Posts Categorized: General

FHWA Repeals its Proprietary Product Rule, Allows Geosystems’ Products to be Specified

By: William G. Handlos, P.E. Design engineers received good news on September 23, 2019, when the Federal Highway Administration repealed 23 CFR 635.411(a)-(e). Colloquially known as the “Proprietary Product Rule”, the long-standing provision made it difficult to use patented or proprietary products or technologies in federally funded projects, unless they first received a seldom-granted Public Interest Finding or classified the project as experimental. Specialty engineered and innovative systems, such as the GEOWEB® soil stabilization (geocells) lineup of products have at times been difficult to specify because there is simply nothing quite like it in the marketplace. While other geocell manufacturers exist, the Geosystems products have patented innovations making it unique in the products’ ability to perform far better than other “or equal” systems. Now, engineers will no longer be constrained to the lowest common denominator offerings from the marketplace and instead can use technically advanced materials that reduce costs, speed construction and save money. According to Federal Highway Administrator Nicole R. Nason, “This final rule promotes innovation by empowering states to choose which state-of-the-art materials, tools, and products best meet their needs for the construction and upkeep of America’s transportation infrastructure.”       GEOWEB® — Most Complete Multicomponent Geocellular… Read more »

The Integration of Pervious & Impervious Pavements to Address Green Infrastructure Needs

Written by: Samantha Justice, P.E. Green infrastructure incentive programs have become commonplace for new construction and redevelopment regulations. Five of the most common incentives include: Development incentives such as expedited permitting, decreased fees, zoning upgrades, and stormwater requirement reductions. Grants. Rebates and installation financing. Awards and recognition programs. Stormwater fee discounts. A subset of green infrastructure, stormwater management usually includes the consideration of pervious/porous pavements. Traditional asphalt and concrete parking lot surfaces create significant stormwater runoff, and many municipalities do not allow them in expansion or new build situations. When the entire parking area is constructed using a porous pavement system, stormwater concerns are greatly reduced. Depending on the type chosen, pavements that return rainwater to the aquifer nearly eliminate stormwater runoff and reduce sheet flow and point load erosion problems at the pavement edges. They also reduce the need for additional stormwater infrastructure to convey the water away from the area. Integrating porous pavement systems with asphalt and concrete surfaces can reduce such failures and reduce or eliminate the need for stormwater conveyance channels, pipes, and swales. As a result, downstream stormwater pipe systems see less silt and water, which requires less maintenance and less capital expenditure for upsizing stormwater pipes…. Read more »

Railroad ballast performance improvement using GEOWEB® Geocells

Each year railroads must allocate a significant portion of their capital and maintenance budget toward the creation and upkeep of high-quality ballast layers. Enduring, well-designed ballast is quite literally the foundation on which a successful rail line operates. With ballooning rail traffic carrying heavier loads than ever, GEOWEB cellular confinement (geocell) effectively takes the pressure off critical ballast systems. Oregon State University (OSU) recently performed state-of-the-art, three-dimensional dynamic Finite Element modeling to analyze the reinforcing benefit of GEOWEB geocells in railway applications. Completed in cooperation with the University of Kansas (KU), who simultaneously performed a testing program of Geocell-reinforced ballast placed over weak subgrade. The digital modeling results were reinforced by the laboratory tests and showed a significant decrease in settlement of the railway ballast when GEOWEB confinement was used. Using the GEOWEB system not only decreased settlement but also reduced pressure on point-to-point aggregate load transfer contact. This resulted in less damage to ballast aggregate particles leading to less progressive deformation and longer maintenance frequencies of the entire ballast embankment. In short, more cycles mean less track down-time for maintenance. The research results were clear. The benefits of applying GEOWEB Geocell confinement for reinforcement of real ballast over weak… Read more »

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 »