Maine Trails, October - November '10
Inside Cover
President’s Message
Cover Story
Gas Tax
Making it real
Conventional thinking
A man for his times
MaineDOT View

 

Maine TrailsPresident’s Message
Coming together. Holiday travel reminds us how important safe, efficient transportation is to our families and our future.  By Deborah Dunlap Avasthi.
 
Cover Story
Up-and-comers. MBTA Educational Foundation awards record $16,500 in scholarships. By Maria Fuentes
 
Maine News
Is a federal fuel tax increase gaining traction? And will a federal reauthorization bill pass swiftly?
 
Making it real. Maine leads the nation taking composite bridge technology from the lab into the real world.  By Kathryn Buxton
 
Association News
Conventional thinking. MBTA Convention raises $17,000 for infrastructure fund and scholarships.
 
Member News
A man for his times. Saying farewell to former MBTA President and Maine Transportation Achievement Award recipient Stephen Dunlap.
 
Guest Column
Prioritizing: Same job, better tools. MaineDOT is making its list and checking it twice.  By Bruce Van Note

 


Coming together

When MBTA members get together this holiday season, let’s remember how much we can accomplish when we work together 

The days between Thanksgiving and the New Year are some of the busiest on the calendar. We shop, we party and we travel – a lot. This is also a time when MBTA members come together at the annual Maine Transportation Conference and Holiday Meeting in Orono. While both of those events come at a festive time, this year especially, they have a serious undertone as we look ahead to the challenges facing us in the New Year.
 
Those challenges are many and to start, there is a clear lack of funding: a $720 million structural gap in the Maine Highway Fund and a looming deficit in the federal Highway Trust Fund.
 
We have an aging inventory of over 300 bridges in need of rehabilitation or reconstruction, an aging fleet of public buses in need of replacement and an aging population that will be placing new demands on our transportation infrastructure. Nearly half of our state’s highway miles (3,800 out of 8,400 miles) have yet to be constructed to modern safety standards.
 
We have a new generation of vehicles that are greener and leaner – but that is putting the viability of our Highway Fund at risk. Greener and more fuel efficient cars, while good for the environment, are not so good for our roads and bridges, because they mean more miles driven and fewer gas taxes paid to take care of our roads and bridges.
 
We also have a new governor and legislature that promise a major shift in priorities on the state level. One of the first orders of business for our newly elected officials will be addressing a $750 million General Fund shortfall and another $720 million structural gap in Maine’s Highway Fund during the next two years.
 
At the federal level, we are still waiting for Congress to vote on a new surface transportation authorization. It has been 14 months since the last multi-year authorization expired (the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act or SAFETEA LU). With funding coming from a series of short-term continuing resolutions, MaineDOT and other state DOTs have been hobbled in their efforts to address long-term maintenance and improvements. The big question for 2011 is whether the new Congress and Maine Legislature will bite the bullet and address the transportation funding shortfall on either the state or federal level.
 
How to face all of these challenges will undoubtedly be on all of our minds as we get together during the coming weeks. Are we ready for a new era of belt tightening? Are we willing to make critical investments in our infrastructure? What can the MBTA do to keep our critical transportation infrastructure in the forefront – and a priority – for the public and our elected officials?
 
If there’s one great benefit to belonging to an organization like the MBTA, it is having a collective sense of history that puts difficult times like these into perspective. This year, we celebrate the 60th Maine Transportation Conference and it is the 71th anniversary of the founding of the Maine Good Roads Association (that’s what the MBTA was called before 1983 when we expanded our mission to incorporate air, rail and marine transportation).

Looking back over the years, we can see that this is not the first time that transportation in Maine and the nation have faced tough times. Nor is it the first time that MBTA members have come together to make transportation better, safer and more efficient for Maine.
 
There were the late 1930s, when this organization was founded and the state struggled to improve its road system without dedicated funding for its highway program. Then there were the 1970s, when the country faced the OPEC oil embargo that quadrupled gas prices and hastened the country’s decline into an economic recession. During those tough times, our members worked to advance innovative, practical solutions that would benefit all of the citizens of Maine.
 
There have been the triumphant times, as well, including the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 that created the interstate system and the 2007 passage of L.D. 1790: An Act to Secure Maine’s Transportation Future. During those good times, our members have been there in the forefront fighting for positive change, because we understand that a safe, efficient transportation system is an essential building block for a stronger economy.
 
So, as we get together this holiday season, let’s remember how very vital transportation is to all of us. We need modern aviation, highway, port and rail systems to move our people efficiently and ship Maine products to markets around the world. We rely on good roads and bridges to take us where we need to go safely, whether it be to work, school – or a family holiday celebration.
 
MBTA wishes to congratulate Governor-Elect Paul LePage on his victory in November.We look forward to working with him, with his administration and with all the successful legislative candidates as well. As always, MBTA stands ready to work with the Governor and the Legislature to forge solutions to our critical transportation infrastructure needs. 
 
I look forward to seeing and working with you this holiday season and into the New Year. Because when we come together, we can accomplish great things for transportation in Maine.


Cover Story
Up-and-Comers

By Maria Fuentes

This year at the MBTA Holiday Meeting, MBTA members will have the chance to meet some fresh faces: the 2010 MBTA Educational Foundation scholarship winners. In total, the charitable organization has awarded $16,500 in scholarships to 17 students currently pursuing careers in transportation-related fields. That is a milestone in the foundation’s nearly 20-year history; it is the single largest dollar amount ever awarded.
 
This crop of talented and hardworking students include Bo Li, a fourth-year civil engineering student at UMaine, two-time recipient of the MBTA’s Transportation Trailblazer Scholarship, a sustaining scholarship that was first introduced last year and goes to a student who has demonstrated a strong intrest in the industry and who shows promise as a future advocate for the the transportation community in Maine.
 
We are also pleased to recognize Dylan Thomas Smith, a third-year student in the construction management program at UMaine, the second recipient of MBTA’s Kenneth W. Burrill Scholarship. The Kenneth W. Burrill Scholarship was established in 2009 in memory of Ken Burrill, a former MBTA president and Transportation Achievement Award recipient (1999). Ken had a long and distinguished career in transportation and construction, and the scholarship bearing his name is meant to go to a student who shows strong creative and leadership skills.
 
This year, the foundation awarded three Millard W. Pray Scholarships to Amber Ferland, Nicholas Ibarguen and Jacqueline Scott, named for the former MBTA president and Educational Foundation board member. The named scholarship was created by Millard’s former employer and business partner Eldon Morrison of CPM Constructors.
 
Shawn Lagasse and Gregory Schools were awarded Paris J. Snow Scholarships, named in honor of a former Aroostook County legislator, businessman and MBTA board member. Also, three of the students were awarded scholarships named for Lucius Barrows who served as the Maine Department of Transportation’s chief engineer from 1928 to 1955. They are: Stephen Bates, Annika Mathiasson and Samedy Oun, all seniors at UMaine.
 
Giving Opportunities
 
A gift to the MBTA Educational Foundation helps ensure the transportation field will continue to grow, innovate and flourish in the decades to come.
 
There are many ways to give. Gifts of cash and securities are welcome. Members and friends may also designate contributions through a will or trust. An individual, group, or business may elect to honor an associate’s professional contributions through a named scholarship. Examples of named scholarships include the Millard W. Pray Scholarship and the Kenneth W. Burrill Scholarship.
 
For more information about making a gift to the MBTA Educational Foundation, please contact Maria Fuentes, 207-622-0526.
 
Transportation Trailblazers
 
Bo Li
Bo Li is a senior in the civil engineering program at UMaine. He has received the MBTA Transportation Trailblazer Scholarship for the second consecutive year. The Trailblazer is the association’s sole sustaining scholarship, meaning if a recipient maintains the grades and other components of the scholarship, they can receive it for continuous years. Bo graduated from Noble High School and has a 3.61 grade point average. He has interned as a transportation researcher at the University of Texas, Austin, where he researched long combination vehicles and truck-only facilities. He currently is a teaching assistant for the materials, graphics and Matlab – a computer tutorial program. He has worked for Gifford Construction in South Berwick and Pine Brook Construction in Kittery. He has received the College of Engineering Award, Civil Engineering Department Award and National Semiconductor Scholarship. He is president of the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honors Society and has been involved with the Concrete Canoe Team. His career goal is to be a transportation engineer.
 
Joseph Birckhead
Joseph Birckhead graduated from Ellsworth High School and is the second student to receive the MBTA Transportation Trailblazer Scholarship. After completing an associate’s degree in civil engineering from Eastern Maine Community College, he plans to attend the University of Maine’s construction management technology program this year as a junior minoring in business. He has worked as a laborer and equipment operator for K.J. Dugas Construction in Surry, and as a laborer/foreman assistant for R.F. Jordan & Sons in Ellsworth. He has had a passion for construction since he was a young boy developing structures out of dirt. He wrote in his application: “I knew at the age of about four, that building things with the earth was my passion.” Joseph hopes to work for a large construction company after graduation.
 
Kenneth W. Burrill scholar
 
Dylan Thomas Smith
Dylan Thomas Smith graduated from Bishop Brady High School in Concord, New Hampshire and is a third year student in the UMaine construction management technology program. He is the second recipient of MBTA’s Kenneth W. Burrill Scholarship. For two summers, Dylan has worked for Pike Industries, and his experience has included projects such as the installation of high-speed tollbooths in Hampton, New Hampshire and the resurfacing of I-95 in the Portsmouth area. He is vice president of the student chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. His career goal is to work in road construction.
 
Lucius Barrows scholars
 
Stephen Bates
Stephen Bates was born and raised in the small community of Wayne, Maine, and graduated with honors from Maranacook Community High. A recipient of the MBTA Lucius Barrows Scholarship, he is a senior at UMaine, where he has earned a place on the dean’s list every semester. He also is a recipient of the Presidential Achievement Award. During the past few summers, Stephen worked with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection inspecting landfills and other construction sites. He looks forward to a career in the transportation-engineering field.
 
Annika Mathiasson
Annika Mathiasson is a fourth-year student in the civil and environmental engineering program at UMaine. She is the current president of the American Society of Civil Engineers UMaine student chapter and a past recipient of the MBTA Lucius Barrows Scholarship. Annika was a first-place student speaker at the 59th Maine Transportation Conference. She is currently researching structural health monitoring with REU’s International Smart Structures Program. Annika looks forward to a career in engineering, as she aspires to positively impact society by increasing sustainability through innovative and green design.
 
Samedy Oun
Samedy Oun graduated from Biddeford High School and is a recipient of the Lucius Barrows Scholarship. A senior at UMaine, he has been on the dean’s list every semester. This year, he is focused on transportation. “It has been my passion to work with other civil engineers to build up a more effective, safer transportation system.” Samedy likes to read, play soccer, ping-pong and badminton.
 
Ronald St. John
Ronald St. John graduated from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and is currently in the final year of a two-year heavy equipment operations program at Washington County Community College. He has worked as a construction laborer at Maine Home & Development and Burnett Remodeling. Ronald has been fascinated with tractors and heavy equipment since he was a child. He cites the day his father let him drive the lawn mower as “one of the happiest days of my life.” He can operate a backhoe and skid steer and holds a Class A license to operate tractor-trailers. He hopes to have a career in Maine as a motor grader and backhoe operator but will go wherever the jobs are.
 
Justin Charles Cleaves
Justin Charles Cleaves graduated from Piscataquis Community High School and currently is a sophomore studying construction management at UMaine. He was born in Sangerville on a family-owned seed potato farm and was “brought up to work as soon as he could walk.” In addition to farming, he has worked part-time in construction and engineering. Last summer, he worked for Haley Construction in Sangerville as an intern, first as a laborer and then moving up to a supervisory position. He enjoyed putting in water mains, road construction and paving. He also built a garden wall out of Redi Rock blocks in front of the company’s Guilford office. He learned about paving from MBTA member Stan Kitchin. His goal is to work for a Maine construction company. He enjoys hunting, fishing and “learning new things.”
 
Joshua Luce
Joshua Luce is a junior in the construction management technology program at UMaine. He will soon have a hazmat and tanker endorsement to go along with his class A commercial driver’s license. He graduated from Camden Hills Regional High School. His work experience includes a summer with Wardwell Contracting Division of Lane Construction as well as work with a landscaping service, where he realized higher education could lead to a good career in construction. Among the honors he has received are: a Cianbro Scholarship, the Adam Ober Memorial Scholarship and the Francis Perry and Walker Scholarships. He hopes to have a career as a construction project manager.
 
Alan Farrington
Alan Farrington graduated with honors from Schenck High School in 2008. In his first two years at UMaine’s civil engineering program, he earned a 3.56 grade point average and made the dean’s list every semester. He recently added a mathematics minor to his education plan. During the last two summers he worked for MaineDOT as a transportation aide and was highly involved in the paving of I-95 between Carmel and Medway. He also plays volleyball for the University of Maine’s club team.
 
Millard W. Pray Scholars
 
Amber Ferland
Amber is a third-year civil engineering student at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, and a graduate of Erskine Academy in South China, Maine. This is the second year she has received the Millard Pray W. Scholarship. She sees transportation as an industry that is constantly changing and wants to be part of that change. She is particularly interested in exploring energy efficiency and structural engineering. Amber is the current president of the Norwich Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and is active in the American Society of Civil Engineers. She wrote, “With this experience and education I am receiving at Norwich University, I hope to be able to contribute to our nation’s infrastructure and the development of new technology.” She currently has a 3.32 grade point average.
 
Nicholas W. Ibarguen
Nicholas is a graduate of Brunswick High School and currently is in his second year at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, where he is studying civil engineering. The son of MBTA member Michelle Ibarguen, Nicholas has grown up around the construction and transportation industries. This sparked his interest in the field. During his freshman year, he earned a 4.0 grade point average and was active in several engineering clubs, including the concrete canoe team and the school’s chapters of the Associated General Contractors and American Society of Civil Engineers. He particularly enjoyed the concrete canoe team: “This heightened my interest in the transportation aspect of civil engineering. . . providing me with invaluable engineering knowledge.” He looks forward to learning more about engineering and transportation.
 
Jacqueline Scott
Even though Jacqueline just graduated from Falmouth High School this past June, she has been planning and saving for her college education for several years. She worked for three summers for CPM Constructors in Freeport where she says she earned an appreciation for the importance of a “strong transportation infrastructure in Maine…for communicating, trading and business.” Jacqueline is attending Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where she is pursuing a degree in business. Upon graduation, she hopes to put her expertise to work toward improving transportation, whether it is working for a road construction company or supporting legislation to improve transportation infrastructure. In addition to working for CPM during the summers, she has been a ski instructor at Sugarloaf USA. She graduated high school with a 95.3 grade point average.
 
Paris J. Snow Scholars
 
Shawn Lagasse
Shawn is a graduate of Wisdom High School in St. Agatha. He served the U.S. Marine Corps where he completed a special course and worked as a diesel technician for several years. Now, enrolled in the diesel hydraulics and commercial drivers license programs at Northern Maine Community College, he plans to pursue a career in transportation upon graduation. He considers his decision to go back to school “one of the best decisions I’ve made . . . The trucking industry is very important to our economy and will always be around.” He said that with new vehicles and technology, it will be important to have diesel technicians with advanced skills and education to maintain trucks and equipment, and he looks forward to making his mark in the field.
 
Gregory I. Schools
A graduate of Houlton High School, Gregory has been working since he was 13 years old, on his uncle’s potato farm in Littleton and for his father’s logging and trucking business. Working on the farm, he learned how to operate the trucks and heavy equipment, and developed a talent for maintaining and repairing the machinery. He currently is enrolled in the diesel hydraulics program at Northern Maine Community College. While he enjoys the program, it has been a challenge to maintain his studies and earn money for his college education. He has three more semesters to complete and appreciates the support provided by the MBTA that is helping him get to his goal: “School is expensive and a scholarship will help me succeed.” After graduation, he hopes to open his own diesel engine rebuild shop.
 
Transportation Conference Scholars
 
In addition to the MBTA Educational Foundation scholarships, the MBTA partners with the Maine Section of American Society of Civil Engineers to provide scholarships to UMaine engineering and construction management program students. The scholarships are funded by scholarship sponsors at the annual Maine Transportation Conference.
 
Katy Grime
Katy Grime came to UMaine from Brownington, Vermont, where she graduated with honors from North Country Union High School. She is a recipient of the MBTA/ASCE Maine Transportation Conference Scholarship. This past spring was the fourth consecutive semester she held a spot on the dean’s list. This year, her third at the school, she is focusing her studies more on the transportation field. Katy spent this past summer working with an environmental engineering firm that designs and maintains water and wastewater treatment plants throughout the state. She is also a discus thrower on the university’s track and field team.
 
Alex Michaud
Alex Michaud is from St. Agatha, Maine and graduated as salutatorian from Wisdom High School. He is a recipient of the MBTA/ASCE Maine Transportation Conference Scholarship. Alex is in his second year at UMaine majoring in civil engineering. He has made the dean’s list each semester. He is a student member of the ASCE and a member of the UMaine Concrete Canoe team. He plans on focusing on transportation during his last two years of study. Alex spent the summer working at the UMaine Wildlife and Ecology Department studying an endangered species of butterfly. He is member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and enjoys playing guitar and fishing.

 


Is a federal fuel tax increase gaining traction?

Two bipartisan groups call for an increase, and a change in party control is shaking up the transportation scene in the nation’s capital.

Twenty-five cents or 15? Two bipartisan proposals floating in Washington, D.C., in the post-election days of November called for an increase in the gas tax. While both proposals call for a significant increase, the real question is not how much the increase will be, but whether an increase will survive? And with a major shift in the power structure in Congress, is there hope for timely passage of the federal transportation reauthorization that has already been delayed by 14 months?
 
First call, 25¢
 
The first call for an increase in the gas tax came from Senators Tom Carper (D-Delaware) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). Voinvoich, retiring at the end of this Congress last week wrote to President Obama’s fiscal commission proposing a 25-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase on gas and diesel, to be gradually rolled out over the next three years.
 
Fifteen cents would go directly to the Highway Trust Fund for infrastructure. Ten cents would go to paying down federal deficits.
 
The senators gave two reasons for their proposal.
 
“First, the Highway Trust Fund’s revenue stream is insufficient for current outlays,” the senators wrote. “Second, the existing level of transportation investment is inadequate to maintain our infrastructure and provide for 21st-century improvements.”
 
Money raised by the tax proposal would remain in a trust account until Congress passes a multi-year highway bill, the senators stated.
 
What the commission said
 
Since then, the president’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform chaired by Erskine Bowles, a democrat and former Clinton White House chief of staff and former Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) countered with a call for a more modest gas tax increase – 15 cents. Their draft recommendations were based on the belief there should be an end to any more bailout highway funding from the general treasury. Highway maintenance cost taxpayers $34.5 billion in 2008 and 2009 over and above the money raised from the current gas tax.
 
The fuel tax increase is part of a larger proposal put forth by the bipartisan debt commission on how to bring the country’s deficits in line. In its parts, all are unpopular. Bowles and Simpson called the framework “a starting point” for discussions leading up to the commission’s vote on recommendations scheduled for early December.
 
Opposition to the draft recommendations, including the increase in the gas tax, is broad. The plan calls for cuts in domestic and military spending, limiting or eliminating popular tax breaks in return for lower rates, including the deductibility of mortgage interest payments, benefit cuts, increasing the retirement age for Social Security and more. The complete changes are geared to erasing nearly $4 trillion in projected federal deficits through 2020, as well as stabilizing the accumulated debt. The proposals would not take effect before 2012, a sufficient time according to Bowles and Simpson to not undermine the nation’s tepid economic recovery.
 
But with a host of newly elected anti-tax conservatives and a significant number of fiscally conservative Democrats ousted, it’s widely thought there’s a slim chance a supermajority of the commission could agree to a package of proposals by the commission’s projected December deadline.
 
New man at the top
 
Additionally Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., expected to chair the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure next year, has said he won’t entertain the idea of a fuel tax increase, or any tax increase for that matter, as a means of paying for infrastructure upgrades. Following the election, it was reported broadly that Mica plans to raise the billions needed to improve the highway system by streamlining transportation spending and leveraging public-private partnerships.
 
The two senators who shot the first round in the fuel tax volley, Carper and Voinovich, have argued taxpayers will have to pay for the transportation improvements either way, because Congress is expected to transfer billions of dollars from the general treasury to the trust fund to fix the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. (The CBO estimates the highway trust fund will require $34 billion over the next six years.)
 
And without an agreement, Carper and Voinovich wrote, “this situation will force Congress to decide between two unacceptable solutions: additional transfers from the General Fund, which will lead to a higher deficit, or a sharp reduction in federal transportation funding for every state, which will create additional unemployment and continued deterioration of infrastructure,” the senators wrote.
 
A 25¢ tax increase, when fully implemented, would cost drivers on average of $156 a year, or $13 extra per month. Voinovich estimates the revenues that would go to transportation improvements would create 775,000 new jobs. Interestingly, that $156 is less than half the amount The Road Information Program estimates the average American pays every year in additional costs due to bad roads.
 
Nothing since 1993
 
Congress last increased the gas tax in 1993 by 4.3 cents, under former President Clinton. Congress also increased the gas tax in 1990, under former President George H. W. Bush, raising it 5 cents per gallon. Since 1993, nothing.
 
The reluctance in Congress to raise the gas tax has meant that the federal Highway Trust Fund has fallen on hard times. It nearly went broke in 2008 and again in 2009, and has required General Fund transfers totaling $34.5 billion to keep it afloat.
 
“These transfers delayed immediate insolvency but did not fix the underlying problem,” Voinovich and Carper stated.
 
Whether a new U.S. Congress means progress can be made on the gas tax issue seems doubtful.
 
Look into future
 
Many in the transportation industry are polishing off their crystal balls, trying to see what the new U.S. Congress will do for the nation’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure. Many are mourning the loss of Representative James Oberstar (D-Minnesota), a 36-year veteran legislator who has been the long-time head of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
 
In parting interviews, Oberstar has expressed frustration with the inability of Congress to pass a transportation reauthorization – a failure he called a “big hole in the legislative agenda.” And he expressed concerns about the transportation learning curve, speculating that freshman legislators have “little appetite or appreciation for the broader policy questions the nation faces on transportation.” Also he expressed regret that U.S. lawmakers cannot have the same commitment to long-term planning and financing that leaders in Europe do.
 
Oberstar talked about how Europe’s higher gas prices – $3 to $4 more per gallon – are the reason Europeans enjoy modern transportation infrastructure – including high speed trains – and that the U.S. will suffer for its lack of long-term planning and investment. “We’re just sitting on the sidelines while they’re eating our lunch.”
 
For his part, transportation committee heir presumptive Mica has said his biggest priority will be reauthorization.
 
“We have to get a bill up early, because I have to get it through the Senate,” he told a reporter from the Morris News Service. He is unlikely to support an increase in the fuel tax, has voiced his support for private investment to fill the funding gap and has expressed the need to tap into existing federal transportation trust funds, as well.
 
He said, “when we have billions sitting in accounts, billions in harbor maintenance that is still sitting there, and unused stimulus money for transportation, I don’t think it’s needed.”

Making it real

Maine takes two new composite bridge technologies out of the laboratory and into the real world

By Kathryn Buxton
 
On a cool day in early October, a bridge construction crew prepares for the delivery of beams to the shores of the Back River near Barter Island. Although they don’t look like anything out of the ordinary as they wend their way through Boothbay on a tractor trailer rig, the beams aren’t typical concrete or steel. They are hybrid composite beams (HCB) – each a glass fiber shell encasing a core of foam and high-strength steel fibers. The concrete that is at heart of the beams’ compression design will be placed on the construction site
 
The HCB bridge is the first of its kind in Maine, and one of only four in the world. It is being built by Wyman & Simpson of Richmond for MaineDOT from a design by John Hillman of HC Bridge in Chicago. The beams were manufactured by Harbor Technologies in Brunswick.
 
Calculating the ‘unknowns’
 
Old and new bridge building technologies can be seen side-by-side at the construction site where the new HCB bridge is going up next to the 80-year-old timber-pile Knickerbocker Bridge. The new HCB bridge is expected to have a considerably longer lifespan than the old timber structure – at least 100 years.
 
And while it is not the first hybrid composite bridge to use Hillman’s revolutionary design, at 540 feet, it is the longest and only multispan HCB bridge built to date, and that has presented some interesting construction challenges.
 
“There are some unknowns with this project,” said Eric Calderwood of Calderwood Engineering. Calderwood is the overall bridge design engineer on the project. “Composite beams aren’t as stiff as concrete and steel, and we’re looking at how much creep we’re going to get.”
 
“It’s a function of the materials and understanding their ability to sustain loads over time,” said Calderwood.
 
Calderwood explained that with a conventional bridge beam, the beams are more flexible and as a result, the effect of the weight of the bridge deck on them is known almost immediately. In the case of the HC beams, that shifting or “creep,” while likely to be only a quarter of an inch, will take place over a much longer period of time. Because the technology is so new and has never been used on a bridge of this length before, there has been a certain amount of educated guessing.
 
Calderwood also talked about other details on the HCB bridge that are not part of a typical bridge project. Because the composite material may react to ultraviolet light reflecting upward from the water, the underside of the beams has to be painted with a special gel coat to protect them. Also placement of the utility lines required some special design consideration. “We had to come up with tubes to carry the conduit across the bridge,” said Calderwood. They used tube steel set on the beams and hung the conduit between the tubes.
 
‘Blowing away’
 
Nathan Benoit, who is the MaineDOT project manager for the bridge, said that “it isn’t as complicated as it seems.” Benoit said that the HC beams are merely an innovative application of materials that have been used for years to build bridges – concrete and steel. Said Benoit, “It simply is a matter of taking advantage of the best properties of these materials. That’s the beauty of the design.”
 
Kim Suhr, Wyman and Simpson’s project manager at the Boothbay HCB bridge site, also sees the benefits of the new designs. Like MaineDOT’s Benoit, he praises what he calls the “simplicity” of the design and said that construction has gone smoothly. While the bridge was originally scheduled to be completed by summer of 2012, the current schedule calls for completion in September 2011.
 
“This is a pretty neat design,” said Suhr and, considering this is the state’s first experience with an HCB bridge design, the project has gone very well. In fact, most of the project challenges have been very typical for a bridge of this size, such as driving the pile and setting the rock anchors for the piers.
 
One unique challenge was a result of the relative light weight of the HC beams. Two of the beams had the concrete placed at the Harbor Technologies facility in Brunswick and, concrete is being placed on the job site for the other 62 beams. The advantage was the lightweight beams are easier to set in place; the challenge was anchoring the beams to prevent them from shifting should a Nor’easter or tail end of a hurricane hit the region.
 
“We didn’t want these blowing down the river,” said Suhr.
 
Developing business
 
The Boothbay bridge is just one of several composite bridge projects that either have been recently constructed, currently are under construction or soon to begin. The state has made a major commitment to composites, in part because of the much publicized bridge-in-a-backpack technology developed at the University of Maine’s AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center in Orono. MaineDOT created a program to take the state’s homegrown composite bridge design from the AEWC laboratory to the real world. The state’s investment in the HCB bridge in Boothbay also supports business development in the state. Last year, HC Bridge announced a partnership with Harbor Technologies of Brunswick to construct the beams.
 
With the HCB bridge underway in Boothbay, one bridge-in-a-backpack complete and another nearly done, Wyman & Simpson is currently the contractor with the most composite bridge experience in Maine and, possibly, in the world.
 
Brian MacFawn is the contractor’s project manager for the two bridge-in-a backpack sites: one in Auburn and one in Bradley. The Auburn bridge wrapped up construction in October. The Bradley bridge was paved in early November and will require some additional “clean up,” including surface paving, next spring.
 
MacFawn said that despite the ease implied by the bridge-in-a-backpack label, construction of the composite arch bridges at both sites had some unique contracting challenges. The design uses carbon fiber tubes that may be inflated on the site and infused with resin, but for one of its two bridge-in-a-backpack projects, the tubes were infused with resin at the manufacturing facility and then transported to the site. (The arch tubes, when deflated, fit into a container about the size of a large backpack – hence the nickname.) The composite arch tubes are secured to a headwall at either end of the bridge and then filled with concrete.
 
“The Auburn job was harder in the sense that it was a very deep hole,” said MacFawn. He explained how in a typical bridge, crews build up, constructing the abutment and closing up the excavation earlier in the construction. For the Auburn construction, the hole had to stay open longer and later into the construction process. “It was a deeper cut and an enormous hole to maintain a safe excavation,” said MacFawn.
 
Greener, faster, cheaper?
 
Working two of the bridge-in-a-backpack projects actually proved to be a benefit, MacFawn added, because lessons learned at one site inevitably paid off at the other. He said that Wyman & Simpson will be among a group of engineers and contractors getting together to share experiences and provide information that can help MaineDOT and the AEWC Center refine the design and construction process.
 
MaineDOT’s Benoit said the aim of the department’s composite program is precisely that: to create a better bridge through the use of composite technologies developed right here in Maine.
 
Benoit said that in the first composite arch bridges, there have been many lessons learned. The bridges have incorporated different headwall designs, and the effectiveness of those designs is being evaluated. MaineDOT also is looking at ways to reduce the cost by using fewer arches and reducing the time it takes to construct the composite arch bridges. “Greener, faster, cheaper,” he said is the goal – to make the technology more marketable.
 
“We’re working on streamlining the process to make them friendlier to construct and more cost-efficient,” said Benoit.

 


 

Conventional thinking

MBTA members gather for a fun and productive weekend and raise $17,000 for the MBTA Infrastructure Development Fund, scholarships

 
Even though golfers had to cope with gusting winds and kayakers braved rough seas, the weather was pretty close to perfect at the annual MBTA Fall Convention, held September 10th through 12th at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. Sunny skies prevailed and spirits were high, making the annual getaway a major success.
 
“We couldn’t have asked for better weather,” said Randy Mace, MBTA vice president and chair of the Convention Committee. “We also couldn’t have asked for more enthusiastic support from all of our members, from the generosity of the event sponsors to all of the businesses who donated to the auctions to the individuals who donated so much of their time to help plan and organize this event.”
 
The weekend was, as usual, action packed. Nearly 170 MBTA members, family and friends gathered for the event that traditionally marks the winding down of Maine’s busy construction season. This year’s event included a morning bus tour of historic Rockland, a winery tour and a brew tasting.
 
There also was the competitive side to the weekend. That included golf, cribbage and bocce ball tournaments where convention goers tested their mettle in a friendly-yet-challenging atmosphere. And if that wasn’t enough competition, Saturday evening ended with a program by Whipple & Morales, Dueling Pianos. The duo took convention goers through time with music and comedy.
 
Thirty-two golfers headed out in the chilly morning air to play on one of the most renowned courses in the state. Sheila Marriner of Marriners Paving was most decorated golfer of the day. Her foursome – that included Mike and Zach Marriner and Alexander Gove – won Top Foursome. Sheila also won Longest Drive–Women.
 
The action on the bocce court was equally competitive and fast-paced. Carolyn and Hannah Bess placed first in the tournament; Dave Bess and Michelle Ibarguen won second; and Steve and Jo-Anne Ford took third.
 
By mid-afternoon on Saturday, conventioneers were ready to come in from the chill and turn their competitive edge to the cribbage tables. Larry Roberts and Wayne Salter were the victors in that tournament; Conrad Welzel and Mary Bess took second.
 
Still, the competition was fiercest at the annual live auction on Friday night and Saturday’s silent auction where MBTA members donated goods and services – and aggressively tried to outbid each other. The friendly competition was all for a good cause. Proceeds of both auctions go to support one of the organization’s lead causes: the MBTA Infrastructure Development Fund. This year was no exception. MBTA members raised more than $15,000 for the MBTA Infrastructure Development Fund at the silent and live auctions where everything from elegant jewelry to heavy equipment rental was up for bid. Ed and Mary Keenan again served as auctioneers and support staff for the evening. Ed recently announced he is going into business for himself.
 
The weekend’s other fundraiser – the Convention raffle – raised $1,600 for the MBTA Educational Foundation that provides college scholarships for students studying transportation related fields.
 
“We all know what a difficult time this has been for everyone in the transportation industry – and for everyone in Maine. So it is all the more incredible to see how generous and dedicated MBTA members are. Everything we raise at this event helps go to improve transportation in Maine – and investing in transportation is what will help us get our economy back on track,” said Mace.
 
Tournament awards & prizes
 
Golf Tournament
 
Top Foursome:Mike Marriner, Sheila Marriner, Zach Marriner and Alexander Gove
2nd Place Foursome: John R. Wardwell, Damon Gray, Shawn Trojano and Chuck Mooney
Closest-to-the-Pin: Matt Gill
Longest Drive-Women: Sheila Marriner
Longest Drive-Men: Dave Sheldrick
 
Bocce Ball Tournament
 
First Place: Carolyn Bess and Hannah Bess
Second Place: Dave Bess and Michelle Ibarguen
Third Place: Steve Ford and Jo-Anne Ford
 
Cribbage Tournament
 
First Place: Larry Roberts and Wayne Salter
Second Place: Conrad Welzel and Mary Bess
Third Place: Jana Gray and Crystal Manzer
Fourth Place: Darci Wardwell and Paul Violette
 
Educational Foundation Raffle Winners
 
First Place / tourmaline ring: Karen Wardwell
Second Place / $250 cash: Joyce Duross
Third Place / $150 L.L.Bean gift certificate: Daniel Doyle
 

Convention sponsors

Many thanks to our generous 2010 MBTA Convention sponsors who made this event possible.

Grand Opening Reception
Chadwick-BaRoss
 
Saturday Evening Reception
Hudson Asphalt Group
 
Transportation
The Lane Construction Corp.
 
Entertainment
HNTB Corporation
Maine Turnpike Authority
Events/Recreation
Nortrax NE, LLC
 
Luncheon/Beverage
Dirigo Slipform
T. Y. Lin International
Bruce A. Manzer, Inc.
Milton CAT
Strescon Limited
 
Gold
Sargent Corp.
Shaw Brothers Construction, Inc.
Willis of Northern New England
 
Silver
Anderson Equipment Co, Inc.
H. O. Bouchard, Inc.
Fay, Spofford & Thorndike
R. J. Grondin & Sons, Inc.
Irving Oil Commercial GP
Macdonald Page & Co LLC
Portland International Jetport
The Rowley Agency, Inc.
Wyman & Simpson, Inc.
 
Bronze
All States Materials Group
Berkley Surety Group
CCB, Inc.
Cianbro Corporation
Ciment Quebec
Cross Insurance
Down East Emulsions, LLC
East Jordan Iron Works
Haley & Aldrich, Inc.
Maine Drilling & Blasting, Inc.
Marriners, Inc.
NITRAM Excavation & General Contractor, Inc.
Everett J. Prescott, Inc.
RJM Consultant
Skillings-Shaw & Associates
Thompson
Whited Ford
 
Convention Committee
 
Randy Mace, Chair, Anderson Equipment
Lara Bailey, M & N Operating Company
Paul Beaudette, Nortrax
Tom Biegel, Shaw Brothers Construction
Dick Cadigan, Milton CAT
Greg Dore, Town of Skowhegan
Debbie Dunlap Avasthi,
Willis of Northern New England
Roxanne Frenette, Maine Turnpike Authority
Larry Hutchins, Hudson Asphalt Group
Bruce Manzer, Bruce A. Manzer
Tom Martin, NITRAM Excavation
Peter Piattoni, Fay Spofford & Thorndike
John Wardwell, The Lane Construction Corporation
 
Event Chairs
 
Bocce: Michelle Ibarguen
Cribbage: Paul Violette
Golf: Larry Hutchins

A man for his times

Former MBTA President Stephen F. Dunlap believed in relationships and trust

When Steve Dunlap became president of the Maine Good Roads Association (MGRA) in 1976, the organization was struggling and state roads were deteriorating at an alarming rate. He saw a major schism in public opinion that threatened the state’s economy.
 
“The climate toward Maine highways is confusing,” wrote Dunlap in his inaugural president’s message in The Maine Trail. “Those who advocate more industry and more jobs for Maine people are the same persons who would take steps to greatly reduce spending on Maine’s road systems. Yet all agree there is no hope for expansion of Maine’s industry and luring new industries without an improved highway system. . . They cannot have it both ways.”
 
He proposed a slogan that would become the organization’s marching orders during his time as MGRA president: “Good roads mean business.”
 
That simple, straightforward approach was characteristic of the man who represented the fifth generation of Dunlaps to work in the family insurance business – the Dunlap Corporation – and who followed in his father’s footsteps to become not only head of the family business, but a leader in the community. Stephen Dunlap died October 12 after a nine-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 69 years old.
 
The family business
 
Born in Lewiston in 1941, Steve grew up in Auburn and spent most of his life there. He was the son of Elizabeth (Betty) Fosdick and Malcolm B. Dunlap. He attended Auburn schools, graduated from Kents Hill Preparatory School and went on to Boston University.
 
He entered the family’s insurance and bonding business – the Dunlap Corporation – in 1963 when he was in his early 20s. He was the fifth generation to join the agency that had been founded by his great-great grandfather Charles F. Dunlap in 1869.
 
He and his sister Catherine Thorpe were called on to take leadership roles in the firm in 1973 when their father Malcolm died suddenly. Working along side his grandmother, Alice, Steve served as president and later CEO of the agency from 1973 until the company’s merger in 2001 with Hilb, Rogal & Hobbs Company (HRH). From 2001 until his retirement in 2007, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of HRH Northern New England. HRH merged with Willis and today is known as Willis of Northern New England, Inc.
 
Under his leadership, The Dunlap Corporation expanded, and was named one of New England’s largest and fastest growing insurance and bonding agencies.
 
A strong believer in always putting the customer first, Dunlap personified the role of trusted advisor and advocate for his clients. He built lifelong friendships with many of his business clients and was known to always conduct business with integrity, to listen to his clients and always go the extra mile.
 
His long-time friend and business associate Curtis Roberts of Texas described him as “the gentle giant” that would do anything and everything he could to help . . . He treated the most powerful and the penniless with the same compassion and attention and never missed an opportunity to assist anyone who could benefit by his hand.”
 
‘He loved contractors’
 
Dunlap was the quintessential “people person,” and he thrived in business and leadership roles. He believed in the power of relationships and trust and was known to be partial to his clients in the construction industry.
 
“He loved the contractors, that was his favorite piece of the business,” his wife of 47 years, Sharon Dunlap, told the Portland Press Herald. Maybe that was because so many of his contractor clients ran family-owned businesses, valued hard work and faced many of the same challenges that he and his family did.
 
He was the second in his family to take on a leadership role in the MGRA, the predecessor organization to the Maine Better Transportation Association (his father Malcolm served as president in 1957). Steve was the only person in MGRA/MBTA history to serve two terms as president, and his steady hand at the helm was critical for the organization that at the time was struggling to rebuild itself after a particularly challenging time in the industry.
 
During his tenure, the organization successfully recruited new members and worked to raise awareness of the role transportation infrastructure – specifically an efficient highway system – plays in economic development. His daughter, Deborah Dunlap Avasthi, the current MBTA president, is the third Dunlap to serve in the post.
 
He relished challenge
 
Dunlap was never one to walk away from a challenge. That was evidenced by his leadership of MGRA, and by his other professional and community contributions.
 
“If there was a man up there in the ivory tower saying something couldn’t be done, he would tell them, ‘Oh yes, it can,’” said his wife, Sharon Dunlap.
 
He was an innovator and willing to take risks to solve a problem. For example, he was instrumental in creating various workers’ compensation self-insurance groups that Dunlap introduced and managed after the workers’ comp insurance crisis in Maine during the early 1990s.
 
In addition to his duties as agency president, Steve was well known for his energetic drive and commitment to many community, state and national organizations.
 
Dunlap received many honors and accolades during his personal and professional career. He received the Maine Transportation Achievement Award in 1994 and also received a Maine Achievement in Construction (MAC) award and the Maine Newcomen Society Award.
 
An effective fundraiser, he was generous with his time and resources in supporting many important causes and campaigns whether related to community projects, sponsorships at charity and association events, or political fundraising. He was not afraid to go ‘dialing for dollars’ to ensure funds were raised to accomplish a mission.
 
Always the optimist
 
Commenting about her dad, Deborah said, “Dad was always known for his optimism and enthusiasm. Whether it was a tough business negotiation, helping a client, celebrating an employee or client’s accomplishment or enjoying an event or holiday, Dad was in the moment and forever the optimist that things would work out well and be fine. He had tremendous faith in his employees and clients and always looked for the positives in a tough situation.”
 
Deborah also admitted to being moved by all her father’s friends and business associates who have shared their remembrances of her dad. “It has been comforting to read and hear some wonderful stories of Dad’s caring, thoughtfulness and effective leadership these past few weeks,” said Deborah. “He took great pride in The Dunlap Corporation and other organizations he belonged to and the clients that he served. I know if he were here today, he would be pushing me to ensure that MBTA continues to succeed in our mission of advocating on behalf of transportation venues throughout Maine.”
 
Since becoming president of the MBTA, she’s had the opportunity to look back at the issues that her father and his fellow board members faced and is struck by the similarities: “For all that has changed since 1976, many of the same challenges still exist today. My dad traveled the state endlessly in his car and agency airplane and was a strong believer that good roads and runways made a difference in Maine’s economy. Anyone who had the pleasure of traveling with Dad knows he often was in a hurry to get somewhere and efficient transportation was important to him,” said Deborah. “My goal will be to try to build on his past MBTA accomplishments and hope that all our members will join me in this effort.”
 
Family first
 
Despite all his commitments and activities, Dunlap always believed that family came first.
 
He enjoyed traveling with his wife and cherished his summers at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester with his Chris Craft motor boat. He liked to ski in the winter at Sugarloaf USA; was a NASCAR fan enjoying annual trips to the Daytona 500 and races in Loudon, New Hampshire; and enjoyed special trips with close family and friends.
 
He is survived by his wife Sharon; daughters Deborah and Jennifer; sister Catherine Thorpe; and four grandchildren, Douglas and Ashley Markson and Evan and Elizabeth Avasthi.


MaineDOT View

Prioritizing: Same job, better tools

Bruce A. Van Note, Deputy Commissioner
 
This is the time of year for making lists and checking them twice. MaineDOT’s list has nothing to do with being naughty or nice, but priorities certainly do factor in. Of course, we’re talking about MaineDOT’s biennial Capital Work Plan. Typically released in March of odd numbered years, this plan represents our strategy of wisely investing available resources by listing specific capital projects to be delivered over the upcoming two-year period starting July 1, 2011.
 
Prioritizing candidates for the work plan is nothing new, but the underlying concepts we are using are being better defined and communicated. Why? In a word: necessity. Compared to other states, Maine simply has a lot of miles of roads and relatively few people spread out over a large area. For example, New Hampshire has less than half the state roads located in less than one-third of the area, yet it has about the same population and state transportation funding. This means the Granite State has about twice the funding per mile that Maine does. Our state needs to prioritize very aggressively to target projects that achieve the most value to Maine businesses and travelers.
 
So how do we do that? At its essence, it means asking two simple questions.
 
1) What is the priority of the road (or other transportation asset)?
2) Given its priority, what level of service can customers reasonably expect?
 
1. Highway priority
 
We intuitively know the interstate is more important to our economy than a dead end road that carries 100 hundred cars a day. The interstate obviously has to be wider, straighter, stronger, and smoother. Though we know that every road is important to someone, most can agree that we need to use objective, understandable criteria to determine priority. MaineDOT has gathered and analyzed straightforward, common-sense factors including the economic importance of the road as determined from input from regional economic development districts, federal functional classification, heavy haul trucking use and the amount of relative traffic on the road by region. With this and other data, MaineDOT has classified all 23,400 miles of Maine public highways into six, easy-to-understand priority levels.
 
Priority 1 roads include the Maine Turnpike, the interstate system and key principal arterials like Route 1 in Aroostook County, the Airline (Route 9), Route 2 west of Newport, and Route 302. The 1,400 miles of Priority 1 roads represent only 7 percent of the miles, but carry fully 40 percent of all vehicle miles traveled in Maine.
 
Priority 2 roads total about 940 miles. They are non-interstate, high value arterials that represent about 4 percent of the total miles of road but carry 11 percent of overall traffic.
 
Priority 3 roads generally are the remaining arterials and most significant major collector highways. These 2,050 miles represent only 9 percent of miles, but carry 19 percent of the traffic.
 
Priority 4 roads generally are the remainder of the major collector highways, often also part of Maine’s unique “state aid” system, in which road responsibilities are shared between the state and municipalities. These 1,900 miles represent about 8 percent of total miles, and carry 10 percent of the traffic.
 
As a subtotal, Priority 1 through Priority 4 roads are only 29 percent of public road miles, but carry fully 80 percent of all the vehicle miles traveled in Maine.
 
Priority 5 roads are 2,500 miles of minor collector highways, almost all on the “state aid” system. They represent 11 percent of miles, but carry only 7 percent of traffic.
 
Priority 6 roads are local roads and streets, and are the year-round responsibility of our municipal partners. Though they carry just 13 percent of the statewide traffic, these 14,300 miles make up 61 percent of the total miles. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but Maine actually has the lowest percentage of local roads in New England, and the ninth lowest percentage in the country. In comparison, 74 percent of public roads in New Hampshire are local.
 
2. Customer service levels
 
The next step is defining easy-to-understand customer service levels appropriate to the priority of the state’s roads (1-5). We are using another intuitive scale: A, B, C, D and F. Using existing data on the safety, condition and service of the road, we can determine its customer service level. The result is a fair, consistent measure of how a road compares to other roads of the same priority across the state.
 
When you combine priority with customer service levels, project candidates can be better evaluated. Obviously, a high priority road with a D rating needs work, and addressing it will yield high value. Though it’s just a part of the analysis, it will help focus resources on good projects all over the state, and better refine long-term capital goals and needs.
 
So we’re making a list, and checking it twice (actually, three and four times). With a clearer, more transparent prioritization process in place, we continue to move in a good direction.

 

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