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An effective street-cut permitting process includes performance specifications and procedures, along with follow-up inspection. Photo: Pam Broviak

Question: What is your policy on street cuts? Is a permit required; how are cuts tracked; who repairs the cut and to what specification; who pays for the cut; and are cuts inspected by city staff?

Answer: Street cuts are permitted by the right of way inspector. Once the permit is issued, the inspector visits the site to assure proper signage is being used. He continues to track the progress until all work has been completed. In order to keep the cut area secure until repairs are complete, the city requires a 1½ sack concrete cap, 18 inches deep in the cut area per our trench detail and specifications. After the area has been secured with this cap, the inspector turns it over to our street department to schedule the repair. Whoever created the cut must maintain the cap until final repairs are completed, and whoever created the cut is responsible for paying for the repairs. We follow the same procedures in our capital improvement projects; if it is water-related, the water department pays for the patch through the permit.

— Greg Blackstone, inspections manager, Engineering Department, Denton, Texas

Question: Many public works employees will be retiring in the next 10 years. How does your department plan to fill the knowledge gaps?

Answer: Like most public agencies, we have the potential to lose many of our long-term employees to retirement. They possess a tremendous resource of “tribal knowledge.” Recognizing this, we are installing an environmental management system (EMS). The EMS will capture this tribal knowledge in work instructions, standard operating procedures, etc. Our intent is to have this in place this year and to assist new employees by providing this knowledge to them in written form as well as with on-the-job training. The EMS is modeled after the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) principles, and we have also incorporated the National Biosolids Partnership program within it.

— Jim Newton, P.E., D.E.E., environmental program manager, Kent County Department of Public Works, Dover, Del.