The Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project is one step closer to reality when the U.S. Senate authorized the $1.8 billion project. However, the project which really is needed to protect against annually disastrous flooding, still needs to get approval by the House and one additional important thing: get funding approved. There are indications that the project might be amended to include taxes that can be used to cover part of the funding needed for the project. The project has received opposition from some sectors as normally these projects could be completed under a budget significantly higher than original and could bring future problems due to insufficient funding. The project includes a design for a 1,500 foot wide channel that will reduce the 100-year flood event from 42.4 feet to 35 feet at the Fargo gage. In addition, the FM Diversion would give the area a chance by reducing the river level in Fargo from 46.7 feet to 40 feet during a 500-year event. Politics are pushing the House to authorize the project this year, so it can be ready to start construction during 2014.
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During the next weeks the $1.3 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge will start construction after it received the environmental approval from the U.S. Coast Guard. The NY and NJ Port Authority should be receiving the final notification the next week so the project should start before the end of the month. The Bayonne Bridge must be raise to a height of 215 feet allowing Post- Panamax ships to navigate underneath and be able to dock at the State Ports. This projects is one the resultant projects following the expansion of the Panama Canal expected to be completed in 2015 at more than $5.5 billion. These projects are time sensitive as others ports are also completing their improvements to accommodate larger ships once the Canal is completed. The US Army Corps of Engineers has also been working with additional projects to increase the depth of the shipping channels over the last decade.
Photo © Kiszka King
The collapse of a factory building in Bangladesh might spark a criminal investigation after several irregularities have been found as part of the construction process. The Bangladesh building collapsed two weeks ago, and more than 1,000 have been found dead behind the rubble and debris from the accident. The National Fire Service has found evidencing demonstrating that the building has violated codes and even part of it was built without the necessary permits. The government will start a deeper and thorough investigation asking the building's owners why the allowed workers in the building after large cracks appeared in the building's walls, days before it collapsed. The UN asked the government to improve their National Building Code and strengthen its implementation because more than 40 million people live in seismic zones. Following this disasters retail associations around the world are increasing their building standards to prevent this type of disasters.
The week leading to Mother's day has been once again, as has been the tradition, the week where several hundreds or thousands of women who participate in the Women Build program from Habitat for Humanity. The program aimed at women who want to learn construction skills and build homes and communities, is dedicated to teach women basic skills required to build a house. An initiative of Habitat for Humanity's Women Build program, the sixth annual National Women Build Week, sponsored by Lowe's, challenges women to devote at least one day to the effort of creating affordable housing. Since 1998 the program has been able to build more than 2,000 houses and more than 40,000 women, many of them who will be celebrating Mother's day on May 12th 2013.
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Now that the World Trade Center has been topped by the spire, there is an ongoing discussion whether or not the building could claim the title of the tallest building in the western hemisphere. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat will decide later this year, whether the World Trade Center reigns over Chicago's Willis Tower. The controversy is based on the fact that some experts claim that the antenna is not an essential part of the building and could be removed. However, a spire is something that is part of the building's architectural design and should be considered part of the building. The World Trade Center has reached the 1,776 feet height mark, while the Chicago skyscraper rises up to 1,451 feet. The Port Authority said the LED-powered light would be activated in the next few months. The tower is scheduled to open next year.
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The US Army Corps of Engineers has given the green light for the commencement of a $600 million plus contract on what will be the last big project involving rebuilding the New Orleans levee system after Hurricane Katrina. The corps has selected PCCP Constructors to build set of permanent closure and pumping station buildings at the canal entrances to Lake Pontchartrain.
These news structures are designed to block storm surges during the so called 100 year storm event. The pumps should be capable to pump water out so fast, at 12,500 cubic feet per second, that water levels will not be overtopping the floodwalls. The project shall be starting by this fall by a JV formed by Kiewit Louisiana Co., Traylor Bros. Inc., and the M. R. Pittman Group LLC, and must be completed by January 2017. The project can now move forward after the bid award was protested by Bechtel Infrastructure Corp. and CBY Design Builders in challenges filed with the Congressional Government Accountability Office. The contract will need to have at least 22 percent of the subcontracted firms classified as small business subcontractors, including small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, HUBZone small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
Photo © USACE HQ
A six story wood structure will start construction during the next weeks and once completed will be recognized as North America's tallest wood structure. Michael Green Architecture, a Vancouver-based firm is the one in charge of this iconic project that will rise 90 feet high. The $24.5 million project will be equivalent to a nine story traditional building because of the high floor-to-floor ratio. The Wood Innovation and Design Center (WIDC) in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada will be build using only local woods, that will also spark this industry. Douglas fir, spruce, hemlock, and Western Red Cedar are among the types of wood that the building will have, that will also be available to visitors for smelling, touching and admiring these pieces at the main lobby. The building will have concrete foundations, attached to the wood slabs by metal connectors. However, the wood slabs, the elevator, the stair core, the building's columns and beams, and the floor will be made of wood.
Courtesy of © MGA
A group of Building Information Modeling(BIM) users are seeking input on a new proposed set of standards that will guide during the different stages of the BIM process. The standards, known as Level of Development Specifications, should set specific standards on the completeness of the elements used as part of the BIM process and during the construction development.
The specifications, that are being worked out since 2011, will set common ruling on how the models should be interpreted and will also be sued to understand the value and limitations of the BIM process being used. The specifications and instruction on how to submit comments can be found at www.bimforum.org/lod, and all comments should be received by June 7th. Once completed the BIM specifications will be rolled out and will be used as reference standards in BIM process.
Photo © University of Salford
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge recently completed contain more than 1,200 blots made from a steel alloy that apparently has been banned for use ob bridges. These bolts that have been used to anchor structures designed to secure the bridge against earthquakes, and some other used to hold the cables down at the top of the tower. Caltrans is testing several bolts that have been identify as similar to a group of bolts that cracked while being tightened in March. The failed bolts were supplies by Dyson Corp, and Ohio based company that has been identify as the bolt manufacturer of the new group of bolts. These bolts are made of high strength galvanized steel, a material that has been banned by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials. The Federal Highway Administration indicated that the bolts "are susceptible to possible stress corrosion cracking and embrittlement during galvanizing".
Anthony Foxx has nominated by President Obama as the next transportation secretary. Mr Foxx has been praised on how he was able to generate jobs and invest in infrastructure in Charlotte. Foxx was part of the efforts of bringing a street car line through the center of the city, extend a light rai systems and he was responsible for expanding Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The American Society of Civil Engineers also were '...very encouraged by Mayor Foxx's nomination. Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to improving our nation's infrastructure and building a 21st century American economy'. Foxx at age 42 could become, when confirmed, one of the youngest cabinet secretaries in history.
Photo © US Dept of Labor