Category: Engineering

Sustainable Drainage: What are the Techniques for Flooding & Protecting the Watershed?

Sustainable Drainage Systems are a collection of practices used to mimic natural processes of the hydrologic water cycle, which is the path of water as it moves around the earth and includes condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff, and evapotranspiration.  These sustainable drainage systems can consist of natural features or man-made features made to look and act like natural features (bioretention facilities, rain gardens, vegetated rooftops).  In the United States, Sustainable Drainage Systems are more commonly referred to as Best Management Practices (BMPs) or Low-Impact Development (LID).

What are Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Low-Impact Development (LID)?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Low-Impact Development as systems and practices that use or mimic natural processes that result in the infiltration, evapotranspiration, or use of stormwater to protect water quality and associated aquatic habitat. Why does this matter? As EPA notes, applied on a broad scale, LID can maintain or restore a watershed’s hydrologic and ecological functions.

Implementing LID practices allows the treatment of stormwater closer to the source using natural processes. Closer to the source means treating the water as close to where it reaches the earth’s surface as possible.  For example, stormwater that sheet flows off a roadway and is collected in a swale then treated by an LID practice is treating the water closer to the source than if the stormwater were collected in a closed drainage system within the roadway and conveyed several hundred feet away to a larger detention pond.  The swale (known as a level spreader) acts as a level swale that collects the stormwater and infiltrates it slowly into the ground, similar to what the water would do if the paved roadway were not present. For more significant flows that overtop the level spreader, a best management practice can provide some treatment of common pollutants, including total phosphorus (TP), total nitrogen (TN), and total suspended solids (TSS) (gravels in the stormwater) before the stormwater reaches a waterbody. 

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are defined as methods that have been determined to be the most effective and practical means of preventing or reducing non-point source pollution to help achieve water quality goals. Non-point source pollution includes TP, TN, and TSS.  Some BMP’s commonly used include bioretention facilities, rain gardens, vegetated rooftops, and tree box filters. Methods used to treat the stormwater include infiltration, filtration, detention, retention, and disconnection.  Infiltration and filtration are similar in the way the water flows through a media which provides the treatment.  The media used in infiltration practices it the natural soils which then convey the stormwater to the groundwater below. In filtration systems, the media is a man-made media, sometimes consisting of sand, sometimes a combination of sand/soil/and compost mixture, and sometimes a manufactured filter similar to filters you find in your house or car.  Detention and retention are similar methods, they detain water. Detention practices detain water for a short time while retention practices typically have standing water at all times. Both treat the stormwater by allowing pollutants to settle out of the water over time. Disconnection methods includes conveying stormwater from an impervious surface (rooftop or pavement) to a pervious surface (grass) to allow the stormwater to naturally filter through the grass and into the soils prior to reaching surface water or groundwater sources.

Protecting our Watershed with These Methods

So how do BMPs or LID practices help with flooding or protecting the watershed?

One way these methods protect our watersheds are through the filtration.  A rain garden is designed as a small depression in the ground that consists of various native plants planted on top of a filter media.  The filter media allows the stormwater to be conveyed through it and also allows for uptake of the stormwater through the roots of the plants providing treatment of the stormwater and evapotranspiration of the stormwater (release of water to the atmosphere from soil and plant leaves).  Stormwater that filters through the media can either infiltrate into the groundwater if the soils are conducive to that, or the treated stormwater can be collected in a pipe and conveyed to nearby surface waters.  Treating the stormwater is important because untreated stormwater that reaches a waterbody (wetland, stream, pond) can affect the plant and animal life in that waterbody.  This can lead to the degradation of ecosystems across the watershed.

A construction photo of underground storage chambers for flood control at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

Another way we can protect the watershed using LID is through flood control. Underground storage chambers can be used as flood control in areas where there is limited above-ground storage. These best management practices are common in urban developments, including shopping centers and stadiums.  They are commonly placed beneath parking lots (such as this one pictured above, at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport) and act as a large storage facility for stormwater which can then be released at a controlled rate to nearby surface waters or infiltrated into the groundwater.

This photo shows the park where an underground storage system will be provided. The usability and aesthetics of the park will remain the same as existing conditions after construction.

Our Recent Drainage Projects

In Massachusetts, we are working on two projects that are the same roadway and therefore have similar properties, although they are in two different towns.  A large portion of these projects is within a water supply reservoir watershed.  Its location means that treating the stormwater runoff is critical so that any contaminants in the runoff do not compromise the clean water in the reservoir. Massachusetts stormwater regulations are geared toward treating the stormwater at the source as opposed to collecting large volumes of stormwater and treating it in a larger detention basin somewhere down the road.  To achieve compliance with the regulations and treat the stormwater, we have designed LID practices such as forebays, level spreaders, and grass swales at as many outlet pipe locations (outfalls) as allowable based on site constraints, including right-of-way and topography. 

Sample engineering plan and section for sustainable drainage methods.

A town in Vermont is having erosion issues at the base of a steep, dead-end, gravel road.  The erosion issues are due to the lack of stormwater conveyance practices and the lack of storage of more significant storm events.  This section of town is upstream from a large wetland, however it is not hydrologically connected to it, which means stormwater does not directly get conveyed to the wetland.  We were tasked by the regional planning commission to design two stormwater treatment practices that would convey the stormwater to the wetland area without creating additional erosion or flood control issues downstream. Both treatment practices included underground storage chambers for flood control of the larger storm events.  More formal ditch lines and a closed drainage system were designed to collect the stormwater that currently flows over the gravel roadway. 

This photo shows the location of a proposed underground storage facility for stormwater with an above-ground rain garden. In the bottom right corner of this photo, there is an existing rain garden that will be expanded.

The upstream BMP was designed to infiltrate the smaller storms.  It was requested this BMP not permanently impact the adjacent Town Green area; therefore with the underground chambers, the BMP will not be visible from above, thus not impacting the character of the Town Green.  It was requested the downstream BMP include a bioretention area (or rain garden) above the underground storage chambers.  The town requested a more natural stormwater collection process and liked the visual aspect of what a rain garden offered.  The soils beneath this BMP were not conducive to infiltration, therefore the flow out of the storage chambers was conveyed toward the downstream wetland via a pipe.

Sustainable Drainage Systems are everywhere – you have probably seen them and not even known it!  Take a look around next time you are out and about and see what you can find. For more information about sustainable drainage, reach out to me!

Celebrating Walkability in the Month of April with Pedestrian Bridges

Mine Falls Park Bridge

The month of April holds some significant dates for the environment. The month kicks off with National Walk to Work Day on April 2nd, National Walking Day on April 7th, and we round out the month with Earth Day on April 22nd. In honor of our environment, we wanted to highlight a couple of our recent pedestrian bridge projects that encourage more foot and less vehicle traffic.

The Eaton Street pedestrian bridge was built in 1912 as part of the Boston and Maine Railroad. In the 1990s, the City of Nashua repurposed the abandoned railroad into a recreation path called the Heritage Rail Trail. This trail connects the Tree Streets Neighborhood to downtown Nashua and its many restaurants, small businesses, and cultural landmarks. The City closed the bridge to pedestrian traffic in December 2019 due to timber deck and old railroad ties rot. Hoyle, Tanner completed a full structural inspection of the bridge and provided repair recommendations to the City so that the bridge could be re-opened; we also made maintenance recommendations so that the bridge can remain in usable condition for years to come.

Mine Falls Park Bridge

To the north of the Heritage Rail Trail and in the center of the City is the 325 acre Mine Falls Park. The City of Nashua received NHDOT Transportation Alterative Program (TAP) funding to build a pedestrian link between Mine Falls Park and the Heritage Rail Trail. This project included many different design features in a small area such as an ADA complaint ramp system, a shared use shoulder along Everett Street, a crosswalk with flashing beacons at Ledge Street, and a prefabricated metal pedestrian truss bridge to cross the Nashua Canal. The crux of the project was to find a way to support the new bridge that would not increase or change the loading on the canal’s southern stone wall or northern earth embankment. To do this, we chose to use helical piles which transfer the bridge load into the ground below the canal. Helical piles have many advantages in urban locations because they can be installed with small construction equipment and with minimal ground vibration. The completed project was open to the public in June 2019.

Part of creating sustainable infrastructure is considering how people will use that infrastructure for years to come. The bridges we design must not only stand the test of time, but they must serve the community, as well as encourage more walkable and rideable communities!

At the Airport: Good Fences DO Make Good Neighbors!

Chainlink fence running through grassy area with blue skies in background

If you have ever had a close encounter with wildlife while driving your car – glimpsed a deer, coyote or even a large turkey or raccoon at the side of the road – or worse, been involved in an accident caused by hitting wildlife – then you can understand how frightening and dangerous these situations  are for a pilot  flying a multi-million dollar airplane. Seeing  a deer or coyote on the runway before take-off could cause a string of heart palpitations and sweaty palms!

Interactions between wildlife and aircraft can result in human injuries, even fatalities, along with injuries and fatalities to the animal, and costly repairs to damaged aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – the federal transportation agency with the authority to regulate all aspects of civil aviation, including safety – has deemed prevention of wildlife from accessing airports as one of their primary safety concerns.

The first step to resolving any issue is identifying the extent of the problem: how many and what types of wildlife have access to the airport, where they come from, what attracts them to the airport, and how many interactions have occurred at the airport between wildlife and aircraft.

FAA keeps a National Wildlife Strike Database that is available to the public and provides accounting at each airport in the US of the wildlife strikes – or moments where a wildlife physically interacted with an aircraft. These strikes are reported annually and include data such as what type of animal, what type of aircraft, time of day, and height of the aircraft at the strike. Airport operations staff keep track of wildlife strikes and provide the data to FAA so that this database can be available for review. It is one important tool to assessing the extent to which wildlife interactions are an issue at an airport.

According to the National Wildlife Strike Database, deer and coyote are the most frequently struck terrestrial mammals (37 and 34 percent, respectively). Deer are responsible for 92 percent of the mammal strikes that resulted in damage. From 1990 to 2015, over 1,107 deer-aircraft collisions and 487 coyote-aircraft collisions were reported to FAA. Of these reports, 932 of the deer strikes (84 percent) and 43 of the coyote strikes (9 percent) indicated the aircraft was damaged as a result of the collision (FAA CertAlert No. 16-03, 8/3/2016).

Airports are also encouraged (or, if the airport is large enough, required), to complete a review of the airport for potential wildlife use and develop a plan for prevention of strikes per the FAA Advisory Circular 150/ 5200- 38–Protocol for the Conduct and Review of Wildlife Hazard Site Visits, Wildlife Hazard Assessments and Wildlife Hazard Management Plans. An airport is also required to complete these steps if there has been multiple wildlife strikes over a certain time-period, or there is a single strike that either affects an engine or results in substantial damage that would result in major repair or replacement of the aircraft. 

These site reviews, performed by professionals trained in providing this type of review, coupled with the strike data over time, offer a good view of the potential risk at each airport for wildlife strikes.

The next step for an airport is to develop a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, which identifies the specific actions the airport will take to mitigate the risk of wildlife strikes on or near the airport. Possible steps include:

  • reduction of habitat on the airport, including areas of water or vegetation (grasses and trees);
  • monitoring of the airport, runways, and taxiways, to quickly identify when wildlife access the airport and address the situation; and
  • steps that should be taken if wildlife are identified to prevent a strike from occurring.

Airports have a list of wildlife “harassment” techniques to scare wildlife away from the airport to prevent strikes that includes, some of which are similar to those you may use in your backyard garden-  shiny or flashy pinwheels or reflective tape, or “googly-eyed” owl or hawk statues to scare away smaller birds. Loud noises, flares or even air cannons can be shot from a gun or cannon to scare wildlife and birds from the area.

One of the most effective ways to prevent wildlife strikes of medium- to large-sized mammals such as deer, coyotes and raccoons is to install a fence that surrounds the airport and prevents wildlife from physically entering the airport. This fence, sometimes referred to as a wildlife deterrent fence or wildlife exclusion fence, can be of varying heights and materials, but the FAA recommended design is an 8-foot chain link fence with three strands of barbed wire running along the top positioned so that the barbed wire sections are angled away from the fence to deter animals from climbing over the top. Often, the fence will have a horizontal bottom section called a “wildlife skirt” that is anchors the bottom edge of the chainlink fabric to the ground and is buried several feet deep to prevent animals from digging under the fence.

Hoyle, Tanner has assisted several of our aviation clients with installing, repair, and maintaining wildlife fences. One key project was initiated in 2012 after a wildlife strike between a plane and a deer at the Tweed New Haven Airport (HVN) in New Haven, Connecticut. This dangerous incident prompted FAA and Tweed New Haven Airport Authority to work together to plan for, fund, design, and install fencing to surround the airport to prevent future such interactions completely. This project had several challenges, including the fact that this airport is situated at the southern edge of Connecticut and has several areas of coastal marsh on the airport and freshwater wetlands that could not be avoided to achieve the goal of complete fencing. The success of this project was due to obtaining the required permits to allow for installation of the fence through wetlands from US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP) while keeping the project on schedule and within the proposed budget. The fence was completed in 2014 to the cost of approximately $1.5 million.

 Similarly, we assisted the Groton-New London Airport (GON) in Groton, Connecticut with the installation of wildlife fencing along several airport sections. However, because the southern side of the airport faces Long Island Sound, fencing could not be installed around all areas; fences must be offset from runways and taxiways by set distances so that they do not become hazards to aircraft as they take-off and land. In essence, the FAA design criteria for fencing ensures no trade-off between one problem (wildlife) to another (fences becoming hazards). The required offsets at this airport would have placed the fence into deep water within the tidal channel on the southern side, not a permittable action. As a compromise, we worked with airport staff, wildlife biologists, and state and federal permitting agencies to determine the best fencing locations to reduce the spots where wildlife could access the airport to the greatest extent feasible. This solution allowed airport staff to focus observation and deterrence measures in the unfenced areas, which resulted in better vigilance. This airport also installed a varying mesh fence, instead of a chain link, in areas that faced a public park so that the visual impact of the fence would be reduced while still providing an effective deterrent.

We also modified the fence to include a 6-inch opening in the fence bottom at set intervals to allow for the state-listed species of special concern northern diamondback terrapin to enter and exit fenced areas so that their nesting and feeding would not be interrupted.

Northern diamondback terrapin. Click the photo to find out more information about this species!

Hoyle, Tanner has successfully worked with airport owners to assess wildlife hazards and install deterrent fences across New England. We have worked collaboratively with FAA and state permitting agencies in order to avoid or minimize natural resource impacts while meeting the goals of improving safety for the public, pilots and staff who utilize these airports. Contact us if you have any questions regarding wildlife at your airport and we would be happy to help!

Traffic Modeling 101: Using Traffic Modeling Software to Improve Mobility

Traffic model snip showing intersection and cars

What it is

Traffic modeling takes raw data (in the form of traffic counts and speed data) and builds a visual representation. This visual representation allows us to see how things interact with each other, which can be as simple as a stop-controlled intersection or as complicated as an entire city grid. The modeling allows us to look at how intersections perform in terms of level of service, traffic delay, and capacity utilized among other metrics.

Traffic modeling doesn’t just show how cars move in a straight line on a road. Instead, the modeling shows how traffic might back up at an intersection based on how much green (light) time each direction of traffic is given, how side roads are affected by long lines of vehicles, and what is happening at turn lanes. We also include pedestrians when there’s significant data for them; at small, rural intersections, there is not enough demand to show them in the model.

The level of service is the key metric for analyzing how well a signal functions. Level of service is categorized by five letter grades (A through F), but it’s really just an incremental delay in seconds. For example, if the average driver is stuck at a traffic light for less than 10 seconds, that’s level of service A. If it’s over 10 but less than 20, that’s level of service B, and so on. So really, the level of service is just a way to say this is the range of delay that the average person gets at this intersection. It’s key that it’s the average driver; so the first person who pulls up to a red light is likely going to be sitting there for more of the full signal cycle, but someone that arrives on green had a zero second delay – that’s why it’s key to measure the average.

Why it’s useful

I’ve been using the modeling software since I started here in 2013. It was pretty basic for the first few years, really just using it to model temporary signals; like if we had to go to a one-lane work zone with alternating directions of traffic, we’d use a temporary signal for that and need to model it to make sure the queues didn’t cause any big problems. In terms of how traffic modeling differs from pure calculations, it really has to do with its scale. You know, you can input some parameters into the software, and it runs all the iterations you need and can simulate random traffic patterns that a calculation wouldn’t be able to do. It also helps give you a visual representation of it. I could do a calculation that says, okay there’s a 300-foot queue here, but then when we put it in the modeling software, we can see that the queue is actually blocking a side road or spilling into the next traffic signal.

The flexibility to play around in the software is also significant. With a calculation, if you want to change something, you more or less have to restart the calc; but in the model, you can toggle a switch and it just completely changed your model – and you can change it back if you need to.

Our standard traffic modeling program is Synchro which is the static model, and then we also have SimTraffic which creates a video simulation of cars moving through the model. The video is the simulation of when the system is populated – that’s what uses the random traffic patterns, which is helpful because there is no calculation for random traffic patterns. You need to have the computer algorithm that best approximates random traffic driving patterns. With that simulation, you get to see how signals interact with each other; so you have one signal, and then you have another one 300 feet away; they might not be coordinated, but they will still influence the traffic patterns at each other, and it’s crucial to see what sort of problems they may cause.

What the challenges are

There are only minor downsides to traffic modeling software. There are so many different parameters in the programs that you might get a totally different result if you overlook one that’s buried deep in the dialogue boxes. In terms of reporting, there are also several different analysis methods you can get from the program. The simulation doesn’t change, but I can have the same traffic volumes and signal timing and still get three slightly different results based on the analysis method. There’s no significant difference, but depending on what the client or agency expects when they review it, it can impact the program’s options.

A good example is New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) has published preferences for their report formats, but many clients do not have preferences, and so the lack of standardization can be a challenge.

Where it’s headed in the future

In the future, we will be using traffic modeling software more often. The developers of the traffic modeling software are continuously working on and releasing updates for the programs. We as designers are constantly trying to come up with new ways for traffic signals to be safer or to handle higher capacity. Sometimes, the software doesn’t have the availability to model those correctly because it’s a new innovation that hasn’t made it back into the software yet. So sometimes these updates are just the software catching up to what’s actually being in done in the field.

I expect there will also be some improved bicycle and pedestrian modeling capabilities. Right now, we can say there’s X number of bicycles per hour, but I envision software developers will be adding bicycle signal heads next to traffic lights because that’s an up-and-coming technology. It’s been tested in a couple of states already, and it could become an important part of traffic modeling software updates in the near future.

I’m part of a team that prepares traffic modeling projects for municipalities and state agencies across New England. Reach out to me with traffic questions or to learn more about NHITE.

Part 2: Six Programs that Contribute to a 2D Hydraulic Model & Why They Matter

Hydraulic modeling software image with arrows and blue green and orange colors showing water movement

We introduced 2D hydraulic modeling and its purpose in Part I as a way to calculate how water moves and why we use the modeling to help us engineer better bridges. With that understanding, we can further explain the different ways we get the data to make those 2D models work.

The math and programming are not simple, so using simplified terms, we will break down six common programs and types of data to show how it all comes together.

#1: Google Earth

Google Earth: Many people know Google Earth as a fun tool to see their house or maybe where they want to vacation either in an aerial or street view. Engineers use Google Earth not only to see existing conditions, but also to see the aerial history of a location, as Google has images of the land as it has changed over time. For example, we can use Google Earth to look at a river 20 years ago and see how that same location has changed over that period! Is it wider because the banks are eroding? Has it meandered, causing our bridge to need re-alignment to better fit the path it has taken? Has it taken a shortcut and cutoff any oxbows (or U-shaped bends in the river) over time?

Google Earth graphic showing how the land can change over time. This image shows oxbows cut off over time (change of 22 years shown from 1996 to 2018).



The aerial images also provide information as to the roughness (think texture) or the topography. When the river floods, will the water pass quickly over the smooth fields, or will it slow down because it has to travel through a dense forest with brush scattered over the forest floor? We apply a Manning’s roughness coefficient, n, to this area in the water modeling software to help it figure out where the water wants to move. The street view can help show what the surrounding area is like from the ground to give a better idea of what the roughness should be. Sometimes it is challenging to determine how dense a forest is from the aerial view, but the street view could show if the forest floor is clean with few branches at water level, or if there’s a lot of low branches and additional brush that will slow the water down in the event of a flood.

#2: StreamStats

StreamStats: StreamStats is a web-based geographic information system (GIS) application for water-resources planning that we use to delineate watersheds and determine flow (or how much water is passing through a section). This application uses gage data of existing streams and known flows with regression equations to determine the flood flows at a location without a gage. Now first off, you might be asking yourself “what the heck is a gage?” A streamgage uses instruments to measure and record how much water is flowing in a stream at a particular location. You can learn more about it on the US Geological Survey (USGS) website. Secondly, you might be thinking “what is a regression equation?” This is a type of equation used in statistics to determine a parameter (e.g. flow) based on the relationship between sets of data like watershed size and storage. Essentially, the equations use the information from streams with gages to extrapolate what the flow most likely is at an ungaged site. You can click on a stream point (as long as it’s inside applicable limits) and the program will then delineate the watershed and tell you what your flow is! But as is true with most software, you need to check what it gives you to make sure the delineated watershed is accurate, and the flows are reasonable.

#3: Mathcad

Mathcad: We use Mathcad to perform calculations. For example, New Hampshire requires engineers to complete hydrology calculations for bridge designs; alternative methods to determine the flood flows at the bridge are done to check that the flows determined by StreamStats are reasonable. Again, it’s not as straightforward as “StreamStats is giving me this data, let’s use it,” it needs to be checked! Mathcad allows us to efficiently check the flows from StreamStats by using other methods (i.e. equations). Mathcad is also commonly used to calculate the scour depths around the bridge foundations and size the riprap protection mentioned in Part I.

#4: LiDAR

LiDAR: We also use LiDAR data. While not a specific program, LiDAR gives us images from ground penetrating radar so that we can bring these images into a hydraulic model to merge with survey data. From this information, we can get a fairly accurate account of land to model. LiDAR will reflect things like a knoll in a plane underwater, but it won’t show the water itself; it will show why the water is moving around something we can’t see without this data.

#5: SMS

Surface-water Modeling Solution: More commonly known as SMS, this program is the graphical user interface developed by Aquaveo; this is the software that we use to put together all of the data to create a model that can showcase contours and streamlines representing water. We use the aerial image from Google Earth in the program to define the various areas of terrain roughness; use the flows from StreamStats to tell the program how much water it needs to include; and use the LiDAR to define the topography throughout the model. SMS is especially useful when we are explaining to clients the need for different types of infrastructure or to show the public what’s going on with the water, but it’s also useful for the engineers to be able to see the reason we would need different foundations for a bridge or different materials to construct with because of water flow. For example, although the bridge may span the bankfull width, is the bridge still a constriction in the overall floodplain that could cause deep scour? Or is there an area of the roadway that is still overtopping and might experience erosion?

#6: SRH-2D

Sedimentation and River Hydraulics – Two-Dimensional model: This program is known as SRH-2D and was developed at the US Bureau of Reclamation in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration and the Water Resources Agency in Taiwan. This is the software that deals with the computational efforts that go on behind the scenes after the model is built in SMS. It’s a 2D hydraulic, sediment, temperature and vegetation model for river systems. SMS and SRH-2D usually confuse people because they think they are the same, but you use each of them for different purposes: SMS is for setup and reviewing results, and SRH-2D is for processing for the information.

There are some programs we haven’t talked about here. For simple culverts, the HY-8 Culvert Analysis Program developed by the Federal Highway Administration may be used. SRH-2D can utilize HY-8 to incorporate culverts within the 2D model; this development of SRH-2D was in cooperation with Aquaveo and the Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory at Brigham Young University. For 1D hydraulic modeling we would use the Hydrologic Engineering Center’s River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers – which can be used for 2D but is not as widely used as SMS, especially in the Northeast. We could also use 3D hydraulic modeling technology, such as FLOW-3D, but that will be more prevalent in the future when computational power can better handle the programs required for it.

Computers have come a long way in being able to process the complicated software to create 2D hydraulic models. While 1D hydraulic modeling gave us more capabilities with bridge hydraulics than just calculators, we are pleased with the extra capabilities 2D hydraulic modeling has afforded us and are always looking for ways to use it better. Want to find out more about 2D hydraulic modeling?

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.

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!

Part 1: Why & How 2D Hydraulic Modeling is Enhancing Bridge Engineering

Image of colorful 2D hydraulic modeling image with arrows indicating which way water flows

A bridge, culvert, the road nearby or above, the banks, and the surrounding ecosystem are affected by water’s flow. It is no surprise, then, that studying hydraulics and hydrology when designing bridges is paramount for safety, road users, and engineers.

The purpose of hydrology is to study water itself with respect to the land, whereas hydraulics studies what the water is doing within a channel or pipe. So, when engineers develop 2D hydraulic models, they are looking at how water behaves in a given area, and ultimately use that information to build safer bridges. This type of modeling tells engineers not only where the water is going, but where it wants to be.

Basically, 2D modeling determines and depicts water flowing back and forth (on a horizontal plane) instead of horizontally and vertically (3D modeling). The modeling is presented as a dynamic graphic that shows the flow of the river or water body. With a bridge in the model, engineers can determine how the water will move around piers and abutments (the bridge foundation), what could happen with scour and decide how to design for it, and predict the bridge’s impact on the environment (and the environment’s impact on the bridge) for years to come.

2D hydraulic image of black water on a map with white, moving lines showing water flow direction
2D hydraulic model

First things First

When a bridge engineer designs a bridge or culvert associated with water, hydraulic modeling isn’t an afterthought; it’s one of the first things that gets done when a project starts. Structural engineers already have data about the area and usually the existing bridge. Still, they often need more specific information to understand the entire project better – for example, data points on the lowest part of the bridge and how the structure is situated in relation to the water below.

2D hydraulic modeling at the beginning of the project gathers that information and helps the engineers better plan for the project, and is welcomed by this engineer as a preferred alternative to the conventional 1D modeling. It’s not just a benefit to engineers who want to know a system’s details, though. Clients, municipalities, and everyday citizens benefit from engineers using 2D hydraulic modeling – because it helps convey to them what’s happening with the water and helps the engineers better protect the infrastructure we use every day.

When it Rains, it Pours

When you think back to the Mother’s Day floods in 2006 or any other time flooding threatened New England, you probably don’t think much about the bridges you drive unless the water pools over the road. What few people think about is what’s happening under and over the bridge; with faster rushing waters and more force, there’s the potential for three big events: scour, rising water carrying debris, and pressure on the bridge caused by flooding water.

Scour is what happens when sediment around the bridge foundation (or along the roadway) erodes and starts washing downstream, leaving the potential for the material under the bridge to become unstable. In some cases, sediment from upstream of the bridge will wash downstream and fill in these holes during the storm before anyone realizes how big of a scour hole actually developed. We use 2D hydraulic modeling to help better predict the scour that might occur during these events even though we may not see it.

Image of a flooding truss bridge in Ludlow, VT during a large storm

This erosion can also occur beside and/or below the roadways leading up to the bridge if the water flows over the roadway. The 2D model enables us to see how much of the water is going over the roadway as well as provides us with the depth and velocity of this water. We can use this information to determine if the sides of the roadway might be in danger of washing away with the water. If the embankments might erode, we can properly armor them and keep them protected.

Part of our job is looking out for this erosion – if we determine that scour might be a potential issue during a storm, we can get ahead of it. One way of doing this to help prevent it under the bridge is by putting riprap (larger stones) in front of and around the bridge foundation to help keep the natural, finer sediment of the streambed and below the foundation in place. Another way is potentially changing the foundation type: if the anticipated scour is deep, we might change from a shallow foundation to a deep foundation. Scour is just one of the dangers associated with large storms, and 2D hydraulic modeling gives engineers the insight they need to help prevent dangerous situations.

Rising water is another danger to bridges, not just because it could potentially overtop (flow over) the bridge, but because the rushing waters can carry debris (say, a fallen tree) that could hit the bridge and cause damage. When we plug in potential flooding scenarios into the 2D hydraulic models, we use the models to predict how high the water could potentially get during a storm. That way, we can plan to build a new bridge or raise an existing bridge above the water level, reducing the chance for the bridge to be damaged.

2D hydraulic image showing velocity and water flooding on top of bridge

The third big concern with large storms is the power of flooding waters pushing on the bridge. This pressure could be going into and on top of the bridge, but also could come from under the bridge (buoyant forces trying to lift the bridge up). For this scenario, 2D hydraulic modeling allows us to see where the water would want to go during a flood and determine how much of it is going under the bridge, over the bridge, and around the bridge. This allows us to evaluate what an existing bridge might experience, and to design a new bridge to eliminate these forces (locate the deck above the water) and to resist the forces that can’t be eliminated for a certain storm event.

Garbage in, Garbage Out

The more data we can put into the model and the more accurate that data is, the more confident we can be with the results. That means that for the most part, 2D hydraulic modeling provides valuable information that we had to assume or make educated guesses about 30 years ago. While 2D hydraulic modeling doesn’t solve every problem, it gets us closer to understanding the hydraulics of the bridge. In the event that a solution doesn’t quite make sense, it could be because we need more or better data to put into the 2D hydraulic model.

For example, we’re working on a project right now that is analyzing an existing bridge in a river. Using 2D hydraulic modeling, we noticed that the water isn’t flowing as expected. We looked upstream and noticed old bridge abutments causing a constriction in the water flow. This slight constriction causing the river to backwater and holding part of the flow back is a great example of how limited data can affect the hydraulic modeling, or what I like to call “garbage in, garbage out.” If we didn’t have the data that depicted this constriction, we might have missed how it influences the river and the flow at our crossing.

Another project currently underway involves an upgrade and analysis of two culverts, with a third culvert right upstream, that have all been causing water constriction. The 2D hydraulic model shows us how these constrictions are causing backwater and increased flooding. The 2D hydraulic analysis also allows us to see what happens when we change the structures in the water. With some tweaks to the 2D model, we’re able to see that if we replace the two downstream culverts with a wide open structure that spans the bankfull width, the flooding is significantly reduced in the model. Meaning that if we replace these culverts with this other bridge system we designed, the next huge rainstorm won’t cause so much issue.

Want to know more about 2D hydraulic modeling?

We’re only as good as our data and our engineers’ analysis of that data. 2D hydraulic modeling has helped us foresee challenges to certain bridge structures while advocating for others to serve an area better. It replaces 1D hydraulic modeling at a time when computers now have the bandwidth to handle the massive programs required to use.

If you have any further questions, reach out to me and stay tuned for the follow-up blog on the different programs and math needed for this undertaking!

All About LPA: A Valuable Funding Source for Maine Transportation Projects

We’re excited to have another professional get LPA certified in Maine! Sean James, PE, Senior Vice President, joins our growing number of LPA certified project managers, engineers and technicians who can coordinate on these specific projects. Sean has worked on dozens of LPA projects in the state of New Hampshire and is looking forward to bringing his tenured experience to LPA projects in Maine.

What is an LPA Project?

The Local Project Administration (LPA) program leverages local dollars with state or federal dollars through the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) on a wide variety of projects statewide. These projects can include resurfacing and rebuilding of roads, intersection improvements and non-vehicular transportation alternatives such as sidewalk and shared-use paths, pier and float installations and bridge and culvert replacement.

 
Who is Eligible & for How Much?

An LPA project can be administered by a variety of organizations including municipalities, regional transportation agencies, education institutions and tribal governments. The selection of projects is competitive and includes a variety of programs including Transportation Alternative, Low-Use Redundant Bridge Program, Small Harbor Improvement Program and the Hazard Elimination Program. Funding reimbursement varies from 50 to 80 percent of the project’s eligible costs.

Is there Certification Required?

LPA program certification is required for all projects that include federal funding; however, the training is beneficial for non-federally funded programs as well. The certification program covers the financial aspects of projects, hiring consultants, project design including environmental review, utility coordination, Right-of-Way and construction administration. Hoyle, Tanner’s team includes LPA certified professionals who understand the program and assist our clients in meeting their project goals.

The Role of Consultants

Engineering consultants act as an extension of the owner’s organization and bring specialized technical and funding program experience to the project. The consultant’s role is to understand the purpose and need of the owner, to study and provide alternatives for consideration, turn the project vision into a final design and permit the project and finally provide assistance with bidding and construction administration and oversight as well as final project closeout for reimbursement. 

The LPA program provides opportunity to improve our communities while minimizing the cost to local budgets. Our bridge, transportation and environmental teams have a wide variety of design and construction experience with LPA projects including bridges (vehicle and pedestrian), sidewalks, roadway improvement and safety and intersection improvements. For more information on how to get started and how we can assist in meeting your project goals, please contact Sean.

The New Great Bay Total Nitrogen General Permit

Pink and purple sunset image over water with tree skyline of Great Bay Estuary

What is the Great Bay Total Nitrogen General Permit & why does it matter?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the final Great Bay Total Nitrogen General Permit (GBTNGP) on November 24, 2020. The GBTNGP is aimed at reducing the overall nitrogen loading into Great Bay, a unique coastal marine estuary. The GBTNGP covers discharges of nitrogen from the 13 communities that own/operate wastewater treatment facilities in the watershed: Dover, Durham, Epping, Exeter, Milton, Newfields, Newington, Newmarket, Pease Tradeport, Portsmouth, Rochester, Rollinsford and Somersworth. The permit allows for an adaptive management approach to monitoring and reducing nitrogen discharges. Each community has the option of being included for coverage under the GBTNGP or not (opt in or opt out). If a community decides to be included for coverage under the permit it must file a Notice of Intent with the EPA, Region 1, by April 2, 2021. The alternative to opting in to the GBTNGP will be that the community will receive a new/revised individual NPDES permit to govern its WWTF discharge. Key dates for actions to be taken pursuant to the GBTNGP are as follows:

  • February 1, 2021 – Effective date of the Great Bay Total Nitrogen General Permit.
  • March 31, 2021 – Deadline for finalizing an Intermunicipal Agreement to develop the Adaptive Management Plan.
  • April 2, 2021 – Deadline for sending EPA the Notice of Intent to Opt-In to the TN General Permit.
  • July 31, 2021 – Deadline for submittal to EPA of the Part 3 Adaptive Management Plan.

How can an Adaptive Management Approach help?

The GBTNGP allows for an adaptive management approach to be taken for monitoring and controlling nitrogen discharges and allows for the communities to develop the Adaptive Management Plan. Adaptive management is a key aspect of watershed management and restoration. Elements of adaptive management included in GBTNGP involve ambient monitoring, pollution tracking, reduction planning, and review. Adaptive Management is, by definition, a structured iterative process of robust decision making in the face of uncertainty, with an aim to reducing uncertainty over time via ongoing system monitoring. In this way, decision making simultaneously meets one or more resource management objectives and, either passively or actively, accrues information needed to improve future management and decision-making. Adaptive management is a tool which can be used not only to change a system, but also to learn about the system (Holling 1978). Because adaptive management is based on a learning process, it improves long-term management outcomes. The challenge in using the adaptive management approach lies in finding the correct balance between gaining knowledge to improve management in the future and achieving the best short-term outcomes based on current knowledge (Allan & Stankey 2009).

A holistic & cost-effective approach.

The objective of an adaptive management approach is to take a broad holistic and more cost-effective approach to implementing water quality restoration and management measures that will achieve better overall results in improving water quality goals in less time and at less cost than the traditional regulate-react approach by applying limited resources where they will have the greatest effect. In fact, the GBTNGP encourages sharing of resources and costs among the participating communities. The adaptive management approach allows for planning, implementation, monitoring and refinement in order to maximize the results with limited resources (resource optimization). The idea behind an adaptive management approach is for communities to become proactive rather than reactive in restoring water quality within the watershed. A successful adaptive management approach will require extensive collaboration and cooperation between municipalities, regulators, agencies, volunteer groups and other watershed stakeholders.

Our experience.

Hoyle, Tanner’s Northeast Municipal Engineering services Group (NEME) employs 20 engineers whose primary focus is water quality engineering – wastewater, stormwater and drinking water. Our depth and breadth of experience includes working with communities to assist them with compliance with permits such as NPDES (wastewater and stormwater), MS4 (stormwater and non-point) and a host of other regulatory and environmental permits. We have been working with communities under regulatory constraints to monitor and reduce the amount of total nitrogen discharged to local water bodies and helping them to achieve water quality goals. Jennie Auster, one of our wastewater process engineers, has been working with communities affected by the Long Island Sound Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Nitrogen for over six years including completing biological nutrient removal analysis for several facilities. Jennie completed nitrogen removal optimization plans for six communities and has presented at the Green Mountain Water Environment Association Technical Sessions on her experience with low-cost nitrogen optimization plans (presentation available upon request). We are assisting several communities on compliance with the 2017 MS4 permit which includes nutrient reduction in stormwater and non-point sources. We are also working with many communities on asset management for their wastewater, stormwater and drinking water systems, the goal of which is resource optimization to improve decision-making and maximize the life of the infrastructure.

Let us help!

Our team has a history of developing creative and innovative solutions to help clients achieve their goals in cost-effective ways while optimizing the use of limited resources. For more information please visit our website at: www.hoyletanner.com or contact Michael Trainque or Joseph Ducharme.

I am a Senior Environmental Engineer and Vice President at Hoyle, Tanner, and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southeast Watershed Alliance (SWA). The SWA is a non-profit watershed organization for which enabling legislation was enacted by the NH State Legislature in 2009 encompassing the 42 communities in the NH coastal watershed. I have been following the development of this permit on behalf of clients.

From Groundbreaking to Ribbon Cutting: An Internship with Hoyle, Tanner

Over the past three months, I have had the pleasure of being part of the Hoyle, Tanner team, primarily in the Bridges & Structures group. I have gotten to see and experience a variety of different projects at all stages, and I am grateful for this opportunity and everything I learned along the way.

Projects in Derry

The first half of my internship experience was spent in Derry, New Hampshire replacing a bridge with structurally deficient culverts on this box culvert project. Here I performed Resident Project Representative (RPR) services and observed construction from start to finish – when the excavator broke ground to when the bridge was reopened to traffic. It was very rewarding to see the full project life-cycle and be there to walk the bridge. Every day in the field there was a new step and process for me to learn and see for the first time. Being on site opened my eyes to how many people are involved in the entirety of a project. Now I better understand the client, contractor, and engineer’s roles in making a project successful. For example, Hoyle, Tanner, the contractor, and the Town worked together to make field changes as needed.

Working on this project also introduced me to new engineering computer programs such as Bluebeam, MicroStation, and Mathcad that allowed me to edit drawings, review check sets and create other engineering documents. User efficiency greatly improved from the first days of using a program compared to after a couple of months.

Projects in Bedford

The last half of my internship has been spent in Bedford, New Hampshire where I took on day-to-day inspections of a gas main project. My duty there was to make sure the trench is properly backfilled and compacted and make sure everything goes according to plan. This role was rewarding because it allowed me to work more independently. I frequently communicated with the client on day-to-day progress and was the bridge of communication to the site.

At Hoyle, Tanner I was welcomed with open arms (virtually) and felt like I belonged. I am thankful my supervisor emphasized spending as much time in the field as I could because the experience taught me valuable lessons. I enjoyed the team environment and how my questions were encouraged by everyone. This opportunity brought me new experience and knowledge, and has increased my interest in field work. I’d like to personally thank Matthew Low, PE for providing me with this opportunity, Josif Bicja, PE for showing me what it takes to be a great engineer, and Katie Welch, EIT for guiding me along the way.

Derry, NH Box Culvert Replacement Project

A New Technology for Covered Bridge Inspections

Drone image of Kingsley Covered Bridge

The Unsung Beauty of Covered Bridges

Covered bridges, to me, were the quintessential structures of the 19th century, and to this day, can still inspire awe. These are bridges that were often built from trees cut locally, hand-hewn, brought to the site by livestock and assembled without modern machinery. When completed, you have a sort of house of cards; a wooden plank deck spanning a stream or raging river, walls reaching up from its sides containing many vertical and diagonal wooden members, a roof covering the expanse containing even more diagonal members, all held together with mortise and tenon joints and wooden pegs. This is a mongrel of bridge construction that has a beauty to it like no other, blending in with its surroundings as if it were always there, the backdrop for postcards, calendars and many personal moments shared between friends and loved ones. Sadly, most of these bridges have gone into the pages of history – neglected beyond repair, victims of mother nature, casualties of vandals, replaced with modern structures or simply forgotten. Those that still exist are revered and protected passionately by those who still believe in their relevance and their beauty. They do however require regular inspections and maintenance to ensure they can meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Those that still exist are revered and protected passionately by those who still believe in their relevance and their beauty. They do however require regular inspections and maintenance to ensure they can meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Inspections are Challenging for these Structures

Over the years, I have had the awesome opportunity to inspect many of these beautiful works of craftsmanship. These inspections are laborious in nature, requiring multiple days for a thorough inspection, getting covered in dirt and dust from crawling around the hard-to-reach spaces. It’s vital to know the size and condition of as many members as can be seen and reached, recording all that is found – dimensional losses, an array of structural deficiencies including but not limited to cracks, splits, checks, insect infestation and rot to name a few. The tape measure, extension ladder, headlamp and digital camera are tools of the trade. But what about inspecting the places that are more difficult or impossible to get to because of the length and height of these structures or the geography they span?  Simply put, you get what you can, as good as you can, and the rest is filled in with existing plans and many, many digital photos. The camera is your best friend when inspecting and is an invaluable resource. But even so, photos can be deceiving – awkward angles, poor lighting and size distortion, cause confusion as to what is truly being captured. As for inspecting floor systems, getting underneath is the only way to go, either by rigging, rope climbing or even by boat if the height above the water makes it feasible.

When the Standard Inspection Options Aren’t Adequate

Recently I traveled to Clarendon, Vermont with Josif Bicja, PE to inspect the Kingsley Covered Bridge for a scoping report to determine the feasibility of multiple rehabilitation options. This is an historic 119-foot-long, single span, town lattice bridge spanning the Mill River flowing 35 feet below. The Kingsley Covered Bridge poses the same issues as any other covered bridge inspection, but in addition, because of the height above the stream, it makes it difficult if not impossible to get a good visual of the floor system and siding. A rigging company could have been hired to provide access to inspect the floor system through the use of bridge trackers or bucket boats which will get you up close to get that good visual, or the bridge could have been climbed, but these options are not economically feasible for a scoping study. The options you are left with is to don a pair of waders, carefully walk out into the water with your clipboard and camera and capture what you can. If the water is not passable, you stand on the shore and do your best to get the information you need.

There is a better way. The drone. Those sci-fi looking machines, with their distinguishable propeller sound that are used widely in law enforcement, the military and with private enthusiasts alike, have been making their way into other useful applications. Over the past few years, engineering companies like Hoyle, Tanner have seen the value of drones for public relations documents, project marketing, 3D visualizations, traffic studies, and now bridge inspections. The height of this bridge over the Mill River made it a perfect candidate to fly a drone and test its capabilities in this capacity. Drones have safety features that will not allow them to fly close to aerial obstructions, like trees and overhead utilities, or fly in strong winds such as updrafts under a bridge, which are both prevalent at this site. The safety features would have to be turned off for the drone to perform its inspection well, which meant that the steady hand of an experienced pilot would be essential.

For the underside of the bridge, it flew a few feet from the structure providing the ability to clearly see the members that make up the floor framing, including joint locations and condition. Then the drone was flown along the sides of the bridge and along the roofline, capturing a similar up-close visual of the vertical siding and metal roof conditions that we normally would not have been able to see.

Patrick Sharrow, AAE from our Burlington, Vermont office drove down and met us on-site on the morning of our second day inspecting the bridge. It took Patrick just a few moments to familiarize himself with the structure and geography of the site, understand what we needed the drone to capture and determine the best launching spots for the drone. Looking at the handheld monitor, Josif was able to give instructions as to where he needed the drone to fly,  while I acted as spotter to make sure the drone kept a safe distance from any aerial obstructions and Patrick executed the flight. For the underside of the bridge, it flew a few feet from the structure providing the ability to clearly see the members that make up the floor framing, including joint locations and condition. Then the drone was flown along the sides of the bridge and along the roofline, capturing a similar up-close visual of the vertical siding and metal roof conditions that we normally would not have been able to see. The videos captured of these hard-to-get-to portions of this bridge will allow for better recommendations for the multiple rehabilitation options, leading to more accurate costs for the client. We then took the drone to a higher elevation and flew a few hundred feet upstream down towards the bridge, giving a bird’s eye view of Mill Stream. Patrick flew it at different elevations and angles capturing fantastic footage of the morphology of the stream and a greater scope of how this bridge is situated on the site. Portions of these videos could be used in public information meetings to help educate the public and as tools for Hoyle, Tanner.

Day-to-Day Needs of the Community Combined with Aesthetic Nostalgia

In less than an hour, we were able to gather more information about this structure than we would have been able to because of the site restrictions this bridge poses. The best part is that all players in the game benefit from this. The design team will have the ability to make more accurate rehabilitation recommendations. The client will have the advantage of receiving more accurate cost estimates for each rehabilitation option. The public will receive the best rehabilitated structure option, marrying together the day-to-day needs of the community and the aesthetic nostalgia it provides to all.

MS4 Timeline: The Second Annual Report & What’s Next

MS4 timeline with relevant dates

September 2020 marks another year for MS4 permitting in New Hampshire. Since MS4 rules were updated in 2017, we have continued to help communities regulate their stormwater discharges to meet these new requirements. This month on the MS4 timeline, communities should be aware that Second Annual Reports are due.

First, let’s back-track and recall that MS4 permitting refers to regulations in place to manage stormwater in a community. Stormwater outfalls from an MS4 area must be located, mapped, and assigned a unique identification number. Then, inspections and condition assessments must be completed for each outfall based on priority ranking. We have a detailed post about what happens if you observe flow during dry weather and different outfall rankings based on testing samples. We also identified a timeline  following the initial mapping, focusing on what happens after the first annual report. With September’s deadline quickly approaching, here is what communities can expect with the next steps.

The Second Annual Report

Communities should be submitting their second annual reports to EPA by September 28, 2020.

EPA has provided a partially filled-in report template to permitees; EPA has provided a partially filled-in report template to permitees; however, the New Hampshire stormwater coalitions have modified the template to be more user-friendly. The updated template can be found as part of the Coalition blog site here: NH Stormwater Coalition Annual Report for Year 2 Template.

We have worked with a half dozen small communities in New Hampshire to prepare them for their annual reports. In some communities, this means we mapped, visited, and screened their outfalls, and provided training. For others, we helped coordinate stormwater team meetings and activities, or just provided reassurance. After working with several communities, we’ve found that the same hurdles present themselves and have gathered a few tips to help the process move smoothly:

  • Do not omit information. When filling out the second annual report, be sure to take credit for everything that had progress between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.
  • Take time now to review the requirements for the next report. Some required activities or tasks are more easily performed during specific times of the year; now is a good time to plan how to keep up with your Stormwater Management Program activities.
  • Be conscious of the timeframe.  Any efforts begun, but not completed in the Year 2 timeframe, cannot be marked complete. Any progress should be mentioned in the comments section.

What Next?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that as each year of the permit term passes, the stringency of the requirements increases. There is no time for rest or relaxation – pull out that Stormwater Management Program and see what elements (written program updates, outfall screenings, training, regulatory review and updates, stormwater management device Inspection, etc.) are required to be completed when the complete outfall ranking (based on dry-weather samplings) is due – June 30, 2021. Reviewing the required elements ahead of time will help with early coordination of next year’s report.

Not every MS4 community will encounter the same challenges. Meeting these deadlines and documenting all stormwater sources can be time consuming and difficult. Our stormwater experts are here to help and are fully prepared to help with unique challenges and stormwater setbacks. Reach out to our experts Heidi Marshall, PE or Michael Trainque, PE with stormwater inquiries!

*This post was co-written by Catie Hall, marketing coordinator. MS4 Expert Michael Trainque, PE also contributed to this post.

At-The-Ready Consultant Services: A Streamlined Approach to Starting Your Project

If your community was awarded a grant through the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) Municipal Assistance Bureau (MAB), you can take advantage of a streamlined approach to procuring your project consultant through the At-The-Ready (ATR) process. With this choice, municipalities have an alternative option to the standard RFQ/RFP process; an option that can speed up your proposed project schedule using prequalified and reputable experts in their field with success in delivering projects in accordance with VTrans MAB standards. VTrans maintains ATR consultants from a qualified roster, ready for qualifications-based-selection (QBS) when a project arises.

This accelerated procurement method can be applied to three categories of work:

  1. Design (including Scoping)
  2. Municipal Project Management
  3. Construction Inspection

If the ATR process is something your community would like to consider, VTrans has set up a simple Guide and Flowchart that can be followed and coordinated with your VTrans Project Supervisor. Begin by defining a selection committee (minimum of two members); along with the Municipal Representative in Responsible Charge (typical members could include the Municipal Project Manager, Public Works Engineer, Road Foreman or other municipal representatives). The committee then reviews a minimum of three consultant qualifications packages and selects the firm that best meets the needs of the municipality for the particular project. Once the committee chooses a firm, they can work through the cost proposal process with the VTrans Project Supervisor and the consultant.

For a municipality, the ATR process is beneficial for more than just accelerating the procurement of consultant services. Utilizing ATR also ensures you will be selecting from qualified firms that are experts in completing MAB funded projects. Instead of preparing a laborious Request for Qualifications package and then reviewing multiple submissions, the QBS selection is made easier, giving the option of only a minimum of three to pick from, while maintaining full state and federal grant/funding eligibility.

Hoyle, Tanner has had a working relationship with the VTrans MAB group for over 20 years and has been an ATR Consultant under the Design Category since the program began in 2017. We are a prequalified Design Consultant and are At-the-Ready whenever a municipality needs.

If you have any questions about the ATR process, contact Jon Olin, PE, our Vice President and Regional Business Manager of our Vermont office.

What you May not Have Considered about Solar Energy in New England

Hoyle, Tanner is currently providing professional engineering design services for the development of solar energy in New England. We are working for several solar companies as the solar industry has not only taken off in the flatlands of our Midwest United States, but solar energy development is also happening in our New England backyards.

There are many reasons why this industry has recently become so popular. Solar energy has become a viable option because of the sun’s power – but also because of its cost. As the technology of solar energy has become more efficient, the option for purchasing solar power has become a reality to an average energy user.

In order to consider solar options, permitting and procurement need to be considered.

Permitting

Public utilities commissions and state regulators have recently developed and revised rules and regulations for the advancement of solar energy. Hoyle, Tanner has stayed up-to-date with the development of these guidelines so that we can keep our clients educated and able to make sound decisions and reliable investments — not only based on costs, but also permitting success. The probability of getting a project permitted is a major milestone in the progression of a project, and can in many cases can determine if the project ever gets started.

There are many factors that contribute to the permitting and design of a solar array. Following is a list of some major factors that can affect development:

  • What is the size and shape of the property?
  • Is the property located in a properly zoned area or can it be rezoned?
  • Are the soils adequate to develop for this use? Are there significant wetlands? Are they well drained soils?
  • Is the topography adequate for solar development? Is the orientation of the property favorable for solar development?
  • Are there abutting structures on neighboring property that would prevent sunlight from reaching the site?
  • Is there adequate access to the property?
  • Is there access to an existing power source to transmit the power?
  • Are there natural resource protection areas within the site (vernal pools, deer wintering areas, or historic preservation areas)?
  • Does the developer have adequate title to the property?

Hoyle, Tanner has developed several solar array sites being cognizant of all the factors pertaining to a successfully designed and permitted project, while keeping versed of the regulatory processes. With our experience, we can save the client time and money while helping them realize a successful project.

Procurement

In many state governments, there is a procurement process for renewable energy projects (that are part of energy packages). These packages contain guidelines for the development of a limited amount of energy. What we are finding in some states is the need to increase the development limits as demand increases. Hoyle, Tanner is working with state agencies to make sure we are aware of these opportunities so that we may share them with our clients.

In some states there is a procurement process, raising the net metering cap, allowing arrays of up to 5MW — 5,000 KW — to sell or store excess energy. 

Raising the cap is what makes renewable energy development viable for investors, developers, and municipalities. These opportunities to create renewable energy not only lower the states’ dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity but are also expected to create new jobs in the coming years as the number of projects increase.

Many states look to increase their renewable energy portfolio standard — the amount of renewable electricity created as opposed to that created by fossil fuels — from lows currently at 10% or less to 40% or 80% by 2030 and some even at 100% by 2050.

Helping Developers

We understand the importance of this type of development and the need for development of renewable resources. Our design experience helps the developers understand the limitations of development and of course the permitting process.

Hoyle, Tanner’s experts are here to help. If you have any solar development questions, contact Andy Sturgeon, Vice President and Regional Business Manager.

Landslides: Prevention & Repair Through Slope Stabilization

Slope failure photo with blog title

In New England, March marks the last weeks of winter and the start of spring rains and snow melt.  Paying attention to erosion control during this time of year is always on the minds of municipal public works staff, state agencies, construction companies, and even homeowners, especially those fortunate enough (or perhaps not) to have water frontage. 

A 2018 study conducted by the USDA found that precipitation is increasing in the northeast more than any other region in the United States. The frequency of consecutive wet days is generally increasing in the northeast and precipitation extremes have also become more frequent. Given these trends, it is no surprise that peak flows in rivers and streams are also increasing and occurring earlier in the year which can result in a greater risk of flooding.

While it is difficult to prevent major erosion of stream and river banks due to extreme precipitation events, damage can be mitigated by inspections of at-risk areas combined with prioritization of these areas for repair. It is important to address slope failures quickly because bank degradation can cause significant damage including loss of property and infrastructure, sedimentation of the waterbody, water quality issues and damage to critical riparian buffer areas. As civil engineers, we can provide assistance with erosion control issues that range from preventative design practices, culvert replacements and stabilization of failed embankments.

Below is a list of some stabilization practices along with before and after photos of our recent embankment stabilization projects.

One such embankment failure occurred in Lancaster, New Hampshire, when high flow conditions in the Connecticut River resulted in severe washouts along an 800 foot long embankment causing loss of land and unstable soil conditions. Hoyle, Tanner designed and permitted solutions to repair and stabilize the slope using native riparian vegetation and rip rap armament. Live willow and dogwood stakes were planted in soil between the rip rap stones.

Terms to know:

  • Live willow & dogwood stakes: Living shrub cuttings that take root quickly in bank environments – provides natural habitat and additional erosion control
  • Rip rap: Large stones used for protection and dissipation of energy from high water flows
Washout along the Connecticut River in Lancaster
Lancaster Embankment after Stabilization

Hoyle, Tanner also designed and permitted repairs to a steep slope in Rochester, Vermont, when intense rainfall events undermined the toe of the bank, causing the slope and roadway above to fail and slide into Brandon Brook 90 feet below.  The repair solutions included installation of a blast rock toe detail and stone facing with grubbing material along the hillside to restore the slope. The roadway was reconstructed and a mid-slope underdrain was installed to intercept groundwater seepage. Debris from the slope failure was removed from Brandon Brook and the streambed was restored.

Terms to know:

  • Stone facing with grubbings: Combination of stone and native material to promote vegetation growth
  • Blast rock toe: Large rocks placed at the toe of the re-stabilized slope to combat undermining
Rochester Slope Failure at Brandon Brook
Brandon Brook Stabilized Slope Repair

Improving safety and combatting damage from growing peak flows and extreme storm events is an important part of our job. Hoyle, Tanner is excited to offer solutions to slope stability issues and challenging site conditions. For more information on how we can be of assistance, please contact me.

Working on a Construction Site: A Woman’s Perspective

Construction photo with a yellow machine building a new bridge

This summer I had the pleasure of working very close to my hometown as a resident project representative (RPR) for two bridge construction projects in the Town of Gilmanton, New Hampshire. Funding from NHDOT’s Municipally-Managed State Bridge Aid Program allowed the Gilmanton to upgrade two pieces of its aging bridge infrastructure on Stage Road.

The Project

The previous bridge crossing at Nighthawk Hollow Brook was comprised of steel beams with a concrete deck. Originally built in 1930, and rehabilitated in 1960, the bridge was undersized to convey water flow, causing frequent roadway flooding by over a foot. A hydraulic analysis of the bridge revealed that to prevent future flooding, the roadway should be raised by several feet and the bridge span should increase. Less than a mile to the south is the bridge at Unnamed Brook crossing, which was also built in 1930. The supporting earth was washed away around the existing bridge because of puddling on the roadway and poor drainage. Hoyle, Tanner partnered with the Town to design both replacement structures, obtain necessary regulatory agencies’ permits, and administer the construction phase.

The design of a new 54-foot span bridge with over 3 feet of raise in the roadway profile over Nighthawk Hollow Brook was completed in late 2018. The design of the Unnamed Brook crossing was completed at the same time and included a 22-foot span bridge with drainage and roadway safety improvements. The Town’s goals for these projects were met with the design of two low-maintenance bridges with a long service life and improved water flow and drainage, while successfully addressing environmental permitting requirements. The projects were advertised together under one contract for bidding in winter 2018-19, and awarded to E.D. Swett, Inc. of Concord. Construction commenced in May 2019 with the installation of a temporary bridge at the Nighthawk Hollow Brook crossing, and a detour at the Unnamed Brook crossing in July 2019.

My Experience

As the RPR for this project, I was responsible for ensuring that the daily construction activities adhered to the contract plans and specifications. It involved effective organization, documentation, and measurement of the construction progress, but most importantly, it involved constant communication between the contractor, subcontractors, client, and engineer.

One of the first things I like to do as the RPR of a new project is establish a feeling of trust with the Contractor’s foreman, who controls the day-to-day operations of the project site. When working with someone new as a young, female engineer, I have been cautioned that people may doubt my abilities, as opposed to my male counterparts.

While I have been cautioned that people may not take me as seriously as my male counterparts, I did not feel that having to build trust or learning to communicate in a direct manner had much to do with me being a female. I know from experience that men and women communicate differently. Our choice in words, our verbal and nonverbal actions, and our responses to each other are different. Because I’m comfortable with verbal communication, I learned to alter my statements, questions, responses, and conversations in a way that was as clear as possible to each person I came in contact with.

Instead, I think it came down to being younger and not as experienced; that even a younger male engineer would have to prove his knowledge and win the trust of the construction site workers. Thankfully, with a high confidence level, and using effective communication, I was able to gain the trust of the foreman by proving my knowledge in a variety of situations. Having this trust with the foreman allowed us to rely on each other for the remainder of the project and easily work through any discrepancies.

Overall, my experience has been positive as a woman on a construction site. I feel confident in my abilities to make sure the work gets done on time, correctly, and under budget. I feel comfortable in this type of workplace communicating with people very different than myself. The men I have worked with are kind, understanding, hardworking, and like to joke around when there’s time for it.

Through the efforts of all parties involved, the two bridges were reopened to traffic in November 2019. Both projects were substantially completed and under budget with minor cleanup work and final paving scheduled for late spring 2020.

A Tribute to Our Roots

Hoyle, Tanner founders gathering around a document signing

As we begin our 47th year in business, we pay tribute to our founders who exemplified courage, resilience, commitment and innovation while building the solid foundation from which the company operates today.

Doug Hoyle was a lot of different things — a graduate of Brown University, a Korean War veteran, a licensed pilot, an avid skier, motor sport enthusiast and co-founder of a company that still bears his name. Although his list of personal accomplishments is long, throughout his career, his key interest remained the same: to be recognized as Chief Engineer. In 1973, Doug Hoyle along with John Tanner and Bill Thomas founded the engineering firm Hoyle, Tanner & Associates, Inc. and opened an office in the Ammon Terminal building at Manchester Airport. This marked the beginning of what now has become a very successful 46-year history in the civil engineering business.

Together, the original team of three built Hoyle, Tanner from the ground up; their individual beliefs, experiences, talents and business strategies complemented each other nicely.

Doug would take the lead for the company in the field of environmental engineering. Doug understood that by utilizing the availability of funding from the federally-sponsored Clean Water Act of the1960s, water quality could be significantly improved, and this was to be especially relevant to the many municipalities in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. This work would become an important source of repeat business for the company, as well as establishing a reputation for high quality engineering in environmental services.

John Tanner also recognized the importance of a reliable source of funding for projects. His interest was in public transportation; he utilized the federally-funded Airport Development Aid Program which assisted airports by providing funds to finance capital improvements and maintenance projects. John led the way in this effort and was instrumental in building a national reputation for Hoyle, Tanner within the aviation industry. Unlike the other two founders, Bill Thomas was not an engineer but an experienced and insightful businessman who played a crucial role in business development, serving as the face of the company, and playing an instrumental role in important business decisions that affected Hoyle, Tanner’s future. Their personalities interwove together perfectly.

Doug Hoyle, a man of unwavering honesty and integrity, was a competent and traditional professional who made rational and calculated decisions. His pride was not in the name on the door but instead in his duty as Chief Engineer.

John Tanner was a gifted manager and a natural leader. John was always forward-thinking with big ideas and an ability to listen to a room full of people and distill a complex discussion to its core elements.

Bill Thomas was very personable; a natural conversationalist at ease in any social or business situation. Bill possessed the sound judgement and insights that would help to establish the firm’s culture and guide the company through future technological changes.

Together, the founders created a company culture of customer-driven quality and professionalism that is still very much in evidence at Hoyle, Tanner today. For 46 years, the company has been resilient and adaptive, embracing challenges and taking measured risks that are in the best interest of both our clients and our employees. Engineering is a continuously evolving industry. Hoyle, Tanner’s ability to adapt, anticipate these changes and persevere is something that has been with us since we first started in 1973 and that will continue to see us through our 100th year in business.

Founders black and white photo with names

This piece was written by Grace Mulleavey and Frank Wells.

Young Member’s Perspective of the NCSEA Structural Engineering Summit

SENH members at summit

This past November, I attended the NCSEA Structural Engineering Summit at the Disneyland Hotel and Conference Center in Anaheim, California. I was able to go because I was awarded a Young Member Scholarship, one of 15 scholarships awarded this year!

At the Summit, I met a variety of people from around the country including other Young Members, senior mentors, vendors for different products and software (including a woman who went to Oyster River High School in Durham, NH and whose parents live right here in Newmarket, NH like me!), and, of course, Disney characters. I connected with multiple Young Members from the Massachusetts Young Member Group (YMG), and we hope to hold a joint event so our members can expand our networks. The Young Members from around the country I met shared their YMG experiences and events that provided me with ideas to bring back to our YMG.  

There was an assortment of keynote presentations and educational topics that were well done, and I was able to walk away with something from each one, even if they weren’t directly related to what I work on every day. Presentations ranged from A Perspective on the Future of Consulting Engineers to Limitation of Liability Clauses in Engineering Contracts to Talk Nerdy to Me: Science Not Communicated is Science Not Done about presentation skills. There was an abundance of presentations to choose from during each session and even as a Young Member, there was always something for me; they even had a Young Engineer Track series on Thursday afternoon specially geared towards members 35 and younger.

Talk Nerdy to Me: Science Not Communicated is Science Not Done

During the Talk Nerdy to Me: Science Not Communicated is Science Not Done, presenter Melissa Marshall discussed how we as technical presenters could improve our presentation skills from slide presentation and content, to how presentations are given. One of the points that stuck with me was “bullets kill.” Her point was that you lose the audience’s attention by filling up slide shows with bullets because this overloads the audience with information; they usually cannot read the slide and listen to what you are saying at the same time.

She pointed out that the default PowerPoint slide hasn’t changed since the 1980s and that we all assume that bullets are what make slide effective. She suggests using a single sentence at the top of the slide (the main point you want to get across for that slide) and a visual aid. This would also help narrow down the presentation content to what is important that you want to get across to the audience.

Melissa also pointed out that it’s not only what’s on the slide, but also how you present the information. She showed a video of a statistics professor presenting the trends of life expectancy in various countries; normally people do not find statistics very riveting, but this professor sounded like a sportscaster as he showed the data changing across time and was very easy to pay attention to. Her point wasn’t that we all needed to sound like sportscasters, but to be enthusiastic about what we’re presenting and find a presentation style that really works for us as individuals. I think it’s important for all of us to know how to present to an audience effectively and Melissa’s presentation is applicable to all of our presentations.

Mentor Roundtable: Business Leaders Giving Advice & Perspective

Another session was run a little differently than the presentations: we had a mentor roundtable discussion about business development. This was held in particular for the young engineers at the Summit. We split into small groups of about eight to ten people, and then business leaders came to our tables for a ten-minute discussion. They told us a little about themselves, including how they achieved their positions and roles in their companies, and then we were able to ask them questions. This was very beneficial to see the different career paths they each took, get their advice, and caused us to think about where we want to go in our careers. Do I want to manage other people? Do I want to run my own office? Or even, do I want to own my own business? I’m still not sure exactly where my future will lead regarding these questions, but I’m glad to be thinking about the future and I think it’s important for all young people to think about where they want to be in the future.  

Takeaways

The summit allowed for plenty of social events to establish and grow relationships with new members, as well as cultivate those with members you already know. These events also allowed us to celebrate other engineers and everything we do!   

When I returned, I participated in the SENH Board Meeting on December 5th with our two Summit Delegates. We provided a lot of information to the Board that we brought back from the Summit.

I highly recommend other SENH Young Members consider applying for a scholarship to attend. The scholarship makes an amazing educational, social, and fun engineering event affordable and you’ll make lasting memories and connections. If you want to know more about my experience, please don’t hesitate to ask!

NEWEA Young Professionals Summit: What I learned about Empathy and Strength

Photo shows three young professionals, including Monika Ingalls, meeting and networking at the NEWEA Summit

On Sunday January 26, 2020, the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA), partnered with New England Water Works Association, held a Young Professionals Summit to bring together young professionals (YPs) from the water and wastewater industries to hear from leaders in their profession and network with peers across New England. I was intrigued by this summit as I believe networking is important to furthering one’s professional career, as well as listening to those who are leaders and considering advice that they offer.

The NEWEA Young Professional Summit began with opening remarks and a large speed networking activity. This was a great way to get to know fellow YPs in the New England area. There were YPs from other consulting firms, public works departments, and graduate students. NEWEA provided several guiding questions and from there it was interesting to hear what projects other firms and municipalities were working on. One YP whom I spoke with, who was a graduate student from UNH, talked a bit about her research into removal of pharmaceuticals from water, which she was presenting in a session on Monday.

Empathetic Professionals

After four rounds of swapping partners and networking, we returned to our tables and prepared for a speech by Dr. Claire Baldwin, from CDM Smith. She spoke on the importance of empathy as engineers and as future leaders in our profession; it’s important as engineers to consider how our actions and designs will affect everyone, not just people with similar outlooks on life as us.

One example that she mentioned that I felt was especially powerful was an image of an older person with a walker attempting to climb up a steep slope next to stairs – it is clear in the image that those who are unable to use stairs were not considered during the design process. She pushed the importance of putting oneself into the shoes of all people who will be effected by a project.

Water’s Inspirational Future

Part of the day included the documentary Brave Blue World. The Water Environment Federation helped partner to create this film which provided a positive outlook on the future issues with water that the world will be faced with. It covered many different areas globally and presented entrepreneurs and scientists who are all doing their part to help solve their respective water issues. Once we viewed the documentary, we moved into a discussion about the movie and were tasked with creating panel questions for different audiences: high school students, the general public, and public officials in an area where a screening may be held. Overall, I felt this showing left me with an inkling of hope for the future – while there are problems that will become more prevalent, there will always be individuals to step up to the challenge and help the world and its inhabitants.

Strengths in Career Pathways

After this session, another speaker, Hannah Mento of Mento Mindset presented about finding what our strengths are and using these strengths to improve our creativity at work. This presentation was interesting and she helped guide us as we thought to ourselves what our strengths are, even going as far as messaging people we know to tell us what they feel our strengths are; and pushed us to consider these strengths moving forward in our careers to help improve our productivity and happiness with our jobs. It was interesting to hear the variety of strengths people discovered about themselves, whether it be communication, listening, organizational, etc. and to see whether there were strengths that we all had since we are all young engineers.

Hearing From other Young Professionals & Key Takeaways

Finally, two professionals were able to chronicle their first years as engineers and field questions from any of the YPs in the room during a panel discussion. One takeaway from this panel was the importance of remembering that it takes time to come into your own as a professional and not to feel discouraged if it is taking longer than expected.

After closing remarks, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the president-elect of NEWEA, Jennifer Kelly Lachmayr, as well as talk with a few YPs who were new to the New England area. All in all, this was a good experience to connect with other young professionals throughout New England and to hear from speakers who wanted to help us grow more into our careers. After exploring my strengths and connecting with the professionals at the event, I am excited to participate more as a member of NEWEA and learn more from the professionals associated with the organization.

Photo credit: Charlie Tyler/NEWEA. See the full album.

What is the PFC Debate about?

To become financially self-sustaining, airports are continually evaluating ways to generate the revenue needed to support their facility. One key program commercial service airports use to support development and maintenance is the Passenger Facilities Charge (PFC).

The PFC program was established in 1992 and instituted a fee up to $3 charged per passenger per stop, to be used by the individual airport for approved projects that include enhancing safety, security, or capacity, or increasing air carrier competition. Two decades ago, the maximum PFC was raised to $4.50 and has not been adjusted since. The PFC rate amount has been the topic of many discussions between Congress, airports, and airlines. The PFC cap increase debate is once again a topic of discussion in the current FAA reauthorization.

 

1992-2000-2020

 

Rationale in Favor of Increasing PFC Charges

Airports and industry organizations such as the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and Airports Consultants Council (ACC) have been fighting for an increase in PFC charges and argue:

  • PFC is a user fee a passenger pays for using an individual airport. If you do not use the aviation system, you do not pay the price. The PFC is not an additional tax.
  • The current proposal to increase the cap on PFCs is needed to account for future inflation.
  • A simple adjustment to the PFC to account for inflation would directly support each individual airport’s infrastructure and fund the improvement projects needed.
  • As traditional revenue sources begin to decline such as parking due to rideshare companies including Uber and Lyft, airports need to identify additional revenue sources.
  • Large airports can drastically reduce their Capital Infrastructure Bonding Debt Service by funding more of the project with PFC revenue. Small communities can use the PFC to cover local share of the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant. Airport Council International (ACI) has a summary document that provides an example of how using PFC would significantly reduce the cost of a large scale terminal project by eliminating long-term debt payments.

Rationale in Opposition of Increasing PFC Charges

  • Airlines do not want to charge passengers additional fees.
  • The public is sensitive to airline ticket pricing and is not likely to support increased fees that will raise those fares.
  • Some airports negotiate fair and reasonable rates and charges without utilizing a PFC.

AIP Funds & Questions to Consider

Many United States airports rely on federal, state, and local funding to maintain existing capacity, accommodate growth, and support a safe, reliable national airspace system. The reality is, our nation’s airports are vital public utilities with sizeable operation costs. To meet the airports’ individual infrastructure needs the FAA established the AIP trust fund. This program was created as part of the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1981 as a means of distributing federal entitlement and discretionary funds to airports that are part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).

As we continue to watch the debate unfold over the following weeks, it will be interesting to see if there is an increase with future adjustments for inflation or we keep the status quo. There are still many questions to be considered. Per U.S. Code Title 49 USC § 47114(f), the amount of entitlement funds for large and medium hub airports that also collect a PFC, are reduced based on the PFC collection level approved for that airport. For example, if the airport is collecting at $3.00 or less, the amount of entitlements is reduced by 50%. If the airport is collecting more than $3.00, the amount of entitlements is reduced by 75%. If PFC raises to $8.50 or something in between $4.50 and $8.50, how would this further affect the process for AIP entitlement and discretionary distribution of funds? Would there be additional federal money supporting small airports while larger commercial airports can support their operations through PFC?

The Future of Airport Infrastructure

Airport executives are in a position where they are required to plan for future growth, support airlines, support aeronautical activity including the safe and efficient transport of people and goods, and enhance passenger services. How these improvements and services are funded are an integral part of the PFC cap increase debate. Legislators need to decide if an airport is a public asset that is to be supported by the government as an essential and vital piece of transportation infrastructure; or is an airport a business just like any other that is fiscally responsible for their operations? How this on-going debate over raising the PFC is addressed in 2020 will be key to airport infrastructure funding in the future.

4 Things We Learned about Electronic Tolling in New Hampshire

all electronic tolling AET photo from MassDOT

A few weeks ago, we attended the New Hampshire Institute of Transportation Engineers (NHITE) fall meeting (where I serve as NHITE president). Our engineers learned about the history of tolling in New Hampshire, tolling technology, and details on design and challenges at planned All Electronic Tolling (AET) locations in Dover and Rochester.

Electronic tolls are just what they sound like – overhead scanners that connect to an account like E-ZPass to pay your toll. They replace the manned/unmanned booths (barrier tolls) and the need for rolls of quarters or tokens. They help with alleviating traffic that builds up at toll booths during peak seasons. Just like barrier toll booths, though, they have their challenges. Fee collection systems must be properly designed and monitored to ensure revenue is not lost while driver privacy must be protected.

These are all considerations that engineers and system administrators must consider when thinking about implementing AET.

Key takeaways we want to share

  • Collecting tolls is vital for maintaining turnpike assets in New Hampshire; including nearly 90 miles of limited access highway such as the FE Everett Turnpike.
  • AET tolling increases the capacity of the toll facilities and reduces the congestion felt by drivers. They eliminate vehicle conflict points at merge locations and lane changes, which helps to reduce crashes. AET also reduces environmental impacts with a smaller project footprint and by lowering emissions through reduced acceleration/deceleration.
  • Drivers’ privacy is a primary concern; data that is collected by electronic tolls is erased immediately after all successful transactions.
  • Loss of revenue through “leakage” (travelers who go through the tolls without paying) must be minimized so that funds for road maintenance and repairs are available.

How this will help you

Attending conferences and trainings like these helps Hoyle, Tanner staff keep abreast of the latest technologies and ideas that we can use to better serve our clients.

Hidden Revenue Potential at Airports

Whether traveling for business or leisure, many of us have experienced firsthand the increase in the number of air travelers. Although fully booked flights are encouraging news for the industry, they also mean higher operating costs for the individual airports. To help defer these costs and become self-sustaining, many airport managers have begun to explore creative revenue generation opportunities.

A study conducted in 2017 by Airports Council International (ACI) estimated that the airports total cost per passenger is approximately $13.69. This value however exceeds the global average of $9.95 for aeronautical revenue received per passenger. While aeronautical revenue per passenger seems to be constant, the airport has the potential to increase revenue by finding creative ways to increase the non-aeronautical revenue associated with each passenger.

Revenue generated by an airport is typically divided into two streams. Aeronautical revenues include those funds generated to the operation and use of the airfield by aircraft or aviation-related businesses. Non-aeronautical revenues relate to those operations and uses that are incidental to the operation of aircraft. Traditional sources of non-aeronautical revenue include parking, rental cars, terminal lease, concessions, restaurants, and advertising. According to ACI, 39.9% of total global airport revenue is contributed from non-aeronautical revenue sources. Successful airport managers understand not only the aviation-related operations of their airport, but also the revenue potential associated with non-aviation operations and business. Some non-aeronautical revenue strategies that are applicable to both commercial service and general aviation airports include:

non aeronautical strategies

As technology advances, additional non-aeronautical revenue sources may also rise and airport administrators must be willing to embrace these opportunities to help defer ever-increasing operating costs and become self-sustaining.

For further questions about these creative approaches please contact me.

Competitive Grant Writing 101: 7 Tips to “Show You the Money!”

Photo of papers on desk with person writing on them

Competitive grants can be a big help for project owners who are responsible for large, complicated and expensive infrastructure improvement projects.  Whether potential grants originate from federal agencies, such as the USDOT or the EPA, state agencies, or local entities, the competition can be fierce and funding requests typically significantly outweigh what is available. So, you have a great project in mind – what do you have to do to position your project over the tens, hundreds or thousands of others that are pursuing the same pot of gold? Here are some opinions and helpful hints that may guide you to success!

Be Prepared and Get Started Early.

Competitive grant applications require extensive and detailed information and the submissions may have short turnaround times.  If you wait to do your conceptual planning or develop a convincing “purpose and need” for the project until the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is issued, you may be too late. For example, the recent $900 million BUILD Grant from USDOT was released on April 23, 2019, and applications were due no later than July 15th – a 12-week turnaround. This may seem like a lot of time, but it disappears quickly considering what needs to be included in a solid application, even if you retain a consultant to assist and do the heavy lifting.  In anticipation of a NOFO being issued, having a completed feasibility study, conceptual plan, project cost estimates, public support and other elements of a strong application can go a long way – there just isn’t time to prepare and collect the information once the NOFO is issued as the application preparation itself can be intense.

Be Objective about Your Project.

Does your project truly check off the boxes that the funding agency is looking for with regard to safety, socio-economic benefits, state of good repair, improvements to quality of life, life cycle analysis, benefit vs. cost analysis, and other important elements? Competitive grant applications such as TIGER, BUILD and others can be time-consuming and expensive to prepare. Make sure you are looking at your project objectively against the required criteria and not simply justifying its worthiness by your personal attachment to its local importance. Answer this – why would the funding agency want to participate?  The funding will only buy so many ribbon-cuttings — so why yours?

Tell the Story of the Project.

Picture this – you are a reviewer of applications in Washington, D.C. and you have a stack of 500 applications to wean down to those deserving further review to eventually make a recommendation of a certain number to the ultimate decision-maker, maybe the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.  The recent BUILD grant application had a 30-page limit for the project narrative – for 500 applications that could total over 15,000 pages of project content to review!  Make it interesting – don’t make it read like an engineering report cluttered with facts and data (not that those aren’t important).  The reviewers aren’t all engineers – some have business backgrounds, while others may have a pure administrative or political background.  Use graphics and maps wherever possible. Sell your project in a way that it meets the funding requirements and tells an engaging story of the positive impacts of local, regional and possibly national importance.

Be Invested and Don’t Just “Take a Shot” and Hope for the Best.

If it looks like the application is presenting a project that will die a quick death without grant funding maybe it isn’t really all that vital and you are only presenting the project for the money. Funding agencies (and politicians) hope your project is important enough that somehow it will move forward even without the grant funding – grant funding would simply accelerate the benefits to the taxpayers.  Your application must demonstrate that there is significant funding in place, or debt service, to be able to fund the project and the grant funding will help that much more to defray local costs.

Don’t Ask for the Moon.

Request the real amount that you need for the project after significant investment from other sources. If 95% of the project costs are proposed to be through the competitive grant funding that may not inspire a lot of confidence in the preparedness of the project owner to be able to move the project forward. For instance, with a set amount of funding to spread around, two $10M ribbon cuttings creates more photo opportunities than one $20M ribbon cutting.  There should be a strategy in the amount requested compared to your other competing interests and funding commitments. Answer this too – if you got the grant funding to offset costs, what would you do with the money that was offset?  What other problem could you / would you solve for the taxpayers?

Last but not Least – Check and Double-Check the Format for the Submission.

Most competitive grant applications have very strict composition requirements including the table of contents, page limits, and font types and sizes, just to name a few. Make sure you are thoroughly familiar with each of these requirements and you are adhering to them during the preparation of the application – not as a final task right before the submission is due.

Submit Early if Possible.

Don’t let technological glitches, like an internet failure, get in the way of your million-dollar request being accepted. Many grant application processes allow the applicant to submit their application electronically and update it or resubmit components up to the deadline published in the NOFO. There may also be registrations, passwords, user accounts or other things like that which should be set up early – make sure those tasks are done well in advance. Nobody wants to be sitting at the keyboard being denied access to the submission website or during a power outage within the hour the submission is due.  Plan days ahead and rest easy.

Grants can make a big difference in the success of your project – but competition can be fierce. NOFO’s are issued throughout the year so know in advance what funding may be available and when.  Being ready and preparing a quality grant application can make all the difference.

The New Hampshire MS4 Stormwater Permit: What’s Next?

Image of a stormwater outfall area as body of water

For our friends in the MS4 communities, hopefully, you completed the Year 1 requirements to meet the June 30, 2019 deadline. This included, among other things, completion of a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP), Illicit Discharge and Detection Elimination (IDDE) Plan, outfall ranking and prioritization for subsequent outfall investigations, construction site runoff control procedures, a schedule for catch basin cleaning, a schedule for street sweeping, written winter road maintenance procedures, distribute two targeted messages (depending on the community), and develop a Chloride Reduction Plan. So, what’s next?

MS4 communities must continue to work on/update the stormwater system mapping. This includes key elements and features of the stormwater conveyance system, structural Best Management Practices (BMPs), open channels, etc. 2003 MS4 communities have two years (until June 30, 2020) to complete the update of the stormwater system mapping. New MS4 communities as of the 2017 MS4 have 3 years (until June 30, 2021) in which to complete the mapping of their stormwater system. As part of this effort, the initial catchment delineations should be refined as well. Systematic investigation of problem catchments, or high-priority catchments if there are no problem catchments, is to be started. A written catchment investigation procedure must be developed by December 31, 2019.

The investigation of problem and high-priority outfalls starts with a field inspection during dry weather. If dry-weather flow is observed, then further screening is required to determine if there may potentially be illicit discharges present. This can be done using field test kits; however, screening for bacteria requires laboratory testing. The results of the screening will determine whether additional investigation is required to determine sources of illicit discharges. The outfall ranking and prioritization will also be updated accordingly.

Stormwater outfall concrete pipe with water draining out of itGood housekeeping procedures must be developed for permittee-owned facilities, including: develop inventory of all permittee-owned facilities; develop O&M procedures for municipal activities; develop O&M procedures to reduce/minimize/eliminate discharge of pollutants; develop and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for municipally-owned facilities such as maintenance garages, public works yards, salt sheds, transfer stations and other areas where pollutants are exposed to stormwater; and cover salt storage areas. Are you having fun yet?

Public Education and Outreach activities must be continued during Year 2. This involves distributing two targeted messages.

Permittees lucky enough to have discharges to waters with an approved Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) have additional activities to complete during Year 2 as well. Permittees subject to an approved TMDL for chlorides must begin implementation of their Chloride Reduction Plan. Permittees subject to an approved bacteria and pathogen TMDL must disseminate public education materials and work on implementation of their IDDE plan. Permittees subject to a phosphorus TMDL must have a legal analysis of their Lake Phosphorus Control Plan (LPCP) completed.

Permittees with discharges to impaired waters without an approved TMDL would be well advised to begin planning for future MS4 permit obligations as well. Impairments to waters without an approved TMDL include: nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria or pathogens, chloride, total suspended solids, metals, and oil and grease. Did you know that leaf litter contributes phosphorus and nitrogen to stormwater runoff?

Did I mention that the Year 1 annual report must be completed and submitted by the EPA-extended date of September 30, 2019? The reporting period for Year 1 is from May 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. The reporting period is from July 1 to June 30 for all subsequent years. The EPA has developed a template based on the 2017 MS4 permit that can be used for the annual report. The template can be found here.

The Hoyle, Tanner team of experts is available to assist you as needed with MS4 permit compliance. If you have questions, please contact Michael Trainque (mtrainque@hoyletanner.com) or Heidi Marshall (hmarshall@hoyletanner.com) at Hoyle, Tanner & Associates, Inc.

 

Additional information:

https://www.epa.gov/npdes-permits/new-hampshire-small-ms4-general-permit

https://www.epa.gov/npdes-permits/stormwater-tools-new-england#arr

Heat Safety: 4 Tips to Stay Safe on Construction Sites During Summer

Heat illness prevention graphic of construction worker

Summer is officially here, and although the warm weather brings promises of barbecues, beach days and the hum of AC, working in the summer heat is not something to be taken lightly. For construction laborers and other outdoor workers, the heat can drain your energy and be very dangerous if proper precautions aren’t taken.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data, in 2015 over 2,830 American workers suffered from a heat-related illness that required at least one day away from work. In order to prevent more injuries now and in the future, it is important to spread awareness in the workplace about how to stay safe while out and in intense summer conditions. By planning ahead and executing these simple safety measures, you will be happier, healthier and ready to enjoy all the fun that the summer heat has to offer.

Drink Water

Staying hydrated is the single most important thing you can do to prevent heat-related injury or illness. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends drinking water every 15 to 20 minutes even if you are not thirsty. Additionally, anyone exposed to prolonged periods of sweating should balance out their electrolytes by drinking sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade. Keep in mind, though, that sports drinks are laden with food dye and sugars, so you can also boost your electrolytes by eating mineral-rich foods like bananas, nuts, yogurt, and dark green vegetables like kale. Coconut water is another good source of replenishing electrolytes. If you can’t carry snacks around, some say that adding a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon to your water can have a similar satisfying effect.

Be Cautious of Caffeine

Coffee is an essential part of the day for many Americans. However, all caffeine — whether it be coffee, tea or soda — can be dangerous on a hot summer day if you aren’t careful. This is because caffeine can be diuretic, meaning that it causes water loss in the body and dehydrates you more quickly. Whether or not caffeine is actually a diuretic has been debated over the past few years, but your reaction is also very subjective; someone who rarely drinks caffeine may feel its effects more than a daily consumer, especially on a hot day. Drinking water throughout the day should counter these effects, but be wary of drinking excessive amounts of caffeine, especially while on the job site.

Take Breaks

Do not be afraid to take breaks. No job is worth risking your health over. The heat can be draining, and it is important that you allow yourself the time you need to recuperate. When you do take breaks make sure you find some shade, drink at least 20 ounces of water and reapply sunscreen. For lunch, eat healthy and energizing foods. You will be surprised how much stronger you feel throughout the day.

Know the Symptoms

Excessive heat can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It is important that you are able to recognize these symptoms and know what to do if the situation arises.

Heat Exhaustion

Nausea, vomiting, headaches, weakness, confusion, dizziness, and cool, pale, moist or flushed skin can all be signs of heat exhaustion. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms it is important that you immediately move them to a cooler location and start to loosen any tight or heavy clothing they are wearing. You need to lower the person’s body temperature by any means necessary. Some examples of how to do this include fanning them, spraying them down with cool water or resting wet towels on their skin. If the victim is conscious, start replenishing their fluids by having them drink water slowly (about 4 ounces every 15 minutes). Keep a careful eye on the person and watch for any changes in their condition. If they refuse care, begin to lose consciousness or start to vomit, call 911 or local emergency authorities immediately.

Heat Stroke

Signs of heat stroke include hot dry red skin, confusion, loss of consciousness or convulsions and seizures. Heat stroke is an extremely serious condition and can be fatal, so if you witness anybody experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. While waiting for help to arrive, cool the person down as quickly as possible. If circumstance allows, immerse the person up to their neck in cold water. If that isn’t an option, spray the person down or apply ice packs or wet towels to their skin.

For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, download the free Red Cross Emergency App. The app also gives users the option to receive alerts for excessive heat watches, warnings and heat advisories.

We want this summer to be memorable for a lot of reasons, but overheating is not one of them. When working outdoors in hot weather, the most important things to remember are water, shade and rest. Anyone can be at risk for severe dehydration and heat exhaustion, but people who are not used to prolonged exposure to heat typically are at a higher risk of suffering an injury. As things start to heat up this summer, ease your way into your work, especially if you are a new employee. Listen to your body and take the necessary precautions to ensure that you are both safe and successful.

Now get out there and enjoy the sunshine!

 

 

Written by Grace Mulleavey

 

 

 

 

MS4 Regulations in New Hampshire Communities: How to Deal with Stormwater

Storm Drain Photo

Whew!! You got that Notice of Intent form submitted (hopefully) to EPA on or before October 1. Now what? Grab a cold one, sit back, relax? Wishful thinking. Now the real fun begins.

Stormwater Sampling For those communities that have not already done so, stormwater outfalls from the MS4 area must be located, mapped and assigned a unique identification number. Then an inspection and condition assessment must be done for each outfall. If you were an MS4 community subject to the 2003 permit, you would have (or at least should have) completed this. However, you are not finished. Mapping completed pursuant to the 2003 MS4 permit must be updated with significantly more detail added per the 2017 MS4 permit. You have 2 years to complete the update. If you are a new MS4 community subject to the 2017 MS4 permit, you need to start this process and complete it within 3 years. For all MS4s, the stormwater mapping must be updated annually; and catch basins, catchment areas, manholes, and other features must be added. You must also complete an outfall inventory and ranking. The ranking is based on potential for illicit discharges and sanitary sewer overflows. Are we having fun yet??

If flow is observed from any outfalls during dry weather, it will be necessary to conduct dry-weather sampling and testing of each outfall in which dry-weather flow was observed in order to determine if there are potentially illicit discharges in the outfall. Outfalls must be ranked as “Problem”, “High-Priority”, “Low-Priority”, or “Excluded” based on known or suspected illicit discharges or sewer system overflows. This is all part of the required Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Program (IDDE). Did I mention you need to complete a written IDDE program within one year (by June 30, 2019)?

A number of New Hampshire communities are specifically listed in the 2017 MS4 permit based on discharges to waters with an approved Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and/or based on discharges to certain water quality limited (impaired) waters without an approved TMDL. Approved TMDLs include chlorides, bacteria or pathogens, and phosphorus.

How is your Phosphorus Reduction Plan coming along?
Impairments to waters without an approved TMDL include: nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria or pathogens, chloride, total suspended solids, metals, and oil and grease. Did you know that leaf litter contributes phosphorus and nitrogen to stormwater runoff?

How is your Chloride Reduction Plan coming along?
The written Plan has to be completed within 1 year (on or before June 30, 2019). There are also specific requirements for public education and outreach as well as public participation including messages and outreach to target audiences.

How are your stormwater regulations?
MS4 communities need to update their stormwater regulations and ordinances (if you already have them) or develop and implement regulations for managing stormwater (if you do not have them).

By the way, did I mention that all of the foregoing has to be addressed in your Stormwater Management Plan? The Hoyle, Tanner team of experts is available to assist you as needed with MS4 permit compliance. If you have questions, please contact me or Heidi Marshall for assistance.

Hoyle, Tanner Engineers Showcase their Knowledge of Asset Management

Asset Management

On September 20, John Jackman, PE and Rychel Gibson, PE will be presenting on the basics of an asset management system at the Sunday River Grand Summit Resort Hotel & Conference Center in Newry, Maine, as part of the Maine Water Environment Association’s fall convention.

The focus of their presentation will be the documentation, organization and data collection for physical assets using tools like Google Forms. By using Google tools  (Drive, Calendar, Maps, and Forms), users can input data for free from a computer, tablet or phone. Among other tasks, John and Rychel will demonstrate how to use Google Forms to fill out daily logs and inspection sheets, and how to use Google Maps to document and track GPS assets.

Physical assets – like pipes, pumps, and valves — can be stressed from over-use, underfunding, and aging. It is the responsibility of the asset manager to know when an asset has reached its useful life. Over the past two decades, practical, advanced techniques have been developed for better managing physical assets. Hoyle, Tanner has assisted close to 40 municipalities, counties and state agencies with their asset management plans system. John Jackman has been involved with asset management for 16 years and joined the New England Water Environment Association in 2004. Rychel is a member of the Maine Water Environment Association and has been integrally involved with developing freeware-based asset management assistance during her time with Hoyle, Tanner.

 

john-and-rychel

The Flow of the River: What 2D Hydraulic Modeling Can Teach us about Movement

GIF image of 2D hydraulic modeling showing water under a bridge

Imagine trying to measure water in a beaker or in a measuring cup; it is stagnant and easy to follow the line of meniscus to see if it’s a ½ cup or 3/4. Then imagine measuring water in a river in order to build safer bridges; it tumbles over rocks, it changes speed, it experiences different water levels throughout a season.

Believe it or not, water movement is one of the most difficult phenomenon to solve. Yes, you can apply mathematics or numerical methods to solve complicated differential equations, but there are always some unknowns about turbulent flows (class 4 rapids) where general assumptions are made.

Rivers require intricate numerical models for river-type engineering problems, and I have been accepted to present on these intricate models at this years biennial National Hydraulic Engineering Conference (NHEC) in Columbus, Ohio. The Conference spans a week from 8/27 to 8/31, and I will be presenting on Friday, August 31st.

Per the NHEC website (https://www.ohio.edu/engineering/nhec/), the conference is themed “Advancing Hydraulic Engineering through Innovation and Resilient Design,” and will address the challenges that transportation agencies face to construct, maintain, sustain, and improve hydraulic structures in the physical, natural, social, and economic environments of today and tomorrow. At this conference, I will be presenting on Two-Dimensional (2D) Hydraulic Modeling with Tidal Boundary Conditions.

Modelers typically use computer software packages where you input topography, flows, roughness parameters, and hydraulic structures. The software package uses the input to solve mathematical equations. It seems simple enough, but a modeler needs to have a conceptual understanding of numerical methods and know the limitations of the software package being used.

Whenever you hear the term “3D,” you think of an object in a space that has 3-dimensions, right? Similarly, water moves within a 3-dimensional space, where there is a z-component (up, down), y-component (left, right), and x-component (back, forth). What if I were to tell you that the movement of water in the z-direction (up, down) is not considered?

What would that mean? Well, what that means is that mathematically, we are simplifying a very complicated problem:  we are restricting movement of water to flow/move in 2D, 2-directions (x and y) and that is what 2D hydraulics is all about. Similarly, a one-dimensional (1D) hydraulic model is defined when the y-direction is neglected and water is confined to moving in the x-direction.

2D hydraulic modeling is not that new and has been available in an academia setting since the 80s. But in recent years, tools to develop 2D models have been readily available to engineers. A 2D model can’t be developed for every problem that we tackle, but it allows us to accurately represent actual real world conditions, make less assumptions and judgment calls, and communicate and show visualizations of flow movement to stake holders.

 

Written by Jeff Degraff

Are you ready for the new NH MS4 Stormwater Permit?

Pond with lily pads

EPA Region 1 issued the revised New Hampshire Small MS4 General Permit on January 18, 2017. Affecting 60 New Hampshire communities, this new permit will make a significant change in stormwater management compliance when it takes effect on July 1, 2018.

This new permit imposes more stringent regulations for communities’ compliance in regards to how to manage stormwater.

Many community leaders have expressed concerns that the overlap with other regulatory requirements and the cost of meeting those requirements may not effectively achieve the desired results, and they are looking for integrated cost-effective approaches to meeting the new regulatory requirements.

Governor Chris Sununu has publicly spoken against the new MS4 permits, saying that they would severely impact municipalities and taxpayers, noting that “additional mandates contained within the new MS4 permit will prove themselves overly burdensome and enormously expensive for many of New Hampshire’s communities.”

If you live in community in Southern New Hampshire, chances are that this change affects you in some way. To see a list of affected communities, please visit the EPA website.

Hoyle, Tanner has experienced staff who are knowledgeable about asset management, SRF loan pre-application preparation, and MS4 permitting.

John Jackman, PE, asset management specialist

 

John Jackman, PE, is Hoyle, Tanner’s premier Asset Management Specialist. Although the CWSRF money cannot be directly used to support the MS4 program, using the asset management program to support documentation of municipal assets will be helpful in setting up a strategy for compliance related to the October 1, 2018 required filing date of the MS4 permit’s Notice of Intent.

 

Michael Trainque, PE, stormwater specialist

 

Michael Trainque, PE, has 39 years of environmental engineering experience.  Michael has been integrally involved in developing model stormwater regulations, identification, assessment and dry-weather sampling and testing of stormwater outfalls, as well as other aspects of stormwater management.

 

marshall

Heidi Marshall, PE has been assisting industries and municipalities with NPDES compliance since the 1990s when EPA published the initial stormwater requirements and can assist you with preparation of the Notice of Intent, developing or updating the Stormwater Management Plan, and can provide assistance with the required follow-up actions.

 

Hoyle, Tanner is equipped to help communities that are affected by MS4 regulation changes. We are immediately available to help with pre-application funding, notice of intent preparation for October, and setting up action plans to comply with MS4 requirements.

Let Hoyle, Tanner guide your community into a future with cleaner water. Contact John Jackman, PE for asset management application assistance, or for MS4 assistance, contact Michael Trainque, PE or Heidi Marshall, PE.

Engineers Week: Girl Day

Girl Day Engineers Week

It’s no secret that there is an underrepresentation of females in the field of engineering. Here at Hoyle, Tanner, we recognize diversity and inclusion as an instrumental part of making sure we are developing the best solutions to our region’s challenges. That is why we are participating in Girl Day, a recognized day of Engineers Week that is specifically geared toward generating awareness and educating young females about the opportunities available to them within the industry.

In 2015, women made up roughly 47 percent of the workforce but only 24 percent were working in STEM careers. Studies from Engineer Your Life & Changing the Conversation indicate that the lack of female interest and presence in the field may be due to the fact that many girls:

  • Do not know what engineering is
  • Think engineers must be exceptional at both math and science
  • Believe engineering is difficult and challenging

The gender gap in the industry can also be attributed to a matter of confidence. Studies show that when asked to assess their math abilities, female students tend to report lower capabilities despite equal levels of class achievement compared to their male counterparts.

There are many ways to encourage young girls to learn more about engineering, whether it be hosting events at your firm, visiting classrooms, or providing extensive access to role models or mentors within the field. However, if we are going to be successful in closing the gap and boosting the number of female engineers in future generations, we need to shift the focus of the conversation.

According to Discover Engineering, the only way to change young women’s thoughts about engineering is to change the way we talk about engineering. It is important to explain to young women that there is no “type” of person who becomes an engineer, and that a potential successful engineer does not necessarily have to be someone who “excels at math and science.” Instead, leaders of the women in the engineering movement suggest we begin to define a good engineer as someone who:

  • Is creative and imaginative
  • Likes to collaborate with others
  • Is curious and persistent
  • Wants to make a difference
  • Enjoys solving problems

By participating in Girl Day, we at Hoyle, Tanner hope to play our part in encouraging young women to study engineering. As a firm, we are proud to celebrate our female engineers and recognize how diverse minds at work help to increase the success of our projects.

Written by Grace Mulleavey

Happy National Engineers Week!

Engineers Week Poster

(Image courtesy of DiscoverE.)

In the United States, National Engineers Week is always the week in February which encompasses George Washington’s actual birthday, February 22; President Washington is considered the nation’s first engineer. It is observed by more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. The purpose of National Engineers Week is to call attention to the contributions to society that engineers make. It is also a time for engineers to emphasize the importance of learning math, science, and technical skills.

This year’s theme, “Engineers: Inspiring Wonder,” is a call to recognize the people who create today’s awe-inspiring wonders like cloud-busting skyscrapers and human travel to Mars. Our lives would be very different without daily marvels like clean drinking water, computers, and cars.

Over the next week, we will:

  • Celebrate President’s Day and kick off Engineers Week;
  • Share the passion our employees have for engineering;
  • Visit a local high school to demonstrate the skills engineers use every day;
  • Celebrate Girl Day, a worldwide campaign to introduce girls to the fascinating world of engineering by vising a local Girls, Inc.; and
  • Attend the Engineer’s Week Banquet to celebrate the 2018 NH Engineer and Young Engineer of the Year.

For additional information on engineering or Engineers Week, we encourage you to visit http://www.discovere.org/our-programs/engineers-week

Designing Bicycle Box Systems to Keep Cyclists and Motorists Safe

Green box painted on pavement with bicycle riding on it in traffic

Everyone knows about bicycles. Like any sport, they have a fandom following, from avid Tour-de-Francers to all those dedicated bike-to-workers. Not to mention, it’s practically a rite of passage to learn how to ride one, and it’s the quintessential comparison when talking about things you never forget how to do once you learn.

Despite their popularity around the world, America still shines with its youthful glow in comparison to many historic countries; we just don’t have the same bicycle-laden streets that other countries have grown to cherish. That’s not to say that America isn’t making strides to enhance its bike-ability. Major cities have hundreds of miles of bike lanes, while New York City tops the list at having 1,000 miles.

Though America has some catching up to do, cities have seen overall betterment in roadway safety when communities define where bicyclists should travel on the roads.

One innovative design that’s gaining traction is the bicycle box. From the NACTO website, “A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase.”

Bicycle boxes are innovative because they address many safety concerns at once, such as: increasing visibility of bicyclists, preventing “right-hook” conflicts, provides priority for bicyclists, and groups bicyclists into one obvious area, making it easier for cyclists to clear the area quickly.

Recognizing these benefits, Hoyle, Tanner recently designed a bicycle box system on Farrell Street in South Burlington, Vermont, which will become the first approved installation in the State. As Farrell Street is part of the route of the Champlain Bikeway (a 363-mile scenic loop around the lake), the City is dedicated to improving access and safety in this location and throughout the City. At the Farrell Street/Swift Street intersection, the City was particularly concerned that southbound cyclists looking to make a through or left turn would conflict with vehicles turning right to access US 7 & I-189. A bicycle box was the perfect solution. Hoyle, Tanner worked with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and gained interim approval for the City’s use of this valuable tool, which is required for new traffic control devices that have not yet been formally adopted. Partnering with Howard Stein Hudson, Hoyle, Tanner designed the bicycle boxes which will employ special highly visible green pavement markings and thermal or video bicycle detection to reduce collisions and improve safety at the intersection. With this experience, Hoyle, Tanner will look to aid other municipalities and state agencies with this and other emerging traffic control technologies, with a goal of improving the recreational and commuter transportation experience for all users.

What Droughts can Teach us about the Importance of Proper Culverts

July 2016 struck New England with an extreme drought and dry weather patterns for an entire year in most of the region. Many people are seeing the drought disappear as heavy rainfall replenishes those dry wells. Showers are taken a little less guiltily.

Yet ironically, the seacoast areas of Maine and (some) of New Hampshire are still considered abnormally dry for this time of year. The drought.gov website says that the percent of dry conditions for the Northeast is a total of less than 10 percent. In general, around 90 percent have no dry conditions at all. Despite this time of year being dryer for the coast, long-term totals actually appear normal.

So, why the pesky persistence with this abnormally dry issue?

“Much of the Northeast remains drought free with the exception of coastal Maine, which has been plagued by below-normal precipitation over the summer,” Deborah Bathke reported in the National Drought Summary for August 8, 2017.

Lack of rainfall may seem relatively insignificant in the engineering world to some. Too much rainfall can cause road erosion, mud slides, sewage overflows, and building floods (among other glorious things). Too little rain? Aside from a crispy lawn, what could go wrong?

Well, for starters, a dry season can mean that ground water levels are low. Low water levels mean that engineered structures, like culverts, don’t work like they are supposed to. Which can lead to problems for an entire ecosystem.

Culverts are a great example. Culverts allow for water passage — such as streams, creeks and brooks — to move under roads. Many aquatic species migrate during their lifetimes, so in order to do that, they need to be able to swim or wade through water freely. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains that incorrectly engineered or installed dams and culverts can contribute to declining fish populations by not allowing continuous water flow and creating a physical barrier to fish passage. Throughout the watershed, there can be several examples of perched road crossing culverts (where a drop in elevation exists between the end of the culvert and the water body) and culverts that are too narrow, steep or collapsed.

As rain levels increase and droughts are ending, aquatic life has the chance to move more freely through these constricted passageways.

The importance of culverts can be partly attributed to the way the water flows.

culverts

 

The New England states have turned their attention to the importance of designing culverts that are eco-friendly for the past two decades, with regulations in place in each of the five states that require certain levels of flows, both high and low, to be maintained through culverts in order to protect migrating organisms. From an article by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of Alaska comes the challenge to make roads more fish-friendly:

“What’s under our roads should ideally mimic what’s upstream and downstream,” the article says. “This helps ensure a seamless transition for fish passing underneath. … So how wide is wide enough? To answer that, we must understand the stream’s range of flows. A stream gauge that tracks water level and documents flood events over time can help.”

When accurate stream gauge data is not available, particularly for the smaller creeks or brooks, engineers must examine the existing conditions and develop assumptions on flows, typically using hydrologic models that are standard industry practice.

In short, as you drive from place to place during your day, take time to notice the road culverts you pass over. They have an important role in keeping an ecosystem functioning at its best, even under drought conditions.

14 Steps for Preserving Steel Structures

Piermont, NH-Bradford, VT Steel Bridge

*This post has been updated in 2020.

Preventative maintenance is defined as scheduled work at regular intervals with the goal to preserve the present condition and prevent future deficiencies. On bridge structures, this work is typically performed on structures rated in ‘fair’ or better condition with significant service life remaining. Minor repairs may be necessary to maintain the integrity of the structure and prevent major rehabilitation. Structures that are not maintained are more likely to deteriorate at a faster rate and require costlier treatments sooner than maintained structures; therefore, it is more cost effective to maintain structures to avoid replacement or major rehabilitation needs.

Side image of a steel bridge with orange vehicle to inspect

New England’s weather causes extreme conditions for steel bridge trusses, such as flooding, ice and snow. Corrosive de-icing agents are used in the winter, which can accelerate deterioration of exposed bridge elements. Preventative maintenance is critical for steel truss bridges to reach their intended design service life and, therefore, attain the lowest life-cycle cost of the bridge investment. Presented are minimum recommended guidelines for preventative maintenance of steel truss bridges.

Three images of paint loss and debris on a bridge
Paint loss and debris

Here are 14 actionable maintenance tasks to preserve historic truss bridges:

  1. General: Remove brush and vegetation around structure. Annually.
  2. Bridge Deck & Sidewalks: Sweep clean sand and other debris. Power wash with water to remove salt residue. Annually.
  3. Wearing Surface: Check for excessive cracking and deterioration. Annually. 
  4. Expansion Joint: Power wash with water to remove debris, sand and salt residue. Annually.
  5. Bolted Connections: Inspect for excessive corrosion or cracking of the steel fasteners. Check for any loose or missing bolts. Annually.
  6. Welded Connections: Check for cracking in the welds. Annually.
  7. Truss Members: Power wash with water to remove sand, salt and debris, particularly along the bottom chord. Give specific attention to debris accumulation within partially enclosed locations such as truss panel point connections or tubular members. Annually.
  8. Bridge Seats: Clean around bearings by flushing with water or air blast cleaning. Annually.
  9. NBIS Inspection: Complete inspection of all components of the steel truss bridge. Every 2 years unless on Red List.
  10. Painted Steel: Scrape or wire brush clean, prime and paint isolated areas of rusted steel. Every 2 to 4 years.
  11. Steel Members: Check for rust, other deterioration or distortion around rivets and bolts, and elements that come in contact with the bridge deck which may be susceptible to corrosion from roadway moisture and de-icing agents. Every 3 to 5 years.
  12. Bearings: Remove debris that may cause the bearings to lock and become incapable of movement. Check anchor bolts for damage and determine if they are secure. Every 3 to 5 years.
  13. Exposed Concrete Surfaces: Apply silane/siloxane sealers after cleaning and drying concrete surfaces. Every 4 years.
  14. Bridge & Approach Rail: Inspect for damage, loose or missing bolts, sharp edges or protrusions. Every 5 years.

Actions to Avoid

  • Do not bolt or weld to the structural steel members.
  • Do not remove any portion of the structure.
  • CAUTION! Paint may contain lead.

Additional resources can be found through the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources website.

How Your Community Plays a Part in National Walk to Work Day

Spring has arrived just in time for National Walk to Work Day! Individuals across the country are lacing up their sneakers and hitting the pavement, while communities are taking a more holistic approach to ensuring safe pedestrian and bicycle travel. Many municipalities are introducing the concept of “complete streets”, introduced by the National Complete Streets Coalition, to their design efforts to balance safety and convenience for motorists, transit users, pedestrians and cyclists alike. Currently, there isn’t a single design for a complete street; it represents creating roads that are safe for all users, regardless of age, ability, or transportation method. Growing in popularity, some of the complete streets features are being implemented throughout the state, including:

Traffic Calming
With the growing demand for alternative modes of transportation, traffic calming measures are being introduced on various roadways to ensure safe travel for all users. The use of narrowed throughways, speed bumps/humps/tables,chicanes, and curb extensions (bulbouts) are some of the many features being used in the efforts to slow automobile travel, including the Union Street Reconstruction in Peterborough, New Hampshire. This project also incorporated tree plantings along the medians to beautify the area.

High Visibility Crosswalks
History shows pedestrian crossings existing more than 2000 years ago, where raised blocks on roadways provided a means for pedestrians to cross without having to step on the street itself. In current designs, high visibility crosswalks are incorporated to guide pedestrians and alert motorists to the crossing locations. Six foot wide crosswalks are installed using long lasting plastic/epoxy or paint embedded with reflective glass beads to assist in the crossing markings. In addition to local governments, universities, like the University of New Hampshire, are incorporating these crosswalks on their campuses.

Shared Use Paths
A multi-use path or trail that has been separated from motor vehicle travel and has been established for alternative transportation purposes is another option that is growing in popularity. Utilizing existing right-of-ways to create these travel corridors for pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, equestrians, and other non-motorized users in some instances are also used to observe the natural environment in various communities. Recently, a shared use path was completed connecting Manchester’s and Goffstown’s trail system.

Multi-Modal Intersection
Intersections have the unique responsibility of accommodating and coordinating the nearly-constant occurrence of conflicts between all modes of transportation. Multi-modal intersections focus on intersections where numerous modes of travel come together and the coordination is required for the safety of all users. Utilizing different design features such as corner refuge islands, forward stop bars, and dedicated bike lanes, as used on Manchester Street in Concord, all intersection users can travel simultaneously, safely.

With many communities implementing these design features into roadway geometry, walking to work can be as simple as strapping on your shoes and heading out the door. By walking to work for this nationally recognized day, you will help reduce carbon emissions, get fit, and avoid the traffic jams.

Pi vs. Chocolate Cream

Pi… I did not forget the “e”, I am referring to the mathematical constant, π, for the value 3.141592…, a ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. For some it was junior high and others it was high school, but almost everyone is taught the concept of Pi in geometry class in America. The staggering question asked by so many students over the years is “how do we use this in ‘real’ life?” Well we have answered that question for all of you as it relates to engineering:

When designing bridges many of the structures utilize reinforced concrete to provide the strength necessary to support its daily use by vehicles. For many of our bridge projects, the circle is most often representing the area of reinforcing steel used in the reinforced concrete beam.  We determine the total amount of the (steel) reinforcing to determine the capacity of a structural member such as a beam, deck or slab.

In associated roadway design, Pi is used in a slightly different manner, to calculate curvature. A maximum curvature (minimum radius) is used to ensure adequate sight distance at differing speed limits. This promotes safe vehicular travel by providing a level of comfort and expectation to the driver.

Another application for the mathematical constant is in airfield markings. Their purpose is simple – to safely guide pilots during aircraft take-offs and landings, and while taxiing around the airfield. To create these markings, Pi is utilized when calculating the amount of airfield paint required for runway designation markers, taxiway centerlines and edge lines.

Pi is also used extensively in the calculation of areas of gravity sewers, wastewater force mains, water main pipes, storm drains, drainage culverts and other types of utility pipes. These calculations are used to establish the area of the pipe for the purpose of determining flow velocities and flow volumes as well as other types of hydraulics calculations.

Now that we have proved your mathematics teacher correct, and that someday you may need to know the value of Pi, the obvious question remaining is “what does pi and pie have in common?” My answer is Pi is focused on circles, radius and diameters… and so does pie! If you want a great Chocolate Cream Pie recipe check this out!

“Climbing” the Memorial Bridge

Bridge inspection is an important part of what we do here at Hoyle, Tanner. It is also a vital part of ensuring the safety of the traveling public across the country. You might not realize it, but chances are every time you get in a car you drive across one or more bridges. Per the federally enacted National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) every bridge, big and small, old and new, needs to be inspected on a biennial basis. As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking for each state’s department of transportation (DOT), and each DOT is looking to inspect bridges faster, more cost effectively, and in less disruptive ways as to not impact the day to day usage of the bridge.

A dynamic, rapidly growing bridge inspection method is to “climb” the structure using rope access techniques. Rope access can best be pictured as a mixture of rock climbing and bridge inspection. The inspector is suspended from two ropes and can either ascend, descend or climb along the bridge. Certain bridges can often have elements that are inaccessible or uneconomical to inspect with traditional methods, such as rigging or the use of under bridge inspection vehicles. Rope access can be tailored for countless geometric challenges, which allows for a detailed, hands-on inspection of every bridge element. In other words, rope access allows inspectors to go anywhere and see any part of the bridge.

Recently a team of five Hoyle, Tanner bridge inspectors including three SPRAT1 and/or IRATA2 rope access inspectors completed a bi-annual inspection of the Memorial Bridge in Augusta, Maine. This 2,100 foot long, 75 foot high historic deck truss bridge posed many challenges for bridge inspection access. Access from the ground below was limited because part of the bridge is over the Kennebec River, and access from above was prevented by a tall chain link fencing that runs the entire length of the bridge. Most importantly, this bridge is a vital transportation route in the heart of the state capital making closing all or part of the bridge to traffic undesirable. Utilizing rope access techniques, we were able to perform a hands-on inspection of every member of the bridge from below the deck and above the river. Rope access allowed for a faster and more cost effective inspection than the traditional methods typically used.

  1. Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians– North American body for developing rope access standards and practices.
  2. Industrial Rope Access Trade Association– Internationally recognized body for developing rope access standards and practices.

First Response: Storm Damage Mitigation of BMP Failure Presentation

I didn’t know what to expect. I had been to conferences before, seen many presentations, but never had to give one of my own. I thought, why not, I can do this. I got off the plane in Austin on Monday night and took the bus to the hotel. I had just missed the welcome social hour so I decided to relax before two full days of conference proceedings.

I got up early Tuesday morning to practice my presentation, although I wasn’t supposed to present until the following day. I got ready for the day and attended various half hour presentations about best Management Practices (BMP) Case Studies, Green Infrastructure, and Advanced Research Topics. Over a hundred vendors were gathered in one room promoting their products and answering questions. Tuesday night ended with a gala for all the conference exhibitors, speakers, and attendees. I met various engineers, managers, and product specialists.

Wednesday morning started early, like Tuesday, with me practicing my presentation before my 10:00 AM time slot. I got to my conference room early so I could set up and just as I fumbled through some minor technical difficulties, attendees started filling the room. Ten… twenty… fifty – I could not keep up with the headcount – all I knew was it was a full house. The moderator introduced me by reading my biography and as I stood up, I took a deep breath and started presenting. I knew what I wanted to say. I knew what slide was next. It was just like I had practiced. I had 30 minutes to present; but finished in 20 – a little fast, but I nailed the important discussion points.

I wanted to emphasize the intensity of the storm that caused the erosion at the airport. I wanted to emphasize the magnitude of the erosion along with the length and steepness of the eroded slope. And finally, I wanted to emphasize the various stormwater BMPs that were used in the design of the slope stabilization to prevent future failures along with the short amount of time available to do the design. I explained the various detention ponds and the closed drainage system that we designed to convey the stormwater from the top of the hill to the bottom. I showed details of the detention ponds and swales along with the different types of stabilization we used on the steep slopes.

It was now time for questions. What were they going to ask and would I be able to answer them? Three questions were asked and confidently I was able to answer them. I knew why we did what we did and what the design controls were and could therefore speak confidently about why we came up with the design we did.

And then it set in… it was over and I nailed it. Breathing resumed. It felt good to be done and to feel good about my presentation.

*This post was reviewed and updated in 2020.

7 Factors in Snow Load Evaluations

The weight of one foot of fresh snow ranges from 3 pounds per square foot (psf) for light, dry snow to 21 psf for wet, heavy snow. When evaluating an existing roof for snow loads, an engineer will want to know the year it was built, the materials involved and the load the roof was designed to support, to start. But there are many other variables that need to be considered when evaluating existing roof loads under snow conditions. Outlined here are some of the many factors that impact the snow load carrying capacity a structure:

  1. Materials & Design:Engineers use the building code formulas to determine the appropriate snow load for their new design.  A detailed study, prepared in 2002, set the ground snow loads throughout New Hampshire and is the basis for all new construction projects.  Structural engineers use various design standards for steel, wood and concrete that include factors of safety and account for serviceability issues such as deflection. Older structures, governed by earlier building codes, may not meet current standards.
  2. Detailing and Construction:The type and condition of the bracing and roofing materials can contribute to (or undermine) its strength. Some older steel framed buildings used a cantilever beam layout to minimize the beam sizes by using the load of one beam to reduce the stress in the adjacent beam. Because snow buildup occurs in an unbalanced manner, roof failures have been attributed to this type of construction. Minor renovations to an existing structure can reduce the carrying capacity when, for example, bracing is removed to add new ducts.  A recent study, published in STRUCTURE magazine, found that the bulk of New England roof failures were related to construction or detailing deficiencies and were not a result of excess snow loads.
  3. Pitch & Thermal Conditions:The slope and type of roof surface determines how much snow is retained on the roof. Flat and low-pitch roofs are more commonly prone to overloading because they hold onto snow more easily than steeper ones. Flat roofs without adequate drainage are at increased risk of failure due to ponding that occurs as a result of excessive deflection. Adding insulation to the structure reduces the heat loss causing less melting, and results in larger loads. Similarly, the absence of any heat will increase the snow retained even more.
  4. Roof Layout Geometry:The location of hips, valleys, high roofs and low roofs, and raised elements – like skylights and dormers – create snowdrifts and therefore factor into determining additional loading. Similarly, the addition of snow guards on a sloped roof change the dynamics of the snow behavior on the roof. Parapets and large roof top equipment can cause snow drifts on flat roofs. The addition of a new structure adjacent to existing structures often create drift conditions that are not accounted for adequately during renovation projects.
  5. Depth and Snow Density:Determining the weight of snow based on depth is not possible unless you know the density of the snow on a particular roof. The density is the weight of the water in a set volume of snow. Snow on a roof will compact over time as temperatures fluctuate and as new snow layers are added to the roof. Rain-on-snow increases the density of the snow thus increasing the weight. Measuring this density is not terribly scientific and is not as important as how the roof is actually performing.
  6. Sun and Wind Exposure:Natural elements such as sun and wind impact how much snowfall is retained on a roof. From a code perspective, 70% of a single snowfall event is expected to remain on a roof under normal wind conditions. Wind and sun can create unbalanced snow load conditions on a gable roof when more snow is retained on one side of the ridge than the other.
  7. Maintenance:Proper, or improper, maintenance plays a role in how well a building will perform under load. Some older roofs suffer from steel beam and connector corrosion, or rotting wood, which reduces the building’s ability to withstand heavy snow loads. Proper maintenance, including repairs to any damage or leaks, is important to ensure the structural integrity of the entire structure.

For more information, please contact our Building Structural Department .

5 Facts About Sustainable Stormwater Practices

*Note that this post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated in 2020.

In urban and densely populated suburban areas where the highest concentration of impervious surfaces are found, stormwater runoff can be a significant contributor to water pollution. As rain falls in outlying rural areas, the water is absorbed and filtered by the natural vegetation and soil. The impervious surfaces, including roofs, sidewalks, paved parking areas and wide city streets, do not allow the ground to absorb the water and instead is collected in closed drainage systems and often time discharged into nearby surface waters without filtration.

Here we review 5 Facts About Sustainable Stormwater Practices to help communities and agencies that may be planning to develop new “green” infrastructure.

  1. Regulatory Compliance: Stormwater is regulated at the federal level by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA “establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.” Thus making it “unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained.” State Environmental Agencies often apply additional requirements beyond EPA minimum standards to further protect impaired state waters. On a local level, some communities have developed Stormwater Management Plans to assist managing discharge from both private and public properties. Local Ordinances are crafted by community officials as an integral part of subdivision and site plan development review and approval processes. New stormwater regulations often require implementation of sustainable stormwater management practices.
  2. Green Materials: “Green” or sustainable stormwater best management practices treat stormwater as a resource to be preserved and maintained, taking advantage of natural processes to clean and filter stormwater runoff.  Vegetation and soil filtration highlight the obvious green materials used, but some methods growing in popularity include permeable pavement, down spout disconnection, rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, planter boxes, tree filters, green roofs, bioswales, as well as land conservation. With the incorporation of one or more of these design features, urban spaces are able to reduce the percentage of impervious surfaces thus reducing the volume of stormwater runoff.
  3. Public-Private Partnerships: State and local governments collaborating with developers on properties within different regions to incorporate Green Infrastructure into the design/redesign will in turn save money via stormwater diversion and treatment by the agencies. Offering tax credits or incentives to the developers is intended to accelerate the adoption of these improved stormwater management practices leading to more extensive implementation statewide.
  4. Funding Availability: Many funding options are available through federal and state agencies including EPA, Departments of Transportation, US Economic Development Administration (EDA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Treasury. Grants available through these agencies will help offset the cost for municipal and private entities to invest in sustainable stormwater collection, filtration and treatment upgrades to existing or redeveloping sites.
  5. Benefits: Environmental – Improperly managing stormwater runoff into surface waters can contain pollutants from the surfaces it is diverted from, potentially causing damage to aquatic vegetation and wildlife. Uncontrolled stormwater runoff can also cause physical damage such as erosion and flooding.  With the implementation of green infrastructure practices, contaminants can be reduced in the receiving water bodies and create healthier environments. Social – Incorporating sustainable stormwater management practices can improve water quality, quantity and aesthetics, thereby enhancing the livability of a community, creating multifunctional landscapes and green spaces, encouraging revitalization, and providing educational opportunities. Economic – The use of green infrastructure may provide incentives to attract investment; reinvigorate neighborhoods; inspire redevelopment; or provide new recreational opportunities.

To find out more about community stormwater management practices, the EPA has issued resources outlining practices to assist while achieving other environmental, social and economic benefits.