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.

Concrete's annual maintenance costs per lane mile are about 1/12 of those of asphalt, but only in the last several years have oil prices brought the materials costs in line for asphalt and concrete.

In Michigan, for example, 20-year-life concrete was priced at about $16.50/square yard in 2003 and rose by less than $2 in 2007. By comparison, asphalt prices have jumped 70% within the last five years.

“Our advice to public works directors is to build a concrete overlay to see the value they're going to get out of it,” Haislip says. “It will eliminate the perception that concrete overlays are too hard to construct.”

[6] Do e-waste regulations measure up?

Incentives have yet to achieve the goal of halving landfill deposits.

In the three years since California consumers began paying a fee of $6 to $10 upon buying certain electronic equipment, the state's Electronic Waste Recycling Act (EWRA) has enticed only one-third of public solid waste departments to sign on as collectors of electronic waste.

The fees are deposited into a state account that's used to pay qualified e-waste collectors and recyclers to cover their costs of managing the waste. Though California has more than 400 cities, only 140 solid waste agencies have signed on as e-waste collectors in which they are entitled to a portion of that fee on all recovered and recycled e-waste pulled from their facilities.

The state assembly is considering an amendment to Assembly Bill 218, which would add clarifications to California's RoHS Law (Restriction on the use of certain Hazardous Substances), which was designed to limit the amount of hazardous heavy metals in e-waste to prevent them from entering the waste stream.

Although the legislation (both the EWRA and the RoHS Law) has yet to achieve the goal of cutting e-waste by half, it has proven somewhat successful: E-waste accounts for 481,353 tons — or 1.2% — of the state's solid waste; in the first year of the fees, recycled e-waste doubled to 64,500 tons from 32,500 tons a year earlier.

But in September the portion of the fee dropped to 39 cents/pound from 43 cents/pound for the recycler, and collectors now receive 16 cents/pound.

So what's the incentive for public solid waste agencies to participate? Some say that the small payback is better than nothing.