A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 60

Day 60

Culvert Lining Project

Geneva Culvert Lining Project 2011

Today was the day the liner was delivered for our culvert lining project. The placement of it seemed to go well. The contractor will finish grouting the annular space tomorrow. A resident did stop by to tell us we didn't know what we were doing, and it would never work, and he would sue everyone when water backed up into his home. Of course, he had no  information to base his opinion on other than the new pipe is of a smaller diameter than the existing one. So the other staff members tried to explain the hydraulics and design information to give him an idea of why a smaller pipe can carry the same or more water, but he still didn't believe anyone. So he contacted the elected officials to express his concern. I let the engineer who designed the culvert project know about the complaint. 

It's unfortunate, but this seems to happen so much where a group of professionals put in a lot of time designing a project, and then someone stops by and tells everyone they are all wrong, and it will never work. And they never seem to have any facts or information to base their opinion on. 

I have to admit I have seen some poor designs in general executed over the past 30 years, however, none related to culvert sizing. And even those poor designs did not cause failures or damage – they were just not good designs and usually ended up impacting our operations and increasing our costs. So the city had to do more work to make the final product better and improve efficiency and cut costs. But I can't remember where there was property damage that could be attributed to bad design – maybe poor construction but not poor design.

Of course, the bottom line in a something like this is that anyone building or buying a home next to a creek increases their risk of having water entering their home during a storm. Particularly when openings like doors or windows are installed that allow for a way for water to enter the home. Culverts and other stormwater facilities are only designed to carry a certain storm intensity. If a storm occurs that is greater than the design storm, the culvert or other stormwater infrastructure will not convey all the water and could allow water to back up and enter nearby structures. So for our situation, whether we leave the old culvert or install a new one with equal or greater capacity, there will always be a risk that a storm occurs that will not be handled by the culvert and water could back up into homes – that is the risk of owning property next to a body of water.

Intersection Enhancements

We also met with a vendor who sells traffic control products. He did a great job showing us some alternatives for the intersection where we are trying to draw attention to a pedestrian crossing. One product we are particularly interested in is a sign and light called the "Enhancer." Here is the link to a site showing the product: http://www.statewidetrafficsafety.com/enhancer.asp.


We did manage to get our staff meeting in today. And I continued on trying to check our budget line items.




From the Floor at APWA Congress 2010

Due to budget cuts I was only able to attend the APWA Congress for one day since I was speaking on a panel at the show. Normally, I try to attend the entire event because I always come away with many valuable insights and opportunities to reconnect with fellow professionals. This year, in the short time I was able to spend there, I was able to find a contractor who performed sawcutting of sidewalk trip hazards. My division was already familiar with Precision Concrete Cutting and have used their services to eliminate trip hazards. But in order to expand the project, we needed to have more than one proposal for the work. Fortunately Sidewalks Plus was at the show, and I was able to speak with a representative about their process and get their contact information. This allowed us to investigate two bidders and move our project forward. I also was able to discuss a few other pressing issues with representatives from a few other companies. So in addition to speaking, networking, and researching products, I was able to also conduct some business related to existing projects. 

While checking out the products on the floor show, I was also able to video tape a few interviews with vendors. Willie Urish with Tower Sign and Signal had contacted me prior to the show to discuss his product. So we made some time to meet so I could see his product in person. He also allowed me to video tape his product demonstration. His company, based in Illinois, manufactures and sells portable traffic signals for construction jobs.