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Interoceanic-Canal Construction Starts in Nicaragua
Construction of Nicaragua's $50 billion Interoceanic Grand Canal should start later this month. In case you haven't heard, the 172-mile marvel will be longer, deeper, and wider than the Panama Canal. The man behind the plan is Chinese businessman Wang Jing; his Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. (HKND Group) will lead construction. The plan is to finish the canal within five years and have it operational around 2020.
Officials said some small adjustments were being made to the overall project, including dredging stretches of a lake rather than using underwater explosives. According to Bill Wild, HKND Group's chief project adviser, "This is a massive project. Nobody can imagine how large and challenging a project it is, and it will possibly end up being the largest movement of earth that has ever been undertaken in the world."
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Construction-Materials Engineering and Testing (CoMET) Business Council Publishes New Client-Satisfaction Survey Tool for Firms Providing CoMET Services
GBA's Construction-Materials Engineering and Testing (CoMET) Business Council has published a new Client-Satisfaction Survey Tool for Firms Providing CoMET Services. The tool is intended for use by CoMET professionals to help them develop their own survey to collect their client representatives' opinions about the quality of their services and their representatives' suggestions for improvement. The tool includes guidance for creating and testing the questionnaire, sample correspondence (pre-letter, letter of transmittal, follow-up letter), information about online survey tools, and more. The CoMET Business Council issued the tool using MSWord (.docx) format so firms can easily copy and paste the text when developing their own survey materials.
FROM THE BENCH: Virginia Upholds ELD
The economic-loss doctrine — ELD — prevents a plaintiff from suing a third party in tort (e.g., professional negligence or negligent misrepresentation) for purely economic damages "because the contract defines the breach and the damages…. Because the law of contracts provides the sole remedy for economic loss under Virginia law, privity is an indispensable requirement for a viable claim." So said the court in McConnell v. Servinsky Engineering, 2014 WL 2094131 (W.D. Va. 2014), where a project owner sued an engineering firm and the PE who sealed the drawings. The breach-of-contract suit against the firm could proceed, but the suit against the engineer was dismissed; he was ruled to be a third party.
Accreditation available for all testing, calibration, proficiency testing, reference materials production, inspection and product certification. A2LA also offers training to help prepare for accreditation.
Handheld Ground-Penetrating Radar for Concrete Inspection
GSSI has introduced its StructureScan Mini, a handheld, all-in-one ground-penetrating radar (GPR) system for locating rebar, conduits, post-tension cables, and voids. It can also be used to determine concrete-slab thickness in real time. Standard and high-resolution versions are available. Both can locate metallic and nonmetallic targets with an auto-target feature that marks the detection of features of interest. Both versions are available with standard 2D capabilities or optional. Lasers on the side of the unit indicate the exact location of the center of target for accurate marking of targets embedded in the concrete.
GBA Website Newly Updated
The GBA website has been updated to showcase our new name and logo. If you haven't seen it yet, come visit and check us out! (Heck, you might even find something useful while you're there!) And of course, please send us your comments.
Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.
New York City Initiates Bioswale Program
Civil + Structural Engineer
New York City is building 2,000 curbside gardens — also known as "bioswales" — in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. The bioswales help reduce combined-sewer overflows into local waterways by softening the impervious urban landscape and absorbing more than 4 million gallons of stormwater when it rains. Some of the targeted neighborhoods have less-than-average street-tree counts and higher-than-average rates of asthma among young people. There, bioswales will increase tree canopy and vegetation, helping to improve air quality, provide shade during hot summer months, and beautify the neighborhoods. The benefits involved cost less to attain through bioswales than through conventional approaches. New York City has thousands more planned. Would the communities you serve benefit from bioswales? Do you know how to design them? Should you?
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Embracing the Design-Build Model To Improve Your Bottom Line and Your Culture
Alternative project delivery is here to stay. Clients, particularly public-sector clients, are realizing that the old way of "plan the project, design the project, bid the project, and call me when it's done" does not work well in today's world of faster-better-cheaper. Planners, designers, constructors, and maintenance folks are sitting down and working in a team environment to deliver better projects, quicker, and for less money. These collaborative project relationships require trust and understanding of the financial models and risk/reward profiles that firms can accept. Often, the architect and engineer feel threatened by working with or for a constructor-in-charge based on ethical/professional or financial concerns. Through a series of lessons learned (the easy way and hard way), Stewart G. Osgood, P.E. (DOWL HKM) presents tested models and central tenets to abide by. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $149 for everyone else.
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Plan To Save S.E. Louisiana Will Cost $50 Billion
The amount of sediment flowing to the southeastern Louisiana coast has been dwindling since the mid-1930s, because of river levees and canals dredged to accommodate oil and gas extraction. The consequence: Southeastern Louisiana is sinking at the same time that the Gulf of Mexico is rising. About 2,000 square miles of the state have already sloughed into the Gulf. Unless the state takes countermeasures, it could lose another 1,750 square miles by 2065. The countermeasures involved are detailed in the "Master Plan for the Coast," which — if implemented — would result in the construction and preservation of some 800 square miles of wetlands and barrier islands, along with more levees. The price tag for this extraordinary geoprofessional vision? $50 billion.
Winning Negotiating Tactics
Too frequently, geoprofessionals fail to earn what they deserve because they fear negotiating will damage a relationship or possibly cause the loss of a client. Getting less than what they deserve leads to lower geoprofessional profits, project overruns, negligence-liability exposures, and dissatisfaction on all sides. This presentation opens geoprofessionals' minds to the value of negotiating for themselves, with (or for) their clients, project managers, other business partners, and even personal relationships. Many real-life experiences are shared that bring to life negotiating's practicality and usefulness. Lee R. James, CPA, CMC, CBI discusses a variety of cases that demonstrate how a core-value and principle-based approach can give you the basics you need to obtain what you deserve while building strong relationships. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $149 for everyone else.
Fracking-Water Management: A Market on the Grow
Water for U.S. Hydraulic Fracturing: Competitive Strategies, Solutions, & Outlook, 2014-2020 is the self-descriptive title of a new, 110-page offering from Bluefield Research. A few of the report's elements are:
Bluefield says that the U.S. fracking industry's 2014 overall water-management bill came in at just under $6.5 billion, and it expects the fracking-water-treatment market to triple over the next five years; from $138 million in 2014 to $357 million in 2020.
- fracking-water services and treatment market forecasts by key shale play;
- spending forecasts for water supply, transport, storage, treatment, and disposal;
- water-service-provider strategies and value-chain positioning; and
- analyses of existing water-treatment technology applications.
New GBA Logo for Your Website
We have just revised our logo for Member Firms; please place this new logo on your website today. In the past we offered a member logo that expressed pride in ASFE membership, but, ultimately, it's really all about your clients' success, and our revised GBA logo for Member Firms reflects this. So, if you have the old ASFE logo already on your website, please replace it with this new one. And if you don't have our logo on your website, how about adding it now?
Going down Looking up
More than 80% of the world's population will be living in cities in 2100 and, says the U.S. National Research Council, "…facilities underground may be the most successful way to encourage or support the redirection of urban development into sustainable patterns." A silly thought? Hardly:
- a 300-meter deep Mexico City "Earthscraper" will accommodate retail, residential, and cultural attractions;
- New York City's "Lowline Project" is designed to be the world's first underground park, slated for opening in 2018;
- Helsinki's "Underground City Plan" calls for leisure centers and shopping malls, along with infrastructure like roads and data centers; and
- in London, Old London Underground Company plans to develop 26 abandoned "tube" stations into retail parks, entertainment centers, offices, and cultural experiences.
Business Practices Round-Table Notes
The Business Practices Committee sponsored the Business Round Tables at the 2014 Fall Conference in San Francisco, CA. This was the latest annual Round-Table program held, by tradition, at each GBA Fall Conference; 13 topics were addressed at the 2014 round-table discussions. See what great ideas came up this year!
YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING: Yes, Virginia
Saint Nicholas was real. Born in 270, he was the Greek bishop of Myra (now Demre) on Turkey's southern coast. He reportedly had a penchant for leaving secret gifts, like putting coins in shoes (probably not penny loafers), and that's what made him the model for "Father Christmas." After he died in 343, his remains and other relics eventually wound up in Italy's Bari Cathedral. Scientists at Liverpool John Moores University's Face Lab used the remains and relics to create the most realistic facial portrait now possible, using what a University spokesperson called "the most up-to-date anatomical standards, Turkish tissue depth data, and CGI techniques." Somewhat surprisingly, he looked a lot like today's depictions of him, except for the broken nose and all the tattoos. (Be good for goodness sake!)
Great Minds Sharing Great Ideas: Business Round-Table Discussion Download
The Emerging Issues and Trends Committee and Business Practices Committee joined forces to focus on the business impact of information technology (IT) in a unique recap of GBA's annual Business Round-Table discussions. Charles L. "Charlie" Head, P.E., P.G. (Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc.) moderated the panel of round-table leaders, including two IT experts, in a live Round-Table discussion focusing on GBA-Member Firms' efforts to mitigate their exposure to IT risk and techniques they are using to leverage technology as a profitable business function. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $99 for everyone else.
Los Angeles Finally Preparing for "the Big One"
"We know the 'Big One' is coming, it's a matter of when. If we're unprepared, the effects could be devastating," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told a news conference. "These things come with real costs, but we cannot afford not to pay them." The plan he unveiled calls for the city to retrofit thousands of older buildings, especially pre-1978 apartment buildings with weak first floors and concrete buildings constructed before 1976. The proposal also includes upgrading Los Angeles' 100-year-old pipes, developing an alternative firefighting water supply (reclaimed water and seawater), and fortifying dozens of aqueducts that span the San Andreas Fault, including one so old it's made of wood. The recommendations were developed from a year-long study led by the mayor's science adviser, Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Alcatraz Island Geotechnical Evaluation and Shoreline-Erosion Study
Over the last 150 years, many natural and manmade changes have occurred on Alcatraz. Completing the island's first comprehensive geologic and geotechnical-hazards assessment required both detailed historical review and modern geologic study on, above, below, and around the island's circumference. It also required using a variety of investigative methods, including surface mapping, historical aerial-photograph interpretation, and cliff-mapping by boat. William V. "Bill" McCormick, P.G., C.E.G. (Kleinfelder) describes this study, which provided the National Park Service with the first-ever geologic-risk-assessment zonation map that identifies problem areas and provides recommendations, on a relative-rated risk basis, for areas needing immediate study and mitigation as well as for future, phased-mitigation studies for public safety and cultural restoration. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $99 for everyone else.
Transportation-Infrastructure Spending Generates More Money Than It Costs, New Study Finds
Transportation Construction Coalition
The Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), an 18-year-old partnership of 31 national associations and construction unions, has published an important new research report, Transportation Infrastructure Investment: Macroeconomic and Industry Contribution of the Federal Highway and Mass-Transit Program. You should become familiar with it in order to inform community leaders and client representatives, one on one or at meetings of local organizations, like an ASCE section or a chamber of commerce chapter. You can also distribute copies of the report or a link to it: It's free of charge and makes for some eye-opening review. Examples:
The research was conducted by IHS Global, an internationally respected organization.
- Every $1 invested in federal highways and mass transit returns $1.80-$2.00 in goods and services produced.
- Federal transportation spending supports 614,000 employees per year.
- Every three new construction jobs create five jobs in other sectors of the economy.
- Federal transportation spending generates $37 billion in federal-tax receipts.
- Increasing federal transportation spending by 5% per year would create 78,000-122,000 new jobs by 2019.
2014-2015 GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc. / Nashville, TN)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063