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March 28, 2013
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News for and about the civil engineering community

  Top Story 
  • San Francisco breaks ground on 1,070-foot Transbay Tower
    The groundbreaking ceremony for San Francisco's 1,070-foot Transbay Tower was held Wednesday. The tower, designed by Cesar Pelli, the designer of Wells Fargo Center in Minneapolis, will be the West Coast's tallest when completed in 2017. The mixed-use tower -- part of the Transbay Terminal development -- will have retail and office space as well as 4,500 housing units. It will feature "special energy efficient glass [and] ventilation systems that let in fresh air and cut down energy bills." KNTV-TV (San Francisco) (3/27), KCBS-AM (San Francisco) (3/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Infrastructure Watch 
  • $1.1B in transportation projects slated in Minn.
    Minnesota plans to spend $1.1 billion on roads and bridges in 2013, but some in the industry say more is needed. The state transportation department's plan calls for road and bridge projects that will "improve safety at railroad crossings, repair seawalls and docks, make improvements on runways and terminals at regional airports, and improve transit centers," MnDOT said. Tim Worke, director of the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota's highway division, said the $1.1 billion falls short of filling the need. "We welcome the investment ... but we think it’s woefully inadequate going forward," Worke said. Finance and Commerce (Minneapolis) (3/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Study: HSR investments fuel real estate development
    A study by economists at the University of California, Los Angeles and China’s Tsinghua University on the effect of investing in high-speed-rail systems indicates that it spurs real estate development, cuts commuting times and eases road congestion. "Bullet trains simultaneously alleviate some of the congestion costs associated with urban growth in the megacities and trigger the growth of the nearby second-tier cities," said environmental economist Matthew Kahn, a professor at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Business Insider (3/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Trends & Technology 
  • Analysis: America's lead in R&D narrows
    The U.S. still leads the world in the total amount of money it spends on research and development, but other countries are increasing their emphasis on research and steadily narrowing the gap, according to The Economist. "A mixture of government-funded basic research, built on and deployed by business, lies behind two of the innovations that are doing most to help America out of its current economic doldrums: hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling," the magazine notes. "...They are now giving a massive boost to the oil and gas industry -- and hence to the broader economy." The Economist (tiered subscription model) (3/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Much modeling used to plan expansion of Boston's South Station
    The project team for the $850 million expansion of Boston's South Station is using several modeling tools for its planning and design to reduce major construction conflicts. The team is using 3D Studio Max to help visualize the design; Legion to model how passengers exit the area; Bentley RailTrack to design infrastructure; and other modern software and simulation tools. "The team will develop several modeling scenarios to test the various construction phases and different infrastructure elements that are proposed," said Kristine Wickham, deputy project manager for Vanesse Hagen Brustlin, part of a project team that includes HNTB and Arcadis, among others. Engineering News-Record (4/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Augmented reality can transform design, construction methods
    The use of augmented reality has the potential to transform the way AEC firms execute design and construction projects, said Sydney-based architect Rana Abboud. Tools such as Google Glass offer a perspective of the physical environment integrated with 3D graphics and data. "What this [AR] would do is allow you to overlay the computer data directly onto the site and walk around," Abboud said. "So it's not a static, one perspective view. Basically, you walk around a site and you can see these 'hot spots' which show the location of where things need to go." Building Design + Construction (free registration) (3/26), (Australia) (3/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • iPad app for inspection, data management of infrastructure
    Bridge inspectors and engineers can now experience a new level of mobility with the use of InspectTech Collector Mobile, a new iPad application that "extends bridge inspectors' collection capabilities and makes their work quicker, easier and mobile," this article notes. The app can gather asset data about roads, culverts, railroad signs and light poles. The app allows inspectors to "streamline their workflow and slice inspection times by 25%," according to Bentley Systems. Engineering News-Record (4/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Advancing the Profession 
  • Cancel your meetings and go for a walk around the office
    There are better ways for bosses to spend their time than in endless meetings and evaluation sessions, writes S. Chris Edmonds. The best leaders take charge of their schedules and make plenty of time for walking around the workplace, engaging directly with workers and modeling the kinds of values they hope to see emulated. "These leaders invest time in observing by wandering around, connecting one-on-one with frontline team leaders and frontline employees and asking how things are going," Edmonds explains. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership (3/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Why companies sacrifice innovation while seeking efficiency
    Many organizations tend to prioritize efficiency and short-term problem solving over the sort of long-term thinking that is required for innovation, Jeffrey Phillips writes. "We need to break the cycle of efficiency, not to return to sloth and inefficiency, but to return to good management," he writes. Innovate on Purpose (3/21) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  News from ASCE 
  • New ASCE Manual 124 helps you reshape river channels
    Get the guidance you need to design structures that reshape a river channel to create reliable depths and widths for safe, dependable vessel transit. Inland Navigation: Channel Training Works, Manual of Practice 124, focuses on training structures used in open-river channels with flow in one direction (non-tidal), and many of the structures are also appropriate for use on low-head (no reservoir storage capacity) lock-and-dam river systems. The volume was prepared by the Task Committee on Inland Navigation of the Waterways Committee of ASCE's Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute. Add it to your references today. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Civil Engineering online exclusive: Domino Sugar Plan Redefines Brooklyn Waterfront
    ASCE Civil Engineering magazine online  

    A revised plan to redevelop a former manufacturing plant and construct several other inviting structures along the East River in Brooklyn, N.Y., will help bring vibrancy and commerce back to a flagging waterfront. See the architects’ plan, then explore more fascinating articles at

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