Monthly Archive for April, 2012

Tetra Tech INCA’s Lake Borgne Surge Barrier Earns Top Honor for National Engineering Excellence

A $1.1-billion response to the death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina has been named the year’s most outstanding engineering achievement in the 46th Annual Engineering Excellence Awards—a juried national competition sponsored by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).

More than 600 attended the black-tie Engineering Excellence Awards Gala, held last week in Washington, D.C., which recognized 147 preeminent engineering achievements from throughout the world.

In August 2005, one of the largest recorded storm surges in U.S. history—over 25 feet— entered the confluence of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway during Hurricane Katrina, overtopping a 4,000-foot-long levee section and causing widespread flooding, destruction and death in the New Orleans region.

The new Lake Borgne Surge Barrier—designed by Tetra Tech INCA of Bellevue, Wash., is a concrete and steel defense against any future Katrina-like assault. At 26 feet tall and nearly two miles long, it is the largest surge barrier of its kind in the world.  Built to withstand a once in a 100-year storm surge event, the new surge barrier effectively moves the first line of storm-surge defense more than 12 miles away from downtown New Orleans, and is now a model for floodgate and floodwall design worldwide.

Other top Engineering Excellence Award winners were:

Grand Award 

•            Aqua at Lakeshore East, Chicago, Ill., by Magnusson Klemencic Associates—majestically towering 87 stories from a once neglected industrial brownfield site, the 2.3-million square-foot mixed-use complex represents pioneering structural design for vertical construction.

•            Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Singapore, by Arup—the new tourist destination in the heart of Marina Bay features three 55-story, asymmetrically curved luxury hotels, each topped and connected by a 2.5-acre landscaped rooftop, which is the world’s largest cantilevered public space.

•            U.S. Highway 82 Mississippi River Bridge, Washington County, Miss., by HNTB Corporation—a new 2,500-foot-long, three-span cable-stayed bridge that becomes the third longest of its type in the U.S., and a dazzling successor to the 1940s-era bridge it replaced.

•            Co-Digestion/Combined Heat and Power Improvements, Johnstown, N.Y., by Malcolm Pirnie, The Water Division of Arcadis—the first U.S. wastewater treatment plant that operates entirely on power recovered from the treatment processes—making it a “net zero” energy facility.

•            Elwha River Restoration, City of Port Angeles and Clallam County, Wash., by URS Corporation—the second largest National Park Service river restoration project in U.S. history prevents adverse environmental impact from 18 million cubic yards of trapped sediment during removal of two obsolete 1900s-era hydroelectric dams.

•            Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, San Diego, Calif., by T.Y. Lin International—a graceful new 550-foot pedestrian bridge that is one of the longest self-anchored suspension bridges in the world, and a striking new gateway to downtown San Diego.

•            Yorkville Dam Safety Improvements/Bypass Channel, Yorkville, Ill., by Teng & Associates—water recreational attractions were enhanced while eliminating life-threatening downstream turbulence that claimed 28 drowning victims in the last 35 years.

Honor Awards

•            Kansas Airspace Awareness Tool, Topeka, Kan.—Burns & McDonnell

•            FHWA Curved Steel Bridge Reference Manual, Nationwide—Michael Baker Jr.

•            Propellants North Facility, Kennedy Space Center, Fla.—Jones Edmunds &


•            I-93 Fast 14 Project, Medford, Mass.—Tetra Tech & Gill Engineering


•            KFC Yum! Center, Louisville Arena, Louisville, Ky.—Walter P Moore

•            Mobile LiDAR Mapping for Street Improvements, Austin, Tex.—Surveying and


•            Hickory Ridge Landfill Solar Energy Cover, Atlanta, Ga.—HDR Engineering

•            Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer, Lake Oswego, Ore.—Brown and Caldwell

•            East Fork Raw Water Supply Project, Seagoville, Tex.—Alan Plummer


•            West Closure Complex Pump Station, New Orleans, La.—Bioengineering/ARCADIS

•            Sacramento International Airport’s Big Build, Sacramento, Calif—AECOM and Corgan Associates

•            Stearns Road Corridor, South Elgin and Bartlett, Ill.—Alfred Benesch & Company

•            SW Moody Avenue, Portland, Ore.—Harper Houf Peterson Righellis

•            Submarine Drive-In Magnetic Silencing Facility, Beckoning Point, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii—SSFM International/Moffatt & Nichol

•            Improvements at the Grand Canyon—HDR Engineering

•            TECO Master Plan Implementation Project, Houston, Tex.—Burns & McDonnell

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is the business association of America’s engineering industry, representing more than 5,000 independent engineering companies throughout the United States engaged in the development of America’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, along with environmental, industrial and other public and private facilities.   Founded in 1909 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 51 state and regional organizations.

ASCE Reports: House Passes Surface Transportation Bill; Next Step Is Conference

The House passed another 90-day surface transportation extension (H.R. 4348) on Wednesday, which will be used as a vehicle to conference with the Senate-passed transportation bill, MAP-21 (S. 1813). The extension passed 293-127, with 69 Democrats joining 224 Republicans to support going to conference with the Senate.

The extension technically extends programs from July 1st until September 30th, but it also includes language to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline and to provide continued funding for clean up of the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 oil spill.

In addition, several amendments were adopted on the floor before the final vote, including environmental streamlining reforms, language to tie expenditures to revenues in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and language to avoid EPA regulations for coal ash. ASCE supported passage of H.R. 4348 and is pleased to see that the legislation was supported by a bipartisan effort. ASCE was concerned that if the extension did not pass, action on surface transportation legislation would be pushed off until the next Congress.

Senate Democrats are now urging the House to quickly move to conference. Since the House bill is a stripped down package; many expect most of the language of any conference report to be drawn from the Senate bill, an issue that concerned some members of the House.

Next step?  The House and Senate have to appoint their conferees. At this time Congress would have until June 30th to pass a compromise bill before the current surface transportation extension expires.

AEM Applauds House Highway Bill Passage; Urges Swift Conference Committee Action

Dennis Slater, AEM President

Statement by AEM President Dennis Slater

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers  (AEM) applauds the House action to pass its  highway bill and move to conference with the Senate. After many failed attempts, partisan politics were put aside and there was bipartisan support for this critical job-creating legislation.

Coupled with the Keystone XL pipeline approval, a final highway bill has the potential to jump start the construction industry across this country as we head into the construction season. Therefore, the timing of this legislation is critical.

AEM, on behalf of U.S. equipment manufacturers and the nearly 21,000 supporters of the I Make America campaign, urges the House and Senate to quickly name conferees, reconcile their differences on this job-creating legislation, and work together for swift agreement on a comprehensive, fully funded highway bill to send to President Obama.

About I Make America –

I Make America is supported by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and its 850+ member companies. We are joined by the memberships of like-minded associations, American business owners, and citizens and local elected officials across the nation. To learn more about I Make America, visit us at View short videos of employees and small business owners around the country telling the real life stories of how manufacturing affects the national economy at Keep up to date on the latest I Make America campaign news on Twitter @IMakeAmerica and on Facebook at

For information about the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) –

Wells Fargo Economics Group Reports: Housing Starts Fall Well Below Estimates in March

Housing starts posted another disappointing pullback in March, falling 5.8 percent. Much of the decline was in the volatile multifamily component, which dropped 16.9 percent. Weather may also still have had an effect. 

Two Disappointing Monthly Reports – Transitory or Trend?

The key spring selling season got off to a disappointing start in March, with housing starts dropping 5.8 percent on the month. The decline in starts was largely concentrated in the volatile multifamily component. Multifamily starts fell 16.9 percent on the month, but the decline is likely due to payback. That said, multifamily starts are up 34.6 percent on a year-ago basis, which is more indicative of the solid underlying trend.

With two consecutive monthly declines, many will insist we are seeing a shift in the underlying trend which is showing gradual progress. That said, we are not throwing in the towel and we still contend the housing market is seeing modest improvement and is in the early stages of stabilization with much of the recent monthly volatility due in part to milder-than-usual weather. With sales being pulled forward in previous months, it is not a surprise to see a pullback. Indeed, according to the NOAA, March was the warmest March on record. Moreover, anecdotal reports from builders and realtors suggest better days are ahead for the industry.

Speaking of builders, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Homebuilders Survey, builder sentiment pulled back after six months of improvement. Each component fell on the month, including sales expectations in the next six months and traffic of prospective buyers. On a regional basis, the index was mixed with the South and Midwest posting declines. While builder sentiment in April could be another pessimistic indicator for naysayers, here again, we believe that as a result of the impact of weather, the underlying trend is harder to decipher due to monthly volatility. Similar to starts, the homebuilder survey is seasonally adjusted and the decline is likely due to payback from the string of positive data.

To further make our point, forward looking permits rose 4.5 percent on the month and are up over 30 percent on a year-ago basis. While the gain in permits was concentrated in multifamily, single-family permits are up

17.9 percent over the past year. Before we get ahead of ourselves, it is important to note that the housing market still contends with a number of obstacles, including the oversupply of existing homes, shadow inventory and tight credit conditions. While permits are up, financing is still pretty tough to line up, so the permits are not translating into starts very quickly.

Housing Starts Outlook

Housing starts are expected to rise 16 percent this year, with single family starts rising 11 percent and multifamily starts rising 29 percent. Overall, starts should rise an additional 15 percent in 2013. Even with these gains, however, homebuilding remains well off its long-run trend and as noted on many occasions, any recovery in the housing market will be gradual.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE 2014 Exhibit Space Sales Open

Exhibit space sales open April 16, 2012 for the next CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE exhibitions. The triennial co-located shows will be held March 4-8, 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, USA.

Companies submitting an application and deposit by the August 15, 2012 priority deadline will be included in a virtual space draw to take place in fall 2012. After August 15, companies will be assigned space on a first come, first served basis, according to product category.

Exhibit space rates include, as they have in the past, a “package plan” of booth services that many other shows charge extra for. These include full drayage services (such as unloading/loading of all crated materials and machinery, delivery to exhibit spaces from the marshalling yard and pick-up at show close), general stand cleaning, and pipe and drape for standard inline exhibit stands.

Exhibitors also receive complimentary access to trade show education sessions on a variety of topics to help them maximize their show participation. A complimentary show marketing kit provides exhibitors with materials to help them promote their company presence at the shows. These services are especially useful for companies new to exhibiting and/or new to CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE.

In a 2011 post-show exhibitor survey, 91 percent said they were very-satisfied-to-satisfied with their overall show experience, and 87 percent were very-satisfied-to-satisfied with the quality of attendees. The majority of show attendees were key company decision-makers, including 45 percent with the top titles of president/owner and vice president/general manager/chief financial officer.

“Our shows are industry-run with a focus on customer service; our goal is to provide a quality experience for exhibitors and attendees, one that delivers the biggest return on their investment of time and money,” stated Melissa Magestro, AEM senior director exhibitions and IFPE show director.

“Attendees will have close-up access to the range of latest products and services available in the marketplace and be able to talk one-on-one with industry experts in construction, construction materials and fluid power/motion control/power transmission,” stated Megan Tanel, AEM vice president exhibitions & events and CONEXPO-CON/AGG show director.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the international gathering place every three years for the construction industries, showcasing the latest technologies, equipment, products and services. IFPE is the leading international exposition and technical conference dedicated to the integration of fluid power with other technologies for power transmission and motion control applications. The last edition of the shows, in March 2011, attracted nearly 120,000 registered attendees, and on the show floor were more than 2,400 exhibitors taking more than 2.34 million net square feet of exhibit space.

The shows are perennially among the largest not only in the industry but also across all trade shows in North America.

For more information go online to or