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November 20, 2012
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News for and about the civil engineering community

  Top Story 
  • Flood-protection projects for N.Y., N.J. have stalled for decades
    Federal projects aimed at improving flood-protection systems in New York and New Jersey have been stalled for decades, with many of these projects lacking in funding, according to this article. The projects would have aimed to determine whether seawalls, sand dunes and other manmade barriers would be feasible to protect Staten Island, the Jersey Shore and other coastal areas. "This system is broken. It needs to be fixed. ... Something gets approved, and then it gets lost. It's almost like putting it in a bottomless pit and it never gets done," said Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. WNBC-TV (New York) (11/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Infrastructure Watch 
  • Honolulu rail project nears $1.55B funding deal
    The federal government will sign a $1.55 billion funding agreement with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, said a congressional delegation. "This is the best holiday gift the citizens of Honolulu could possibly receive: the lean, clean, smart city of the future," said Mayor Peter Carlisle The law requires the Federal Transit Administration to inform Congress a month prior to signing the agreement for the $5.26 billion project. Honolulu Star-Advertiser (11/19), KITV-TV (Honolulu) (11/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Chicago-St. Louis HSR project could create 6,200 jobs
    The proposed Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail project could provide more than 6,200 jobs. The project has moved closer to reality with federal approval of its environmental impact statement. "This historic achievement advances the crucial Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail project while signifying that all environmental impacts and route alternatives have been analyzed to determine the best option," said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. (11/19), (11/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • $850M National Gateway nears completion
    The scheduled completion of CSX's $850 million National Gateway project in 2013 will bring benefits, including less road congestion and a quicker and less expensive transportation alternative, said John Spychalski, a professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University and a faculty affiliate at the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute. "Getting those tunnels and overpasses up to height or removed [altogether] has been critical to this project," Spychalski said, so that double-stack freight cars can deliver more goods at a lower cost. The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio) (11/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Negotiations over "fiscal cliff" deal beginning
    Lawmakers say they're optimistic the fiscal negotiations will yield a workable solution to the nation's deficit problems, but neither side has yet shown willingness to give ground on tax and entitlement reform. Republicans in particular have little incentive to strike a quick compromise deal, David Frum notes. "The president will never again be stronger than he is this month. The later into his presidency this deal is done, the better deal Republicans will get," he writes. The Daily Beast/Newsweek (11/18), CNN/Political Ticker blog (11/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Trends & Technology 
  • 3-layer airbag could keep tunnels safe from floods
    Catastrophic flooding can do great damage to subway tunnels, as New York learned with Hurricane Sandy. But three layers of a lightweight but strong fabric and an air hose could keep all but small amounts of water from entering the tunnel. The device acts as an inflatable balloon, sealing off the tunnel and withstanding the pressure of an onslaught of floodwaters. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (11/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Concrete product among top 10 building materials for 2013
    Using CarbonCure's carbon-sequestration technology in Atlas' concrete masonry unit-block has caused the product to be listed on's Top 10 building products for 2013. The product's use of the technology "improves their strength, reduces the amount of portland cement required, and speeds curing," according to this piece. blog (11/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Sustainable Development 
  • Concrete-crushing tech: Turning debris into reusable building material
    Transforming demolition debris from the Dallas Fort Worth Connector project into usable building material not only saves the state money but has a positive environmental impact. NorthGate Constructors' concrete-crushing plant chews up 200 tons of debris per hour and has saved more than $2 million on the Connector, said Kristen Schropp, spokeswoman for NorthGate. Material has also been reused as road bed for other projects. Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas) (11/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Advancing the Profession 
  • What will people say about you when you're gone?
    To lead well, it's worth taking a moment to think about the mark you're leaving on those around you, notes John Baldoni. Try drafting your own eulogy, and reflecting on whether you could be doing more to make a positive difference. "Too often we are overwhelmed by the minutiae of the day, and it is hard to take a step back and gain perspective," Baldoni writes. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership (11/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  News from ASCE 
  • ASCE explores 50 examples of building performance failures
    Intended for undergraduate engineering courses, Failure Case Studies in Civil Engineering -- Structures, Foundations, and the Geoenvironment, Second Edition provides short descriptions of 50 real-world examples of constructed works that did not perform as intended. This volume is a great starting point for class discussions, further research, and by demonstrating how each failure leads to improved engineering design and safety. Topics include foundation failures; embankment, dam, and slope failures; geoenvironmental failures; bridge failures; and building failures. Order this collection of cautionary tales today.  LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Civil Engineering online exclusive: Italian Theater Features "Open" Acoustic Design
    ASCE Civil Engineering magazine online  

    A multipurpose theater in Montalto di Castro was designed to be open from end to end, only partial walls and velvet curtains dividing the spaces and manipulating acoustics. See how it works, then discover more fascinating articles at

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