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March 4, 2013
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News for and about the civil engineering community

  Top Story 
  • Report: Keystone XL would have minimal impact on environment
    The construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline wouldn't accelerate oil sands development in Canada, according to a draft report from the U.S. State Department. The report, which was welcomed by industry groups and Republicans, is intended to spark a "public debate," said Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs. "No matter how many times [the project] is reviewed, the result is the same: no significant environmental impact," said Marty Durbin, executive vice president of government affairs at the American Petroleum Institute. The Hill/E2 Wire blog (3/1), Reuters (3/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Infrastructure Watch 
  • Fla. sinkhole could be uncovered today
    Source: ABC News
    A sinkhole that swallowed part of a house and a man in his bedroom in Seffner, Fla., could be uncovered later today. Likely caused by acidic rainwater dissolving the limestone in the earth beneath the house, located in an area called "Sinkhole Alley," the sinkhole is not "typical," said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill. "This is a chasm." Between 2006 and 2010, Florida had 24,671 claims for sinkhole damage. CBS News (3/4), ABC News (3/4), CNN (3/4), ABC News/The Associated Press (3/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Building boom hits Va.; $14B worth of transportation projects
    Virginia is experiencing a construction boom and has about $14 billion worth of transportation projects under construction or in the procurement process. Several large mixed-use projects have been prompted by the Metrorail expansion outside Washington, D.C. The state is also embracing more green construction and had 170 projects LEED-certified in 2012. Virginia Business (3/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Calif. unveils $6.5B North Coast Corridor Program
    The California Department of Transportation and the San Diego Association of Governments have unveiled a $6.5 billion North Coast Corridor Program, a proposal to build new express lanes on Interstate 5 and add a second rail track along 27 miles of North County coast. The project, which encompasses Camp Pendleton to La Jolla, also calls for improvement of lagoons and enhancement of coastal access by adding bicycle and pedestrian paths. San Diego Union-Tribune (3/1), KSWB-TV (San Diego) (3/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • New $1.5B proposal to redevelop Brooklyn sugar site
    Two Trees, the current owner of 11 acres in New York that includes the former Domino Sugar site in Brooklyn, has proposed a $1.5 billion project for the site. It would include redevelopment of the Domino building, plus construction of four other buildings and several acres of public parks. There would be residential, office and commercial space. Capital New York (3/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Trends & Technology 
  • Cuts to major construction programs will exceed $4B
    More than $4 billion in major construction projects would be eliminated under mandatory spending cuts that took effect March 1, according to Engineering News-Record's review of the Office of Management and Budget report. Reductions to major nondefense construction include $250 million worth of Army Corps of Engineers projects and the Environmental Protection Agency's water infrastructure worth $210 million, while defense construction cuts include $408 million in Army projects and Navy and Marine Corps projects worth $297 million. Engineering News-Record (3/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Construction spending declined 2.1% in January
    A 2.1% drop in construction spending was recorded in January, reaching an annual rate of $883.3 billion, according to the Commerce Department. The decrease, in public and private construction, was the largest since July 2011 and indicates weak economic growth this quarter. Reuters (3/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Sustainable Development 
  • Megacities Carbon Project: Tracking emissions from modern cities
    The Megacities Carbon Project is an initiative that aims to monitor carbon emissions in urban centers. On Southern California's Mount Wilson, scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have installed a "mechanical lung" to sense airborne chemicals and a "unique sunbeam analyzer" to scan the skies over the Los Angeles Basin. The project could one day lead to developing an "eagle-eyed satellite" to find "leaks in natural-gas pipes caused by aging infrastructure, or disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. Then cities could prioritize repair crews accordingly," John Metcalfe writes. The Atlantic Cities (2/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • NYC plan looks to energy upgrades to meet 2050 emissions goal
    The "90 by 50" plan of the Urban Green Council in New York City seeks to reduce the city's carbon emissions by 90% by 2050 through energy retrofits on existing buildings, according to this article. These upgrades would include the use of better insulation, triple-paned windows, heat pumps and other techniques that minimize heat loss and save on energy use for residential and commercial buildings. The plan also calls for increased waste reduction and improved wastewater treatment. (3/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Hot Topics 

Top five news stories selected by ASCE SmartBrief readers in the past week.

  • Results based on number of times each story was clicked by readers.
  Advancing the Profession 
  • U.S., Finland team up for research projects on STEM education
    With an eye toward improving science, technology, engineering and math education in grades K-12, educators in the U.S. and Finland will begin working together as part of a $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation. One component of this new project involves the analysis of student performance in a massive online open course taught through Florida State University and the University of Helsinki. The partnerships also will explore the roles games and video can play in the future of STEM learning. Education Week/Curriculum Matters blog (2/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  News from ASCE 
  • 2013 OPAL Gala tickets going fast
    Join ASCE in honoring engineering’s best at the 2013 Outstanding Projects And Leaders Gala, March 21, at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, Arlington, Va. This black-tie event is a great opportunity to join fellow engineers to recognize peers' lifetime achievements and winning projects. The 2013 OPAL leadership awards, the Charles Pankow Award and and Michel Award will be presented. The five Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement finalists will be honored, and the OCEA winner revealed. Attend an event you'll never forget. Get your tickets now. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Civil Engineering online exclusive: New Tower to Transform Los Angeles Skyline
    ASCE Civil Engineering magazine online  

    The new Wilshire Grand in downtown Los Angeles will be the tallest building in the West and the city’s first skyscraper to be crowned with an architectural roof. Peek at the renderings, then explore more fascinating articles at

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The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life, and you must accept regret."
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