Category: Planning

Posts related to aviation, urban or project specific planning and the processes associated with those efforts.

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.

Can We Predict Black Ice – Factors to Prepare Winter Roadway Treatments

Snow covered road

Winter is officially here, which means icy temperatures, snow days and longer nights. This time of year we all pay a little closer attention to the weather and in particular, how it could potentially affect driving conditions. The idea that pavement temperature directly corresponds to air temperature is a common misconception and is in fact only one of several factors that needs to be taken into consideration. Air and pavement temperatures can differ by several degrees. The difference is critical in predicting and preparing for black ice, which poses a serious threat to all motorists each year because of the difficulty it takes to identify.

Forecasting pavement temperatures and conditions is difficult but not impossible. When predicting conditions, four major factors are considered: air, sun, moisture, and the amount of heat beneath the pavement.

Air:

According to the Law of Thermodynamics, every object is in a constant state of temperature change. If you place a cold object in a warm room, the temperature of that object will steadily increase; if you place a warm object in a cold room, the temperature of the object will decrease. If you hold the temperature of the room constant, the object will adjust accordingly until it reaches room temperature. Roadways are no exception to this rule. However, the balance of heat is a gradual process and the speed by which it occurs is heavily dependent on several factors, such as surface area, density and material. For example, in the event of a temperature drop, a bridge (which is exposed to the air on all four sides and made of metal and concrete) will cool faster than the street, with only one surface area exposed to the air.

Below the Pavement:

It’s easy to forget what isn’t out there in the open for us to see. Half of the pavement surface area is affected by the ground beneath it, so subsurface temperatures play an equally important role when considering pavement temperature.

In the fall, the pavement is usually warmer than the air because the subsurface temperatures are still cooling down from the summer months.

In the spring the air is warmer than the pavement because a lot of the ground is still thawing from months of below freezing temperatures.

During a snowstorm the air is below freezing; snow may accumulate but if the ground underneath is warmer than the outside air, the snow will melt.

In addition, rain falling on pavement atop freezing subsurface temperatures may be enough to freeze over the roads.

While this general information is good to know as a guideline, accurate subsurface temperatures can only be measured with a Road Weather Information System (RWIS) installed by the department of transportation. Therefore, it is best to be cautious on the roads when seasons are changing, especially if you’re in a new area.

Sun:

Even in the winter, the sun still has a huge influence on pavement temperatures. It is so powerful, in fact, that a cloudy day can cause a decrease in the pavement temperature by 10 degrees. Despite cold and miserable weather conditions the pavement is constantly being affected by solar radiation. When dealing with the effects of radiation, a meteorologist considers elevation as an additional factor. Higher elevation means closer proximity to the sun and increased exposure to radiation.

Moisture:

Rain, snow and water vapor are the three forms of moisture in the atmosphere. Just like cooler temperatures, rain and snow typically cool down the surface of the pavement. The harder the rain or snow falls the faster the pavement will cool down.

Out of the three forms, water vapor is the most difficult form of moisture in the atmosphere to measure, because you cannot visibly see it. The most commonly accepted form of measuring water vapor in the air is dew point; the temperature below which water condensation occurs. The greater the difference between dew point and the air temperature, the drier the air. We know from the water cycle that once rain falls, it will evaporate back into the air. Evaporation requires heat to occur and there is heat in the pavement. Therefore, the drier the air, the faster evaporation will occur and in conclusion the faster the pavement will cool.

Finally, it is important to understand how air temperature and moisture come together in the formation of black ice. A dangerous misconception is that it needs to be snowing or raining for black ice to occur. Black ice usually occurs when the dew point and air temperatures converge. At this point, the air can no longer hold the moisture, so it condenses onto the pavement. Black ice can also occur when the air temperature is below zero but is warmer than the pavement temperature — requiring only that the pavement temperature is below freezing.

As we have already stated, predicting pavement temperature is complicated. Predicting the air temperature for 5:00 pm tomorrow is already a difficult task. If they predict the air temperature incorrectly, it automatically throws off the accuracy of the pavement temperature prediction. In addition, there are a variety of other factors that change quickly and with less notice (air temperature, precipitation, clouds, thickness of the pavement, etc.). That’s why we rely so heavily on site specific RWIS technology for the most accurate prediction of pavement temperature. State DOTs rely heavily on these pavement forecasts to determine when to pretreat roads, when to schedule crews, and how much material will be required throughout the duration of the event in order to ensure your safety.

Despite predictions and precautions, dangerous winter storm conditions are not 100% preventable. Stay safe this winter and listen to winter weather advisories. Even if there is no snow, black ice is a real possibility.

How We’re Helping Communities Fortify for Climate Change

In the midst of political change, tariffs, budget cuts, and the seemingly endless threat of global conflict, we are faced with yet another pressing concern: the impending effects of climate change. We worry about storm surge and rising sea levels threatening our coastlines. We worry about damaging hurricanes and blizzards that shut down our communities for days or worse. We worry about droughts and polar vortexes that bring extreme temperature changes taxing our fuel supplies. But what about infrastructure? What about drainage systems and bridges and power supplies? How do we make these systems stronger and more robust to withstand our increasingly changing environment?

Enter MVP

Over the last three years, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA or EEA) has been implementing the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program (MVP) to award grant money to communities who are looking to address climate resiliency issues. According to the program website, “The [MVP] grant program provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to begin the process of planning for climate change resiliency and implementing priority projects. The state awards communities with funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans. Communities who complete the MVP program become certified as an MVP community and are eligible for MVP Action grant funding along with other opportunities.

One requirement of the program is that the municipality must select and contract with a state-certified MVP provider. The state only certifies individuals, and not companies or entities.  Hoyle, Tanner now has two state-certified staff members who are prepared to help communities with this funding program: David M. Langlais, PE and Audrey G. Beaulac, PE, CPSWQ.

Getting Started

In the first phase, a community applies for a Planning Grant and selects a state-certified MVP Provider (that’s us). The purpose of the grant is to pay entirely for the MVP provider’s time, lifting the burden of the community. Once approved, we guide 20 to 60 key community personnel and stakeholders through an 8-hour Community Resilience Building workshop (or two 4-hour workshops) that helps them identify climate-related issues and vulnerabilities within the community. A Final Report is generated which details the workshop and outlines the highest priority actions identified during the workshop.

The report is submitted to EEA and upon approval the community qualifies as a Climate Change Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program municipality. Municipalities that don’t have a current hazard mitigation plan (HMP), or with a plan expiring in 2019 or 2020 are eligible for additional funding to complete or update a full draft of the HMP for MEMA review.

Designated

With the MVP program municipality designation, the community is then able to apply for an Action Grant to address some of the highest priority projects identified under the Planning Grant. The municipality must match 25% of the project cost, and apply for the funding. The program does favor certain types of projects over others, but all are welcome to apply.  In addition, designation as an MVP Community makes municipalities eligible for other types of state funds.

How We Help

Here’s where we come in. Our state-certified staff assist municipalities by helping them prepare for the Community Resilience Building workshop, facilitating the workshop itself, preparing the final report, helping the community plan for next steps, and assisting with quarterly reports during the award period.   As we walk through this process with them, we become intimately aware of their most pressing concerns. While there is no obligation for municipalities to continue on with us during the Action Grant process, having knowledge of how the most pressing concerns were arrived at helps us to offer a seamless transition to designing solutions through the Action Grant program.

Why MVP?

The question on most people’s minds is “why would municipalities apply for this grant money when they have seemingly more pressing capital improvements to face such as failing infrastructure or meeting the new MS4 requirements?” The answer is simple: Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projects may be identified as vulnerabilities through this process, making them eligible for grant funding.

For example, say that through the process a city identified that during recent, more frequent heavy rain events, a culvert/bridge that used to be fine is now having flooding issues, but it’s not a red listed bridge. The city can now apply to have the bridge upsized through the MVP Action Grant.

As another example, imagine there’s a section of town that now floods and through the Planning Grant process it’s determined that it’s due to undersized drainage, and coincidentally through MS4 requirements the town has determined that they can’t salt that section anymore in the winter due to impacts on the water body at the outflow and they can’t afford to put in a detention system to mitigate it. Again, the town can apply for a drainage redesign with detention systems through the grant, and they are now also addressing an MS4 concern.

Whether it’s as simple as prioritizing an action plan for critical emergency services located within a floodplain, or as complex as resizing culverts and developing stormwater BMP infrastructure, Action Grants are available for use. A complete list of eligible projects can be found here:https://www.mass.gov/service-details/mvp-action-grant-eligibility-criteria

The next round of Planning Grants will be available on Commbuys at the end of September, for expected award by the end of the year, so don’t miss out. Email Dave Langlais or Audrey Beaulac with any questions and they will be happy to assist you.

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

A Look Back: Heliport System Planning

In the early 80’s an effort was made to focus a portion of the FAA’s Airport Improvement (AIP) grant program on the needs of heliport infrastructure through heliport system plans, master plans and design and construction. The FAA had been collecting taxes from helicopter owners and operators for some time without, in the opinion of the rotorcraft manufacturers and operators, investing in the industry. This enhanced attention on heliports came to the immediate attention of Hoyle, Tanner as we were already committed to aviation design and planning and were closely monitoring industry trends. Our Director of Aviation Business Development at that time, knew well that the greatest concentration of commercial helicopter activity was in the south, namely in New Orleans which was a hub for helicopter service to the offshore oil industry. Added to this as an impetus was the fact that the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission also wanted access to the downtown area via helicopter service. The convergence of these interests and the availability of funding came together in the form of a commission for a Downtown Heliport Study, which Hoyle, Tanner was awarded, due in large part to contacts and relationships in the industry. Our study, which was very well received by both City officials and the public, led to another more comprehensive undertaking for Hoyle, Tanner; the Louisiana Statewide Heliport System Study; the first in the nation!

We took this success and our newly found reputation as heliport consultants to the western gulf and Houston, Texas. It was there that we completed another heliport study for the City of Houston and soon after embarked upon a project that would lead us another first for Hoyle, Tanner and a 25-year client relationship 1,600 miles away that continues to this day.

Next stop was Dallas, Texas for another heliport location plan; followed by Hurst, Texas and then on to Phoenix, Arizona for yet another. Our reputation as experts was by this time unquestioned and we moved still further west.

In terms of prestige, you’d be hard pressed to surpass that of our next two clients. First, the Southern California Association of Governments, which is the largest metropolitan planning organization in the county, representing 6 counties and 191 cities in the Los Angeles area, and second, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey where we were retained to conduct a verti-port study for Manhattan. This was the big-time for Hoyle, Tanner, and we had a full-time staff of eight aviation planners supporting our heliport and airport clients.

The Hawaiian Islands are also an area that sees intense helicopter activity, driven by tourism and inter-island commercial interests. So when the Hawaiian Department of Transportation sought to plan and develop a facility dedicated solely to helicopter operations on the island of Kauai, Hoyle, Tanner drafted conceptual plans; another first for us.

The activities described so far took place over a period of almost seven years. Natural events and changing economic times brought an end to this unique body of work. On September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki, the most powerful storm ever to hit the Hawaiian chain, devastated the island of Kauai, putting an end to the need and incentive for that facility.  The downturn in the national economy at that time suppressed helicopter activity, lowering the priority of heliport development versus fixed wing airport development.  Our string of successes in the heliport sector of aviation had played out, but we made our mark!