I always enjoy the variety of articles in CE News and especially liked the story on how ODOT is using CM/GC on the I-5 Willamette River Bridge ("Controlling complexity and cost," January 2013, page 28). As I flipped through the [January issue] and reached the article on aging infrastructure ("Help for aging, neglected infrastructure," page 46), the [first] photo yelled at me for two reasons, both related to the bare feet and flip flops! From a safety perspective, this is a very questionable choice of footwear for this type of work. And secondly, this is a very questionable choice of footwear for this situation from a professional point of view, whether they are the feet of an owner/rep or of a consultant/vendor.
Nancy J. Usrey, FSMPS, CPSM
The author responded: "The flip flops belonged to an observer and not a worker associated with the city in which it was taken. The area was secured during the cleaning but we were allowed to come in and view for the sake of the project. She is absolutely correct about her observations; the feet just happened to be in the way for a second while I came in to take a photo."
Finding funding solutions
I was somewhat amused that you were interested, but a tad bit wary of Virginia's "gas to sales tax" infrastructure funding solution, explained in February's column (Comment, page 8). We can't deny highway infrastructure needs increased funding, especially for bridges, but we continue to warn against just throwing the taxpayer's hard-earned money at an ill-defined problem.
LifeSpan Technologies' ... business philosophy is to cut costs first then, and only then, ask the weary taxpayers for more money to resolve a well-defined problem. We have to judiciously utilize advanced condition assessment technologies to fully understand the actual condition of our bridge stock, assess risk using accurate condition information, safely defer major repair and replacement projects – driving down life cycle costs – and then prioritize spending based on objective criteria, not political whim. Fix what needs fixing, especially for the sake of public safety, but defer what you can as long as you can.
Based on [our] work and conversations with colleagues over the past five years, we have concluded there are much fewer than 70,000 structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. And many posted bridges, especially those in rural America, don't need to be posted. But to get from where we are to a land where logic and objective information form the basis of tax policy, we need to employ the right technologies at the right time.
Peter J. Vanderzee