Infrastructure Week, Day 3: Transit

Public transit is a staple of our nation that continues to grow yearly, although it remains neglected and radically underfunded.

American transit systems carry billions of people a year via trains, commuter buses, ridesharing services, and more. These systems mainly provide transportation in urban areas, but are vital in many rural areas across the county.

In the past few years, we’ve seen major train derailments, non-passengers killed in transit-related accidents, and damaged infrastructure as a result of natural disaster. The resilience of outdated, unreliable infrastructure is tested day by day.

For full functionality of national transit systems, we need not only transit vehicles, but sufficient infrastructure like traffic signals, train tracks, and roadways to successfully carry and guide these vehicles. However, with lack of funding, years of deferred maintenance, and aging infrastructure, our public transit systems continue to suffer.

At KC Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. (KC), our civil engineering services include roadway and highway design, traffic engineering, lighting design, and other services to maintain and improve transit operations.

With projects like Gowanus Expressway Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and Emergency Repairs, Greenkill Avenue Bridge Replacement, and Route 9D Pedestrian Improvements, KC has provided construction inspection for replacement of bridge and mounting tube railings, design assessment for rehabilitation of railroad bridges, and traffic calming and street lighting design.

What is Work Zone Traffic Control?

When construction takes place on or near roadways, it can result in traffic delays and compromised safety of construction workers, motorists, and pedestrians. As a result of roadway construction, certain measures are enacted to facilitate a safe work area for workers, maintain and protect the flow of traffic, and complete necessary work on schedule.

Work zone traffic control (WZTC) was created with these factors in mind, providing construction workers with the knowledge they need to maintain a safe work environment while ensuring an organized flow of traffic. WZTC protocols seek to mitigate the effects of construction on those directly affected by factors such as lane closures or detours.

Motorists should be alert to changing traffic patterns and possible work zones that may crop up along the road.

The typical WZTC area consists of four components:

1. The advance warning area is the point where motorists are alerted to upcoming road work, usually through the use of road signs, electronic signboards, and flags.

2. The transition area is the area motorists are guided to transition out of their normal traffic pattern to the new, temporary traffic detour. This can be done with the use of flaggers, traffic cones, and signs.

3. The activity area is where the actual road work is being conducted.

4. The termination area is the point where traffic is allowed to return to its normal pattern.

While every municipality can mandate or adopt their own WZTC policies, they must remain consistent with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), set in place as a result of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

At KC, our field staff are well-versed in WZTC operations, and regularly apply said knowledge when providing a variety of services to our clients.

Sunrise Highway (NY-27) Oakdale Merge Planning / Feasibility Study

As part of a Regional Design Services Agreement (RDSA), the project served to identify, evaluate, and document existing conditions and deficiencies and propose feasible conceptual alternatives to mitigate said deficiencies.

The project site experienced significant congestion and delays during peak travel periods, as motorists encountered recurring bottleneck in the eastbound and westbound approaches to Oakdale Merge.

The feasibility study described the highway facility and its role in the local and regional surface transportation network, defined existing operational issues and deficiencies, established the need for a capital construction project to reduce the issues, recommended and assessed various alternatives, and assessed the impacts of each proposed alternative.

The scope of work also included review of environmental impacts due to the site’s proximity to New York State of Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) wetlands and the Connetquot River State Park. The project required continuous coordination with the New York State Parks Department, NYSDEC, Suffolk County Department of Public Works (DPW), and the Town of Islip.

KC was responsible for developing detailed cost estimates for the alternatives identified in the feasibility study and performing HCS traffic analyses.

The Engineering Behind Amusement Parks

It’s getting to be that time of year again—time to pack up a car and head off to one of 450 amusement parks throughout the country. Every year, approximately 270 million people take the trip to see the attractions and ride roller coasters. You may feel your stomach begin to drop as you climb 300 or more feet to the top of one of those roller coasters, but don’t worry: a qualified team of engineers have got your back.

The development of roller coasters is (thankfully) much more involved than most people think. On average, it can take 8 months to 5 years to get a safely operational ride. Most roller coasters are created by a team of structural, electrical, and mechanical engineers, along with architects, physicists, and more qualified workers. This group of specialists work together to create drawings and plans that assess aspects such as placement, controls, safety, environmental impacts, and interaction with the project area. Safety is the biggest concern when designing and developing the ride. The cars must reach a high enough speed to reach the peaks and turns but cannot be so fast that they injure the riders. Engineers must also consider environmental factors such as wind, soil, and topography when deciding on design and speed. Seemingly small problems such as unstable soil or too strong of winds could prevent operation. Before opening, the engineers put the roller coasters through a series of detailed tests to ensure that the ride is completely safe and operational. In fact, it is more likely to be injured while fishing than it is to be injured on a roller coaster! The parks adhere to stringent safety standards and regulations every day to ensure just that.

So, the next time you’re staring down the drop of a roller coaster, know that there is a team of engineers preventing your car from jumping the rails. You may not feel so sure while you’re perched at the top of the tracks, but it may help to remind yourself as you pass the top and go!

 

Infrastructure Week, Day 5: Roads

In the U.S., roads are an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. We use roadways daily to travel to and from work, school, social engagements, and more. So how do we deal with the issue of America’s crumbling roadway infrastructure?

As the years go by, American metropolitan areas are stymied by traffic congestion.

The average American spends 97 hours a year stuck in traffic. That’s 12+ vacations days! Meanwhile, suburban and more rural areas are forced to contend with deteriorating road conditions, as well as outdated and dangerous traffic configurations.

At KC Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. (KC), maintaining and upgrading our roads remains an important priority. Our civil engineers are skilled in parking lot and roadway design, and along with our traffic engineers they can effectively and efficiently plan, design, and oversee the construction of intersection improvements, parking facilities, maintenance and protection of traffic plans, highways, utility relocations, site lighting, driveways and other roadways, curbs, and sidewalks so that the outcomes not only provide for smooth transitions but also for economically functional results.

With projects like Cross Westchester Expressway (I-287) Exit 8E Reconstruction, 5th Avenue Reconstruction, DeLavergne Avenue Reconstruction, and Milling and Resurfacing of Federal Aid Roads, KC strives to maintain the safety and commutability of area roads, because at KC we recognize the vital importance of roadway infrastructure.