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Year-end construction backlog drops 1 percent

Washington, D.C. — According to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) for the fourth quarter of 2014 declined 0.1 months, or 1 percent. Despite the quarter-over-quarter decline, backlog ended the year at 8.7 months, which is still 4.4 percent higher than one year ago.

JQ’s new projects track market growth in Lubbock, Texas

Lubbock, Texas — The Lubbock office of JQ is capitalizing on the city’s growth with new projects, according to principal Natalie Harvill, P.E., LEED AP. Says Harvill, “With a growth rate projected to be more than 40 percent over the next decade, our Lubbock office has been very active, proposing on new projects.”

New desalination technology could answer drought woes

Arcata, Calif. — Could desalination be the answer to California’s drought? As parts of the state become drier, scientists are looking at ways to turn seawater into drinkable water. Desalination has made headlines in recent months as a possible solution to the state’s water shortage. But in addition to being expensive, its byproduct — salty brine — can harm marine life once it’s reintroduced into the ocean. A team of researchers from Humboldt State University and the University of Southern California is hoping to address those concerns with a new process called Reverse Osmosis-Pressure Retarded Osmosis (RO-PRO).

Preventing explosive spalling of concrete in tunnel fires

When fire breaks out in a tunnel, the ensuing heat has little possibility of escaping. Temperatures rise rapidly to over 1,000 degrees Celsius. The heat that develops causes the concrete to spall explosively, weakening the structural integrity of the tunnel. This can be prevented by adding polypropylene fibers to the concrete. But what exactly happens inside the concrete? Engineers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) have found a way to measure this.

Alta Environmental contracted to monitor Port of Long Beach stormwater

Long Beach, Calif. — The Port of Long Beach (POLB) awarded a multi-year, $1,010,000 contract to Alta Environmental. Under this contract, Alta will help the Port and Port Tenants comply with the new California Industrial General Storm Water Permit (IGP) by implementing a stormwater monitoring program at 22 sites throughout the port complex. Alta will also provide strategic consulting, design and implementation, and an analysis of its findings, as part of the contract.

History, archaeology preserved in award-winning Sandpoint project

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho — The construction of an alternate route for U.S. 95 through Sandpoint, Idaho, several years ago has already been recognized numerous times. On Jan. 7, another award was added to the list — this time for the archaeological work initiated before construction even began.

Old Bay Bridge demolition focuses on environmental sustainability, safety, and efficiency

Oakland, Calif. — Caltrans announced that it is meeting with key environmental regulators to discuss options for safely removing the old Bay Bridge's underwater piers. Caltrans is considering the least environmentally impacting alternative, including the potential for controlled underwater charges that would reduce impacts to the environment compared with a traditional underwater demolition.

Concrete solutions to aging bridges

University Park, Pa. — According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the state leads the nation in the number of bridges classified as "structurally deficient." Its 25,000 state-owned bridges are aging — their average age is over 50 years — and in need of repair. Penn State Civil engineer Farshad Rajabipour and his colleagues are working on solutions.

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