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A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 32 and 33

Day 32 & 33

I decided to combine yesterday's post with today's because wow – have I been busy! On Thursday I tried to finalize a few outstanding items before taking off a few days to attend conferences. I finalized a cost estimate for resurfacing a major roadway in the city. Then sent out the approval letter for the last review on a development. They are now cleared to send in their Letter of Credit for the project. Once we get that, they will receive final engineering approval and can get started on the site work.

Later in the morning, a few of us attended a pre-construction meeting with the Park District and their engineer and contractor. We are all working together to build a community garden. It will be located in the northwest corner of our city on land owned by the Forest Preserve who is also a partner. Our water department will be working with the contractor installing water lines and will later install yard hydrants.

We also had a staff meeting in the afternoon. Because we have so much going on and so many projects, it seems like our staff meetings take longer. It was almost the end of the day when we finished. We also finished out the day by placing a culvert lining project out to bid.

Illinois Association of Highway Engineers

Then today, I attended the Ilinois Association of Highway Engineers conference in Normal, Illinois. It was a very well run event which is impressive because it's all put together by volunteers who work for IDOT. I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to give one of the presentations and had a great time. (Technically I wasn't working because I had to take a vacation day to attend – we are only allowed time off to attend two conferences a year.)

Warm Mix Asphalt

One of the other presentations was on warm mix asphalt. It was given by someone who is involved in researching testing of asphalt. I could have predicted what he was going to tell us based on the performance of asphalt we have been seeing in the field. Ever since they cut back on the percentage of asphalt content and increased the amount of RAP (recycled asphalt pavement), we've noticed roads don't last as long as they used to. Sometimes we are seeing failures in the first five years. His testing seemed to indicate that using a warm mix improves the performance. The warm mix asphalt is actually a mix design produced at temperatures below that of a traditional mix. The use of this "colder" mix is possible because of the use of additives. I don't think the speaker mentioned this, but warm mix asphalt is one of the innovation components of Every Day Counts. So you can learn more about it here: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/everydaycounts/technology/asphalt/

Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge

We also listened to an interesting talk by someone involved with the construction of the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge. He was either one of the engineers or worked for the contractor. The speaker started at the beginning of the project and walked through how it was constructed using a lot of photos taken at each stage. It was incredible to see how they had to construct a whole cable system in order to just get people and materials out to the areas where they were working.

My presentation: Social Media and Its Use in Transportation Projects

So here is the presentation I gave – I wish I had the audio because I usually put so little on the slide and then talk to convey the story behind the slide. But I don't think they were taping the presentations.

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