Almost 11″ of Rain Overnight

Some areas north of the DFW metroplex picked up close to 11 inches of rain since late last night due to a slow-moving disturbance tracking across north Texas. While this storm hasn’t been classified as one yet, now is a good time to explain what a 100-year storm is.

A 100-year storm refers to rainfall totals that have a one percent probability of occurring at that location in that year. In other words, there is a 1 in 100 or 1% chance that a storm will reach or exceed this intensity in any given year. Encountering a “100-year storm” on one day does not decrease the chance of a second 100-year storm occurring in that same year or any year to follow.  Likewise, a 50-year storm has a 1 in 50 (or 2%) chance of occurring in a year.

Peloton Austin Office Moves to New Space

Our Austin office has moved to:

7004 Bee Cave Road
Building 2, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78746

Army Unmanned Convoy Uses LIDAR

The Army’s Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin passed the latest round of tests validating the ability of driverless military-truck convoys to operate safely in a variety of environments. The Unmanned Mission Module part of the system, which includes a high-performance LIDAR sensor, and additional algorithms, is installed as a kit and can be used on virtually any military vehicle.

In the most recent demonstrations,  a series of fully autonomous convoy tests were completed involving an unmanned leader vehicle followed by a convoy of up to six additional, autonomous follower vehicles operating at speeds as high as 40 mph. The convoy negotiated oncoming traffic, followed rules of the road, recognized and avoided pedestrians and various obstacles, and then used intelligence and decision-making abilities to re-route itself through a maze of test areas to complete both complex urban and rural line haul missions, according to TARDEC. Read more here and visit the TARDEC website.

Fred Balster, P.E. Joins Peloton Staff

Peloton announces the addition of Fred Balster, P.E., Vice President of Municipal Services, to our Frisco, Texas office. Fred has forty-one years of experience in municipal design and construction, including roadway and utility design and bridge rehabilitation. He is a Professional Civil Engineer licensed in the State of Texas and has vast public works experience in project management, building and managing design teams, and cultivating relationships with clients. Fred is familiar with the policies and procedures of the cities in North Texas.

Peloton welcomes Fred Balster as an important addition to our team of over 80 professional engineers, planners, surveyors, scientists, landscape architects and support personnel in three Texas offices.

Robots Used to Monitor Infrastructure Condition

The attributes of precision, repetition and scale make robots an ideal technology for tackling one of the country’s biggest economic challenges: maintaining the deteriorating infrastructure that threatens the integrity of the U.S. highway system. One such device, the Robotics Assisted Bridge Inspection Tool (RABIT), is about the size of a Volkswagen beetle and can cover 4,000 square feet of bridge deck per hour. The RABIT (developed at Rutgers University) carries high-resolution cameras and sensors that measure electrical resistance (to measure corrosive materials in the concrete), impact echoes and ultrasonic surface waves (to evaluate concrete delamination and deck strength).  The device also uses ground-penetrating radar to map rebar and other metallic objects, and has GPS that records and marks location data. RABIT is still in the development stage, but does add terabytes of valuable data that previous methods of inspection couldn’t deliver. One current method for determining internal damage involves dragging chains on top of a bridge. After years of experience, a bridge inspector would understand how the resonance that was caused by the chain dragging could indicate areas of delamination, areas in the concrete where splitting is occurring and where a more detailed evaluation may be needed.

World Cup 2014: Mission Control

In preparation for the demands of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro has the world’s most ambitious integrated urban mission control center. With the help of a giant wall monitor, the center provides connections to the city’s 30 departments and private suppliers and allows staffers to track real-time conditions and order rapid response to emergencies and disruptions as they develop. Other cities have similar projects, but none are as big or broadly operational as Rio’s. For instance, the City Hall entity tasked with preventing floods, monitors the level of the rivers, while the Rio traffic agency keeps tabs on vehicle flow via the video wall, changing traffic lights if necessary and calling field agents to manage accidents as soon as they happen. There are Google satellite and street maps networked to the city’s information systems.

Cradled spectacularly between mountains and sea, the city’s geography presents unique challenges. About three-quarters of Rio’s districts have areas at risk of landslide during heavy downpours, and much of the city is vulnerable to flooding. Temperatures can rise as high as 45 degrees in ‘heat islands’. Even basic communications can be problematic: the hillsides in some neighborhoods render mobile broadband and mobile phone coverage spotty.

National Public Works Week May 18-24

National Public Works Week is a celebration of the tens of thousands of men and women in North America who provide and maintain the infrastructure and services collectively known as public works. The week seeks to enhance the prestige of these often-unsung heroes of our society — the professionals who serve the public good every day. The American Public Works Association has selected “Building for Today, Planning for Tomorrow” as this year’s theme, to recognize that what we do today is vital to a sustainable and vibrant tomorrow. Read more at the APWA website.

Every year since 1963, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from across the nation through National Small Business Week. Activities will include forums and panels discussing trends in small business, business innovation, financing, growth, matchmaking events, as well as networking opportunities and award ceremonies.

LEED Activity State by State

The US Green Building Council has launched an online tool that provides real-time green building data in the commercial sector for each state in the US and Washington, DC. USGBC plans to add data on LEED for Homes and LEED for Neighborhood Development in the latter part of 2014.

Highway Trust Fund Set to Become Insolvent

Based on current spending and revenue trends, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will encounter a shortfall before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2014. The Highway Trust Fund is how Congress provides federal funding for transportation projects. It was created in 1956 to build the Interstate Highway System and now provides funding for roads, bridges and transit projects across America. The Fund is paid for by the federal motor fuels taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. Historically, federal highway funding has accounted for approximately 45 percent of what state DOTs spend on highway and bridge capital improvements. Read more at ASCE Roundup