The first few years of a career in engineering go by very quickly and can be overwhelming. On construction sites, you try and ensure that everything is being built per the plans and specifications and answer the questions of the contractor. This results in a lot of calls back to the office to get answers and confirmation. I remember the first time a contractor asked me if it was okay to make a slight change to the design to make things easier on their end. I didn’t know what went into the design and reasoning behind the design, so I could not give an answer without calling back to the office. When in the office, you are tying to get familiar with multiple design codes that are always getting updated and changed, learning how to design, learning what goes into developing a plan set or cost estimating, so you’re constantly asking questions. A lot of this requires engineering judgement, which can be frustrating because at this stage in your career, that is not something you have. Throughout this time, you are gaining an understanding of how things get built and what goes into it. It is a whirlwind of uncertainty while you constantly try to figure out the right way to go about things how things are supposed to be done.
Getting your Bearings
After a few years, you start to gain some traction in what you are doing. Those calls back to the office when you are on construction sites become much less frequent. You know where to find a lot of the information you need without asking for as much guidance and start to notice some of the differences in the design codes when they are updated. You are beginning to grow an arsenal of past projects you worked on that you can draw from and start to take on more responsibility.
I remember when a younger engineer asked me a question on how to perform a certain design calculation, and I was able to provide the reference in the code and an example calculation that I had done on a previous project. I was pleasantly surprised with myself after the young engineer successfully walked away with all the information they needed, with a clear understanding of how to proceed, and no additional questions. As your experience grows, so does your involvement on each project you work on. Then it is time for the next big step, studying for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. Before you know it, you are a licensed Professional Engineer with a stamp.
On your way to Substantial Completion
Looking around, you may not feel like you are at the level of those around you who have been stamping plan sets for years, but you are starting to make progress and have more confidence. That time spent in the field on construction sites is now coming in handy when designing by knowing what the contractor had difficulty doing and what went wrong. Your understanding of the full process of design and pulling plans together has you looking ahead and taking charge of what needs to be done to meet the overall goals of the project. You are more aware of the bigger picture of the project instead of focused on the individual task that you were assigned. You begin to give input based on the experience you gained opposed to always deferring to those with more experience. All this time, you continue to gain confidence. It all goes by so fast that being asked to write a blog about your first seven years of experience as an engineer is what it finally takes to get you to realize just how far you have come.
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.
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.
Here are 14 actionable maintenance tasks to preserve historic truss bridges:
General: Remove brush and vegetation around structure. Annually.
Bridge Deck & Sidewalks: Sweep clean sand and other debris. Power wash with water to remove salt residue. Annually.
Wearing Surface: Check for excessive cracking and deterioration. Annually.
Expansion Joint: Power wash with water to remove debris, sand and salt residue. Annually.
Bolted Connections: Inspect for excessive corrosion or cracking of the steel fasteners. Check for any loose or missing bolts. Annually.
Welded Connections: Check for cracking in the welds. Annually.
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.
Bridge Seats: Clean around bearings by flushing with water or air blast cleaning. Annually.
NBIS Inspection: Complete inspection of all components of the steel truss bridge. Every 2 years unless on Red List.
Painted Steel: Scrape or wire brush clean, prime and paint isolated areas of rusted steel. Every 2 to 4 years.
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.
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.
Exposed Concrete Surfaces: Apply silane/siloxane sealers after cleaning and drying concrete surfaces. Every 4 years.
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.
Streambed scour is defined as fluctuation in the vertical position of a streambed, or the depth of the stream, as material is eroded and/or degrades. Some degree of streambed fluctuation is a natural process within the types of gravel-bedded rivers that we see; however, scour can also occur as a result of a change in the natural streambed conditions. Hoyle Tanner is currently assisting the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) with providing scour stabilization measures using an innovative system: A-jacks.
The History of Stream Crossing Design – If Only we Knew Then What we Know Now!
When the initial network of roads and highways was developed in New Hampshire, there was a different thought process towards designing infrastructure such as bridges, culverts or pipes, that crosses rivers and streams than there is today. Currently we would examine a stream from all angles to determine how to best approach designing a stream crossing that will not change the stream’s natural flow, depth or substrate (riverbed material). Stream crossing designs in the 1970s did not prioritize this stream information, and, as a result, in some situations the crossing structure has changed the stream’s parameters such as width, depth and flow.
The Results: Scour Pools & Stream Channel Changes
The most common example of this is where a stream crossing is too small to meet the stream’s bankfull width, or the width the stream needs when it is at a maximum flow and creates a pinch-point in the stream. Think of a water hose: When you pinch it you can create more pressure as the water comes out. In those situations, as water is forced through the smaller opening, water flows increase in speed and energy, and the water exiting the crossing can erode, or scour, the streambed, banks, or both. This can often result in a small area immediately downstream of the crossing that is deeper than the stream is upstream of the bridge or culvert – this is called a scour pool. If the amount of scour comes close enough to the culvert, pipe or bridge foundations, it can erode the ground under the crossing and risk destabilizing the crossing, including the road on top of the crossing.
When faced with these situations, stabilizing the stream bed and banks while protecting the culvert/pipe and road from being affected are interconnected goals.
A-Jacks: New Technology to Address an Old Problem
NHDOT routinely surveys stream crossings to determine if they are stable or if work should be done to either prevent scour from occurring or resolve scouring that is currently happening and may impact the crossing structure. In Woodstock, the stream crossing of Interstate-93 over Eastman Brook that was installed in 1972 is composed of a twin cell (or 2-sided) concrete box culvert; each side is 18’ wide. Original installation included riprap (stone) at the inlet and outlet of the culvert to prevent scouring. This riprap has washed away at the downstream outlet, and despite repairs of adding riprap on several occasions, the stream continues to scour downstream. Over time, this scour will jeopardize the stability of I-93, which is not an acceptable situation. Eastman Brook carries water that flows out of the White Mountains that can seasonally flow fast enough to carry even the largest riprap boulders downstream, particularly in spring, due to snowmelt combined with heavy rainstorms. Is there a different solution?
Hoyle Tanner’s experienced bridge design engineers proposed the use of A-Jacks in this location. They consist of two concrete T-shaped pieces joined perpendicularly at the middle, forming six legs. A-Jacks are designed to interlock into a slightly flexible, highly permeable matrix that will remain in the streambed. The highlight of this design is the ability of the A-Jacks system to spread out the energy that comes from water flowing quickly out of the culvert, allowing for increased resistance to the erosive forces of flowing water. Because they lock together in place, they can flex yet effectively stay put where they are installed.
The patented, two component design allows economical transport and on-site assembly. Just as you would picture a pile of jacks when you dump them onto the floor to play the game, A-Jacks interconnect and are assembled by sliding one half into another to form a complete unit. Rows of A-Jacks are assembled to interlock in horizontal as well as vertical directions. A-Jacks can be installed either randomly or in a uniform pattern. NHDOT has previously installed A-Jacks in four locations across the state and was open to the idea of using this alternative for the Woodstock scour stabilization project.
A-Jacks were installed downstream of the stream crossing in Woodstock this summer for approximately 87 feet. As shown in the photos, the streambed was excavated to a depth to allow for installing a double row of 48” A-Jacks that raised the streambed elevation to meet the bottom lip of the outlet of the culvert and tied into the natural grade of the stream downstream of the crossing; this will allow for improved aquatic organisms and fish passage through the crossing by preventing the situation shown in the before photo, which is called a perched outlet. Thus, the design will accommodate the highest stream flows and will keep water running through the culvert during the low flows of summer so the stream doesn’t disconnect, and wildlife and fish can pass freely. Can’t see them? Clean washed gravel and stone was placed on top of the A-Jacks to fill the small voids (or spaces) between the individual units, resulting in simulation of a natural streambed.
Hoyle Tanner’s Environmental Coordination team effectively coordinated between NHDOT, the bridge designers, the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the NH Fish and Game Department (NHF&G) to obtain agreement from each respective permitting agency that the A-Jacks, despite technically being viewed as “fill” in the streambed, were necessary in this location and would result in the best overall result that met the goals of the agencies involved.
By using innovative design techniques, our team was able to effectively stabilize an important piece of infrastructure, prevent future scouring of the stream and damage to the stream crossing, and re-create a natural streambed with improved functionality for fish and wildlife. Just a day’s work for our talented bridge designers and environmental coordinators. Let us know if you have a tricky scour issue that you would like us to take on!
OpenBridge Designer features a complete package of software that allows both 3D geometric modeling analysis and the design of steel, reinforced and prestressed concrete bridges within the same program. The benefit of using this software is its interoperability that allows us to move from modeling to analysis/design back into modeling to make geometric adjustments, then back to design and eventually into the development of CADD drawings. This software allows us to make real time adjustments and have graphics that keep up with the calculations instead of using multiple programs for different elements and stages of design.
We’re only just beginning to use this software for 3D modeling, but the program’s applications and innovation have already begun to shape the future of our industry.
Why We Use It
It seems that the future of our industry is going to be digital (with deliverables consisting of electronic data and information plan generation), and the use of paper plans may eventually disappear one day. An analogy: On the highway side, there’s OpenRoads Designer and in theory, they’re going to be able to take the 3D OpenRoads electronic files and provide them to the contractor, who will be able to use that electronic version of the roadway geometry without needing a paper plan set to build the road (since the data can be transmitted to the construction equipment).
OpenBridge is still in the infancy, and this type of capability will likely be sometime in the future for bridge construction. It is easier to build roads using 3D models instead of paper plan sets, but maybe not for bridge designs yet.
A big benefit of 3D modeling and this program is that it enables us to utilize a single software package for the major components a typical bridge consists of and – perhaps more importantly – help us to find conflicts for those components or other elements. One thing I like about this program is the ability to use “clash detection” to figure out if you have a conflict. Let’s say we did our geometry, and we modeled everything and designed our girder, but then we needed to find the minimum vertical clearance over this corridor – the program would report that clearance, and we’d be able to say whether or not we achieved the required minimum clearance. We can make adjustments from there if we have violated the design vertical clearance parameter.
How to Use It
We can start with a blank canvas when we begin using the program, but it is better to have a general idea of the design and layout of the structure (location, alignment, single span, multi-span), and to have a general idea of what type of structure it’s going to be. The nice thing about the software is that you can run it with the full 3D modeling through analysis and design, or you can start off and just do what we call a “standalone” model. Bridge Information Modeling (BIM) workflow is the full 3D geometric modeling and analysis/design tool through plan drawing development. With standalone models, in which we only use the software analytical and design tools, we can develop different structural models, to evaluate various bridge types and layouts and then work back to develop a BIM workflow to finalize the geometry and design. We want to have preliminary design done and structure type selected so that the BIM workflow has a starting point, and we know where we will end up. That’s not to say you won’t make design changes when you start BIM, but you want to be close.
We have used the OpenBridge Designer components when they were individual software packages and as standalone models now that they are all in single software package, but we are in the infancy of using the BIM workflow.
Who it Helps & Where it’s Headed in the Future
It helps designers with the process, and it helps the design work flow. When using the software, I have the capability to design the superstructure and substructure within the same software package I can go through the program and design a girder and then could add another girder, remove a girder or change the girder size without building an entire new model. The workflow is the same. Then, the substructure design could be updated with any of the girder changes I made, again without creating a new model. The models are updated as you work through your design and the BIM process.
The way we do it right now, we use multiple software programs for different design components, but I can do all that they can do with OpenBridge Designer. In theory, this will make our designs more efficient. There’s also less room for error if I don’t have to take data out of a 2D model for design loads, for instance, and then input them into several different software packages. I can just use this one software package to generate the design loads and complete my designs.
I believe this type of software is the future, but we need to be well-versed in this program before using it heavily. We recognize what this software and others like it have to offer us as designers and the future of 3D design, and are excited to learn how to design bridges with this new set of tools.
Want to learn more about OpenBridge Designer or how our bridge team can help your community? Contact me!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the past three months, I have had the pleasure of being part of the Hoyle, Tanner team, primarily in theBridges & 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.
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!
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
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
the Talk Nerdy to Me: Science Not Communicated is Science Not Done,
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.
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
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 &
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
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, 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, 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.
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.
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.