A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 12

Day 12

Another GIS Day

Today ended up being another day primarily spent on GIS. I successfully was able to start a web service for some of our data. But when I went into the ArcGIS Silverlight Viewer Map Builder and put my URL into that data, it could not connect. I tried to look through the documentation to figure out why it isn't connecting, but could find nothing wrong. Our other GIS person is going to look it over too. If we both can't figure it out, I guess we'll try asking the person in our neighboring community for some help. Or maybe we'll end up calling ESRI support.  

We also worked on populating data and planning the organization of data in a few of our feature classes. This has been an ongoing task for us as we move through each type of data collected and managed by the city. Eventually I want to capture it all in a data catalog so we have a better idea of just what we have an how it is organized and who maintains it. But that's a huge project that we only have time to work on every now and then.

Grant Meeting

Today we also met to discuss a grant that was awarded to our city by the state. We needed to look through the forms that must be filled out, and we wanted to further discuss the project related to the grant. I contacted the grant administrator to get more information before we get too far into filling out everything that we must submit. But I did not yet hear back so hopefully will tomorrow so we can get going on submitting the information.

Storm Sewer Project

Our interns are still working on the CAD drawing for the small storm sewer project they are designing. It's been great experience for them to take a project from the start to finish. They have done all the field work, communication with the residents who will be impacted, the design, and the drawing of the plan. Eventually, I will have them figure out some quantities even though we will probably build this in-house.

Metal Manhole Frame with concrete rings

Manhole Frame Demo

We also sat through a demo of a new type of frame and adustment system for manholes. This company was out of Canada, and their product is made entirely of rubber. Of course, being a conservative engineer, I am always skeptical at first with new products. Sometimes I find something new that does look worth trying. But in this case, I was mainly turned off by the cost. Purchasing the frame and adjusting rings was almost the same cost as buying a whole new manhole structure with the metal frame and concrete adjusting rings like the one shown in this photo. So it would be hard to justify. Plus it looked like the installation could be time-consuming which might make the total construction cost even more. It's still good to evaluate new products just to make sure we are making the best use of our funds.


A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 8

Day 8

Geneva Road Construction Aug 2011

The great construction mystery: Why aren't the standard frames made to fit the standard inlets?


Well, the inlet frames I picked out were placed on the structures today! I went out to work with the crew while they were placing them to make sure they fit and they were set at the right elevation. (If you've been reading my blog, you'll remember I had to buy special grates to fit the inlets because the old ones were too big.) While we worked, we discussed how the frames and grates that are in the IDOT standards do not fit the inlet structures that are in the standard. Which really doesn't make sense. But the worst part of it is this causes a gap where dirt and road base are washed out from under the road into the inlet. This ends up leaving a big hole near the inlet or manhole.  (You can see an example of this in the photo below.) And these failures can end up being the biggest maintenance problem I see cities dealing with. Where I worked before the 

Chicago 2011 Photos near Lincoln Park Area

contractors were good about working with me to avoid problems by pouring a lot of concrete around the inlet frame to seal it. But up here where I work now, they don't seem as interested in cooperating, and I'm not on the job as much to make sure they are doing it. So one of our water guys told me he found an inlet frame he thinks fits better so I am going to check out what he has picked out, and if it works, we will spec that for the job next year.


Parking Lot Project

We are still working on our new parking lot design. Today I finished up the ownership information and emailed it to the city attorney. The project engineer and I also discussed our approach to applying for a special use permit. In this city, we are not exempt from our own regulations so our department must apply to the community development department asking for the planning commission and city council to approve a special use for the lot. 

APWA Education Committee

I also participated in a phone conference with the APWA education committee for the Chicago Chapter. They are planning some pretty cool sessions. My role in the conversation was only to discuss the possibility of giving a presentation on communication and social media. 

Certificates of Completion for Development

Another task for which my office is responsible is preparing certificates of completion for new developments. So today I prepared and submitted to the city council for consideration a certificate of completion for one of the new developments in our city. The process works like this: when everything is finished, our inspector does a final walk through, and if everything is ok and completed, he gives us the go ahead to submit this certificate to the city council for approval. However, approval of this certificate does not mean approval of the improvements. That's another certificate we submit for approval after a specific time period has passed. 

New Developments

We also have been reviewing a new development that had been given approval to begin construction of a portion of the proposed development. And today we dedicated some time to processing and helping move forward another phase of this development.  Normally a developer would submit plans and documents and only begin construction once all approvals and payments are in place. But because some developers are more anxious than others to start doing something, it seems that occasionally we get a few that push to have us proceed in this phased approval approach. The problem is it sets up a very challenging and difficult process for us. It ends up taking a lot more staff time to respond and monitor each phase, and it creates confusion between departments as everyone struggles to keep track of what has been approved, started, paid for, etc. Anyway we want to do as much as we can to work with people investing in our community so we try to accommodate developers to help them meet their schedules. So we worked this morning to get them through the next step in the process.

Railroads and Bike Trails

We have been working on a plan to extend a bike trail along an old abandoned railroad bed. But the challenge has been we only own a portion of the property needed for the trail; the railroad still retains ownership of most of the remainder. A while back we met with a representative from the railroad who said he would work with us to investigate the possibilty of transferring ownership of their portion. But he needed a map and some other documents. So today I worked a little on getting the map prepared.