Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Dangers of Breaking Specs and Bid Shopping

Written by William G. Handlos, P.E. Specifying Engineers and Architects work tirelessly to build plans and specifications that capture the essence of their vision as they work to write the guiding documents for their project. They make decisions about product types, grades, and take great pains to build into their documents citations of certifications and standards to assure only quality materials are allowed on the site. Yet, when challenged to accept “or equal” substitutions, it seems that all the standards of care can sometimes be lost and substandard materials seem to too easily find their way onto the site. The reason for this lapse is often a result of the timing of the hand-off between the design team and the project management team occurring just as the contractor award occurs. Contractors are concerned about leaving too much money on the table (the difference in value between the winning and the second bid). Just moments after the bid opening or notice of award, bid shopping commences. Bid shopping on publicly-funded projects is disallowed by legislation in some localities, but even when formally disallowed, informally it occurs widely. With the economic power of the project award and with the pressure of the potential… Read more »

Highway Stormwater Control: Porous Vegetated Road Shoulders

Written by William G. Handlos, P.E. Highway Stormwater Control: Porous Vegetated Drivable Road Shoulders Gravel road shoulders are not porous. Rainwater sheet flowing off highway pavement passes right across the aggregate shoulder carrying with it sediment and other pollutants that ultimately end up in freshwater creeks and rivers. Aside from pollutant loading, re-grading shoulders is a continuous activity for State and County crews to repair eroded sections after several rain events. Some counties have taken a smart solution approach to this problem and are using geocell cellular confinement systems to reduce maintenance costs and to improve water quality.  Shown below are the cross sections detailing a GEOWEB® geocellular drivable vegetated shoulder solution. The infill to the geocell is made up of 2/3rd clear stone aggregate (void ratio 30 – 40%) and 1/3rd topsoil. The topsoil remains uncompressed within the interstitial spaces between the stone, and the stone is the structural component that carries the load. The topsoil allows for the vegetation roots to grow and feed upon the nutrients and water in the topsoil.  This system percolates runoff from the highway while offering proper load support for vehicles that pull off the side of the road. The GEOWEB® cells confine the… Read more »

Distributors Add Value to Geosynthetics

Written by William G. Handlos, P.E. As a manufacturer of specialty engineered geosynthetics, Presto Geosystems markets and sells through a worldwide network of geosynthetics distributors and representatives.  Why?  What value does a network bring?  The decision to work through distribution is driven by the value that the network brings and is reinforced by the success of this model over thirty years of operating experience. Now and then, the model is challenged.  Contractors sometimes see the distributor as a non-essential layer of cost.  But, take a closer look and see how a well prepared network adds value to both the manufacturer, the contractor and most importantly…..to the project owner. It would be impossible for each geosynthetics manufacturer to maintain a sufficient workforce to cover the US, much less the world market.  Distributors function as a sales and service cooperative – shared by all manufacturers for whom the distributor represents.  Distributors vary in the number of manufacturers they represent.  But, it is not uncommon for the local distributor to carry dozens of products from 6 to 10 manufacturers. Engineers and Architects as well as contractors benefit from local trade shows and educational presentations sponsored by informed product salesmen who are known and trusted… Read more »