Design-Build Interchange, Cincinnati, Ohio

October 25th, 2016

oct1The Thelen/Geotechnology – Cincinnati Branch has just begun the third year of a three-year design-build project for the new MLK interchange in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Prime Contractor is Kokosing Construction and the lead designer is HDR Engineering.  This $80+ million project includes the construction of two new bridges, widening and/or improvements to three additional bridges, removal of two bridges, construction of six ramps, extensive retaining walls and improvements to other roadways in the vicinity of the interchange.

Thelen/Geotechnology provided geotechnical drilling and laboratory testing services during the design of the project.  Project challenges included significant changes in rock elevation with rock excavation required in some areas, wick drains necessary to expedite consolidation of weak soils in other areas, and urban fill that required overexcavation and replacement.

oct2During the construction phase, Thelen/Geotechnology is providing ongoing construction review services including density testing for the embankments, wall and utility backfill, concrete testing, and testing for the cement stabilized subgrade.

The project will significantly improve the travel time and access to Cincinnati Uptown, Cincinnati Zoo, and University of Cincinnati areas. The project began in the fall of 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2017.

Please contact us for more information regarding our services for your next Design-Build project.

Revised Federal UST Regulations

August 10th, 2016

2226 N 1st UST Picture 1Due to recent litigation regarding the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) revised Underground Storage Tank (UST) regulations we want to update and remind our clients about the regulations that went into effect on October 13, 2015. The changes represent the first revisions to USEPA UST rules since they were enacted in 1988, and apply to tanks that hold petroleum or hazardous chemicals.

Some changes go into effect on October 13, 2018; however, some specific changes were set to go into effect immediately. These changes will affect some installations, repairs, and reporting requirements at current UST facilities.

What Are the Changes?

Some changes currently in effect:

  • Ball float valves replacements must be with an automatic shut off flapper valve or an overfill alarm system.
  • Operators must notify the regulatory agency at least 30 days in advance of switching to blended fuels containing greater than 10% ethanol, greater than 20% biodiesel, or when compatibility can be an issue for other regulated substances.

Some changes with an implementation date of October 13, 2018:

  • Monthly walk through inspections of UST facilities must be performed. Currently the rule allows for quarterly inspections.
  • Spill bucket testing for tank tightness at three year intervals (not previously required).
  • Inspection of overfill prevention equipment at three year intervals.
  • Training of UST Operators into A/B and C classes.

What Does This Mean for Illinois UST Operators?

USTIllinois UST operators will have to follow both the current Illinois regulations and the USEPA regulations until the Illinois regulations are updated. These updates are in progress at the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and are expected to have the same deadlines as the USEPA.

Also in Illinois, enforcement of the existing operator requirements has changed. A new Notice of Violation (NOV) for specific Operator Certification deficiencies began being issued on April 1, 2016. Instead of the 60 day compliance period that was previously allowed for correcting violations, this new Operator Certification NOV will lead to immediate red tagging of USTs at the facility when any of the listed violations are found. According to the OSFM, UST NOVs will continue to have a 60 day compliance period.

How About Missouri UST Operators?

Missouri’s UST regulatory program has “State Program Approval” from the USEPA, which allows the state to continue to use its own regulations as long as it updates the regulations and obtains approval by the USEPA within three years of the new USEPA regulation.

Currently, Missouri is in the preliminary stages of the rulemaking process, and USEPA rules are not in force. However, the proposed Rule Changes are being provided to the public in the following document: Proposed Changes to Missouri UST Regulations. Details of some of these proposed changes are also provided in its most recent newsletter: August 2015 MDNR UST Newsletter.

Ask Us If You Have Any Questions!

The first step in compliance is understanding the rules and regulations. Geotechnology continues to monitor these technical and regulatory changes on behalf of our clients. For a more detailed explanation of the USEPA rule changes and how they are different from the 1988 rules you can contact us or visit https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-07/documents/regs2015-crosswalk.pdf.

Special Inspections

June 28th, 2016

Chapter 17 – What is so Special about it?

Chapter 17 of the International Building Code (IBC) – and thus almost all adopted State and Local jurisdictions Building codes – relates to all Special Inspections.  The “Special” connotation can throw some for a “loop”.  Simplified, Chapter 17 Inspections can be defined as Third Party Tests and Reviews requiring “Special Expertise”.  These are construction reviews and construction materials testing that the jurisdictional Building Department will not be performing; however, the Building Department will require that the reviews/tests are performed in order to issue an Occupancy Permit for the project at the conclusion of construction.

It’s a bit of a Mystery….

River City Casino Special Inspection

Special Inspection Services

We are often asked to help interpret the Special Inspections portion of the Building Code. Sometimes it is difficult to understand exactly what will be enforced on the Code, but actually the tables within the Code are specific as to types, frequencies and referenced standards for reviews and tests required for the listed Special Inspections.  These can be looked at as the default required Inspections of the building being permitted.  These types of construction (concrete, masonry, structural steel, etc.) are also referred to as life safety items of the building construction. The Designer of Record (usually the Structural Engineer or Architect) can increase or decrease these if they feel that is appropriate based on the level and type of construction. However, the Plan Examiner can accept or reject those changes or may request a reason for requiring less Special Inspections than what is listed in the Code for typical construction.

For example, if a project requires Special Inspections for the structural masonry, the Code provides the frequency that grouting is to be reviewed and what items are reviewed during grouting, as well as the allowable construction tolerances.  The Code provides our scope.  Our role, as the Special Inspector, is to coordinate with the Contractor and provide the Inspector with the Special Expertise to review the work.  The appropriate reports are sent to the Design/Construction Team.  The completion of the Special Inspections will allow the Special Inspector to issue a final summary letter of the Final Report of Special Inspections (the required reports may vary by the individual Building Departments). This Final Report will meet one of the requirements for issuance of an Occupancy Permit.

How do we help you solve the “Mystery of Chapter 17”

Geotechnology, Inc. performs Special Inspections consistent with Chapter 17 of the IBC.  We are well versed with the requirements and can review your Statement of Special Inspections in order to submit the inspection report to the Building Department who is reviewing your plans and issuing your project’s permits.

Contact us for more information.

Natural Systems Consulting Services

May 20th, 2016

Natural Systems Consulting

NaturalSystemsConsulting1Are you considering a new development or improvements to an existing development? Depending on the size and location of your site, you may benefit from natural systems consulting services. Should your site possess water features that might be considered Waters of the United States (WOUS), the development may require Section 404/401 permitting. WOUS include waterbodies such as streams, ponds, and wetlands that are protected by the Clean Water Act (CWA). Under Sections 404 and 401 of the CWA, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and state natural resource agencies, respectively, maintain jurisdiction over the filling and dredging of WOUS, including wetlands.

NaturalSystemsConsulting2Since 1991, Geotechnology has been offering natural systems and wetlands consulting services to guide clients through the regulations and to provide cost-effective, ecological solutions for their project sites. These services assist clients on projects from initial due diligence delineations and biological surveys, to final monitoring of mitigation areas. Through our years of experience with projects of varying complexity, we’ve established excellent relationships with regulatory agencies including the USACE, various state natural resource agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). We can assist with wetland and WOUS delineations, Section 404/401 permit applications, alternatives analysis, public notice comment responses, stream or wetland mitigation plans, and mitigation monitoring.

Endangered Species Consultation

NaturalSystemsConsulting3Additionally, we provide threatened and endangered species consultation, including bat habitat assessments. In recent years, a fungal disease called white nose syndrome, has killed millions of bats in North America. As a result of the spread of the disease, USFWS has been looking more closely at potential bat habitats, including small stands of trees that may be used by bats for roosting or foraging. Should your development require tree removal, you may need a bat habitat assessment and USFWS consultation to facilitate site permitting.

For more information contact us!

Future Uses of Fly Ash

April 22nd, 2016

The future beneficial use of fly ash seems to be ‘up in the air.’ Recent USEPA air pollution control regulations are resulting in the production of fly ash with uncertain chemical properties, typically additional carbon and heavy metals content. These properties may restrict or possibly prohibit the use of some historically available fly ash sources for use in concrete or for soil stabilization/modification.

The spotlight on fly ash is due to operational and equipment modifications at coal-fired power plants to meet new air pollution control regulations. Changes include the introduction of powdered activated carbon (PAC) into the flue gas upstream of particle control devices to reduce the expulsion of heavy metals into the air. Fly ash with higher heavy metal and carbon content is expected.

Fly Ash and Concrete

The use of fly ash to produce a more durable and stronger concrete is a well-established practice.  Historically, fly ash included a small percentage of unburned carbon. Carbon can adversely interact with the concrete surfactants used to induce air entrainment. Consequently, current practice limits the percentage of carbon in fly ash designated for use in concrete. The concrete industry recognized this adverse effect and is developing processes to use high carbon content fly ash in concrete.

Fly Ash and Soil Improvement

fly ash soil stabilizationFly ash is frequently used to reduce the swell potential of highly plastic soils, increase the workability of wet soils, and increase the strength of pavement subgrades. The increased heavy metal content in some fly ash sources is resulting in some States (such as Missouri) reviewing a maximum amount of fly ash that can be used in unencapsulated beneficial reuse without receiving prior authorization or demonstration that adverse effects to human health and the environment would not occur.

Geotechnology continues to monitor these technical and regulatory changes on behalf of our clients. During this transition, our engineers communicate with regulators, the fly ash brokers, and review the fly ash chemical analysis reports to provide sound recommendations based on the available information.

It is important to know that individual states may have more restrictive requirements or permitting but to learn more follow the link below.

Coal Ash Reuse

 

For more information, please contact Matt McQuality, P.E. or Anna Saindon, Ph.D., P.E., R.G.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) for Pavement Projects

March 30th, 2016

Our geophysics team explains the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) for pavement projects for Fox 2 news.

Fox 2 Link: Creve Coeur using radar for pavement projects

 

 

Geotechnology Engineers Save Project $30 Million Dollars

March 23rd, 2016

IMG_20160216_105859152The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is currently constructing a new facility in Memphis, Tennessee. The facility includes combustion turbine-generators, a turbine hall building, two heat recovery steam generators, one steam turbine generator, tanks, pipe racks, cooling towers, warehouses, and an administrative building. The project site is approximately 1 ½ mile to the east of the Mississippi River and approximately ½-mile to the south of Lake McKellar. The soils in the general area of the site consist of dredged materials, uncemented and young river deposits. The site is within the zone of influence of the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), which has produced large earthquakes in the past.

TVA had a preliminary geotechnical subsurface exploration (SE) conducted during the planning phase. Kiewit Power (KP) retained Geotechnology to provide a geotechnical review of the preliminary SE during the bidding process. Based on the review, it was concluded that a supplementary SE is needed to provide sufficient design information. TVA then selected KP to provide design and construction services. KP retained Geotechnology to perform the supplementary SE, which included additional conventional drilling and in situ testing (SPT), sampling, laboratory testing, Cone Penetration Testing (CPT), and a site-specific seismic study. KP also retained Berkel and Company Contractors, Inc. (Berkel) to install Displacement Auger Pressure Grouted (APG-D) piles to support heavy loads and Cast-in-place Ground-improvement Elements (CGEs) for ground improvement purposes.

KP engineers faced a major challenge during the design phase: lateral spreading during the design earthquake event required by the 2012 International Building Code (IBC). Based on the results of the preliminary SE, a lateral displacement (LD) of 60 inches was estimated. To mitigate the LD impact, additional ground improvement was required by installing the CGE’s at tighter spacing. Additional piles were also required to limit the expected lateral movement of superstructures. The expected additional cost was around $30M. KP requested that Geotechnology perform analyses to evaluate the potential for lateral spreading due the design seismic event stated in the IBC.

Geotechnology engineers used two methods to estimate lateral spreading. The analyses utilized both SPT and CPT results, actual topographical information between the site and Lake McKellar and the site-specific seismic study results. The engineers also considered the database used for developing the analysis methods, the nearest distance to the possible seismic source, the uncertainty in developing the analysis methods, and they reviewed historical data (a 1910 USGS report) related to LD observations in the NMSZ. Based on the extensive study performed by our engineers, an estimated average LD of 6 inches was recommended. Accordingly, KP design engineers concluded the additional ground improvement and piles are not necessary, thus reducing the estimated construction cost by approximately $30M. The project is currently under construction, and it has a target completion date of early 2017.

Geotechnology Promotes Craig Kaibel to Geotechnical Group Manager in St. Louis

March 17th, 2016

CraigKaibelSt. Louis, Mo. (March 17, 2016) – Geotechnology, Inc., a leading provider of geotechnical and environmental engineering, geophysics, water resource management, materials testing and drilling services, has announced that Craig Kaibel has been promoted to Group Manager of the St. Louis Geotechnical Group.

Kaibel has been with Geotechnology since 2004 and most recently has been a Senior Project Manager. He has extensive experience across a wide spectrum of civil and geotechnical engineering projects, including project design, construction observation and management, supervising field explorations and investigations, collecting field data, and the nondestructive testing of drilled shafts and driven piles for bridge construction.

In his new role, his leadership responsibilities will include staff management, client management and development, as well as senior technical review.

“Craig has been a technical leader in deep foundation testing, and has also been instrumental in managing much of the Missouri Department of Transportation work,” said Geotechnology’s St. Louis Branch Manager Joel Weinhold. “In addition to delivering exemplary service and maintaining relationships with satisfied clients over the last few years, Craig has taken on a larger role within the geotechnical group. His roles have included mentoring and scheduling the field staff as well as being a valuable resource for the St. Louis soils laboratory.”

Kaibel is a graduate of Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Geological Engineering.

GeoBlast Feb. 2016 – Expanded Design Services

February 17th, 2016

Feb DesignServicesGeotechnology, Inc. has expanded our design services for projects that have solely geotechnical elements. Geotechnology now offers services that can include: preparation of plans & specifications, bidding assistance, construction review, administration for landslide stabilizations and other entirely geotechnical projects. Examples include:

  • Landslide stabilizations
    • Earthwork/regrading
    • Earthwork buttresses
    • Slope reconstruction with benches and underdrains
    • Stabilization with driven or drilled piles or drilled piers
    • Stabilization with retaining structures
    • Stabilization with deep soil mixing or other ground improvement
  • Retaining Structures
    • Cantilever drilled pier or soldier pile walls
    • Tied back drilled pier or soldier pile walls
  • Mechanically stabilized earth walls
  • Shoring walls
    • Cantilever, internally braced or tied back sheet pile or soldier pile walls
    • Soil nail walls

Geotechnology continues to assist our clients and their projects with characterization of site surface and subsurface conditions, and development of design and construction recommendations for site grading, drainage, structure foundations, retaining walls, environmental assessments and abatement monitoring.

For additional information, please contact your trusted advisors at Geotechnology via Joel Weinhold in St. Louis, Matt McQuality in Kansas City, Pat Donovan in Memphis, Keith Pryse in Cincinnati, Lee Czor in Lexington or Ted Vogelpohl in Erlanger.

The Critical Role of Safety

February 17th, 2016

JoeDarmodyBlogSafety in the workplace is an integral part of caring for the wellbeing of employees. A company has a responsibility to protect its employees and offer them a safe and healthy work environment. Going beyond the wellbeing of employees, safety is playing a bigger role on the business side of the company, says Geotechnology Corporate Risk Manager Joe Darmody.

“Increasingly, clients are using safety statistics as pre-qualifiers and differentiators in the proposal process,” says Darmody. “As part of many prequalification submittals, we are asked to document our safety programs and our path to improvement from a safety perspective; those efforts have only made us stronger as a company in the long-term.”

Geotechnology has always had a strong commitment and focus on safety. Within the past year, under Darmody’s direction, the company has taken additional steps to put safety at the forefront of all parts of the business.

Safety Logo_2in Round Sticker_PRINT-01Darmody has been with Geotechnology for nearly ten years in a variety of key positions. In January 2015, he assumed the role as the company’s first full-time Corporate Risk Manager.

“We are in an evolving industry and our safety culture must continue to evolve,” says Darmody. “Overall, we want to make sure our operational teams think more about safety from the beginning of a project with proposals and budgets all the way through completion.”

Darmody is responsible for safety, radiation, insurance, DOT compliance and much more. His previous project management and environmental group management experience helps him integrate safety throughout existing company operations. Better methods of communications have helped the company become even more consistent in its practices.

“We continue to look for ways to keep safety first and foremost throughout the company,” he says. “This is especially important because Geotechnology has grown so much during the past year and brought on many more people. Through newer text-based programs, a robust company-wide intranet and improved email capabilities, we’re now able to reach the entire company on a regular basis, which has made a big difference for us.”

This year began with a Safety Kick-Off event in each of Geotechnology’s 10 offices. Employees signed a banner signified that “I am Committed” to exceeding safety expectations this year and beyond. This comes in addition to safety being designated as one of the company’s six core values in 2015.

Darmody visits each office frequently throughout the year to stress the importance of getting new employees acclimated with the culture of safety. Those opportunities to address safety topics and conduct jobsite safety visits will continue regularly in 2016.

“Throughout our history, we have been committed to establishing and maintaining stringent safety programs,” said President and CEO Ed Alizadeh. “As we expand into new markets, we will incorporate that same high standard for safety across the country.”