Launch Slideshow

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Borrowing Goes Bust

Borrowing Goes Bust

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    Tight credit is prompting many departments to postpone new projects and temporarily suspend others.

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    From left: Hoa Nguyen, Melika Roshandell, Jan Kleissl (assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering), Anthony Dominguez, Michael Sankur, Mandana Farhadieh, and Yoichi Shiga. Not pictured: Wen-Han Liu, Samer Naif, Andrea Tan, Roger Huang, Anders Nottrot, Hared Ochoa, and Long Sun. Photo: Dong Kim, UC San Diego

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Kalamazoo College

Clocking a recycling rate of nearly 59%, the Michigan campus competed against 400 colleges and universities nationwide to win this year's “Grand Champion” bragging rights in the annual Recyclemania competition. (The “Grand Champion” in the partial campus division category is California State University in San Marcos, which recycled 76% of its waste stream.) Altogether, participating schools recovered more than 58 million pounds of recyclables and organics.

Hoover, Ala.

A local energy provider will use “gasification of wood waste” to convert the city's trees, limbs, and branches into ethanol. The city already converts used cooking oil into bio-diesel to fuel its fleet.

Todd Humphreys, Paul Kintner, Brent Ledvina, Brady O'Hanlon, and Mark Psiaki

The Virginia Tech and Cornell University researchers proved that GPS can be duped. They programmed a briefcase-sized receiver used in ionospheric research to send out fake signals. The phony receiver is placed near a navigation device to track, modify, and retransmit satellite constellation signals. Gradually, the “victim” navigation device would take the counterfeit navigation signals for the real thing. Though the researchers proved they can “spoof” receivers, as well as already established countermeasures, they are also confident they can help devise methods to guard against such attacks.

Sang-Soo Kim

Ohio University is licensing the associate professor of civil engineering's asphalt binder cracking device to test the durability of highway asphalt, which has so far produced more accurate, consistent results than conventional methods. The invention is the size and shape of a beverage coaster and contains a metal testing ring. Different types of asphalt are poured into the device, which is then placed in a cooling chamber. An off-the shelf computer program determines which types of pavement hold up to the stress of traffic and weather extremes.

Ken Kirk

The executive director of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies formed a nonprofit alliance to advance holistic, watershed-based approaches to water quality and quantity challenges. Launched in September, the Clean Water American Alliance includes more than 30 members from universities, private companies, regional organizations, and municipalities.

Samuel Lamerato

The fleet management superintendent for Troy, Mich., brings in an additional $500,000 by insourcing services through agreements with other cities. To add to this revenue base, in 2007 he launched a pilot program leasing his fleet vehicles to another city that brought in $6,000, and Lamerato expects leasing revenue to more than double.

Minnesota DOT

The department used the rebuilding of the I-35W bridge to restore public trust by making the entire process transparent. For details, see page 24.

Dalton McGuinty

Thanks to the premier of Ontario, Canada, provinces can spend an anticipated $1.1 billion in surpluses instead of returning the money to reduce the province's debt. Passed in May, the Investing in Ontario Act was motivated in part by a survey of executives who identified infrastructure repair as a top need.

Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association

Upon its 2007 creation, the 10-person committee immediately went to work analyzing the cost-effectiveness and phosphorous-removal-effectiveness of stormwater best management practices (BMPs). Led by Michael Eastling, public works director for the city of Richfield, and Pete Willenbring, consulting engineer for WSB & Associates consultants, the study analyzed unknown and previously untested maintenance costs associated with a variety of BMPs, including rain gardens and stormwater treatment ponds.

Missouri DOT

The latest in a line of experiments include: testing soy- (instead of water-) based striping paint; posting You Tube videos that help the public visualize new transportation projects; and hosting its first online public meeting. Plus, other states are adopting, or considering adoption of, MoDOT's “Practical Design” cost-savings plan, which has saved the department more than $500 million over three years by customizing construction projects to fit specific needs rather than applying generic standards across the board.