Launch Slideshow

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[7] Solutions

[7] Solutions

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    In 2005, the city of Cape Coral, Fla., signed a five-year construction-manager-at-risk contract with Balfour Beatty Construction to widen arterial roads from four to six lanes. Photo: Cape Coral, Fla.

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    The Web-based application enables city departments to coordinate projects internally as well as externally with private utilities. Gray = road, blue = water, green = waste-water, yellow = gas, and orange = telecom. Image: Envista Corp.

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    “Our goal is to coordinate road projects during the design phase by broadcasting schedules to all affected utilities,” says Margaret Martin, PE, of Baltimore's DOT. Photo: Envista Corp.

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    To increase your chances of qualifying as a quiet zone, propose safety measures that overcompensate for the loss of the train horn. Photo: Phil Estes

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    Concrete overlays in the United States date back to the first bonded overlay in 1913 in Toledo, Ohio. Ultra-thin whitetopping, the most modern type of overlay, has been in use since 1991 on a road near Lousville, Ky. Source: American Concrete Pavement Association

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    Illegal dumping is the legacy of residents being allowed to contract their own disposal providers. At one time, 30 to 40 haulers operated in Reading, Pa.; today, fewer than 10 do. Photo: City of Reading, Pa.

Within a year, public works staff had analyzed the county's traffic needs for the next two decades, considering potential deficiencies related to new developments.

“We projected a $650 million shortfall over 20 years,” says Gary Predoehl, transportation manager for the Pierce County Department of Public Works & Utilities. “That finally got the attention of the council,” which, in the summer of 2005, directed the department to resubmit the program.

In February 2006 the county's planning commission unanimously recommended approval of the program, and in October the county council approved it by a 6-1 vote, setting an implementation date of Jan. 1, 2007.

“You need to understand the politics of your community and communicate how and why you are considering traffic impact fees,” Predoehl explains. “Make the council your ally instead of constantly fighting with it about the issue.”

To date, 46 major road projects totaling about $392 million have been implemented under the program, which is expected to generate $188 million by 2027.

[4] First-cost competition heats up

High asphalt prices are making concrete overlays a reasonable alternative for road repairs.

Now that skyrocketing oil prices have nearly equalized the cost of both cement and asphalt, infrastructure managers are rethinking their approach to overlay projects.

The latest edition of the Guide to Concrete Overlay Solutions, published by the National Concrete Pavement Technology Center at Iowa State University, is expected to be released this month. The new edition expands on an edition released in January 2007, which outlines the key elements of six types of concrete overlays (both bonded and unbonded resurfacing of concrete, asphalt, and composite pavements).

The updated guide includes a flow chart of the overlays, which takes readers from the initial visual inspection all the way through construction. It is designed to help infrastructure managers in the process of choosing the best types of pavement for their individual projects.

“We want to show the cost-effectiveness of concrete overlays both in the medium term and long term,” says R. Scott Haislip, director of streets and roads for the American Concrete Pavement Association, which distributes hard copies of the guide. “We've always been able to compete with asphalt on a life-cycle cost basis, but only now are we able to compete at first cost.”