Interesting Events

By Greg Sitek

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to participate, live and digitally, in several events that have or will have an impact on our world. They involved asphalt, tires and mobility and the introduction of a new piece of equipment.

Mobility is at the heart of all our activities. It’s a basic human need, both social and economic, as well as
a powerful environmental constraint. The challenge that we must now meet is: provide good solutions for society and the planet and make them a level of responsible corporate development. Critical components of mobility are the construction industries – roads & bridges, rail, waterways, ports & terminals, buildings — residential, commercial, industrial, institutional – infrastructure. Without the construction industries paving the way society would become stagnant.

The bottom line is that “mobility” is an essential component in today’s world but mobility has to be done responsibly. In this issue is an article on Movin’On.

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) recently presented field test results for its LX1 prototype electric hybrid wheel loader to a group in California. Included were Volvo’s customer Waste Management, which carried out the field tests, CALSTART, which conducted emission tests on the machine, and the California Energy Commission, which helped fund the LX1 project. Since the end of last year, the LX1 has performed hundreds of hours of real work in two applications at Waste Management facilities in California.

The LX1 prototype cuts fuel consumption radically while delivering quiet reliable performance that leaves a small carbon footprint. A full-size diesel-electric loader?

Yes. You can see and listen to it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BMPS3kWoAg8 and there is an article on it in this issue.

And then there was a webinar on a perpetual design software update.

The Asphalt Pavement Alliance introduced Version 4.3 of PerRoad Perpetual Pavement design software. Developed at Auburn University, PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy to estimate stresses and strains that would prove detrimental for fatigue cracking or structural rutting.

PerRoad Version 4.3 incorporates recent research conducted on the Pavement Test Track at the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University and then validated with live traffic on Perpetual Pavement sections. The new features allow PerRoad to perform a conventional mechanistic-empirical (M-E) design to directly compare against Perpetual Pavement designs. It can also use strain distribution or a single endurance limit strain value to design a Perpetual Pavement.

“Perpetual Pavement designs allow us to limit distresses to the easily repaired surface,” stated David Timm, Ph.D., P.E., developer of PerRoad. “By coupling layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure, PerRoad helps a designer understand the layer thicknesses and other values that will ensure a long-life asphalt pavement.”

PerRoad, which is available for free from www.AsphaltRoads.org/PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy. The program couples layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure (Monte Carlo simulation) to estimate stresses and strains within a pavement. Version 4.3 provides design results as percentile responses and as conventional designs with transfer functions.

Perpetual roads are…

Ten departments of transportation were named winners of the 2016 Perpetual Pavement Award by Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA). The award celebrates long-life asphalt pavements that reflect the characteristics of a Perpetual Pavement design. The award is presented to state transportation departments and local agency road owners for well-performing asphalt pavements that are at least 35 years old with a proven high-quality structural design.

To earn the award, the pavement must not have suffered a structural failure, and it should have an average interval between resurfacing of no less than 13 years. The road must demonstrate excellence in design, quality in construction, and value to taxpayers. Engineers at the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn University, evaluated the nominations and validated the results for this year’s Perpetual Pavement Award winners.

Since the Perpetual Pavement Award was first presented in 2001, 118 pavements in 30 U.S. states and one Canadian province have been honored with the award.

The states winning the 2016 award were: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. For details visit: http://www.asphaltroads.org/news/post/asphalt-pavement-alliance-announces-winners-2016-perpetual-pavement-awards/

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  If your friends tell you you’re full of wind, well, take it as a compliment and then tell them (assuming you have more than one friend *:D big grin) everything you’ve learned from reading DOE’s extensive and very user-friendly “2016 Wind Market Reports.”  Wow – great resource.  The reports update the continued growth in wind energy nationwide. The wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts of capacity last year, representing 27 percent of all energy capacity additions in 2016. The reports cover the following market sectors:  land-based utility scaleoffshore, and  distributed wind.  Definitely worth a close read!
*  Well, it’s not quite at the out-sized status achieved by the Coast Guard’s 2016 proposal to establish safety/anchorage zones on the Hudson River.  You may recall that proposal generated over 10,000 comments from interested citizens, or at least citizens who knew how to flood the docket with form letters.  But the CG’s proposal for safety zones in the Puget Sound has turned into a similar hot button issue, indicating again how usually very low-key, ho-hum proposals can get morphed into flashpoints that, for some, indicate, well, just about the end of the world.  In its proposal the CG references its “preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment.”  Hah, nice try team!

*  Michigan’s DEQ has a series of videos documenting how that agency has helped redevelop some very challenging brownfield sites.  A new video was distributed last week about a project in Lansing, MI, on the Grand River, and it’s worth watching.  One comment, though: There were pictures of the old site, and old facilities, the polluting entities that left an abandoned disaster.  But something caught my eye, a bit unsettling.  The jobs at the new family-friendly site with fishing and boating excursions and sunny bike paths were mostly restaurant and retail, selling coffee and pizza and, likely, some very tasty local beers.  But, uh, hate to ask, where are the old-school jobs where people made stuff, created complex and complicated things using brains, raw materials and skill?  Yeah, decades ago they did it all wrong, environmentally.  But now we know better.  If those jobs and facilities wanted to return to the Lansing riverfront, could they?  Would they be welcome?  Couldn’t tell from the video…

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  July ended a NOAA public comment period regarding the North Pacific right whale, the start of a 5-year review under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  The review “must be based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review.”  Whales have human friends but maybe not this particular whale.  NOAA’s docket presents just one public comment, which raises important issues about energy exploration, plastic pollution and over-fishing and loss of diet.  NOAA writes that they will continue to accept new information about “any listed species at any time.”  Peeps had better speak up.
*  Check this out: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) proposed new, experimental procedures to encourage increased project management flexibility, more innovation in project funding, improved efficiency, timely project implementation, and new project revenue streams.  What?  Make things quicker, easier and cheaper?  No way!  FTA is seeking comments on its ideas.  Wait a minute – if these revisions could work for FTA, maybe these ideas could extend all through DOT’s empire?  Stay tuned.

*  The Department of Commerce announced last week that US coal companies will supply coal to the Ukraine’s state-owned power generation company Centrenergo PJSC.  This is about power, and, of course, power, i.e., the military-political realpolitik of who is squeezing whom, and who or why they can get away with it.  If you’re a Mom in Kiev trying to keep your kids warm and the charming Mr. Putin is withholding Russia’s natural gas to teach you a lesson, well, you’re probably pretty glad to have a diversified fuel source.  In a way, it’s all still like that old Berlin airlift thing isn’t it…?  Sorry, drifting off topic…

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update


US DOT received plenty of comments in response to the request – from the Secretary’s office – for “comments identifying unnecessary obstacles to transportation infrastructure projects that are contained in the Department’s policy statements, guidance documents, and regulations,” part of the President’s far reaching, cross-departmental effort at substantive regulatory reform.  This is surely a unique chance to get good ideas into the open and to position those ideas for action.  One DOT agency held a regulatory reform “listening session” last week to hear from stakeholders regarding initial reforms the agency has identified.

*  The focus on infrastructure was affirmed again last week with a new Executive Order “Establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure.”  The Council will have “not more than” 15 members, appointed by the President, and “drawn from the public with relevant experience or subject-matter expertise to represent the interests of the following infrastructure sectors,” a list including finance, labor, construction, environmental policy and economic development.  Interestingly, the Department of Commerce is given the lead role here.  It’s the Commerce Secretary, not Transportation, who has to prepare the basic questions, due in 60 days, setting a basis for the Council’s work.  One important task: “developing funding and financing options capable of generating new infrastructure investment over the next 10 years.”

*  Another important policy follow up and update was presented last week.  Remember the controversy with the “Waters of the United States” when the new Administration took over and ordered substantive changes?  EPA and the Department of the Army presented a proposed rule that describes and outlines next steps.  Actually it’s a two-part process that stays the changes proposed by the Obama Administration while challenges are reviewed by federal Courts.  A second step will start a new round of rule-making to conduct “a substantive reevaluation of the definition of ‘waters of the United States’.’’

Tom Ewing
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513-379-5526 voice/text

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The US Arctic Research Commission held its 107th meeting last week.  The Commission was established in 1985, part of the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 and a 1985 Executive Order.  The Commission advises the President and Congress on domestic and international Arctic research.  The Commission is working on the Fourth National Climate Assessment.  Internal review is underway; in fact, the Commission is seeking expert reviewers.  A draft for public comment should be available this fall.  The National Academy of Sciences will also conduct a review.  This new work will provide important updates and insights on critical climate and sea ice developments.  Just as critically the report will very likely provide key insights on, shall we say, the political science that too often defines natural science these days. 
*   About two months ago I mentioned a project at Cornell University that would release genetically engineered female diamondback moths into a test agricultural field.  The Agriculture Department recently gave notice of a final environmental assessment (EA) which found “no significant impact” from the project and that the Department will permit the field release of the genetically engineered moths.  Based on the EA, Ag determined that the project did not need to prepare an environmental impact statement.  The Department received 670 written comments about the Cornell project.

*  EPA is looking to fill 10-15 vacancies on the Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee, a federal advisory committee chartered in 1992.  The Committee includes 35 members who advise the EPA Administrator ‘‘from the field’’ on a broad range of environmental issues impacting local governments.  Membership includes elected and appointed officials with leadership experience in small community or township government (under 10,000 population); moderate size or large city government; or county, state or tribal governments.  Vacancies are anticipated to be filled by September, 2017.  Nominations due by August 10, 2017.

 
Tom Ewing
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513-379-5526 voice/text