Power lunch. MBTA honors five leaders in the field. By Jim Hanley.
Five who paved the way. MBTA honors five transportation leaders, including U.S. Senator Susan Collins.
Turner Center Bridge. The design-build project nears completion. By Thomas Densford, P.E.
Maine ranks high. Hartgen reports give state high rating for efficiency.
Looking for innovation. Interview with renowned bridge designer Ted Zoli. By Kathryn Buxton.
Fix It Now! Assessing Kennebec-Somerset counties’ transportation needs. By John Melrose.
When the going got tough. Founded during the recession, Schonewald Engineering has flourished. By Kathryn Buxton.
The MBTA Transportation Achievement Award luncheon was an inspiring event
On October 17, we celebrated five giants of transportation and public service at the MBTA’s 2014 Transportation Awards. It was our 12th award ceremony, and for me, it was an inspiring event. It offered the chance to recognize five individuals who have made public service and transportation a major part of their life’s work and to see just how much one person can do when they put their mind to it.
This year, we honored Senator Susan Collins with a special “Champion of Transportation” award. This was for her instrumental role in influencing her fellow lawmakers in Washington to support so many critical transportation initiatives in Maine and across the country. In Maine, we have ample evidence of her influence: passage of the landmark truck weight legislation; TIGER grants for the Sarah Mildred Long and Memorial bridges connecting Kittery and Portsmouth; infrastructure investments in our three deepwater ports; and many other critical transportation issues she has successfully advocated for during her congressional career.
The other four recipients were all leaders in our field: former MaineDOT Commissioner John Melrose with Eaton Peabody Consulting — Lifetime Achievement; Paul Bradbury with the Portland Jetport – the Public Service Award; Jack Sutton with Maine Rail Group – the Volunteerism Award; and Greg Dore, Town of Skowhegan – the Advocate Award.
As a member of the MBTA board and, now as president, I have enjoyed working closely with these five Transportation Achievement Award honorees, and I know just how much they do every day to advance our organization’s mission and make transportation in Maine safer and more efficient. I am so happy that this event and these awards will enable others to recognize all the hard work they have done.
If you noticed that this year’s awards were different than they have been in the past, that is because we made some changes since the last time we held the awards seven years ago. In honor of the MBTA’s 75th anniversary, the MBTA Board of Directors had discussed how we could develop some other awards besides the Lifetime Achievement Award. We wanted to recognize others in the MBTA membership who work hard every day to improve Maine’s transportation network. We had shared many ideas and had decided that one good way to celebrate our 75th anniversary was to create four new awards in addition to the traditional Lifetime Achievement Award.
We believed this decision would make the ceremony more personal, as it would recognize different aspects of achievement in transportation, including public service, advocacy and volunteerism. I think we achieved that goal and created an event that hopefully will inspire many others to follow in their footsteps.
This fall has been a busy period for the organization and our members. In addition to the Transportation Achievement Awards, MBTA members and friends have gotten together for two other important events on our annual calendar: the MBTA Fall Convention at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, and the MBTA PDH Tour in Portland.
Both of these events were well attended and fun. It was great to be back at the Samoset, and I thank everyone for their generous participation in the live and silent auctions and as sponsors of the different events. Thanks to your support, we were able to offer a shorter, more economical fall outing experience. The PDH Tour was a big success, as well, and it was great to see so many MBTA members able to join us for learning tours of three innovative transportation projects in Portland – Forefront at Thompson’s Point, the International Marine Terminal and the Anderson Street Neighborhood Byway. We thank Kathi Early from the City of Portland, for helping Conrad Welzel, who chaired that event, pull the projects and speakers together.
We have a busy month ahead of us, too, as we bring 2014 to a close. I hope to see you at the Maine Transportation Conference in Augusta December 4 and at the MBTA Holiday Meeting on December 11. These are two events with a big emphasis on education.
The conference this year will open with a keynote speech by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. We will have three other influential keynote speakers throughout the day: award-winning bridge designer Ted Zoli of HNTB who will open the policy track discussions; NASA astronaut, former U.S. Navy SEAL and native of York, Maine Captain Christopher Cassidy who will deliver the luncheon address; and Ilya Espino de Marotta, executive vice president of engineering for the Panama Canal Authority who will be the featured speaker at the evening banquet.
This year, we will again welcome our most recent MBTA Transportation Scholarship recipients to the Holiday Meeting where we also will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the MBTA’s founding. It should be a fun evening. Please let Maria Fuentes know if you are interested in sponsoring either of these events.
Finally, I would like to thank you for your support of and participation in MBTA’s events this year. Looking back over the year – and over the past 75 years – it is amazing to see how much we have achieved. None of it would be possible without the support and commitment of our membership. Thank you!
Cover Story: Thanks to 5 who have paved the way
MBTA honors transportation leaders at 2014 Transportation Achievement Awards Luncheon
At the head table, the awards stood ready. They were made of Maine bluestone. “The plaques we will be presenting to our honorees today were crafted from stone taken from one of our quarries,” said MBTA President Jim Hanley of Pike Industries during the welcoming remarks at the MBTA’s 2014 Transportation Achevement Awards Luncheon October 17 at the Augusta Civic Center.
“They symbolize the strength of character, and deep, lasting commitment of the recipients, as well as [Maine’s] transportation system itself,” said Hanley. “This is the same rock that was used in resurfacing Maine highways earlier this year.” With that symbolism-laden introduction, the festivities were underway and MBTA members, family and friends paid personal tributes to five individuals who have had a lasting effect on Maine transportation.
Each of the presenters – MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt, former MBTA Presidents Tom Martin, Steve Sawyer and Tom Gorrill, Everett Barnard, former MaineDOT bridge engineer and a Transportation Achievement Award-winner himself (2003) and Owens McCullough – offered personal insights about the honorees and their deep commitment to their communities, their professions and to the field of transportation.
Barnard, who presented the Volunteer Award to Jack Sutton of the Maine Rail Group, spoke about getting to know Sutton on trips to restore vintage rail cars and his “passion for volunteerism.” “Driving around with Jack can be an experience,” recounted Barnard, “because you never know when he is going to take a quick right turn to inspect track conditions, or turn left to check out freight movements.”
Martin presented the Advocate Award to his longtime friend, former MBTA President and Skowhegan Highway Commissioner Greg Dore. He spoke about Dore’s longstanding commitment to Skowhegan and to the public works profession. He also sprinkled his heartfelt presentation with personal reminiscences. “It is very clear why Greg was the choice for this award: he lives and breathes his profession. And it’s a good thing because he can’t shoot worth a lick. Greg is one of the most invested individuals in his community and has the most passion for transportation that I have ever seen,” said Martin.
Sawyer and McCullough co-presented the Public Service Award for Paul Bradbury of the Portland Jetport, emphasizing his professionalism and skills as a negotiator. Sawyer remembered the first time he met Bradbury during design of the Portland Transportation Center: “Paul was early in his career, roughly 30 at the time, and as I recall, had no gray hair. I was impressed with his energy, enthusiasm, professionalism, and responsiveness. His ego was never evident and he just wanted to be a contributing member of the project team.”
Gorrill presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to former MaineDOT Commissioner and MBTA policy advisor John Melrose of Eaton Peabody Consulting. He spoke about Melrose’s humility and his prodigious and creative approach to transportation that has helped achieve many landmark gains over his career in the public, non-profit and private sectors.
“As the name of his former business, Maine Tomorrow shows, John has always believed it is important to have ideas and a vision for moving us ahead and solving our problems,” said Gorrill. “John is a tireless advocate for new ideas and is vigilant in his concern for the state transportation system, its continued steady decline in funding for many years, and the impact that this decline will have on the economic vitality of the state of Maine.”
MaineDOT Commissioner Bernhardt, along with MBTA President Hanley, presented the final award of the day, the Champion Award, to U.S. Senator Susan Collins. The commisssioner spoke about Collins’ absolute dedication to her job representing the people of Maine, and her work in the Senate to secure funding for transportation in rural areas of the country – and championing critical projects in Maine. She fought long and hard to enact one of the most important transportation policy changes for our state in recent years: the increase of truck weights on Maine and Vermont’s interstate highways. The legislation passed, and Maine’s local roads are much safer as a result, and businesses have benefited from reduced fuel costs and vehicle wear-and-tear, as well.
“As the Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins has a powerful voice in how federal transportation funding is allocated,” said Bernhardt. “She has worked tirelessly to secure federal funding for critical transportation projects in Maine –from the replacement of the Memorial and Sarah Mildred Long bridges connecting Kittery and Portsmouth—to the state purchase of a northern Maine rail line that was in danger of abandonment—to essential investments in infrastructure at Maine’s three deep water ports in Eastport, Searsport and Portland—just to name a few.”
MBTA President Hanley offered the day’s closing thought – the importance of showing our gratitude for people who devote their professional and personal time to “move Maine forward.”
“It has been a pleasure to honor all of you today, as you are all incredibly deserving,” said Hanley. “We often don’t take the time to thank people as much as we should, so on behalf of our board of directors, thank you to each and every one of you.”
Volunteer Award: Jack Sutton, Maine Rail Group
Jack sutton’s enthusiasm for transportation – and rail in particular – is infectious. Maybe it is because the long-time MBTA board member and former president of the Maine Rail Group is absolutely confident that good transportation is essential to our state’s future. It is that confidence that has made him a fearless and effective volunteer for transportation, whether he is recruiting a new MBTA member or delivering effective testimony at a town meeting or a legislative hearing.
Jack and his wife Kati moved to Belgrade, Maine from Hawthorne, New Jersey in the early 1960s when Jack took a job with Keyes Fibre Company. Kati and he quickly put down roots in Maine, raising their daughter Nancy and son Richard there, and pursuing many public service opportunities in their adopted town. He retired from Keyes Fibre as vice president and director of engineering, and then began a second career as a volunteer. Jack became involved in the Maine Rail Group in 1992, an independent all-volunteer group that promotes awareness of railroads’ contributions to Maine’s economy and their important role in moving passengers and freight. He quickly became an effective spokesperson and grassroots organizer for the group and served as its president from 2000 to 2011.
Jack was able to masterfully balance the organization’s diverse roles – as a strong voice for Maine’s passenger and freight rail industry – and as an entity involved in the preservation of rail infrastructure and equipment. For years, he recruited friends and business associates to help restore two historic rail coaches on the weekend (both have since been put back into service). He also spearheaded the biennial publication of the New England Railway Map, an accurate and comprehensive resource that catalogs the region’s active and dormant rail lines and other points of interest. As a member of MBTA’s board of directors, Jack has maintained an impressive attendance record, rarely missing a meeting in 12 years.
He is often joined by his wife Kati on trips to the Washington and Aroostook county meetings and at the annual MBTA convention. Jack also has been a powerful force on the MBTA’s Membership Committee, serving as chair for two terms and effectively broadening the MBTA’s influence by reaching out to businesses outside of the construction and design community. Jack’s quiet persistence and powers of persuasion are formidable, and he once even convinced the owner of a favorite Chinese restaurant to join.
Jack earned a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master’s degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology. He has a long association with the town of Belgrade, serving in many elected and volunteer positions, including chair of the selectman’s board. He is a past chair and a current trustee for the Kennebec Valley Community College Foundation, and helped found the Belgrade Regional Health Center.
Advocate AWARD: Greg Dore, Town of Skowhegan
Greg Dore has never been afraid of taking on a challenge. As the elected highway commissioner for the town of Skowhegan, he and his staff have tackled jobs big and small. One of the most extensive was the reconstruction of the famous Swinging Bridge, a footbridge originally built in 1883 to connect workers living in the town to jobs at the mills on Skowhegan Island. That ambitious historic reconstruction won the Skowhegan Highway Department a 2007 APWA Public Works Excellence Award, and the bridge today remains the centerpiece of a robust revival of Skowhegan’s historic downtown.
Dore, an engineer by training, was first elected to his post in 1992, and today leads a department of 10 with a highway maintenance budget of more than $1.25 million. In Skowhegan, he has introduced many innovations including: instituting the town’s annual leaf pickup and composting program; helping students raise funds and build the Skowhegan Skateboard Park; constructing the Little League Complex at the Skowhegan Recreation Center; securing funding for the Half Moon Pedestrian Bridge; securing a jobs bond grant that funded the new sewer line on Water Street; instituting Yellow Fish Road, a water safety education program; rebuilding and relocating the Main Street and North Avenue fountains; constructing the Veteran’s Memorial Park and Ride; and establishing the DeBe Trail Riverwalk along the Kennebec River.
Greg is also director of Run of River LLC, an organization established to build and operate a whitewater park on the Kennebec River through the center of town. The nature-based theme park is expected to draw tourists to the town, including kayakers, rafters and other adventure enthusiasts.
As a long-time MBTA board member and former MBTA president (2008-2009), and as a member and past president of the Maine Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA), Dore has been a strong advocate for transportation. He is able to speak eloquently and accurately in the debate for greater investment in Maine’s transportation infrastructure. His experience on the front lines, managing town resources and balancing tight budgets to keep Skowhegan’s roads safe, is only matched by his even-handed and down-to-earth style. Greg has helped broaden MBTA’s reach among municipal government leaders in Maine. At the Maine Chapter APWA, he has helped organize the Highway Congress equipment show.
Greg was born and raised in Skowhegan and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after high school, before attending Northern Maine Technical College, and the University of Arizona. He and his wife Paula, live in East Madison. They have five sons and eight grandchildren. In 2012, he and Paula became silent partners in the landmark Old Mill Pub, located in a former 1909 grain mill in the heart of Skowhegan, and which is operated by four of their sons.
Public Service AWARD: Paul Bradbury, Portland International Jetport
Paul Bradbury was a newly minted engineer, fresh out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, when he accepted his first professional job as engineering and facilities manager for the Portland International Jetport in 1992. That job, which he held for 15 years overseeing the inner workings of Maine’s largest commercial airport, proved an excellent training ground for his next career move: directorship of the airport in 2008.
Under Paul’s watch, the Jetport has seen enormous changes in its physical plant and steady passenger traffic and revenues at a time when many regional airports have experienced slow or negative growth. Today, thanks to Paul and his team, the Jetport is a vibrant gateway where nearly 2 million visitors from around the world experience their first taste of Maine hospitality. A 2012 economic impact report estimated that the airport is responsible for 1,100 direct and indirect jobs and for generating $860 million in annual economic activity in the Greater Portland region and Maine.
Paul’s particular gift is an uncanny ability to manage complex and detail-driven projects while still keeping his eye on the big picture. At the Jetport, that skill has resulted in the successful completion of the new $75 million, LEED Gold certified 145,000-square-foot passenger terminal, the first of only two terminal expansion projects in the country to be so certified.
In fact, the terminal was only the most visible part of a five-year capital improvement project led by Paul, totaling $163 million and which includes a new parking garage, terminal apron, rehabilitation of the north/south runway and new runway safety areas. The expansion also enabled the Jetport to construct a new geothermal heating and cooling system and develop an innovative de-icing capture system that reduces the environmental impact of the airport’s operations during winter weather.
The new, visually welcoming terminal offers a selection of passenger and airline amenities that have contributed to the Jetport’s reputation as an easy alternative to other, larger regional airports. As a result, the Jetport has been able to attract and retain a greater selection of carriers offering lower ticket prices. The improvements also support more business and tourism development in the state.
Paul is also an excellent negotiator, a skill put to the test during the planning and construction of the Portland Transportation Center, home to the Amtrak Downeaster and Concord Coach Lines. He successfully represented the city of Portland in many of the complex negotiations between the city, state, Concord Coach Lines, Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, and the design/build team during the project.
Paul grew up in Phippsburg, Maine. He and his wife Susan live in Scarborough with their two boys. When he’s not running the Jetport, Paul often can be found in the outdoors, snowmobiling, running and competing in triathlons, including the Ironman at Lake Placid, New York.
Lifetime Achievement Award: John Melrose, Eaton Peabody Consulting
Most recently John Melrose has been a senior consultant with Eaton Peabody Consulting Group, Inc., but Maine Better Transportation Association members know him for his long and dedicated service as the organization’s senior policy advisor, a position he has held on and off for three decades.
John has served the state of Maine for more than 40 years, first with the Maine Municipal Association where he designed, along with MaineDOT Commissioner George Campbell, today’s highway fund revenue sharing program for municipalities. He later joined Roger Mallar at Maine Tomorrow, eventually becoming sole owner. In 1995, Governor Angus King recognized John’s passion for Maine and the critical role infrastructure plays in development of the state’s economy, and appointed him as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation, where he served until 2002.
As commissioner, John and his team championed the creation of the Transit Bonus Program, the Industrial Rail Access Program, the Small Harbor Improvement Program and Explore Maine. Also during the King Administration, the Maine State Ferry was modernized, landmark trail projects were completed, and new cargo port facilities were launched in Portland, Eastport and Searsport, including the state’s purchase of Sears Island. Highway reconstruction was expanded during his tenure, and the backlog of extraordinary bridge needs was reduced by half.
As MBTA’s senior policy advisor, John has worked closely with the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee to craft funding legislation and consult on bond proposals for road, rail, port, transit and aviation investment. On behalf of MBTA, he worked with MaineDOT and a stellar Transportation Committee to create TransCap bonds, an important new financing tool for transportation investment. Most recently, John has provided research and helped build local coalitions for the MBTA’s statewide Fix It Now! campaign.
John’s experience in community planning and development extends to more than 50 Maine communities, as well as a dozen state agencies. As a private consultant to the Augusta Board of Trade, his initial work led to the makeover of Exit 113 on I-95 to accommodate the new MaineGeneral Medical Center. He is currently leading a major development effort by Trafton Realty that requires a new I-95 interchange in Waterville at Trafton Road.
John received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maine. He is a member of the Town of Vassalboro Budget Committee and a steward of the Kennebec Land Trust. He is also a member of the Francis Crowe Society, and a past member and board president of the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program. In 2010, he received a President’s Award from the Kennebec Valley Chamber.
John lives in Vassalboro with his wife, Molly. John and Molly raised three children and have two grandchildren.
Champion Award: U.S. Senator Susan Collins
Since first being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, Susan Collins has been a formidable advocate for Maine. Recognized as one of Congress’s hardest working members and one of the most powerful women in Washington, she is known for her ability to work with her fellow members of Congress, regardless of their political affiliations, in order to affect positive change. Her work in transportation is why she received the Champion Award.
Here are just a few of her accomplishments in this area:
Senator Collins scored a major legislative victory when Congress passed legislation increasing interstate truck weights in 2011. She fought hard for this legislation over many years, listening to her constituents’ concerns about safety and the higher transportation and road maintenance costs caused when Maine had to keep big trucks off the interstate. She used the information she gleaned to make a compelling case, convincing her colleagues in both the House and Senate to support higher truck weights on federal highways in Maine and Vermont. By convincing her colleagues to support the higher weights, she accomplished something that has eluded Maine policymakers for 30 years. As a result, Maine’s streets are safer, our air is cleaner, and our businesses are more competitive.
Senator Collins also has worked tirelessly to secure federal funding for critical transportation projects in Maine including: replacement of the Memorial and Sarah Mildred Long bridges connecting Kittery and Portsmouth, New Hampshire; state purchase of a northern Maine rail line that was in danger of abandonment; increased capital investments for the Amtrak Downeaster; essential infrastructure investments at Maine’s three deep water ports in Eastport, Searsport and Portland; and replacement of the Richmond-Dresden Bridge, a 1930s-era steel truss bridge that had long ago outlived its anticipated lifespan.
Senator Collins also has championed important U.S. Department of Transportation programs aimed at helping small, rural communities to maintain access to air service throughout Maine, from Presque Isle to Bar Harbor, Rockland to Augusta. Her seat on the Appropriations Committee also has given her a powerful voice in how federal transportation funding is allocated.
Her thoughtful approach to infrastructure investment was a hallmark of the 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, which she co-authored last year. Perhaps most impressive is how Senator Collins never gives up or takes her position for granted. She has never missed a roll call vote in 18 years in the Senate.
The senior senator from Maine was born and raised in Caribou, where her family runs a fifth-generation lumber business, founded by her ancestors in 1844. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Lawrence University. She is married to Thomas A. Daffron and resides in Bangor.
Turner Center Bridge nears completion
By Thomas Densford, P.E.
Bridge replacements have occurred throughout time for many reasons, but a unique motive to replace the bridge between the communities of Turner and Greene may hold the title of simplest and most succinct: the 90-year-old span was too narrow for two buses to travel on it in opposite directions. In “bridgespeak,” the structure was functionally obsolete.
The design-build project, which is nearing completion, was notable for its use of a haunched steel girder design. The project is also one of the first design-build bridge replacements commissioned by the Maine Department of Transportation.
In early 2012, the Maine DOT released a Request for Interest looking for a design-build team to replace the 400-foot-long Turner Center Bridge over the Androscoggin River. The job went to local Woolwich-based contractor Reed & Reed, with Fay, Spofford & Thorndike as lead designer.
In August 2014, the communities celebrated the official opening of the new bridge with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Officials and residents from the neighboring towns, MaineDOT, and the design/construction team gathered to stretch a red ribbon across the bridge. The ribbon was cut by construction Superintendent Chris Whittemore’s son, Ethan, and a small parade crossed the new bridge. Gill Busby and Mary Charbonneau, who live next to the bridge, were the ceremonial first drivers across.
The new bridge design uses two-span, horizontally curved haunched steel girders with a total length of 480 feet. The haunched girder design, coupled with the vertical curve on the bridge, minimized the extent of the approach work and reduced project costs while satisfying the clearance above the design flood level. The substructure was designed for ice loading due to the ice flows that are common in the river at this location. The foundations consist of spread footings on tremie seals that extend to bedrock and required cofferdams up to 35 feet in depth.
An additional challenge was the need to keep traffic flowing throughout construction: the closest crossing is 20 miles away, so a detour was not possible. To meet schedule, the team prepared plans in stages and obtained approval for the early release of individual bridge components for construction. This approach, coupled with a fast track design, allowed the contractor to begin work on critical path bridge components and enabled the work to be sequenced around the in-water work windows.
The new bridge ties into the approach roadway near the existing abutments, providing the necessary river waterway opening. It was also essential that the abutment and approach design satisfy the environmental commitments regarding minimal disturbance of the protected riparian areas in the river. The design minimized right-of-way impacts and grade changes at the approaches while satisfying abutter concerns about drainage.
Three-dimensional (3D) modeling was essential to the design process, and required by the bridge design code for a large curved bridge. Modelers developed nine bridge and approach alignment alternatives. The team then used 3D modeling software to evaluate cost, clearance, constructability, and environmental impact. In this way, the FST/Reed & Reed team efficiently evaluated and selected the preferred alternative. The chosen alternative was further developed using approximate methods to optimize the girder flanges, with final verification using 3D finite element modeling. The approach used industry-standard software intended for straight girder bridge design, modified to account for curvature effects. The novel design approach and girder optimization was presented by FST at the 2014 World Bridge Symposium in Toronto.
The new bridge is in use. The existing steel trusses have been removed, and the final phase of the wing wall construction is underway. The project is to be completed in December 2014, and is already a nice addition to a scenic river crossing. n
FMI: For more information about the project, go to the “News & Events” tab at www.fstinc.com. Tom Densford, senior principal engineer at Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, may be reached at email@example.com.
Maine high marks
Maine took a first in New England and fourth in the nation overall for lowest administrative disbursements per mile, according to the Hartgen Annual Highway Report, released in September by the Reason Foundation.
The report also ranked Maine 16th in the country in overall highway performance and cost-effectiveness in 2012, a step up from 18th overall in 2011 and 29th in 2009.
“When I took office, I tasked our commissioners to find efficiencies and to stretch the dollar,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt and his team have worked tirelessly to improve the state’s infrastructure in the most fiscally sound way possible. These rankings show that the department is meeting our expectations for system improvement and innovative management.”
Currently Maine’s highway system is ranked as the 33rd largest nationwide. And Maine’s system is as big as the rest of New England’s combined. MaineDOT is responsible for 8,500 miles of state highway; 2,700 state bridges; approximately 600 miles of rail; and the Maine State Ferry Service with seven ferryboats and seven ferry terminals.
“These rankings reflect the hard work performed by everyone at MaineDOT to carry out our mission—to responsibly provide our customers the safest and most reliable transportation system possible, given available resources,” said Commissioner Bernhardt. “I am proud of the work done here, and I’m confident that ongoing efficiencies and cost savings measures will produce continued positive results on behalf of Maine’s taxpayers.”
Looking for innovation in new places
HNTB’s National Chief Bridge engineer Ted Zoli is as well known as his bridges are. He has designed some of the most iconic bridges of our time: the cable-stayed Leonard P. Zakim Bunkerhill Bridge in Boston; the Lake Champlain Bridge between New York and Vermont; and the Memorial Bridge replacement over the Piscataqua River that links Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine. That bridge was the first in the world to employ a gussetless truss design.
Zoli is the first structural engineer to receive the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award, lauded for “leading the design of elegant and enduring bridges around the world and making major technological advances to protect transportation infrastructure in the event of natural and man-made disasters.”
Zoli will speak at the 64th Maine Transportation Conference on Finding Innovation in New Places. Before the conference, Maine Trails spoke with him about bridges, meeting the challenges of tight funding with innovation and why he doesn’t particularly feel like a “genius.”
Maine Trails: Why did you choose to design bridges?
Ted Zoli: My father and my grandfather owned a construction company and built the Northway [I-87] from Albany into the Adirondack Mountains. I literally grew up on that job. I became interested in how infrastructure underpins a place and becomes intrinsic to what that place becomes.
Maine Trails: You have called for “new ways of thinking” about infrastructure. What’s wrong with our old thinking?
Ted Zoli: As engineers, we have had a little bit of a blind spot when it comes to designing infrasengineers, we have had a little bit of a blind spot when it comes designing infrastructure. We always seem to focus and teach about optimizing materials in our practice. I think we need to look at where to innovate, where there’s value to innovate. When you look at a bridge, how we make and install the concrete and steel may not seem very sexy, but in terms of cost, it is the greatest part of the project.
For the Memorial Bridge, we looked at the design of the truss and developed an entirely new fabrication that was safer and easier to install, inspect and repair and is actually heavier than a traditional truss. So our design had 30 percent more concrete and steel in it, and we still won the bid.
Maine Trails: How does it feel to get one of the coveted MacArthur “genius” grants? Do you feel like a genius?
Ted Zoli: I’m a little distrustful of notoriety. Engineering is a team sport, and I am surrounded by many very talented people who work very hard. The fact is, the really heroic part of engineering is anonymous. When we build a bridge, it’s in a challenging environment with lots of complications. So we build successively on the work that has been done before us to get to this remarkable systemic solution to the problem.
Fix It Now! profile
By John Melrose
Kennebec and Somerset counties have a long transportation history that centers on the Kennebec-Chaudiere Rivers, Old Canada Road and the Arnold Trail. Each of these served as a trade route connecting the Gulf of Maine to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Route 201 is a modern day manifestation of this corridor. It parallels the Kennebec River and the Arnold Trail north to The Forks and includes all of the National Scenic Byway known as Old Canada Road. At the southern end of this region, average daily traffic in Augusta on I-95 exceeds 36,000, while on Route 201 at the Canadian border, travel averages just 1,400 vehicles a day.
Within the region, there are 1,217 miles of state and state-aid highways split almost evenly between the two counties. Those miles comprise 14.3 percent of the state road network. The region accounts for 13.4 percent of all traffic in Maine off the interstate, with two-thirds of this traffic occurring in Kennebec County. Similarly, the region is home to 13.1 percent of Maine’s total population with 70 percent in Kennebec County. Both counties experienced population growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.
Kennebec-Somerset road network
Compared to other parts of Maine, the Kennebec-Somerset region experiences average to better-than-average ratings for priority 1, 2 and 3 highways, as illustrated by the accompanying chart. MaineDOT ratings for these high priority highways reveal few miles within the region (2 percent) receiving a grade of D or F for service deficiencies. On the other hand, nearly a quarter of the priority 1 and 2 roads and one-third of the priority 3 roads receive a D or F for condition, while about one-sixth of the miles have been cited for safety concerns.
MaineDOT’s priority 1 highways include: I-95 through both counties; Route 2 serving east-west traffic in Somerset; and Route 3 in Kennebec connecting Augusta to Belfast. These roads are in comparatively good condition. The region’s priority 2 highways include: the important north-south corridors of Route 27 and 201 (north of Waterville); Route 17 connecting Augusta to Rockland; Route 201A between Norridgewock and North Anson; and Route 16 from North Anson into Franklin County. Here again, conditions are considered good, except on some of the more densely settled segments, as well as on Route 201 in Caratunk, where MaineDOT is now preparing a highway reconstruction project.
Highway priority 1 and 2 needs for Kennebec and Somerset counties relate less to existing conditions and more to improvements that would maximize the value of existing investments, enhance productivity and spur economic development. On Route 2 and on 201 north of Skowhegan, this means building more passing and climbing lanes and providing more directional signage and parking for area tourist attractions such as as Moxie Falls. In the Augusta region, it means extending the I-95 connection to Route 3 over the new Cushnoc Bridge, around the east side of the city to Route 17. In Waterville, the addition of a new I-95 interchange at Trafton Road would ease congestion at Exit 127 and improve access to an extensive area zoned for commercial and industrial development. On hold, pending community consensus, is the decades long discussion on moving heavy truck traffic out of Skowhegan’s downtown. There also remains the longstanding question of how best to connect Maine to the economic centers in Canada to the east and west, i.e., an enhanced east-west route.
Where highway rehabilitation and reconstruction work is needed in the region, it tends to be within villages, downtowns and urban compact areas on priority 1, 2 and 3 highways. These needs pose greater costs per mile and frequently require intense community discussion before consensus is attained on a design. With needs elsewhere that are easier to tackle, the densely settled sections often end up on the back burner.
Examples of more densely settled highway segments in need are: Water Street in Hallowell (Routes 201/27 - a priority 1 highway); Mount Vernon Avenue in Augusta (Routes 11/27/8 - a priority 2 highway); Route 27 through Belgrade Village (another priority 2 highway); and Routes 6/15 in Rockwood Village (a priority 3 highway). There is also a scattering of priority 3 reconstruction needs throughout the region, notably Routes 201A/8/16 in Embden, Route 8 in Belgrade and Route 41 in Mount Vernon. Moscow and Bingham town leaders favor an emergency ramp for runaway trucks descending on Route 16 into their communities. For most of these projects and the ones listed in the more densely settled areas, MaineDOT is either putting projects into their upcoming plan or is in active discussion with the public to arrive at a preferred design.
Within the region there are 350 bridges with spans 20 feet or greater. MaineDOT rates 12 percent of those structurally deficient and another 22 percent as functionally obsolete. Statewide, 15 percent of all bridges are considered structurally deficient and 18 percent are functionally obsolete. Somerset County has a disproportionate share of functionally obsolete bridges at 31 percent. Within the region, 36 out of 76 bridges deemed functionally obsolete are on I-95, with 14 under the jurisdiction of the Maine Turnpike Authority and the rest under MaineDOT jurisdiction. Of the 42 bridges found structurally deficient, five are on I-95. A word of caution: these numbers change as repairs are made and as new inspections are conducted. That said, progress addressing the backlog of deficient bridges in the Somerset-Kennebec region and throughout the state has stalled, after the state spent down a $160 million bridge bond authorization approved by the Maine Legislature in 2008.
The extent of the problem ranges from the heavily traveled interstate bridges down to locally important municipal bridges. Two examples in the region highlight municipal concerns. Late last year, MaineDOT was compelled to post a three-ton limit on the Bog Road Bridge in Benton, forcing snowplows, fire trucks and school buses to take a long detour to make their run. At the time, the emergency response teams estimated that the posting added more than 12 miles and critical time to emergency calls. The road served by the bridge is a priority 6 local road. In another case, Skowhegan and Canaan are faced with either abandoning a bridge on Red Bridge Road that crosses Carrabassett Stream or participating in a cost sharing project with MaineDOT, provided the community and the department can locate the funding. Across Maine, low-volume and/or redundant bridges like the Red Bridge Road crossing are in line for similar consideration.
Aviation, trails, buses and rail
The region’s general aviation airports include Augusta, Jackman, Norridgewock, Pittsfield and Waterville. The Augusta State Airport is the only one providing commercial air service. In 2013, Cape Air carried 5,550 passengers between Boston and Augusta, 4,450 short of the number needed to gain an FAA entitlement of $1 million.
The University of Maine at Augusta, in cooperation with Maine Instrument Flight at the Augusta Airport, is now in its second year offering a bachelor of science in aviation. This initiative is a first for higher education in Maine and a unique economic development initiative that is driving new employment for instructors and mechanics, at the same time creating demand for new hanger space. Norridgewock’s Central Maine Regional Airport is seeking to extend its 4,000-foot runway by 1,000 feet to better serve area businesses including New Balance and Backyard Farms. The airport owns the land needed and is looking for FAA financial participation before construction can begin.
Area trails include nationally renowned segments of the Appalachian Trail and the East Coast Greenway. The most heavily used bike-ped trail is the 18-year-old, six-mile Kennebec River Rail Trail. The majority of this trail is off road and runs parallel to the Kennebec River between Augusta and Gardiner. In Gardiner, an extension along Cobbossee Stream is planned. Kennebec Messalonskee Trails, an organization that operates in the greater Waterville area, actively promotes new trail development and has 18 individual trails and loops already in place. Trail systems are also in place and being developed in Skowhegan, Bingham-Solon and in the Forks.
The region boasts a network of snowmobile and ATV trails. The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments’ Draft Regional Bicycle Plan is available on their web site. The KVCOG long-term vision is to establish a dedicated bicycle or multi-use trail the length of the Kennebec River. The plan includes calls for consideration of a bike route from the Forks to Greenville.
Pan Am Railways’ main line runs roughly parallel to I-95 through the region while Maine’s newest operator, the Central Maine and Quebec Railway, assumes the former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic line running east-west through Jackman. Pan Am service north to Madison and on to North Anson is now discontinued with little expectation of its return. MaineDOT owns the Augusta Lower Road from Augusta to Brunswick. Passenger rail proponents are urging the return of service to Augusta on this line with connections to the Downeaster in Brunswick. The former American Tissue Mill site, now owned by the city, is favored as the station location for passenger rail service.
The Kennebec Explorer, operated by Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP), provides scheduled bus service in the Augusta, Skowhegan and Waterville areas. KVCAP initiated a commuter run in 2011 between Augusta and Waterville, and in 2012 KVCAP began the Skowhegan service. In the 2000-2001 operating year, the Kennebec Explorer carried 36,018 passengers. Ten years later KVCAP’s passenger count rose to 44,273 and in the 2013-2014 operating year, ridership increased to 82,813. KVCAP hopes to connect the Skowhegan service to the rest of the system in the future with stops at Kennebec Valley Community College. KVCAP interchanges with interstate carriers Concord Coach Lines in Augusta and Greyhound in Waterville.
Finally, the Kennebec River, one of the three historical transportation routes mentioned earlier in this article, remains a centerpiece of the region’s infrastructure. Once a significant maritime shipping route, the Kennebec also hosted log drives, and numerous ferry services linked communities on its banks. Today, it provides both transportation and recreation with boat ramps throughout, marinas on the tidal sections, whitewater rafting on the northern reaches and fishing along the way – an example of transportation infrastructure supporting the state and regional economy.
MBTA 2014 Fall PDH Tour visits three game changing projects in Portland
Nearly 40 MBTA members and friends gathered in the early morning hours at the Maine Turnpike Authority on October 3 for what has become an autumn tradition for the organization – the Fall PDH Tour. This year’s tour, the third in recent years, was the most ambitious yet with visits to three projects in Portland.
“With all that is happening in Portland, we thought it would be the perfect place to start,” said Conrad Welzel of the Maine Turnpike. Welzel led the committee that organized the educational tour and was assisted by Kathi Earli of the City of Portland. “Every project was so close to each other it made the bus tour easy, and each of these projects required several different disciplines of the engineering field to work very closely together.” The three projects toured were:
• Forefront at Thompson Point
A public-private partnership of the city of Portland, MaineDOT, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Thompson Point Development Company. When the $100 million project is complete, the former industrial site will be home to a mixed use development that will include office buildings, restaurants, a hotel, a sports arena, an outdoor concert site, parking garages, condominiums, and a sports medicine lab, among other facilities.
• The International Marine Terminal
City officials and the MaineDOT recently broke ground on work to expand the container terminal and add a direct freight rail link at this site. The terminal, a former mixed use terminal that once served as home for an international ferry service to Canada, has been transformed to a vibrant shipping center, thanks to the collaborative efforts of MaineDOT, the Maine Port Authority and the city of Portland. With more than $15 million infused into the project site since 2009, the terminal’s rebirth also includes a new international shipper and cross-dock operations, and a future rail line connection.
• Anderson Street Neighborhood Byway
The byway integrates transportation, placemaking and storm water management best practices within an evolving neighborhood “Main Street” in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood, Maine’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood. Neighborhood byways prioritize bicycling and walking modes while maintaining vehicular traffic and include way finding and streetscape enhancements. This byway will incorporate extensive utility, drainage and green stormwater infrastructure.
Participants not only got to tour these much talked about projects that are transforming the city of Portland and surrounding communities, they also earned credit for up to five professional development hours (PDHs).
“The tour was a great success because each of our presenters was enthusiastic about the project. They shared their part and showed how it all fit together,” said Welzel. “It was fun to see that excitement picked up by the tour participants, and I am sure that enthusiasm will carry on.”
“All of these projects will play a big role in the future of the City of Portland and the region,” added Welzel. “We greatly appreciate the city hosting the day; they were great partners!”
The MBTA would like to offer many thanks to Welzel and Kathi Early for organizing this event and to presenters: Mike Bobinsky, Bruce Hyman and Nathaniel Smith of the City of Portland; Tom Errico of TY Lin; Craig Morin of HNTB; Bo Kennedy of FST; Don Ettinger and Randy Dutton of Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers; David Senus of Woodard & Curran; and Chris Thompson of Thompson Point.
When the going got tough
At the height of the recession, Be Schonewald struck out to found her niche engineering firm, Schonewald Engineering Associates. She hasn’t looked back since.
On a recent fall day, Be Schonewald settled in for a 7 a.m. cup of coffee and some retrospection before heading out into the field. Like many in the transportation industry, her clients have a lot left to be done before the ground freezes. That is particularly true for Schonewald, who specializes in geotechnical engineering, a discipline that focuses on soil and rock as engineering materials, not unlike how structural engineers design with concrete and steel.
“We have some tricky soils in this state – soft soils, like silt and clay that are known as the Presumpscot formation – and they make my job challenging, but rewarding,” said Schonewald, her enthusiasm for the topic clearly evident. For more than 25 years, she has worked to find ways to improve those tricky soils so they are able to support new infrastructure and construction.
Schonewald this year celebrates an important milestone for her company, Schonewald Engineering Associates. It was five years ago that she founded the firm after being laid off from her job of 22 years with a leading regional geoenvironmental engineering firm. It was the height of the recession, and she knew she had to make a quick decision.
“Work had gotten very slow and they had to make the cuts. I looked at what I wanted and realized that I was at the point in my career where I had established a lot of contacts and a good network, so I decided to hang out my shingle,” recalled Schonewald.
The first year, she admitted, was slow. With characteristic positivity, she said that gave her time to map out a course for the new company. Within the first five or six months, she had secured Schonewald Engineering Associates’ status as a DBE (disadvantaged business enterprise) with MaineDOT and NHDOT. Shortly thereafter, MaineDOT prequalified her firm to provide geotechnical services. She also had defined what she wanted her niche in the industry to be and what her strategy for earning clients’ confidence would be.
“I wanted to aim for the ‘right-size’ project. I wanted to be self-sufficient and to do what I do best,” said Schonewald. While over the past 25 years she had worked and managed projects running the full gamut of geo-environmental engineering, for her own company she decided to focus primarily on offering geotechnical services that could take projects from subsurface exploration and preliminary engineering right through permitting and construction. She particularly enjoys getting out into the field, whether it is drilling subsurface explorations or overseeing geotechnical and civil aspects of construction on a job site.
When clients hire her firm, “they know exactly who is out there in the field making sure the job gets done right.” She also decided she wanted to develop a collaborative work model, keeping clients involved and informed throughout the process, so there were as few surprises at the end of a job as possible.
That strategy has worked, and in just five years, Schonewald Engineering Associates has earned a solid reputation for good work as the primary consultant – and often as a sub-consultant – on notable projects throughout the state.
Schonewald routinely performs all aspects of geotechnical design projects from scope development and field services, through analyses and preparation of project deliverables, to providing construction-phase services and technical quality assurance reviews for other engineering professionals. Schonewald has completed a diverse group of engineering projects, including geotechnical engineering studies, design, and construction; geotechnical instrumentation system design, installation, and monitoring; analyses and soil improvement design to mitigate soft soil issues; management and quality assurance monitoring of complex construction projects, including serving as construction manager, resident engineer, and QA engineer-of-record; solid waste facility design, permitting, construction, and operations support; and environmental permitting.
Before the heavy equipment
The work she most enjoys often begins long before the heavy equipment rolls in – drilling subsurface explorations and performing the analyses for a planned construction project and then designing the geotechnical aspects that will make the project possible. As she describes it: “The first thing that gets done is you poke holes in the ground.”
Recent transportation projects have included geotechnical support for the reconstruction of the Eastport breakwater, the expansion of the International Marine Terminal in Portland and reconstruction of a six-mile stretch of Route 11 just south of Eagle Lake, slated to begin construction in FY 2015. Schonewald also provided geotechnical investigation, design and recommendations for the redesign and construction of a Maine Turnpike underpass in Falmouth and reconstruction of Riverside Street intersection in Portland for MaineDOT that featured a lightweight foamed concrete embankment-retaining wall system.
In addition to her transportation clients, Schonewald has completed projects for commercial and industrial clients. Schonewald provided geotechnical consulting to the lead investigator – Credere Associates – on the Callahan Mine clean-up in Brooksville, an EPA Superfund site. For that project, they evaluated the stability of the mine’s tailings impoundment as it related to initial remedial construction.
This November, MaineDOT released new design charts for foundations for overhead signage and mast arm poles, part of the department’s updated standard specifications. Schonewald worked closely with MaineDOT staff to develop charts that standardized the geotechnical design and are expected to help streamline contractor bidding and shorten construction timelines.
Senior Geotechnical Engineer for MaineDOT’s Highway Program, Kitty Breskin, oversaw that project and many others, and she praises Schonewald’s responsiveness, her ingenuity and how she always puts the client first. “If we have a project that has time restrictions, we can count on her,” said Breskin. “She thinks outside the box and is great to work with.”
Schonewald got her start in the field in the mid-1980s. Growing up, her father worked in the oil and gas industry as a petroleum engineer, and she early showed an aptitude for science and math and for a while considered a career in medicine.
“I discovered after a year of pre-med that I liked working with rock people more than pre-med people,” said Schonewald. She earned her first undergraduate degree – in geology – from the University of Vermont in 1983. Upon graduation, she found her options were limited – and research seemed the most viable option. Then she had an informational interview with an engineering firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts that changed the course of her life. She decided to go back to school for engineering.
She earned her second undergraduate degree, a B.S. in civil engineering, from UMaine in 1986 and her master’s a year later. She had interned with Haley & Aldrich in Hartford, Connecticut and Boston, Massachusetts, and at graduation, she landed work with GZA GeoEnvironmental’s Manchester office, eventually moving to the company’s Portland office where she worked as a geotechnical engineer, senior technical specialist/ senior project manager and became an employee shareholder.
Schonewald has been active in the professional community as a member and past president of the Maine Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and was involved in that group’s work to develop the Maine Infrastructure Report Card. Her firm is a member of the MBTA, and she is a charter member of the Maine Chapter of WTS International (Women’s Transportation Seminar), an organization that promotes the education and advancement of women in the transportation field. Schonewald Engineering’s memberships have also included the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Maine and the Portland Society of Architects. She is an active member of the Civil Engineering Association at the University of Maine and is treasurer and on the board of the Maine Engineering Promotional Council (MEPC), organizers of Maine’s annual Engineering Expo intended to spark school-aged kids’ interest in technical subjects and careers in engineering. She served on the Maine Section ASCE board of directors from 2000-2006.
“Be’s commitment to volunteerism is amazing, as evidenced by the many projects and committees she has taken on for the various industry and engineering groups to which she devotes so much time,” noted Katy Hews, president of the Maine Chapter of WTS and fleet sales and marketing manager for Hews Company in South Portland.
Said Hews: “Despite her busy schedule managing projects in the field, and as a sole proprietor, she finds time to work in various leadership capacities for WTS, ASCE, MEPC and other groups. Her focus and organizational skills, as well as her vast network, are a tremendous asset to the engineering and transportation community, and she is forever looking for opportunities to mentor students and women interested in breaking into the field.”
Schonewald is proud of how well her firm has done and how much she has achieved since she “hung out her shingle” in 2009. This past summer she sent out a thank-you card to all of those who have provided support and encouragement over the past five years and is quick to give credit where credit is due, including to the Maine Small Business Development Center, which helped her establish the business, and other small business owners as well as fellow MBTA members who have brought her in on projects and helped spread the word about her firm.
“I’ve had a lot of help,” said Schonewald, who added that this sense of generosity and spirit of collaboration is what drew her to the profession in the beginning. “That is the best of engineering, when people work together to solve a problem and achieve a common goal. It’s collaborative and, in the end, we all succeed.”
FMI: Schonewald Engineering Associates offers geotechnical engineering, construction support, solid waste engineering and environmental permitting services. To learn more, visit schonewaldengineering.com