Transportation technologies are evolving at an unprecedented pace and will have profound effects. Engineers and public officials must start preparing today for an inevitable, vastly different future.
Reducing staffing levels has been a common theme in local governments generally, and certainly in public works departments specifically, during the past 5-10 years. Even at public works departments where staffing levels have remained constant, infrastructure, and infrastructure maintenance requirements likely have increased.
In a non-descript municipal office hundreds of building plans sit atop, under and around a small desk gathering dust, stacks of files, bound copies and boxes full of loose papers are stacked where a chair should be located. The recently retired building commissioner saved everything. However, he’s gone now and the reality of his “filing system” became a cumbersome challenge the city had to deal with.
In the world of commercial development the name of the game is to accelerate the return on investment. However, in today’s highly competitive environment there is more to development than just getting plans approved, bids let and construction started. Branding is now a major consideration for businesses, creating a welcoming experience for customers with solutions that are functional and achieving these goals within a limited area while adhering to local ordinances is always a challenge.
In many communities, the urban environment and human intervention have impacted our natural streams and rivers. Impervious surfaces such as roads, parking lots and buildings take away areas where rainfall would normally be slowed down, spread out and soaked into the ground. Further exacerbating the problem, streams in urban areas are often straightened or channelized to make more room for development.
Our nation’s roadway system contains a functional hierarchy which provides each road with a designation based on its primary purpose. At the top of the hierarchy are freeways and expressways designed to maximize “Point A to Point B” mobility that feature limited access, i.e. access at only high speed interchanges, no intersections or driveways. There are also arterials that are roads that have traffic signals at intersections and access points at larger frequency spacing. These arterials are fed by collectors and local streets, which have the main purpose to connect specific activities (residences, retail stores, industries). Put together, this network enables point to point services, a notable advantage the road transport has over other transport modes.
Every family, every community and every business needs infrastructure to thrive. Infrastructure encompasses your local water main and the Hoover Dam; the power lines connected to your house and the electrical grid spanning the U.S.; and the street in front of your home and the national highway system.
Modern wastewater treatment plants are technologically advanced facilities that require a great deal of knowledge and skill to operate. While many people only consider the treated effluent discharged from these facilities, treatment plants must actually process, discharge, and dispose of two separate wastewater components.
According to the American Press Institute 70 percent of Americans use the internet to find the news that matters most to them. Whether it is a laptop, home computer or mobile device the delivery of news is rapidly changing. Those of us who have important news to deliver need to take note.
A resilient community is one that can weather the economic trade winds. Leaders build a resilient community by having the ability to anticipate risk, and bounce back rapidly from setbacks through adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent change.
Communities across the country have aging and inadequate water infrastructure. Most of our underground water infrastructure was built 50 or more years ago, in the post-World War II era. In some older urban areas, many water mains can even be a century or more old. It is estimated $2.6 billion is lost as water mains leak treated drinking water. In addition, billions of gallons of raw sewage are discharged into local surface waters from wastewater conveyance systems.
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