Other stories by P.E.

  • Do you have a Cindy?

    At the city where I used to work, there is a woman named Cindy who handles all the calls for the public works department, providing a front-line response to all requests and complaints. With her knowledge of city regulations and procedures, she is quickly able to determine the proper reaction to...

  • Policing stormwater runoff

    For the city of San Diego to clear the way for a new library downtown, the obsolete Police Vehicle Maintenance Facility had to be relocated. Land was available adjacent to the San Diego Police Pistol Range, but accommodating the maintenance facility required relocating the K-9/SWAT facility and...

  • Teeing up a solution

    Despite the fact that Florida is surrounded by water, an increasing demand for a fresh water supply—especially for irrigation purposes—is a challenge many municipal officials in the state continually face.

  • Relieving congestion

    Exploding growth and increased tourism have taken their toll on State Road 408 (SR 408), the 16-mile limited-access toll road that allows travelers to bypass downtown surface streets in Orlando, Fla. The Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority needed to add lanes to SR 408 to increase capacity...

  • Keeping pace with development

    In Kendall County, Ill., the race is on. As developers scramble to buy farmland, builders scurry to create homes, and people flock to purchase lots, officials entrusted with providing public works must struggle to keep pace with the growing need for services.

  • Designing the school zone

    School may be out for the summer, but I can't stop thinking about picking up my child, who attends the local public school.

  • A hot night in the big city

    In the 1950s, 30% of the world's population lived in urban areas. By 2030, 60% of the world's population will live in cities. The phenomenon of rapid urbanization is resulting in the transition of native vegetation to manmade engineered paved surfaces for roads, parking areas, sidewalks, and...

  • Wet weather tools

    A downpour can elicit many emotions, but only those in public works think of rain in terms of overloaded sewers and surcharged manholes. Sometimes even the forecast of rain can bring about visions of backed-up basements, overflowing inlets, and angry citizens.

  • The sound of traffic

    Highway design was never easy. Increasing scrutiny and critical public opinion only have added to the challenges facing transportation engineers. With each project, there always seems to be someone upset with the proposed location, the number of lanes, and the type of pavement.

  • Reaching to the Pacific

    Seawater desalination is riding a rising tide of interest as many municipalities and utilities in drought-stricken southern California are turning to the ocean as a source of more reliable and drought-proof water. Less than a dozen small seawater desalination plants are operating in California.