Month: February 2021

Runway Safety: More than Smooth Pavement & Bright Lights

Construction photo with people painting lines and working on runway wearing safety vests

Airport safety may bring to mind images of TSA checkpoints and marshallers directing aircraft in the right position on the ramp. Although these are some of the more noticeable measures critical for safe air travel, airport engineers also make a vital contribution to air travel safety that may be less apparent but equally as important. Part of our role is to design and oversee the construction of the runway pavement and all the associated lighting and pavement marking that pilots rely on for each takeoff and landing.

Each airport has its own runway and taxiway network, but design standards have been established to prioritize safety for all the traveling public. Safety measures are determined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and applied industry-wide at all airports in the county. FAA publishes what are known as Advisory Circulars which dictate how an airport should be designed and how it should operate. Everything FAA does is in the name of safety, and this governing body’s diligence is why the United States has the safest aviation industry in the world.

What makes up the Runway

Many things can affect the safety of a runway, so let’s first start with pavement as the most obvious component.

The biggest danger is what’s on the runway itself – anything aside from the paved surface is called Foreign Object Debris (FOD). It could be a rock or a dislodged chunk of pavement sitting on the runway that can cause incredible damage to an aircraft. Even small debris can get sucked up into a jet engine or hit a wing, leading to expensive repairs or worse – an accident. That is why you’ll notice airport pavements are much cleaner than your typically roadway. All airports have formal inspection programs that include FOD removal.

You may also notice that in the winter, airports don’t salt their runways the way roadways do. This is because planes are made primarily of aluminum; salt and aluminum do not mix. Airports instead rely on plows and brooms to keep the pavement as clean as possible before ice has a chance to form. Some airports in the northern parts of the country will also supplement their snow removal program with glycol applications.

How the Pilot Knows Where to Land

Pilots are confident that as they prepare for the plane’s descent, the pavement awaiting them is clear and strong enough to support the weight of the aircraft. But with all the pavement at an airport, how does that pilot know exactly where to touchdown? This is where the airport engineer’s design of navigational aids (NAVAIDS), pavement markings (paint), signage and lighting contributes to runway safety.

Runways have visual clues that tell a pilot how far down the runway they are landing using paint markings as well signs that tell the pilot how much runway pavement remains. Runway paint markings are always white and taxiway paint markings are always yellow, providing another visual clue to let pilots know where to land.

One type of marking is a hold line with a surface painted hold sign, which is painted on a taxiway pavement leading onto a runway. This keeps the pilot from getting too close to a runway before they are cleared for takeoff. It’s like a stop sign before pilot gets permission to cross onto the runway. To maintain a safe and orderly movement of aircraft once they exit the runway, taxiway networks also have yellow centerlines that guide the pilot to their destination whether it is a runway, terminal building or hangar.

Many airports also have non-movement lines. On one side of a non-movement line, aircraft and ground vehicles can drive where they need to, and on the other side of the line, operators must get permission from the air traffic control tower (aircraft always have right of way over ground vehicles). This is true of commercial service airports; and for smaller airports, people rely on radios to communicate planes landing/taking off. FAA continually reviews the Airfield Marking Advisory Circular to incorporate design standards that will improve safety.

Lighting and signage is another component of runway safety. While a passenger may look out their window and see a runway flagged with glowing lights and signs as a spectacle, these lights and signs have different placements and colors to indicate to a pilot where to land, how much runway is left or their location on the airfield. For example, there are geographic position signs that tell an aircraft where they are on an airport, especially useful during low visibility conditions, such as fog or heavy rain. While FAA establishes which lights and signs to use for what purposes, our job as airport engineers is to work those lights and signs into the design and planning of the runway. We design the lights and signs to be in the correct locations, and indicate which color and types of lights, the size of the sign and then we coordinate with the electrical engineer for installation.

Visual Separation Aides

As good as pavement markings, lights, signs and tower control may be, there is still the need for visual separation. In most cases, the runway and taxiway areas are not just an expanse of pavement; they very often have grass or some other visual separation between the aircraft movement areas.

This is purposeful; we design airports to have grassy areas as a way to provide another form of visual separation for pilots. These grassy areas have the added benefit of providing a place to incorporate our drainage design to remove potential hazardous rain and snow melt away from pavement area.

How we Maintain Safety

There is a lot that goes into airport and runway safety. FAA has an entire research facility in Atlantic City, New Jersey where professionals test and implement new ways of keeping airports safe. FAA also completes annual inspections at commercial service airports to confirm, in part, the condition of pavement, markings, lighting, signs, abutting shoulders, and safety areas; watch ground vehicle operations; ensure the public is protected against inadvertent entry and jet or propeller blast; check for the presence of any wildlife; check the traffic and wind direction indicators.

At Hoyle, Tanner, our airport engineering professionals are committed to incorporating the most current FAA design standards outlined in the agency’s Advisory Circulars in each of our airfield improvement projects. Our proven experience in the aviation industry allows us to tailor valued solutions to meet the safety and security requirements, design challenges, funding procedures and time sensitive needs of each airport we service.  Want to learn more about safety practices and FAA? Contact me.

The Need for Industrial Pretreatment Programs (IPP)

picture of bewery vats

Whether it’s a brewery, paper mill, food or chemical plant in your community, these businesses almost always produce industrial wastewater. As such, there is a need for wastewater management generated from these, and many other, industrial activities discharging to a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). Managing industrial wastewater can be accomplished through a well-run Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP). In addition, with the emergence of new contaminants that might not be compatible with POTWs, an IPP facilitates the regulatory framework to determine the origins of such contaminants.

National IPP: Setting the Standards

In 1972, US Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), to restore and maintain the nation’s water quality. The Act’s goals were to eliminate the introduction of pollutants into the nation’s navigable waters to achieve “fishable and swimmable” water quality levels. The CWA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit Program is one key component established to accomplish these goals. The NPDES Permit Program generally requires that direct dischargers to a waterbody obtain an NPDES Permit.

In addition to addressing direct discharges to the nation’s waterways, the National Pretreatment Program is a regulatory program for pollutants that are discharged into a POTW, otherwise known as indirect discharges. This program requires industrial and commercial facilities to obtain permits (or use other control measures) to discharge their wastewater to a POTW. Certain discharges by these users may pass through or interfere with the operations of a POTW, leading to a direct discharge of untreated wastewater into rivers, lakes, and other water bodies.

The goals of the National Pretreatment Program as stated in 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 403.2 are as follows:

  • To prevent the introduction of pollutants into a POTW that will interfere with the operation of the POTW, including interference with its use or disposal of sludge
  • To prevent the introduction of pollutants into a POTW that will pass through the treatment works otherwise be incompatible with such works
  • To improve opportunities to recycle municipal and industrial wastewater and sludges

To accomplish these goals, the National Pretreatment Program requires all large POTWs (those with design flows greater than 5 million gallons per day) and small POTWs that accept wastewater from industrial users that could affect POTWs to establish a local pretreatment program. Local pretreatment programs must enforce national pretreatment standards and requirements, as well as more stringent local requirements necessary to protect the site-specific conditions of the POTW. For example, industrial discharges from a large brewery with organic loadings much greater than typical domestic loadings may not negatively impact a large POTW but might cause major interference or pass-through at a very small POTW not designed to properly treat such organic loads.

Identifying and understanding a POTW’s Significant Industrial User’s (SIU’s) wastewater discharges is an important component of an IPP since SIUs have the ability to adversely affect the POTW.

Implementing IPP on the Local Level

Once the determination has been made that a POTW needs a local pretreatment program, six minimum elements must be included in a pretreatment program submission for review and approval by the USEPA, the state or both, depending on state statute.

  1. Legal Authority – A POTW must have the legal authority which authorizes the POTW to apply and enforce any pretreatment requirement. This authority is derived from state law.
  2. Procedures – A POTW must develop and implement procedures to ensure compliance with pretreatment requirements which include:
    • Identifying all Industrial Users (IUs) subject to the pretreatment program
    • Identify the characteristic of pollutants contributed by IUs
    • Notify users of applicable pretreatment standards and requirements
    • Receive and analyze reports from IUs
    • Sample and analyze IU discharges
    • Evaluate the need for an IU slug control plan
    • Investigate instances of IU non-compliance
    • Comply with public participation requirements
  3. Funding – A POTW must have sufficient resources and qualified personnel to carry out the procedures included in the approved pretreatment program.
  4. Local Limits – A POTW must develop local limits developed for pollutants that could cause interference, pass through or sludge contamination or worker health and safety problems.
  5. Enforcement Response Plan (ERP) – A POTW must develop and implement an ERP containing detailed procedures indicating how the POTW will investigate and respond to IU non-compliance instances.
  6. List of SIUs – A POTW must prepare, update and submit to the approval authority a list of all SIUs.

These elements are important for managing a well-run local pretreatment program and developing good working relationships with IUs. As new contaminants continue to emerge that are not compatible with POTWs, pretreatment programs will be useful to identify sources of new contaminants that may potentially cause issues with POTW effluent water quality or sludge disposal practices. A pretreatment program must be adaptable, and any necessary modifications to local pretreatment programs to address new contaminants must be conducted expeditiously.

Our Experience with IPP & Water Treatment

Hoyle, Tanner’s Northeast Municipal Engineering Services Group employs 20 engineers whose primary focus is water quality engineering – wastewater, stormwater and drinking water. industrial inspections, writing annual reports or providing technical expertise relative to enforcement actions. Our team has the experience to provide pretreatment program resources and immediate expertise.

Our depth and breadth of pretreatment program experience includes: identifying IUs to be included in an IPP, writing industrial user permits, evaluating the need for updating technically-based local limits, and updating Sewer User Ordinances and ERPs.

For more information, please visit our website at: www.hoyletanner.com or contact Senior Engineers Paula Boyle or Heidi Marshall.

How One Woman Proudly Made Her Career at Hoyle, Tanner – From Entry-Level Assistant to Director of Human Resources

Judy Donovan Hann began her career at Hoyle, Tanner nearly 29 years ago when her children were 1, 3, and 5 years old starting in 1992 as a part-time, entry-level marketing assistant. After two years, the executive assistant position opened, and the President and CEO chose her to fill the role. Years later, she was promoted to become the Executive Administrator. Because her degree from Boston College included a concentration in personnel management, she was always interested in the company’s staffing side. Over the years she assisted the Human Resources Manager and learned more about the company’s human resources functions by being tasked with additional responsibilities. In 2017 she became the Human Resources Manager, and in 2018 Judy made her most significant jump yet: Vice President and election to the Board of Directors.

With support from her coworkers, Judy continued to grow in her career while raising her now-grown children, Max, Rye, and Emily. “This company really understands the importance of family and I was, and still am, incredibly grateful for that, not just for me but for all the parents and caregivers who work for Hoyle, Tanner.”

She added “Moving up in the company means a lot to me because it shows that the leadership has faith in me. I came up from humble beginnings at the company, I’ve gone through the ranks, and they respect my abilities and the perspective I have.”

Judy has seen a lot of positive changes over the years. She is especially excited about the strides we have made recently to utilize technology that Human Resources had never used before. Having this technology has allowed the firm to streamline many processes and make HR more user-friendly. It’s an ever-changing work in progress and one she is very proud to be part of.

Her main priority is (and always will be) the employees. She sees employees on their first day and the connection continues throughout their career at Hoyle, Tanner, even when they don’t see her. Director of Engineering Operations Matthew Low, PE says of Judy, “We are really fortunate to have a professional like Judy on our team, she puts the human in human resources. She is a staunch advocate for our employees and works tirelessly every day to make sure that the company balances business success with the needs of our team. I really hope that our team members know that Judy cares so much about each of them – because she really does.”

“I love being able to work with people at all levels and to help make their experience working here as positive as mine has been,” she said. “I will always advocate for the employees, and I want everyone to know we are thinking about them. The focus is on them. Every one of us is part of what Hoyle, Tanner is now, and we are all part of where we are going. Those aren’t just empty words; those are the beliefs held by the firm’s leadership, right to the very top. That’s why I am still here. I’m proud, and consider myself lucky, to be a part of the company.”

Judy’s career spans nearly three decades and counting. Her positions and responsibilities may have changed, but her employee-centric mantras will always remain the same.

Career Reflections: Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in STEM

6 images in a blue box with various female engineers working and text says Celebrating Women in STEM Careers

Every February 11th, we celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in STEM. This day comes with the reminder that young girls are not always encouraged to pursue careers in math and science-centric fields, but we’re here to remind everyone that these careers are open to anyone who is bold enough to challenge stereotypes that could otherwise keep them away.

We asked a few of the amazing women who work at Hoyle, Tanner what they would tell their younger selves about becoming an engineer. Their advice:


Marisa DiBiaso is a Senior Civil Engineer and has been with Hoyle, Tanner for 8 years. She specializes in land development and site design work. If she could speak to her younger self, she’d advocate for reaching out to others sooner:

“I would tell my younger self to seek out more mentors for guidance on different skillsets and general career advice. There are a lot of people that enjoy mentoring, and I’ve benefitted from some really great mentors over the course of my career. I wish I had connected with more people sooner. I’d also tell myself that while working hard and doing quality work are really important, you shouldn’t need to work harder than everyone else to be respected. Finally, speak up and ask questions. Sometimes we are afraid of revealing that we don’t understand something, but often times asking a good question can show you are engaged and thinking ahead. You aren’t expected to know everything!”


Emily Belisle is an entry-level Civil Engineer who is in her first year of employment with Hoyle, Tanner (and worked with another firm previously). Her answer puts the career into perspective:

“I would tell my younger self that becoming an engineer is no harder than becoming anything else. As long as it is what you want to do, it’ll be worth it.”


Payton Borza has been working in our Florida office for 6 years as an Airport Engineer. If she could talk to her younger self, it wouldn’t have anything to do with being female or male – instead, it would have to do with following your own inner calling.

“There are so many different types of engineers and different fields you can choose! Spend time thinking about which ones interest you the most.”


Suzy Sheppard one of our talented Senior Airport Engineers and has built her career in her 25 years at Hoyle, Tanner. To her younger self, she’d encourage patience:

“Growing up I believed that all my career goals would be achieved by 30. Engineering is a dynamic field that is always changing and there’s always something new and exciting to discover. I would tell my younger self to prepare for a lifetime of learning and growing. You may reach your intended goals at 30 or you may not, but there are always new goals to be made.”


Katelyn Welch has been building her career at Hoyle, Tanner for the past 6 years as a Structural Engineer, designing bridges and working on construction sites. Her advice is not one of regrets but one of welcomed lessons.

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Engineering is a career where you learn just as much from your mistakes as your successes.”


Rychel Gibson has been an Environmental Engineer at Hoyle, Tanner for 5 years, building on her career with projects in asset management and water purity. To her younger self, she’d encourage bravery.

“Don’t be intimidated. You have the brains and the drive. You can do this.”


Monika Ingalls is a Civil Engineer who has been with Hoyle, Tanner for 2 years working in our Burlington, Vermont office. She would warn her younger self not to sweat the small stuff.

“I would tell my younger self to remember to stay focused on my goals and to not worry about inconsequential matters. I would also say to not worry so much about being the only girl in the room because the world is changing and more women are joining the workforce every year!  And lastly, I would remind myself to pay attention in structural analysis more often!”


Nicole Crawford has been an Airport Engineer at Hoyle, Tanner for 7 years where she’s not only been doing calculations, but has also been a mentor to others. Her advice comes with a gentle instruction.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You have your own set of strengths and weaknesses, and the most important thing you will learn is how to evaluate them for yourself.  Improve where you need to but advocate for yourself using your strengths….and trust me, you have some. Don’t be afraid to let go of what doesn’t click.”


If we can learn anything from these women, it’s not to shy away from a challenge, and not to be intimidated by a career path in science, technology, engineering or mathematics!

Using Ground Penetrating Radar to See What Lies Beneath the Surface


Beneath the Surface

Do you ever wonder about the history of the people who came before you and what remains they left behind that might be buried beneath your home, yard, or office? As part of project development, our staff has to think about this for every project to satisfy several federal and state requirements to protect those hidden resources. The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) was passed in 1966 to protect the Nation’s historical and cultural resources. Section 106 of the Act requires federal agencies to consider the effects on historic properties of projects they undertake – sometimes called a “Section 106 review.” For any project that requires a federal permit or uses federal funding, a completed Section 106 review is necessary to identify those crucial resources that may be affected by the project.

Federal funding for transportation projects within New Hampshire comes primarily through the NH Department of Transportation (NHDOT), which receives funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Because of this, many of the projects that we work on require Section 106 review. The first step in this process is to identify the historic or cultural resources within the project’s work limits, which is also called the Area of Potential Effect (APE). This step includes those resources above-ground, such as homes, foundations, or structures that were built more than 50 years ago, and below-ground, such as remnants of prior human activity associated with both the Native American and European American periods. This is where we need an archaeologist’s assistance – enter thoughts of Indiana Jones!

Archaeologists are responsible for more than finding buried treasures, and their process begins with historic and environmental research followed by an archaeological survey of APE. This process is much tamer than what is shown on the big screen and involves less chasing and more research and excavation. (the professional term is excavation – gardeners dig, archaeologists excavate!) The first step is to check historic maps and records of what has been documented in APE; was there a town, house, settlement, camp, road? The site is also carefully examined to determine any clues to what may lie underground. Sometimes this can include a shovel test, which means excavating a small 0.5 meter/1.5 foot square area, obtaining soil information, and evaluating the level of historic soil disturbance. Once this information has been reviewed, if the site is determined to contain additional underground information, a plan is developed to complete further excavation across APE – more test pits, often within a grid pattern, to cover the areas to be impacted. While this method is the standard, any excavation can be a very disruptive and time-consuming process. Is there a better way to find buried evidence? Couldn’t we take a picture of what lies beneath, like an X-ray or ultrasound?

Seeing What Lies Beneath

Yes, we can! The idea of “seeing” using radio waves was first introduced in 1904 and was initially developed for locating ships at sea in storms, but was put to use on a larger scale in World War II to find aircraft that were too far away to be viewed by the eye. Using radar involves bouncing radio waves off the object from a distance and using the time the wave travels back to calculate distance. The term “radar” came from the US Navy in the 1940s as an acronym for Radio Detection And Ranging. Radar has many uses, including the police speed-detector guns you may have been unlucky enough to encounter. While the concept of bouncing radar waves underground to create a picture of what lies beneath our feet (or Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)), was developed only six years after radar was first developed, the use wasn’t fully explored until the 1970s when the first affordable commercial equipment was developed.

GPR is now a widely-accepted tool that is used to identify a variety of underground features, such as:  utility lines and pipes, geological features such as large boulders, changes in the subsurface soil layers that may affect construction, or the depth to groundwater to develop wells for drinking water. GPR equipment looks a bit like a lawnmower and is rolled slowly across the survey area in a grid pattern (as seen below). The unit’s base sends an electromagnetic wave or pulse into the ground, and the echoes that bounce back are recorded using specialized software that translates these echoes into images of the objects in the subsurface.

GPR is ideal for supplementing underground archaeological surveys, primarily because the pictures that it creates can be used to identify features without the risk of damaging them that could occur during an excavation. This feature makes it an excellent tool for surveying areas where there is potential to find buried human remains. Cemeteries, graveyards and burial grounds might seem to be locations that would be well-documented (where did we bury Grandma, was it by the barn?); however, historical records can be lost, misplaced or damaged, or not recorded if the site was small. Even the oldest European settler burial ground in New Hampshire, the Old Odiorne Point Cemetery, located within Odiorne Point State Park grounds, has a complex history with scattered documentation regarding the location and number of burials.

Trivia: While the terms graveyard and cemetery both refer to a burial ground, graveyards are located on sacred or church grounds, while cemeteries are located on public or private grounds.

What We Saw

As part of the required Section 106 review for a project, Hoyle, Tanner recently worked with NHDOT in the Town of Conway to use GPR for investigating the Town’s first documented cemetery area, Meeting House Hill Cemetery, where the original Meeting House stood. Historic review completed for NHDOT in 1965 while constructing Route 302 indicated that this cemetery was used as early as 1740 to bury local settlers and included Revolutionary War soldiers. In the 19th century, the Town removed several sets of remains to other cemeteries in Conway to allow for road and railroad development in the area. Local information suggested that these areas were not thoroughly surveyed and that human remains could still be underground within the area.

Hoyle, Tanner worked with Independent Archaeological Consulting, LLC (IAC) to complete an archaeological investigation in the area around the cemetery marker using GPR. IAC contracted with Nearview, LLC to provide the highly specialized and hard-to-find GPR unit and conduct the survey. What does GPR look for? GPR imagery can show disturbed soil associated with a grave shaft, or echo reflections related to bones, coffins, grave goods, or clothes that would be different from the soil around these items. It can also locate changes in the soil layers that can be due to the digging from installing a grave – the mixing of soil when that happens creates reflections that differ from the surrounding area.

The GPR unit was rolled slowly across the ground in a grid pattern (like mowing your lawn, making sure you cover all of it!). Shovel test pits (STPs) were excavated in targeted locations to specifically intersect with GPR survey to check against any revealed soil anomalies or differences. While the GPR survey identified a single anomaly, the test pits excavated near the anomaly revealed soil layers that did not indicate the type of disturbance that would show the location of burial or human remains.

Eliminating this area as a location of unidentified burial spaces or human remains is valuable to the Town, its citizens and the families who have wondered for decades about this site. It also provided a timely and cost-effective process for NHDOT to clear this area of potential impacts to archaeological resources so that future roadway changes at the intersection of Route 302 and East Conway Road will not need to exclude this area.

GPR technology has come a long way since it was first developed, and we are excited to add it to our toolbox for Section 106 review. Using GPR can provide a better picture and give a definitive answer to what lies beneath. Find out more about GPR Technology by reaching out to me.

Employee Spotlight: Owen Krauss

Owen Krauss, Structural Engineer and Family Man

1.  What drew you to Hoyle, Tanner?
The reputation of Hoyle, Tanner, their work in Maine, and the employee culture all drew me here.
2. What’s something invaluable you’ve learned here?
The importance of listening and asking for opinions. Every challenge in a project does not have just one answer, and a collaboration of different perspectives often leads to more innovative and efficient solutions.
3. What’s your favorite time of year to work at Hoyle, Tanner?
Summer/construction season. The ability to work with our contractors to problem solve on the fly is not only an interesting part of the job, but it also provides an opportunity to see and understand new issues in the field to be considered in future projects.
4. What’s the coolest thing you are working on?
I enjoy working on projects in my home state and seeing them develop from a preliminary design to a final product. One of the bridges we are working on now is one our family often travels over on our way to camp.
5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far this week?
Hugs from my daughters are always the highlight of my week.
6. How many different states have you lived in?
1- Maine
7. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Steak and mashed potatoes and an appetizer of street tacos.
8. What kind of pet do you have and how did you choose to name it?
I have two dogs, Jada and Oliver. Jada was named on a road trip by going through the alphabet with names (boring). My wife named my other dog Oliver.
9. What is a fun or interesting fact about your hometown?
The Yarmouth Clam Festival, an annual town festival with lots of activities and BBQ reunions with our local friends and family. The festival includes road races, bikes races, clam shucking competitions, and a local fireman’s muster.  
10. What are three things still left on your bucket list
1. Go to space
2. Play at Augusta National Golf Club
3. Get my pilot’s license

11. Name three items you’d take with you to a desert island.
1. A knife
2. Flint
3. A good rope

12. What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Loyalty
13. How old is the oldest item in your closet?
An old tie from my father, probably from the 70s.
14. Words to live by? Favorite Quote?
“Well, I ain’t always right, but I’ve never been wrong. Seldom turns out the way it does in a song. Once in a while you get shown the light, In the strangest of places if you look at it right” – Grateful Dead
15. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I still don’t know – probably an NFL player or CIA operative.
16. If you were to skydive from an airplane what would you think about on the way down?
I have been skydiving before in Millinocket, ME. Before pulling the parachute I just enjoyed the ride. After I gazed on the vast wilderness of Northern Maine, taking in the beauty of the trees, streams, lakes, and mountains. It made me appreciate being able to live here.