A Salt Shed as a Civic Monument

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With the full heat of the long summer just kicking in, this past February’s Winter Storm Jonas, which dumped a record 27.5 inches of snow in Central Park, can seem like a distant memory. Notwithstanding that December 2015 was the warmest on record, New York City will continue to be slammed by storms like Jonas and the blizzards of 2006 and 1996, as well as snowstorms that might be more mundane but nevertheless paralyzing to city streets in their own right. That is why residents of Lower Manhattan can look upon the New York City Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) new Spring Street Salt Shed as a comfort and reassurance as the next inevitable winter looms on the distant horizon—and, given its unique, striking design, as an object of civic pride. Continue Reading…

Looking Beyond Safety Week

SafetyWeek logoThis year, more than 40 national and global construction firms comprising The Construction Industry Safety group and the Incident and Injury Free CEO Forum joined forces to create and celebrate Safety Week from May 2-6.  As a follow up, our blog this month looks at safety regulations and practices in the construction industry.  The numbers are jarring: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,679 workers were killed on the job in 2014. Out of the 4,251 worker fatalities in private industry that year, 874 (or 20.5%) were in construction.  According to OSHA, the leading cause of worker deaths on construction sites was falls, followed by electrocution, struck by objects and “caught-in/betweens.” During safety week, OSHA held a National Safety Stand-Down to raise awareness of fall prevention. Continue Reading…

A Commitment to Quality

Contributed by Lance Payne, MSI, LHI, CLA

In the building and construction industry, reputation and trust are everything. And reputation and trust are earned through quality work. Quality assurance programs (QAP) exist for this purpose. The concept of “quality assurance” is often confused with quality control and quality inspection. The American Society for Quality (ASQ), one of the world’s leading authorities on quality, defines these terms as follows: Continue Reading…

Declaring “War” on Homeless Shelters

Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio released the results of his aggressive program to inspect and repair violations in New York City’s homeless shelters. The numbers are impressive: in just two months, the city and shelter providers repaired almost as many violations as were fixed in all of 2015 and, in two months, the city conducted one-third as many inspections as it did in all of 2015. The February Shelter Repair Scorecard, which allows tracking of conditions and results, reported that:

  • The 2,660 inspections conducted in just two months in 2016 is almost one-third of the 8,665 inspections conducted in all of 2015. These inspections identified 11,125 new violations and conditions.
  • The two-month total of 12,026 repairs completed is almost as many as the total 12,934 violations cleared in all of 2015.
  • Of the 330 non-cluster city homeless shelters, 157 sites had ten or fewer violations; 90 of those sites had five or less. (A cluster shelter refers to groups of individual apartments in larger buildings, and the violation total includes all violations in each building, not those solely relating to the cluster units. The city plans to phase out the use of such cluster shelters and return them to the market to serve as low-rent housing.)
  • The 303 cluster shelters, which house only 23 percent of the total shelter population, had 14,054 violations, or 68 percent of the total.
  • The Scorecard lists 26 cluster buildings with 315 units designated for closure this fiscal year.

Continue Reading…

ACEC New York Recognizes Two HAKS Projects For Engineering Excellence

This year, ACEC New York has recognized two high-profile transportation projects—one in New York and one in Connecticut. The Gowanus Expressway (I-278) in Brooklyn, New York, is a critical component of New York City’s highway system, connecting the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, a distance of approximately six miles. The approximately 200,000 vehicles that utilize the Gowanus Expressway each day will undoubtedly benefit from the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) extensive improvements to this transportation corridor.

I-95 between Interchange 14 and 15 in Norwalk, Connecticut, had been referred to as “the worst highway choke point on the I-95 corridor” prior to recent upgrades by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT). Continue Reading…

Fixing America’s Surface Transportation: A FAST Act for the 21st Century

Cedar Street Bridge over I-95In December 2015, a new surface transportation act was signed into law—the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act– providing long-term funding for surface transportation and allowing state and local governments to address critical highway and transit improvements. The $305 billion Act reauthorizes funding for federal highway and public transportation for fiscal years 2016-2020 and stabilizes the Highway Trust Fund during that five-year period. Continue Reading…

Building Technology into Protective Clothing

blog 1Accidents (unintentional injuries) are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), 4,679 workers died on the job in 2014. OSHA mandates the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) on the work site, which includes face shields, safety glasses, hard hats, safety shoes, goggles, coveralls, gloves, vests, earplugs and respirators, based on the work environment. The next generation of PPE offers the means to monitor a worker’s vital signs, warn of oncoming traffic, display work instructions via augmented reality, and much more, thereby increasing safety, productivity and accuracy. Some of these garments are already on the market. Continue Reading…

ACE Mentor Program: Investing in the Future

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Bronx Design and Construction Academy Students

Some commitments have a ripple effect. Such is the case with the ACE Mentor Program, a not-for-profit organization where professionals mentor New York City high school students in preparation for careers in design and construction. HAKS has been a long-time supporter of the program, with individual employees volunteering as mentors. This year, we are proud to have formed our own mentoring team and are eager to share our industry knowledge with deserving students in the Greater New York City area. Continue Reading…

Carless Bridges Hit the Road

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An October 2015 article in The Atlantic examined the allure of carless bridges, citing innovative design possibilities, cheaper construction cost (millions instead of billions), and the overall movement to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrian-only bridges are connecting neighborhoods across the country, while many motorist bridges under reconstruction are adding facilities for bicycles and pedestrians. Continue Reading…

Tracking Positive Train Control Implementation

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With a December 31st implementation deadline fast approaching, positive train control (PTC) has recently been in the news, as railroads try to meet a deadline that may not be realistically possible.

PTC is a safety overlay utilizing computers, transponders, and GPS to stop or slow a train automatically before certain types of accidents occur, thereby overriding operator error. A properly functioning PTC system must be able to determine the precise location, direction, and speed of trains; warn train operators of potential problems; and take immediate action if the operator does not respond to warnings. PTC is capable of preventing train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, unauthorized incursion into work zones and train movement through switches left in the wrong position. Continue Reading…