Asphalt Infographic

The next infographic up for your viewing pleasure comes from the National Asphalt Pavement Association – definitely a site you'll want to check out for everything asphalt. Thanks to T. Carter Ross, vice president for communications, for sharing their infographic "7 Keys to Highly Successful Parking Lots."  This infographic is based upon an informative and helpful brochure: "Seven Steps to to a Highly Successful Parking Lot" published by PAIKY – Plantmix Asphalt Industry of Kentucky. (You can click on it to get a larger image.)

7 Keys to Highly Successful Parking Lots





A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 28

Day 28

Utility in our Right of Way with No Permit

Today I spent a little more time looking into the utility that was placed in our right of way with no permit. We went out into the field to measure how far off the road the concrete handholes were poured. For most of the length, the road has a rural section (no curb and gutter – only gravel shoulders). The edge of the concrete was 9", 12", and 18" from the edge of pavement at the three handholes. 

After looking into the property documents in that area, I also realized that the owner of the utility owns land north of the roadway so at least a quarter mile of the line could have been placed further off the road on their own property. Also, about another quarter mile was placed along right of way that is only for the use of roadway – not utilities. This is a common mistake unfortunately made by engineers who do not understand property ownership. What the engineer missed here is that in rural areas most land owners with property adjacent to roadways actually own to the center of the road. And the owners have given an easement to the public for roadway purposes only. So if you are designing a utility  like water mains or sanitary sewers and plan to have them installed in this apparent "right of way," you still need to arrange for the property owner to grant an easement for the utility because it has no relationship to roadway use. Of course, my supervisor and other staff members in our office realized this, but the consultant designing this project must not have.

So, I am not yet sure how this will all be resolved. We have set up a meeting to discuss it further.

Looking down on a weir in a restrictor

People Messing with Drainage

So after gathering more information about the permit issue, I spent some time with other staff members looking at a restrictor structure where someone had altered the height of the overflow. We aren't sure when this happened and only realized it after residents started complaining about failed flared end sections. One of our staff members figured it out by researching the subdivision plans which were dated in the 1970s then arranging to have some elevations taken on the structure. Through his efforts, he determined the height had been raised by about 6 inches which makes sense because as you look around the pond, each end section is submerged by about 6 inches. The person who raised the weir seems to have done so by trying to first use concrete blocks and then placing wood wrapped in a rubber membrane. You can see the result of their work in the photo to the left. This is a view looking down from the top of the structure. After a few of us visited the structure today, we came up with a solution of cutting the wood down to the design height. This allows us to quickly resolve the situation with minimal cost and disruption. We still are surprised that someone would take it upon themselves to raise the design level of a retention pond in a subdivision.

Inlet Removal and Replacement

Later in the day, I met with a contractor who was going to pave around an inlet we removed and replaced earlier in the year. We had done this to help encourage water to flow into this inlet rather than continue to travel down the road and down properties lying adjacent to and sloping away from the roadway. Unfortunately our work will not allow for the capture of all the water flowing down the road and onto the properties. But since the properties along the road slope down from the road at a significant grade to a creek, there's only so much we can do to keep the water completely on the road.

Developments and Parking Lots

At the end of the day I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with a developer about some property in our city. It was a great meeting, and because the developer knew a lot about our city, I was able to learn many things. Later in the evening, one of our staff engineers and I attended a planning commission meeting. The group was considering our request to change zoning on a specific parcel in our downtown and allow for the use of a parking lot in that same block. After the project engineer testified and explained our project, the commission asked questions about the project then approved our request. This will now go forward for council consideration and hopefully approval.


A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 13

Day 13

This morning we started out the day with our regular engineering staff meeting. There wasn't too much unusual to report – everyone just gave an update of their recent work. And some even left the meeting early after giving their report because we are so busy and they needed to get back to what they were doing. 

I spent part of the day with one of our project engineers checking on the sealcoating and striping of our parking lots. We also have our major road project going on, and the contractor should finish it this week. So we checked on a few items on that job. 

After lunch a few of us met with a business in town where we are planning to build a new parking lot. We needed to show them the proposed location of the lot and ask them what they thought should go in between the parking lot curb and their building. All of us ended up prefering a mix of landscaping and service walks to doors and a dumpster.

The Bizarre Moment of the Day otherwise known as an "I can't Make This Stuff Up!" Moment

One very bizarre thing that happened was that I got a call from my supervisor from a previous job. He told me a civil engineer who identified himself as a retired engineer who was a resident of our city had called him asking questions about me and my performance on my previous job. This engineer complained to this person that he was helping a friend and that I was requiring them to do something they did not have to do. The engineer described to my former supervisor a previous story I had written about on this blog where I shared how I had told a contractor he would need to provide a bond to drive heavy construction traffic on one of our local roads not designed for that loading. He told my former supervisor he was looking for details about that thinking he could use the information to help his client. Later I found out this engineer had contacted a few others with whom I used to work. One person told me she got the feeling he was trying to "find dirt on me."

From what I could tell this is an engineer from another city in the Chicago area who has represented to us he is working for a resident in our city. The matter has involved the construction of a walkout for a home. We were asked inintially by the builder for the resident if they could build this walkout. The home is located along an overland flood route, and the subdivision plans clearly show the required elevation of the lowest opening for the home. From what we have received to date, which is not much, it appears as if they are proposing a walk out with a lower elevation. So we have not as yet been able to, based on the information we have so far, been able to approve their request. And it appears instead of meeting and working with us, this engineer is instead contacting our elected officials and my previous employees and co-workers.

I would like to share more about it on here, because it is highly unusual for another professional to handle a permit submittal in this manner. But based on this person's behavior I am at this time going to have to refrain from sharing much more until the matter is resolved. But the other reason I did want to mention it is that based on his behavior, it's difficult to know who else he may try to contact or what else he might try to do. So I wanted to share with my colleagues and friends the story in case they too are contacted. 

Wow – I really need to add a "Bizarre" category on this blog! Of course, it is day 13 so perhaps a story like this is appropriate.