852, ASCE is the nation’s oldest engineering society. ASCE stands at the forefront of a profession that plans, designs, constructs, and operates society’s economic and social engine – the built environment – while protecting and restoring the natural environment. Mr. Woodson’s keynote will cover the facts behind the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (infrastructurereportcard.org). The Report Card gave a GPA of “D+” to the nation’s infrastructure in 2013. The next Report Card will be released on March 9, 2017. Mr. Woodson will address the economic case for America’s infrastructure and the solutions that can close our infrastructure competitiveness gap compared to other nations. Mr. Woodson received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1979 and an MBA in 1985 from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Mark is a licensed civil engineer and surveyor in California and Arizona. In 1994, Mr. Woodson received the Arizona Civil Engineer Distinguished Service award from the Arizona Section of ASCE. In 2002, he was awarded the John C. Park Outstanding Engineering award by the Arizona Section of ASCE. In 2002, he was elected as a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 2013 he became a Diplomate of Water Resources Engineering. In 2014, Mr. Woodson was elected to become the 2016 ASCE President. Institutional investors should contact their Gabelli & Company sales representative to register.
News Article | February 16, 2017
MERRICK, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New York American Water announced today it has named Carmen Tierno its new president, effective March 1, 2017. Tierno replaces Brian Bruce, who has been named president of West Virginia American Water. “We are so pleased to see both Brian and Carmen take on new expanded roles at American Water,” said American Water’s chief operating officer Walter Lynch. “We thank Brian for his leadership in New York and are excited for Carmen to join the New York team. Carmen has been a great asset to New Jersey American Water in a variety of roles and has been a key contributor in improving service to our customers in that state. I know his experience in all aspects of the water industry and his commitment to customer service excellence will suit him well in this new role.” Tierno currently serves as New Jersey American Water’s senior director of the company’s Southwest district operations. Tierno has more than 25 years of experience in the water industry and has been with New Jersey American Water for 20 years in various capacities. As senior director, Tierno is responsible for safety, transmission and distribution, field customer service, meter reading, and the overall performance of New Jersey American Water operations in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties. Previously, Tierno worked for the Philadelphia Water Department and then joined New Jersey American Water as an operations engineer. He also served as an engineering manager and as director of customer relations and director of business performance. Tierno earned his MBA from Rutgers University and his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Widener University. He has been active with the Water for People charity for more than 15 years and visited Honduras to review water and sanitation projects. Tierno is a member of the American Water Works Association and American Society of Civil Engineers. New York American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water company in New York, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 350,000 people. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and Ontario, Canada. More information can be found by visiting www.amwater.com.