New York City Sewer Mapping Project
Client: NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP)
AEC firm: Michael Baker Engineering Inc.
Cost: $10 million
Completed: December 2007
Significance: The world's largest GIS deployment? Maybe not, but because it involved 6,600 miles of sewers and 300,000 manhole structures, the sheer scope of it boggles the mind. NYCDEP Project Director Magdi Farag, PE, calls the department's 5½-year effort to merge the disparate sewer map systems from each of the city's five boroughs into one seamless GIS layer “a remarkable engineering undertaking.” More than 180,000 documents were scanned, indexed, geo-rectified to the department's base GIS map, and digitized; and data was collected from more than 11,000 locations citywide. The result is a comprehensive set of 1,600 “tile” maps that can be accessed from the field as well as the office. Michael Baker Engineering Inc. created three custom applications to manage mapping and data, perform engineering analyses of sewer networks, and cross-reference citizen complaints to specific system areas. The map has already been used to support economic development projects such as construction of the new Yankee and Shea stadiums.
Red River Flood Damage Reduction Project
Client: Cities of Grand Forks, N.D., and East Grand Forks, Minn.
AEC firms: HDR Engineering and Stanley Consultants
Project delivery method: Design-build
Cost: $409 million
Completion date: August 2007
Significance: Evidence of global warming? Whatever the reason, flood waters routinely surpass the Red River of the North's 28-foot flood stage. Instead of confining the waters, the cities made nature part of the solution. They used a $171 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant to buy out homes and businesses in the lowest-lying areas on each side of the river and turn them into parks, eliminating $416 million in potential damages by reconnecting the river with its floodplain. The river's clay banks were stabilized with cylinder pile walls—6-foot-diameter concrete shafts sunk 95 feet into the ground—a technique more common in foundation work. The walls allowed levees to be built at least 300 feet from the river to reduce pressure on them when the river does flood. A 290-foot floodwall with a cantilevered deck that doubles as an emergency exit prevented a historic apartment building from being demolished.