Category: Planning

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

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a Focus on Green (Infrastructure)

Stormwater Detention Pond Construction

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, we wanted to highlight some the ways we embrace green infrastructure. Sometimes our projects are naturally geared towards sustainability out of necessity (i.e. so we don’t disturb wildlife or certain plant species), while other projects may not have a need for sustainability but we see a way to incorporate it (i.e. better stormwater management).

Before we get into some of the specific green infrastructure examples, it is important to establish some background. First, green infrastructure is not just a marketing term; it is defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “the range of measures that use plant or soil systems, permeable pavement or other permeable surfaces or substrates, stormwater harvest and reuse, or landscaping to store, infiltrate, or evapotranspirate stormwater and reduce flows to sewer systems or to surface waters.”

In other words, green infrastructure is using natural means to move water rather than building more infrastructure like pipes or drains. These projects are highlights of our recent green stormwater infrastructure.

Green Methodology

As part of a consultant team, we have developed a methodology for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) to prepare cost estimates for the implementation, and operation and maintenance of stormwater projects for all land use sectors (agricultural, wetlands, river/streams, lakeshore, forest roads/trails, roads, urban, etc.), as well as developed an O&M standards manual for continued operation of these practices. The final product was recently submitted to the State of Vermont and will outline how stormwater projects are planned, implemented and maintained throughout the State.

Green Bioretention

Bioretention

One project I worked on was to conduct an Engineering Feasibility Analysis for the City of South Burlington Municipal Office complex which had been identified as a location to evaluate and implement stormwater management improvements. The analysis resulted in the implementation of Low Impact Development (LID) measures. The designed stormwater management improvements included a bioretention facility, vegetated swale, and underground storage system.

The bioretention facility works to collect and absorb runoff from rooftops, sidewalks, and paved surfaces.  Bioretention practices mimic natural hydrology by infiltrating and evaporating and transpiring stormwater runoff.

Green Gravel Wetlands

This project addressed collected stormwater flowing into Bartlett Brook, crossing beneath Route 7 and ultimately into Shelburne Bay in Vermont. The design concept that had been developed by others through the Bartlett Brook Flow Restoration Plan process included capturing collected stormwater runoff from the neighborhood and conveying this stormwater to a City-owned parcel on the west and downgradient side of the neighborhood to allow for underground infiltration. Upon further investigation, site soil conditions were found to be unfavorable for stormwater infiltration. As a result, the Hoyle, Tanner Team designed a gravel wetland at the City-owned site to provide for flow detention and phosphorus removal of the collected stormwater runoff from the contributing residential drainage area.

Green Plans

Finally, but not least in importance, is planning for green infrastructure’s future. As part of a large integrated water quality planning effort for the City of Burlington, green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects were included as an important means to reduce stormwater flows and phosphorus loading to the combined sewer system in Burlington.

As part of meeting requirements for different Clean Water Act programs, Burlington’s Integrated Plan is intended to identify and prioritize water quality opportunities that result in a cost-effective program to achieve water quality goals. Tasks included the development of a comprehensive clean water alternatives analysis, including identification of enhanced phosphorus optimization at wastewater treatment facilities; identification of City-wide runoff (stormwater and wet-weather) opportunities; planning concepts for high-priority runoff mitigation projects; financial capability analysis; facilitation of public outreach; and development of an Integrated Plan with an implementation schedule. Burlington’s Integrated Plan development is currently in progress with an anticipated submission to State regulators later this year.

Stormwater runoff is a major cause of water pollution in urban areas, carrying trash, bacteria, phosphorus, and other pollutants from the urban landscape into our waterways.  Implementation of green infrastructure can help mitigate stormwater runoff by providing natural areas within the urban landscape that provide habitat, flood protection, and cleaner water. At Hoyle, Tanner, we look for ways to incorporate green infrastructure into our planning and design concepts to maximize the environmental benefits they can provide.

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.

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.

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.

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!