Industrial

May 9, 2018

Cracks where FIU bridge buckled may have signaled ‘imminent failure’

Source: http://www.miamiherald.com, May 7, 2018
By: Andres Viglucci, Nicholas Nehamas and Jenny Staletovich

A key concrete support truss in the doomed Florida International University pedestrian bridge developed worrisome cracks 10 days before the structure was lifted into place over the Tamiami Trail, photographs and an internal email unintentionally released by the school show.

The documents, released in response to public records requests from the Miami Herald, show that FIU’s construction and engineering team discovered potentially problematic cracks in the bridge earlier than officials have previously acknowledged.

The cracks were found in late February at the base of a diagonal support member at the north end of the span. Independent engineers have identified that as the point where the structure shattered on March 15 while under construction, sending the 950-ton bridge crashing onto the roadway below and claiming six lives.

Three independent engineers who examined the photos, records and bridge blueprints at the Herald’s request concurred the cracks were a red flag signaling potentially critical structural problems. Outside experts have zeroed in on that truss member, identified in plans as No. 11, as being “under-designed” — that is, not strong enough to withstand the pressure from the weight of the bridge it was supposed to hold up.…

April 18, 2018

Architect pays $1.6 million to settle lawsuit over Dayton school flaws

Source: https://www.daytondailynews.com, April 17, 2018
By: Jeremy P. Kelley

Dayton’s school board on Tuesday approved a $1.6 million settlement agreement in favor of the school district and the state, addressing longstanding design problems at Wogaman and Louise Troy schools.

DNK Architects, Inc. will pay $1 million to the school board and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for the Wogaman project and $595,000 for the Louise Troy project, according to the agreement.

DNK was hired to serve as architect and engineer of record for construction of Wogaman in 2002 and Louise Troy in 2005. The schools sit a mile apart in West Dayton, both south of Germantown Street.

By 2013, Dayton Public Schools was seeking contractors to fix roofing and “building envelope” problems at Wogaman, and they ended up completely replacing the roof. The school district sued several contractors over the projects in 2015.

Two other contractors last year agreed to pay $900,000 to settle roof-specific claims. The lawsuit allegations against DNK said that the company’s design documents for Wogaman and Louise Troy contained a combined 2,314 “design errors and omissions” resulting in 319 change orders. In common final settlement language, neither side admitted fault.

The settlement does not specify how Dayton Public Schools and the OFCC will split the settlement proceeds, but a previous settlement was divided 39 percent for DPS and 61 percent for the state, to match each agency’s investment in the project. That breakdown would give DPS just over $600,000 in this case.

April 17, 2018

Sickened Coal Ash Cleanup Workers Seek Justice From Tennessee Valley Authority Contractor

Source: http://www.truth-out.org, April 17, 2018
By: Sue Sturgis

At the same time the Trump administration is seeking to roll back regulations designed to protect people and the environment from toxic coal ash, hundreds of workers who cleaned up the nation’s largest-ever coal ash spill and claim it sickened them are still waiting for their day in court.

A team of attorneys has filed lawsuits in federal court on behalf of 53 dead and sick workers against Jacobs Engineering, a Fortune 500 government contractor hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to clean up following the spill of over a billion gallons of coal ash from a holding pond at the federally-owned corporation’s Kingston power plant in eastern Tennessee on Dec. 22, 2008. The spill inundated a nearby residential community and contaminated the Emory and Clinch rivers with coal ash, which is laden with heavy metalsradioactive elements, and other health-damaging contaminants. The disaster also spurred the federal regulations now targeted for rollback.

After the USA Today Network-Tennessee published an investigation into conditions at the cleanup site, more workers came forward with similar stories of lung disease, cancers, and skin conditions. Since then, the attorneys involved in the case filed a new lawsuit in state court on behalf of an additional 180 dead or sick workers.

The federal lawsuit is expected to get underway later this year. It was delayed in part due to a fire at the offices of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the cause of which remains unknown.

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wanted the cleanup workers to be given protective gear, it met resistance from Jacobs Engineering and The Shaw Group, the Louisiana-based government contractor hired by TVA for technical advice on the project. Workers say the companies downplayed the dangers of coal ash and seemed concerned about alarming the public.

In the end, the EPA signed off on a safety plan that did not require workers to be given protective suits and that made it difficult for them to qualify for a respirator or even a dust mask — and the companies resisted implementing even that.

“Jacobs’ site safety manager, Tom Bock, and TVA site supervisor Gary McDonald both have admitted refusing workers’ requests for respirators and dust masks in violation of the plan’s rules on the approval process,” the USA Today Network-Tennessee reported.

Warnings Were Given

The news network’s reporting on the Kingston cleanup recounted the dangerous working conditions at the spill site, with tornados of coal ash blowing across the landscape and workers eating atop coal ash heaps with only bottled water to clean themselves. However, it did not get all of the facts right. This is how the first story in the series opened:

It was the nation’s largest coal ash spill, and it would bring a stampede of government supervisors, environmental advocates, lawyers, journalists, politicians and contractors to Kingston, Tenn.

But not one of them asked why the hundreds of blue-collar laborers cleaning up the mess weren’t wearing even basic dust masks.

It’s not true that no one visiting the disaster site inquired into the workers’ safety.…

April 12, 2018

THE BAGGAGE SYSTEM AT DENVER: PROSPECTS AND LESSONS

This article discusses the fundamental design difficulties of the fully automated baggage system originally planned for the New Denver Airport, and their implications for airport and airline management. Theory, industrial experience, and the reality at Denver emphasize the difficulty of achieving acceptable standards of performance when novel, complex systems are operating near capacity. United Airlines will thus make the Denver system “work” by drastically reducing its complexity and performance. Automated baggage systems are risky. Airlines and airports considering their use should assess their design cautiously and far in advance, and install complementary, backup systems from the start.

Read here.

April 12, 2018

Case Study: The New Terminal 2E at Paris – Charles De Gaulle Airport

Airport Systems Planning, Design & Management Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Read here.

April 12, 2018

Pittsburgh International Airport Parking Garage Precast Double T Structural Defects

Source: https://failures.wikispaces.com
By: James Chavanic, Candidate BAE/MAE Architectural Engineering (Structural) 2013, Pennsylvania State University

Pittsburgh International Airport Parking Garage 
Precast Double-T Structural Defects
Pittsburgh, PA (1998)

Key Terms

Parking Garage, Precast Concrete, Double Tee, Carbon Fiber, FRP, Shear Failure, Performance Failure, Dapped, Prestress

Introduction

The short-term parking facility at the Pittsburgh International Airport was built in 1992 by the Mosites Construction Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Owned by Allegheny County, the $26.6 million garage is constructed of precast/prestressed concrete members. In 1998, the garage was load tested after severe cracking was noticed in the first eight feet of each end in many of the double-tee beams. The tests showed that the beams were not meeting the specifications of the construction contracts and needed to be repaired per request of the owner. Of multiple options considered for the repair, a carbon fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) wrapping method was chosen based on expected life of the repair and limited disruption of parking garage use. Minimal disruption of garage use was a large deciding factor in the final decision since nearly one-third (~700) of the parking spaces would be unusable during the repair. (Belko, May 1998) This equated to millions in lost parking fee revenue during the repair. After four months of working around the clock, the repairs were completed just in time for the holiday travel season. At the time of completion, this project was the largest repair in the world using FRP technology. (Anonymous, March 1999)…

March 21, 2018

Major design change altered FIU bridge cost, schedule

Source: http://www.gainesville.com, March 21, 2018

It is still unclear if the design change contributed to the failure.

Construction of the pedestrian bridge that collapsed and killed six people in the Miami area was behind schedule and millions over budget, in part because of a key change in the design and placement of one of its support towers.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public-records request show that the Florida Department of Transportation in October 2016 advised Florida International University and its contractors to move one of the bridge’s main support structures 11 feet (3 meters) north to the edge of a canal, widening the gap between the crossing’s end supports and requiring some new structural design.…

November 8, 2017

San Francisco’s leaning tower of lawsuits

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com, November 5, 2017
By: Jon Wertheim

It’s a story as old as cities themselves: prosperity comes to town and triggers a building boom. In modern San Francisco, rows of skyscrapers have begun lining the downtown streets and recasting the skyline, monuments to the triumph of the tech sector. Leading this wave, the Millennium Tower. 58 stories of opulence, it opened in 2009 to great acclaim, then the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi. Though priced in the millions, the inventory of posh apartments moved quickly. Yet for all its curb appeal, the building has, quite literally, one fundamental problem: it’s sinking into mud and tilting toward its neighbors. Engineering doesn’t often make for rollicking mystery, but San Francisco is captivated by the tale of the leaning tower and the lawsuits it’s spawned. It’s a story positioned — albeit at an angle — somewhere between civic scandal and civic curiosity, an illustration of what can happen when zeal for development overtakes common sense.…

November 8, 2017

Hopkins School District Settles Tech Center Lawsuit with Engineering Firm

Source: http://www.surfky.com, November 8, 2017
By: Tammy Holloway

The Hopkins County School District has reached a settlement in its lawsuit against Associated Engineers involving the old Tech Center along Grapevine Road.

Nearly six years after construction was halted on the building, the board has reached an agreement with the engineering firm hired by the district for design, geotechnical services and construction of the project, the board announced at a meeting held Monday night.

In July 2012, the board filed a lawsuit againt Associated Engineers and Travelers Property Casualty Company in an effort to recover the cost of remediation of the abandoned site due to unstable subsoil conditions.

In a statement by board attorney, Michael A. Owsley, the settlement amount was $600,000. The agreement was made because Associated Engineers has limited insurance coverage, and with the added cost of litigation the district believes it could not recover a larger amount.…

November 8, 2017

Can an architect be held liable for defects in construction?

Source:https://www.lexology.com, November 7, 2017
By: Sean M. Golden, Vandeventer Black

It is common on commercial construction projects for the owner to hire the architect to perform services during construction, in addition to designing the project. Among other things, the architect’s construction phase services will typically consist of periodic observations and evaluations of the progress of the construction work. An architect may be charged with observing the work to determine whether or not the building is being constructed in accordance with the contract documents, including the drawings the architect has prepared.

When there are defects in the construction, an owner may attempt to hold the architect liable (usually in addition to the contractor) for said defects, even if there are no errors or omissions in the architect’s design or specifications. The theory behind such an assertion is typically that, even if the defect was caused by the contractor, the architect was charged with observing the work and should have called out the contractor’s defect and seen that it was corrected.…