Infrastructure Week, Day 1: Bridges

How do we resolve a problem as widespread as nationally deficient bridge infrastructure?

Year after year, America’s deteriorating infrastructure is so critically neglected that now, in 2020, we face a multi-billion-dollar backlog for the rehabilitation of bridges, a vital facet of the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

While the number of structurally deficient bridges in the United States is down significantly from years past, according to an Infrastructure Report Card provided by the American Society of Civil Engineers, around 188 million trips are taken every day across these deficient bridges. Rehabilitation needs for bridges are backlogged as much as $123 billion, an investment of over half of the funding already provided. These high repair and rehabilitation costs pose a nationwide challenge to state transportation agencies pursuing the construction of reliable infrastructure.

At KC Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. (KC), structural engineering remains an integral part of our corporation’s contribution to providing safe, sufficient bridge infrastructure.

With projects like Region 8 Ulster County Design-Build Bridge Replacements, Park Avenue Viaduct at 118th Street, Replacement of Route 59 Bridge over MNRR, and Greenkill Avenue Bridge Replacement, KC is continuously able to provide survey services, design assessment, and structural analysis for the replacement and rehabilitation of damaged, deficient, and extremely vital bridge infrastructure in various counties of New York State.

Good Construction Zone Safety Practices

 

It’s an undeniable fact that construction sites obstruct the movements and activities of our daily lives—on our morning commutes to work, for example, the last thing we want to see is that bright orange sign that reads “Road Work Ahead.” Sidewalk closings, too, prove to be nothing short of inconvenient as they often force pedestrians to haphazardly share the road with motorists. Compounding this inconvenience is the danger of proximity to an active construction site: according to Creative Safety Publishing, an organization dedicated to providing safety tips for the workplace, in 2012 a student at Ohio State University was struck by a dump truck while riding his bike past a construction site. The New York Post reported that between the years 2010 and 2015, 59 people had been struck by falling debris from New York City construction sites.

Follow these three simple steps to stay safe and become a more mindful and respectful passerby at construction sites:

  1. Respect the signs and learn what they mean.

Take an active role in your safety and understand important safety signs.

Safetysign.com identifies five important symbols that communicate three important messages to both workers and passersby: the hazard, the means of avoiding the hazard, and the consequences of not avoiding the hazard. Common symbols include:

Hazard symbols (yellow triangle with black border) warn us about potential site dangers and their consequences (think: biohazard sign).

Prohibition symbols (red circle with red slash through middle) instruct us on what activities to avoid when near the site (think: “No Smoking” sign).

Mandatory symbols (white square or blue circle depicting an instructional action) tell us what we must do to stay safe when near a construction site (think: “Hard Hat Area” sign).

Information symbols (white square with a red image) direct us to important life-saving equipment and exits in case of an emergency (think: fire extinguisher sign).

Safety symbols (white square with black image, occasionally accompanied by a red circle with a slash) both shows us the proper steps to take to avoid danger and the consequences of ignoring important hazard warnings (think: “Caution: Wet Floor” sign).

  1. Avoid “rubbernecking.”

According to a study conducted by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, engaging in distracted driving activities such as rubbernecking can double your risk of crashing. Sneaking a peek at an active construction site for just two seconds can increase the risk of an accident up to 24 times. While construction sites can be sources of curiosity and excitement, catching closeup views of the new bridge’s construction at 60 miles per hour (mph) is not worth the risk of threatening your life and the lives of others.

  1. Don’t gawk: research!

Calm your curiosity safely by visiting this website that keeps you in the loop about projects in New York City that are currently under construction. Excessive staring, both while driving and on foot, can cause significant disruptions around a construction site and can be dangerous to yourself, your fellow travelers, and onsite workers. If you are curious about a project, simply select its location on the site’s provided map and read up!

The Building Blocks of Little Engineers

Today’s toy market is making it easier than ever for kids to find a passion for engineering. With big companies such as K’NEX and LEGO® coming out with more educational and stimulating toys, kids are able to develop problem solving and innovative skills at an early age. Both K’NEX and LEGO® now have education lines marketed towards schools and kids eager to learn hands on.

K’NEX is the younger of the two companies, but their focus on kids’ creativity in the classroom has made them a notable toy and learning tool. K’NEX Education features sets that teach kids how to build bridges, amusement park rides, and even renewable energy machines. Their focus on STEM toys allows teachers to have a creative and understandable approach towards complicated theories and equations that some kids have trouble understanding. By allowing for hands-on application of what is taught in the classroom, students are able to have a deeper comprehension of the subject as well as real world application.

LEGO® Education is another tool that gives teachers a more relatable medium in which to reach their students. These sets have allowed kids to take more effective control over STEM subjects. While original LEGO® bricks have always taught kids to think creatively and innovatively, LEGO® Education puts the focus more directly on the negotiation of complicated fields such as robotics and computer science. With the LEGO® Education SPIKE Prime, kids are invited to take their creations to the next level. Surpassing the physical bricks, LEGO® has created an easy-to-learn system that incorporates computer coding and programming to create functioning robots.

Now more than ever, there is an urgent need for engineers and other STEM professions. As technology advances and the world begins to change, younger generations will have to find a way to navigate within it. These toys are great tools to get them started.

Disclaimer: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO® Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.

Interesting Facts about New York’s Most Innovative Engineering Projects of the Past 200 Years

  1. The Erie Canal: The Erie Canal connected Albany and Buffalo, ultimately linking New York to the agriculture of the Midwest. This enabled the Empire State to become a frontrunner in transportation and business services. However, in the early days of the canal, it was known as “Clinton’s Big Ditch,” so named after then New York Governor DeWitt Clinton. The canal was built by hand.
  2. The Brooklyn Bridge: John Augustus Roebling, chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, pioneered the design of the steel suspension bridge. Right before the bridge construction commenced in 1869, Roebling was injured when a boat crushed one of his toes. He died of tetanus soon after. His son, Washington A. Roebling, took over as chief engineer but eventually became bedridden with “caisson disease” or “the bends.” In the wake of his illness, Washington Roebling’s wife Emily took charge as head of the bridge project.
  3. Grand Central Terminal: A fatal train crash in the Park Avenue Tunnel in 1902 convinced state officials to ban steam locomotives. It was decided to make the switch to electric-run trains. To make the transition, the station needed a complete overhaul, but the result was a perfect marriage of beauty and ingenious functionality. “Behind Grand Central’s decorative flourishes are ingenious solutions. Looping tracks let arriving trains drop off passengers, continue ahead to pick up new passengers, and depart without having to turn around. Layered levels of train and subway lines pack enormous capacity into a relatively small footprint,” according to the New York Transit Museum.
  4. Ashokan Reservoir: Construction on the reservoir began in 1910. It was constructed with what was then known as the world’s strongest cement, found in Rosendale, NY. This water source is still one of the major suppliers of New York City’s water. Taft Street Realty's website states that “In addition to being the oldest reservoir to serve NYC area, the Ashokan Reservoir is also the largest at over 8,000 sq. acres, and also the deepest at 190 feet at the reservoir's center. At its capacity the reservoir can hold up to 122.9 billion gallons of water!”
  5. Radio City Music Hall Hydraulically Actuated Stage: Radio City Music Hall was completed in 1932. Its stage was designed by Peter Clark, and is one of the world’s largest moveable stages. The stage’s intricate elevator system was so advanced that it was a forerunner for the U.S. military’s aircraft carrier systems built during World War II.

Reaching out to Canada: The Gordie Howe International Bridge Project

Photo courtesy of Bridging North America and Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

The Gordie Howe International Bridge Project, which will connect Canada to the United States over the Detroit River, is officially underway as of July 17, 2018.

U.S. and Canadian officials broke ground in the Delray area of Detroit to symbolize moving forward with the project, which has been the target of political strife over the past few years. The 1.5 mile, 6-lane span, with an included pedestrian/bike lane adjacent to the shoulder, is expected to cost nearly $4 billion and be completed by 2022 or 2023, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. Additionally, with the current design specifications, it will be the largest cable-stayed bridge in North America.

While many Canadian and American dignitaries are thrilled to begin construction, the victory was hard-fought and is still not wholly accepted. The Moroun family, owners of the nearby Ambassador Bridge which “currently handles 60 to 70 percent of truck traffic across the Detroit River,” have been fighting the project since its naissance any way they can: by appealing to President Trump via television commercials; attempting to inject the bridge into NAFTA negotiations; and trying to prevent the Michigan Department of Transportation from using eminent domain to wipe out Detroit neighborhoods.

Their aversion to the project comes from a proposed outcome: with the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, the Canadian Government have stipulated that the Ambassador Bridge will need to be torn down. “People can all make up stuff…but that bridge is going to be built,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told Crain’s Detroit Business. “I’ve never been anti Ambassador Bridge. I’m pro Gordie Howe Bridge.”

Officials from the U.S. and Canada agree that the bridge will bring great opportunities to both sides of the border by accelerating trade and the flow of goods, creating more jobs, and strengthening relations between nations. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.