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There is a new player in the ground engineering and specialty geotechnical construction market in North America...well, sort of. Quanta Subsurface is a collection of (at present) 9 specialty contractors all owned by Quanta Services, a publicly traded EPC company specializing in the Electric Power and Oil and Gas industries. Many of these companies have been around for some time in their various markets, firms like Crux Subsurface. With the formation of Quanta Subsurface, it appears that they are looking to grow their footprint in transmission line sector in particular. The company is being run by several Crux Subsurface executives, including Crux President Nick Salisbury. [Source: Read more at QuantaSubsurface. Image: Crux/Quanta Subsurface]
This is a pretty remarkable 4-year time-lapse video of the construction of a new spillway as part of the Calaveras Dam replacement project. [Source: SFWater Power and Sewer YouTube Channel via Hat tip to my buddy Wayne Harrison. Thanks, Wayne!. Image: YouTube]
ENR's annual top 500 design firms list is out. These rankings are based on revenue for design services in the previous calendar year. I was curious how the various firms that are strong in geotechnical / geological related services rank. I included firms that self-identified as geotechnical firms, as well as engineering firms that I know to have a strong geo emphasis. I'm sure there are some that I missed. I also included some of the major A&E firms that provide these types of services. I even included a few environmental firms. So in summary, it's still a bit subjective on who is included. Without further ado, here is the list (along with their change in ranking relative to 2015):
1 - AECOM, Los Angeles, Calif. (No change from 2015)
3 - CH2M, Englewood, Colo. (+1)
5 - AMEC FOSTER WHEELER, Tucker, Ga. (+1)
7 - TETRA TECH INC., Pasadena, Calif. (No change from 2015)
9 - HDR, Omaha, Neb. (No change from 2015)
11 - WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF, New York, N.Y. (+5)
12 - ARCADIS NORTH AMERICA/CALLISONRTKL, Highlands Ranch, Colo. (+1)
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After nearly a week of tunneling under the Alaskan Way Viaduct, crews are steadily continuing Bertha's underground drive towards downtown Seattle. This video gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how the new tunnel is being built, showcasing the complex operations involved in this project. Massive concrete ring segments are transported to Bertha's segment erector where they are lifted into place, allowing the machine to push forward while the excavated soil is transported along a network of conveyer belts and into a barge moored at Elliott Bayâ€™s Pier 46.
The Deep Foundations Institute is accepting scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students in geotechnical engineering or foundation engineering at a U.S. college or university. The at-large scholarships range from 2,000 to 5,000. For more information and to apply, visit dfitrust.org. Hurry, the deadline is May 16! [Source: Deep Foundations Institute. Image: DFI]
This is a great video from WSDOT visualizing all of the geotechnical instrumentation and survey monitoring being done in Downtown Seattle above the Bertha TBM for the Alaska Way Viaduct Replacement project. Soldata is the company WSDOT hired to manage the monitoring. I heard a great presentation by a Soldata representative and a member of the Seattle Tunnel Partners in charge of the instrumentation and monitoring from the contractor's side several years ago at an AEG conference. You can read more about the amazing Bertha TBM and some of the monitoring being done in my article. [Source: WSDOT YouTube Channel. Image: YouTube]
I stumbled across a nice interview of Dan Brown, a recognized deep foundation expert and founder of Dan Brown and Associates, in a back issue of Pile Buck magazine. He discussed some of the large design-build contracts that they have been involved in, designing foundations for some of the biggest bridges in the Country. One of my takeaways was that he called himself and his colleagues 'foundation engineers' and pointed out that we shouldn't pigeon-hole ourselves as geotechnical engineers or structural engineers, foundation engineering requires elements of both and you must look at it from design all the way through construction. Overall, he has a very practical approach to his work, focusing on solving problems and designing things that are constructable and optimized. But perhaps my favorite tidbit from the interview was a football analogy for the design-build work that they do:
I tell people it's like a football team. We're the left tackle on the offensive line. We don't always see what's going on. If the quarterback fumbles the ball, it's not always our fault. If we score a touchdown, we don't always get noticed. But, if we miss a block, we definitely get noticed.
So, in foundation engineering, if we do our job well, we're like the offensive line: somebody else gets credit but everyone on the team knows we did our job. If we don't do our job, well, it's a disaster of epic proportions: the quarterback is sacked, the ball is fumbled and the other team scores a touchdown. We are in big trouble. It's not for the faint-of-heart. It's still fun
The IHC Fundex 5600 is the newest and largest multifunctional foundation drill rig in Dutch equipment maker's line. This rig has a leader or mast that is 50 to (optionally) 56 meters in length (164-184 feet!). Amazingly, this huge mast can be erected by the machine itself without assistance from a crane. The rig can be used for drilling continuous flight auger or CFA piles, conventional drilled shafts, and driving precast concrete piles. You can find out more info at the manufacturer's IHC Fundex F5600 product page. Check out the drone video below of the rig after it rolled out of IHC's facilities. [Source: YouTube via DFI LinkedIn Group. Image: IHC Fundex]
This project video seems a few years old, but it's relatively new on YouTube and it's a fantastic case study of the slick method of installing groundwater interception trenches using DeWind's remarkable one-pass trenching technology. Hill Air Force Base in Utah had been using jet fuel ignited on a mock aircraft to train firefighters. The jet fuel had leached into the soil and was reaching the shallow aquifer. The DeWind technology was used to install a drainage trench to intercept the contaminated groundwater and pump it out for treatment before it reached the aquifer. This approach was several million dollars less costly than other alternatives they looked at. Project staff considered this method more likely to intercept the contamination than discrete wells spaced along the same alignment. [Source: DeWind YouTube. Image: YouTube]