Monthly Archives: February 2016

Why Dirt Matters

BeforeMost people don’t think twice about roads, bridges or tunnels; at least not about how the structures were built or the materials that were used to construct them. And most people certainly don’t think about dirt or give dirt the credit it deserves. Dirt matters – everything around us is supported by dirt, soil or rock.

The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) is celebrating National Engineers Week (Feb. 21 – 27) by recognizing its engineering team on Facebook and celebrating how engineers make a difference in our communities. Paul Bopp and Juliet Su, both engineering managers at TCA, recently participated in the 2nd annual Girl’s Engineering Day – Transporting the Future – at Dale Junior High School in Anaheim.

AfterHosted by WTS Orange County, an organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women in transportation; Transportation YOU, an interactive mentoring program that offers young girls ages 13-18 an introduction to a wide variety of transportation careers; and the Anaheim Unified School District, more than 100 young women, grades 7 to 12, from 16 schools participated in a fun and informative day introducing them to engineering and engineering-related fields.

Paul and Juliet led the Geotechnical Engineering station, providing an overview of why dirt matters; why foundations are critical to transportation projects; and how to select the best foundation to match the project soil conditions. Geotechnical engineering is a branch of civil engineering that deals with soil and rock and their relation to the design, construction and operation of engineering projects. Nearly all civil engineering projects, including roads, bridges and tunnels, must be supported by the ground and require geotechnical engineering. In short, dirt matters – for our future and growth of infrastructure.

Geotechnical2Students used wood blocks and sticks to serve as foundations and pile supports in trays of sand and clay to compare how foundations behave with and without pile supports in each type of soil.

“It was incredibly rewarding to participate in Girls Engineering Day,” said Juliet Su. “In an industry where men largely outnumber women, it’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce the world of engineering and shape the mind, goals, and future of a young woman.”

Everything around us is supported by dirt, soil or rock and geotechnical engineers are responsible for ensuring that. Paul and Juliet’s hope is that these students become our next generation of civil engineers; but for now we’ll never doubt dirt’s importance – or look at a road, bridge or tunnel the same way. Visit facebook.com/TheTollRoads to read more and learn fun facts about TCA’s engineers.

GED Group Photo2

 

Community Ascertainment Study Findings

In April 2015, the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) retained Sharon Browning and Associates to conduct a community ascertainment study to gather input and gain insight on how best to collaborate to address regional mobility challenges in South Orange County. The scope of the study was designed to develop an understanding of the community’s definitions of the problem; priorities to be considered in proposing solutions; and preferences for process, planning and decision making.

In-person, confidential interviews were conducted with 45 residents and active community leaders — excluding elected officials — in cities and unincorporated areas in South Orange County. Topics of discussion included Interstate 5 (I-5)  mobility challenges, describing the problem, exploring solutions including a need or no need for a State Route 241/I-5 connections, who should lead planning efforts and how planning should be led and exploring the need for consensus.

Below is a brief summary and analysis of the findings that will assist in developing a plan for achieving a consensus.

  • The study analyzed the contents of each interview to identify areas of high agreement and areas of lack of agreement, in order for the F/ETCA to focus on areas of agreement in future regional traffic solution planning, particularly around relieving traffic on the I-5 corridor.
  • The environment of the study included discussion around existing I-5 construction, the Avenida La Pata extension, and the local culture, political perspective, values and practices of each community.
  • The study found high agreement in the community that excessive traffic congestion exists along the I-5, north and south from Oso Parkway to Cristianitos Road on weekends, during peak usage times and when accidents occur. The study confirmed the community is greatly concerned about this problem because of its negative impacts on quality of life.
  • The study revealed the community is looking for increased engagement and choices at the local level.
  • The study revealed that the community may not expect 100 percent consensus, rather an open, collaborative problem-solving process led by elected officials with community input.

A full report of the community ascertainment study may be viewed in full here.