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WBUR: 10 Ideas For Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan November 21, 2016

by Alison Bruzek and Deborah Becker

In his victory speech, President-elect Donald Trump highlighted a campaign promise to invest in infrastructure, saying: “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals.”

However, the details of Trump’s plan are not fully clear. He has indicated he plans to rely on private financing, wants to cut regulatory “red tape,” and he claims the proposal would pay for itself.

In a New York Times article published last week, journalist and infrastructure advocate Dan McNichol offered 10 ideas for what the president-elect should take up as his major projects. We talk to McNichol about his proposals and how likely they are to happen.

Guest
Dan McNichol, author of several books including, “The Roads That Built America: The Incredible Story of the U.S. Interstate System” and former chief spokesperson for The Big Dig. He tweets @DanMcNichol.

MSNBC: Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure November 19, 2016

Best-selling author and award-winning journalist Dan McNichol was interviewed by MSNBC’s Betty Nguyen to discuss President-elect Trump’s plans to invest in infrastructure.

Forbes: A Large Infrastructure Monument To His Ego Is Not What We Need From Trump’s Economic Policy November 18, 2016

Tim Worstall, Contributor

This is a really very strange indeed suggestion from the pages of the New York Times. The idea is that Donald Trump should make his mark on American economic life by getting some vast piece of infrastructure built. Of course there’s at least a fig leaf of economic consideration in front of this proposal, that we all know that infrastructure does have to be built so why shouldn’t Trump be the one to lead the charge to build it?

However, there’re more than just the one problem with this idea. Starting with the fact that, as far as we know at least, the economy is at about full employment. We are thus entirely not in the situation that FDR was in during the Depression. We simply do not have 25% of the adult males wandering the country looking for a square and a shovel to call their own–a situation in which providing them with a shovel and those three squares a day in return for their using it to build something makes sense.

So all of the standard points about infrastructure spending being stimulatory simply do not apply–we don’t need the stimulus.

Then there’s this:

Mr. Trump will also need to be hands-on. Roosevelt asked states and cities for proposals, but he made nearly all the final decisions himself. “F.D.R. was a fanatic about infrastructure, roads, planning,” Mr. McNichol said. “As a commissioner in New York, he helped lay out the Taconic Parkway. He even helped design the picnic tables.”

I would not regard the suggestion as a good idea myself. Indeed, one of the more general pieces of advice that people are proffering at present is that Trump is going have to be a lot less detail orientated given the myriad problems that do end up on that desk in the Oval Office. And there’s enough bleating over there on the left about the incoming fascism without the President-elect trying to personally make sure that the trains do run on time.

There’s also that little point about the oft repeated $3.2 trillion that needs to be spent on infrastructure. This comes from the American Association of Civil Engineers. Yup, we’ve just asked our barber whether we need a haircut.

However, the real problem with this proposal is in the list of the projects that Trump is being urged to advance. Here’s just the first two:

■ Hudson River rail tunnel: The Northeast Corridor desperately needs another rail link connecting Manhattan and northern New Jersey. The current overcrowded tunnel is over 100 years old and was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Cost: $23.9 billion.

■ California high-speed rail: America’s first modern high-speed rail project would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, about 400 miles apart, in under three hours. Cost: $65 billion.

These both fall foul of different economic rules. A tunnel between New Jersey and New York? Even Manhattan? That’s rather something that the people of New Jersey and New York can deal with themselves, isn’t it? After all, we do rather think that the people who will benefit from something should be the ones who pay for it, no? Most certainly, there really are things called public goods but even they don’t magically benefit the entire country. If we cannot devise a scheme whereby passengers on trains going through such a tunnel pay for it (and I can think of absolutely no reason why we cannot) then perhaps, just maybe, it might be right that there’s a call on the local taxpayers to provide a local piece of infrastructure like this. And I’m led to believe that there are various Port and transport authorities around in that area which already do exactly that. That is, even if the Hudson tunnel needs to be redone, and it cannot be directly charged for, there’s absolutely no reason whatever that it should become a Federal project, with taxpayers in Anchorage and Austin having to kick in to get commuter trains into Manhattan.

California’s high-speed rail project suffers from a different problem. It will make us poorer so it shouldn’t be built at all. Other than the people making a living from the project there’s just no one paying attention who thinks that it will ever make back its cost of production. And that’s before we start to talk about running and maintenance costs. And the case in favour of building infrastructure, however we build or finance it, is that it makes us richer. But something that loses money is something that produces less value than the cost of doing it. That is, it makes us poorer, not richer.

Thus, of course, we shouldn’t do it.

Donald Trump does of course have experience of actually building things. And we might hope that exactly that experience will lead him to dismantle all of the restrictive rules about who gets to build government contracts at what wages–that would do more to get infrastructure built than anything else anyone else or Trump himself could do.

However, this idea just does not convince:

Here’s how President-elect Trump could unify a bitterly divided America, provide well-paying jobs to many of the millions of disaffected workers who voted for him, and lift the economy, stock market and tax rolls.

All he needs to do is what he presumably does best: build something.

And I don’t mean a few miles of asphalt or a paint job on a rusting bridge.

Build something awe-inspiring. Something Americans can be proud of. Something that will repay the investment many times over for generations to come.

Donald Trump should unite Americans by putting up some monstrously egotistical building that people can gawp at? Have these people been paying attention recently?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/11/18/a-large-infrastructure-monument-to-his-ego-is-not-what-we-need-from-trumps-economic-policy/#7e677dc62c45

New York Times: Trump-Size Idea for a New President: Build Something Inspiring November 17, 2016

by James B. Stewart

Here’s how President-elect Trump could unify a bitterly divided America, provide well-paying jobs to many of the millions of disaffected workers who voted for him, and lift the economy, stock market and tax rolls.

All he needs to do is what he presumably does best: build something.

And I don’t mean a few miles of asphalt or a paint job on a rusting bridge.

Build something awe-inspiring. Something Americans can be proud of. Something that will repay the investment many times over for generations to come.

Build the modern-day equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel or the Timberline Lodge. Or even, given Mr. Trump’s passion for the sport, another Bethpage State Park Black Course — the first public golf course to host the prestigious United States Open.

All of these are Depression-era New Deal public works projects started under President Franklin D. Roosevelt that are still in use.

Can anyone name even one infrastructure project from President Obama’s $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act? I didn’t think so.

In fairness to Mr. Obama, Republicans in Congress bitterly opposed his public works spending plans, and he lamented there were too few “shovel ready” projects.

That didn’t stop F.D.R. His Public Works Administration and Works Progress Administration, using combinations of public and private money, solicited proposals from states and cities, hired millions of workers and eventually built 78,000 bridges, 650,000 miles of roads, 700 miles of airport runways, 13,000 playgrounds and 125,000 military and civilian buildings, including more than 40,000 schools — in most cases to high standards of quality and design.

The federal government built the La Guardia, Ronald Reagan Washington National and Los Angeles International airports, the Upper Mississippi locks and dams, the Bonneville power project on the Columbia River, the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in New York, and the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Most are still in use today. To a large degree, this is the infrastructure that made America great, to borrow Mr. Trump’s catchphrase.

What Roosevelt accomplished “is astounding,” said Scott Myers-Lipton, a sociology professor at San Jose State University and author of the books “Rebuild America: Solving the Economic Crisis Through Civic Works” and “Ending Extreme Inequality.”

But it’s not so much the numbers people remember today. “Most people just know there was an alphabet soup of organizations,” he said. “What they see and remember are the landmarks: the Bay Bridge, Reagan National Airport or the baseball stadium in San Jose. We’re living on that legacy today.”

Repealing Obamacare, lowering taxes for businesses and mostly wealthy people, overhauling the immigration system and privatizing Medicare — what congressional Republicans have cited as their top legislative priorities — would be divisive in a nation bitterly split along partisan and geographic lines. But nearly everyone agrees that America has grossly neglected its infrastructure even as the rest of the world, notably China, has raced ahead.

“Our airports are like from a third-world country,” Mr. Trump said at Hofstra University during the first presidential debate. “You land at La Guardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible — you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, and you land — we’ve become a third-world country.”

Who could disagree? Hillary Clinton also called for a big increase in infrastructure spending.

“The single best thing the federal government can do to promote economic growth is to repair and build the transportation network, the highways, railroads and airports,” said Roger Noll, an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. “It’s been neglected for 30 years.”

Last year, Dan McNichol, author of the book “The Roads That Built America,” a history of the Interstate highway system, and a White House adviser on transportation issues for President George H. W. Bush, navigated the country in a 1949 Hudson Commodore on a mission to investigate the state of America’s infrastructure.

“I was trying to see if this was really a crisis or a media sensation,” he told me this week from California, where he’s working on the state’s high-speed rail project. “I found out it’s pretty dire in terms of total infrastructure. For a nation that leads the world in global trade, our systems are failing.

Video How can President-elect Donald Trump unify America and provide jobs? Build something awe-inspiring, says James Stewart of The New York Times.

Mr. Trump has pledged $1 trillion over 10 years, but no one I spoke to thought that was enough. Doubling that would be more realistic, Mr. McNichol said. And Mr. Trump’s campaign proposal was limited to infrastructure projects that could pay for themselves out of user fees, which seems like a shortsighted approach. Most economists say the best way to finance a big public works program, particularly given today’s low interest rates, would be for the government to borrow most of the money from investors.

Pulling off something on the scale of the Depression-era public works programs would be no small feat. Recent federal infrastructure efforts, including reconstruction after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, as well as the Obama stimulus program, hardly inspire confidence.

Alan Brinkley, a professor of history at Columbia, said he doubted Mr. Trump could replicate Roosevelt’s achievements. “Roosevelt had a coherent mission, if not always a consistent way to address the Depression and the economic crisis,” Mr. Brinkley said. “He was eclectic in his approach because he was pragmatic.”

Even more important, “Roosevelt was informed, surrounded himself with informed people, and was prepared on Day 1 to begin. I’m not sure that Trump’s policies go beyond his electioneering slogans,” Mr. Brinkley said. “I’m afraid a new P.W.A.,” he added, referring to the Public Works Administration, “will stand for Promises Without Actions.”

But in the spirit of magnanimity, let’s give Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt, as Mr. Obama has suggested. He’ll need his own versions of Harold L. Ickes, Roosevelt’s interior secretary, who ran the P.W.A., and his close adviser Harry L. Hopkins, who ran the W.P.A.

Mr. Trump will also need to be hands-on. Roosevelt asked states and cities for proposals, but he made nearly all the final decisions himself. “F.D.R. was a fanatic about infrastructure, roads, planning,” Mr. McNichol said. “As a commissioner in New York, he helped lay out the Taconic Parkway. He even helped design the picnic tables.”

So where should President Trump start?

For a sense of what might be possible, I asked Mr. McNichol to pretend he had just been tapped as Mr. Trump’s new infrastructure czar and to come up with a list of his top 10 infrastructure projects, balanced between red and blue states. Most are shovel-ready, or close to it. Here’s what he suggested, along with estimated costs:

Hudson River Rail Tunnel
Cost: $23.9 billion
The Northeast Corridor desperately needs another rail link connecting Manhattan and northern New Jersey. The current over crowded tunnel is over 100 years old and was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

California High-Speed Rail
Cost: $65 billion
America’s first modern high-speed rail project would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, about 400 miles apart, in under three hours.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge
Cost: $2.1 billion

Project Clean Lake
Cost: $3 billion
Seven new sewage and water tunnels would rescue Cleveland’s antiquated lines, which are overwhelmed by even moderate rainfall and feed contaminated water into Lake Erie. Picture pristine beaches and fishing, swimming and kayaking along a rejuvenated North Coast.

Northeast Corridor Maglev
Cost: $100 billion
Traveling at 300 miles per hour on a cushion of air, magnetically levitated trains could cut the commute from New York to Washington to an hour and render the painfully slow Acela obsolete.

Miami Sea Wall
Cost: $20 billion
Miami is one of the cities most vulnerable to rising sea levels and ocean surges. If the Atlantic Ocean rises just five feet, 96 percent of Miami Beach will be submerged. A system of levees, sea walls and storm surge protectors like the Maeslantkering in Rotterdam, the Netherlands — giant sea doors that open and close automatically to protect the harbor — could be both attractive and effective. Miami could be a prototype for other endangered American coastal cities and ports, including Boston; Charleston, S.C.; Galveston, Tex.; Savannah, Ga.; and New Orleans.

Denver I-70 East:
Cost: $1.17 billion
Denver is trying to put a section of Interstate 70 underground to reconnect the city’s urban fabric and use four acres of the reclaimed space for parks, bike paths and walks, and farmers’ markets. The green space could be much larger, further reducing pollution.

Maryland Purple Line
Cost: $5.6 billion
The Washington metro area suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. Maryland wants to build more than 16 miles of light rail to link its suburbs to Washington’s existing Metro system (which needs extensive repairs) and Amtrak. Supporters say it would remove 17,000 cars each day from area roads.

South Carolina Dams
Cost: $685 million
After a single heavy rain in 2015 breached more than 50 dams and caused widespread flooding, the Army Corps of Engineers assessed over 600 dams in South Carolina as either “high” or “significant” hazards. A single large project could modernize the state’s system of dams and water control.

Texas Bullet Train
Cost: $10 billion
Even without a federal program, Texans are actively looking for private investors for a high-speed rail link between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. Passengers would make the 240-mile, one-stop trip in 90 minutes. If successful, the line could be extended to San Antonio and Austin, covering the so-called Texaplex, which includes 75 percent of the state’s population and is home to 52 Fortune 500 companies.

The right public works projects, said Mr. Myers-Lipton of San Jose State, would “address the public anger that elected Trump, which is that the regular folks aren’t being taken care of.” During the Depression, “the government built beautiful hotels and golf courses and parks. The vision was, what’s usually for the elite should be for everybody. That’s the power of public works.”

Correction: November 19, 2016

The Common Sense column on Friday, about major public works projects that President-elect Donald J. Trump might consider, erroneously included one project among those started under the New Deal. While the Hoover Dam became part of the Depression-era public works undertaking, it was not started under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was planned, and site preparation had begun, before the New Deal.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/business/trumps-biggest-test-can-he-build-something-that-inspires-awe.html?_r=1&referer=http://altavistasolutions.com/

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Solutions Makes A Commitment to Excellence in Executive Leadership, Appoints Mike Cook as CEO July 13, 2016

For Immediate Release:
July 13, 2016

PRESS RELEASE

Alta Vista Solutions Makes A Commitment to Excellence in Executive Leadership, Appoints Mike Cook as CEO

Richmond, Calif. – July 13, 2016 — Alta Vista Solutions’ (Alta Vista) Board of Directors today announced that it has appointed Mike Cook, as chief executive officer of the firm. For several years, Cook has been a mentor and executive coach to Alta Vista’s founders and has been instrumental in the company’s strategic planning. CEO MIke Cook

Bringing more than 40 years of industry experience to Alta Vista, Cook will focus on developing new service areas, growing existing capabilities and supporting staff needs as the business expands.

“Mr. Cook is a long-trusted friend and partner of Alta Vista’s and the best-suited professional to take the reins and lead the company into the next chapter of its history. He has the qualifications needed to make a lasting impact, and he is committed to our mission of doing right,” said Wahbeh, Chairman of the Board.

Cook will join Alta Vista in September this year after spending more than 25 years at Granite Rock Company, where he was responsible for product and process improvement initiatives, measurement of quality and management of all lab services. He helped Granite Rock Company earn the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s most prestigious honor for business excellence and continued to integrate those practices and principles in the company for over two decades. He also served on the Corporate Executive Committee developing strategy and assessing performance. Cook earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University.

“Alta Vista’s rapid growth over the past few years is overshadowed by the incredible amount of opportunity that exists for our culture in an expanding industry,” Mr. Cook commented. Although Cook has a little over a month before coming aboard full time, he is already thinking about the road ahead for Alta Vista. “I am excited to be working with this incredible team evolving possibilities for both our employees and clients.”

About Alta Vista
Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that has been recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000 and was named by Zweig Group as one of 2015’s Hot Firms. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the most complex infrastructure projects in the world. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions.

Known for engineering services that include Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management, and Structural Health Monitoring, Alta Vista is growing and diversifying in exciting new ways that we will be continue to discuss throughout 2016.

For more information about Alta Vista, visit altavistasolutions.com.

Media Contacts:
Bart Ney
Chief Communications Officer
(510) 224-6499

Jordona Smith
Communications Development Manager
(510) 394-2408

# # #

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Solutions Expands into New Region and Market with Appointment of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Engineer June 2, 2016

For Immediate Release:
June 2, 2016

PRESS RELEASE

Alta Vista Solutions Expands into New Region and Market with Appointment of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Engineer

Richmond, Calif. – June 2, 2016 — Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista) today announced that Edward Greutert, P.E., has come on board to further develop the company’s growing portfolio of regional accounts in the Pacific Northwest. Building on Alta Vista’s existing client needs, and the firm’s commitment to innovation, Greutert will develop and implement an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) service offering for the firm. Mr. Greutert has proven experience in managing large public and private sector contracts. He joins Alta Vista from Booz Allen Hamilton, where he spent 14 years developing and managing a portfolio of nearly $75 million in federal contracts. He also developed and launched a systems engineering service offering for the UAS market and is a published author on the topic.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to help Alta Vista grow into the rapidly-growing field of unmanned systems. I feel fortunate to join such a dynamic firm that is already recognized as a leader in quality engineering,” Greutert stated. “Alta Vista’s existing expertise and resources will provide a solid platform for growth into the unmanned systems market.”

Alta Vista’s president, Patrick S. Lowry, P.E., commented, “Ed’s wealth of experience and industry knowledge has already made him a valuable addition to the team. He will have a key role in delivering on our commitments to industry leadership and building our capabilities in exciting new markets. I’m looking forward to seeing Ed’s impact as he works with existing and new clients to develop and implement high-quality solutions.”

Greutert earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Davis and a master’s degree in UAS systems engineering from the Unmanned Vehicle University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in California and Washington State and resides in Seattle.

About Alta Vista
Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that has been recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000 and was named by Zweig Group as one of 2015’s Hot Firms. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the most complex infrastructure projects in the world. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions.

Known for engineering services that include Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management, and Structural Health Monitoring, Alta Vista is growing and diversifying in exciting new ways that take advantage of new tools and innovative techniques that deliver effective and efficient solutions for our clients.

For more information about Alta Vista, visit altavistasolutions.com.

Media Contacts:
Bart Ney
Chief Communications Officer
(510) 224-6499

Jordona Smith
Communications Development Manager
(510) 394-2408

# # #

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Solutions Wins $25M Caltrans Statewide Materials Testing Contract May 18, 2016

For Immediate Release:
May 18, 2016

PRESS RELEASE

Alta Vista Solutions Wins $25M Caltrans Statewide Materials Testing Contract

Richmond, Calif. – May 18, 2016 — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has awarded Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista), a three-year, $25 million contract to provide materials sampling, testing and inspection support services throughout the state. Alta Vista was the incumbent consultant, competing to continue providing services to the state, but approached the bid advertisement with the same scrappy and innovative energy the firm is known for.

“It is an honor to be Caltrans’ go-to choice for consultants when it comes to quality,” Alta Vista CEO, Mazen Wahbeh, reflected. “It validates our founding belief that a more collaborative approach to quality is necessary for owner agencies to be successful in the industry today.”

This announcement comes hot on the heels of Alta Vista launching a new corporate brand and announcing plans to grow and diversify in 2016. Alta Vista will support Caltrans by providing materials testing and plant inspection services for transportation construction projects throughout the state, ensuring the delivery of high-quality transportation infrastructure.

Alta Vista’s President, Patrick Lowry, stated, “We really enjoy supporting Caltrans’ Materials Engineering and Testing Services (METS) teams and working seamlessly to map value streams, eliminate waste, and flow integrated efforts through planned and streamlined processes.”

About Alta Vista
Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that has been recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000 and was named by Zweig Group as one of 2015’s Hot Firms. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the most complex infrastructure projects in the world. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions.

Known for engineering services that include Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management, and Structural Health Monitoring, Alta Vista is growing and diversifying in exciting new ways that we will be continue to discuss throughout 2016.
For more information about Alta Vista, visit altavistasolutions.com.

Media Contacts:
Bart Ney
Chief Communications Officer
(510) 224-6499

Jordona Smith
Communications Development Manager
(510) 394-2408

# # #

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Unveils New Logo and Brand Identity April 11, 2016

For Immediate Release:
April 11, 2016

Media Contacts:
Bart Ney
Chief Communications Officer
(510) 224-6499

Jordona Smith
Communications Development Manager
(510) 394-2408

PRESS RELEASE
AV PR-NewLogobrand2016
Alta Vista Unveils New Logo and Brand Identity

Richmond, Calif. – April 11, 2016 — Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista) is proud to unveil its new logo and brand identity. As Alta Vista moves forward embracing new technologies and continuing its commitment to innovation, a decision was made to create a logo mark that is distinct and embodies the qualities that are important to the firm. The new design is an evolution from the previous look. Alta Vista will continue using the same color scheme and “Interstate” font type moving forward, with the primary change being the logo mark itself.

The firm’s CEO Dr. Mazen Wahbeh states, “The new mark has a diamond shape representing both quality and the robust material strength that are core components of who we are.” The concept and design work was done in-house at Alta Vista giving the company a stronger connection to the new look. “The initials “A” and “V” can be found easily in the diamond and then by taking a second look you can find the “S” in a manner similar to how we often find solutions for our projects,” remarked Alta Vista’s President Patrick Lowry.

About Alta Vista
Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions.

Known for engineering services that include Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management, and Structural Health Monitoring, Alta Vista is preparing to grow and diversify in exciting new ways that we will be communicating throughout 2016.

For more information about Alta Vista, visit the website at altavistasolutions.com

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PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista CEO Presents at Hyundai Conference November 24, 2015

For Immediate Release:

PRESS RELEASE
 

ALTA VISTA CEO PRESENTS ON MANAGING MEGA INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
AT HYUNDAI CONFERENCE

Richmond, Calif.November 24, 2015 — Alta Vista Solutions’ Chief Executive Officer, Mazen Wahbeh, Ph.D., P.E., presented at the annual Hyundai Engineering and Construction Technology Conference on November 11. The event was covered by Korean national and local media and attended by more than 1,000 industry leaders.

In his presentation titled, “Mega Project Management: Solving the Issues That Come with Complexity,” Dr. Wahbeh discussed significant fabrication and construction challenges that faced major infrastructure projects, including the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. He detailed how complex issues, namely construction in seismically active areas and fabrication of massive steel bridge segments, were resolved through innovations in engineering, construction and communication.

“What I have learned throughout my career, and what I hoped to demonstrate through this presentation, is that problems are opportunities for innovation. Approaching challenges as occasions to drive improvement and prioritizing strong communication and collaboration create the ability to successfully complete mega infrastructure projects.”

– Mazen Wahbeh, PhD, PE, Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Wahbeh has more than 25 years of experience in the transportation industry and has expertise in fatigue effects of steel bridges and monitoring of large-scale structures. He has developed protocols for materials engineering and testing programs, developed plan, specification and estimate (PS&E) documents, audited fabrication facilities and co-authored many technical papers.

About Alta Vista
Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management and Program Management.

Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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San Francisco Chronicle: Unfair Shots at New Bay Bridge Span

by Steve Heminger

Unfair Shots at New Bay Bridge Span

The San Francisco Chronicle has perfected the art of making mountains out of molehills when it comes to the new east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. A sampling of headlines from this year alone includes:

Bridge’s seismic safety in question (May 10); Bridge experts spawn doubts (Aug. 2); Bridge’s support may be at risk (Oct. 4); Concerns growing on bridge integrity (Oct. 25). A fair-minded reader might wonder whether the 2-year-old bridge is in imminent danger of collapse, or could topple after the slightest tremor from Mother Nature. Nothing could be further from the truth. This iconic new structure is built like a battleship, and is one of the most seismically resilient long-span bridges in the world. And you don’t just have to take our word for it.

We have invited some of the world’s finest bridge and metal experts — people who literally wrote the books on those subjects — to look over our shoulders and ensure that the new east span meets the most rigorous performance standards. They have conducted a battery of tests both in the lab and the field, and they have found no cause for alarm.

We encountered many challenges in building the new east span, the vast majority of them having more to do with politics than engineering. There was one major construction setback: In spring 2013, dozens of high-strength steel rods connecting the road deck to the east pier of the suspension span fractured after being tightened. We responded by installing a steel “saddle” that provided the same clamping force as the failed rods would have done. We are also pursuing claims against the designer and contractor of the new bridge to recover the cost of the saddle retrofit.

Those broken bolts were a real problem, and we’ve fixed the problem. The rest of what you’ve been reading in your Sunday paper is more myth than fact. Let’s review just three examples.

Myth 1: The road decks of the suspension span are riddled with questionable welds because of poor workmanship in China.

Fact: Substandard welds were ground out before the deck sections left Shanghai. Welds to join the deck sections were done in the Bay Area as the suspension span was constructed An independent peer review panel verified the high quality of the finished product.

Myth 2: The steel bolts at the base of the suspension tower are in danger of breaking just like the east pier rods.

Fact: The 420 tower rods have been subjected to seismic testing simulating “The Big One.” All of them passed except one rod whose nut may have been stripped during construction. There is so much design redundancy at this location that many of the rods could fail without compromising the bridge’s performance.

Myth 3: The main cable of the suspension span is vulnerable to corrosion due to water leaking into the cable anchorage.

Fact: There is no evidence of corrosion. The anchor chamber is bone-dry with a well-functioning dehumidification system. There were some earlier water leaks in the chamber, and we’ll be monitoring each big rainstorm this winter to see if we’ve successfully plugged them. If not, we will work on the problem until it’s taken care of.

With some regularity, Chronicle readers write letters to the editor suggesting that we keep the old east span as a back-up bridge in case the new one doesn’t work out. Of course, it’s an impractical idea because the old span is being demolished. But the fact that readers would propose returning traffic to a rickety, seismically deficient structure is clear evidence that The Chronicle’s coverage of the new east span has been deeply misleading. We expect better from such a fine newspaper.

Steve Heminger is executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. He is joined in this commentary by Will Kempton, executive director of the California Transportation Commission, and Malcolm Dougherty, the director of Caltrans. Together, they are the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Unfair-shots-at-new-Bay-Bridge-span-6628639.php

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Announces Boundouki Promotion December 01, 2014

For Immediate Release:

PRESS RELEASE

Alta Vista Celebrates Boundouki Commencement and Announces New Promotion

Richmond, Calif.December 01, 2014 — Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista) is pleased to announce the promotion of Rami Boundouki, PE, to Project Manager. Over the past year Mr. Boundouki was accepted into and successfully completed Alta Vista’s rigorous Development Panel Review (DPR) process qualifying him for this position. Alta Vista’s unique DPR program challenges accepted candidates in multiple disciplines such as technical competence, personnel management, project finance and communications needed to successfully manage today’s complex projects. In his new role as Project Manager, Mr. Boundouki will be leading Alta Vista’s project management and business development efforts in its newly established New York City office.

Mr. Boundouki is a Professional Engineer with over eight years of experience in the construction, fabrication, and design of major structures including the Freedom Tower in New York and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. In addition, Mr. Boundouki has extensive experience with alternative delivery projects, including design-build projects and Public-Private Partnerships (P3).

“Rami has shouldered added responsibilities and increased workload while maintaining high levels of quality in all he takes on. His work ethic and commitment to excellence have earned him a well-deserved promotion.”

– Jinesh Mehta, PE, Vice President of Quality

Mr. Boundouki graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Columbia University in New York City and obtained his Master of Science from UC Berkeley, where he focused on structural behavior and seismic engineering.

About Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management and Surveying.

Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions.

For more information about Alta Vista, visit the website at altavistasolutions.com

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Final CHP Investigative Report on the SFOBB



SUMMARY

On January 24, 2014, the California State Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing held an informational hearing entitled “Lessons Learned from the Development and Construction of the Bay Bridge.” Multiple California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) employees and private contractors who worked on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB) testified at the hearing about the quality and safety of the eastern span as well as the cause of delays in construction. As a result of this hearing, concerns arose regarding the removal of a Caltrans Supervising Bridge Engineer and a quality assurance contractor, MACTEC, on the SFOBB. California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) Secretary Brian Kelly, requested the California Highway Patrol (CHP) investigate the reassignment of the Caltrans engineer and the loss of the contract by the private contractor (MACTEC) as possible violations of the California Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), Government Code § 8547, et seq., or any other associated violation of state law or policy.

CHP investigators assigned to the case were charged with evaluating whether administrative and/or criminal misconduct occurred during construction of the SFOBB. If administrative misconduct was identified, CHP investigators were directed to provide findings and make recommendations to CalSTA. If criminal misconduct was identified, CHP investigators were directed to take appropriate enforcement action pursuant to their jurisdictional authority prescribed in Government Code § 14615(b).

SCOPE

This investigation did not examine facts surrounding the merits of construction or component quality associated with the bridge, and does not purport to quantify or evaluate issues of longevity or safety.

The scope of this investigation was limited to a determination of whether any Caltrans employees violated the provisions of the WPA and associated criminal and civil statutes. Specifically, this investigation sought to answer the following questions:

1. Was a Caltrans Supervising Bridge Engineer, influenced or coerced from reporting his concerns and removed from the Bay Bridge project in violation of the WPA?

2. Were the private quality assurance contractor project manager and contract firm, MACTEC, influenced or coerced from reporting concerns and replaced on the Bay Bridge project in violation of the WPA?

…Continue reading Final CHP Investigative Report on the SFOBB.

PRESS RELEASE: CHP Clears Caltrans October 4, 2014

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE

NUMEROUS MEDIA SOURCES REPORT: CHP CLEARS CALTRANS AND SUMMARILY DISMISSES RETALIATION COMPLAINTS BY AECOM, AMEC AND CALTROP EXECUTIVES

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—-Oct. 4, 2014, —The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has been cleared by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) of claims that the agency retaliated against whistleblowers according to several media outlets. The following headlines appeared late Friday evening after media providers were allowed access to a report on an investigation conducted by the CHP at the request of State Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly:

Sacramento Bee: CHP: No Retaliation or Violations of Law on Bay Bridge Job

San Francisco Chronicle: No Evidence of Illegal Retaliation by Bay Bridge Boss, CHP says

Oakland Tribune: CHP Investigation Clears Caltrans of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Over Bay Bridge Woes

Associated Press: Agency Finds No Payback Over Bay Bridge Concerns

The SF Chronicle goes on to report that the CHP summarily dismissed retaliation complaints lodged by engineering firms AMEC, AECOM, and Caltrop. All three consulting firms had lodged complaints towards Caltrans after they were unsuccessful in winning contracts to perform quality inspections on the new bridge for Caltrans. Notably, the CHP found no wrongdoing in Caltrans’ replacement of quality-assurance firm MACTEC, since acquired by AMEC, whose top manager (Jim Merrill) in China had complained numerous times to media sources about welding work. Investigators said the replacement firm, which included Alta Vista Solutions, had been qualified for the job, and there was insufficient evidence that MACTEC/AMEC had been punished for finding problems with welding work.

“We thrive on competition and we stand behind our work,” Alta Vista President Patrick Lowry commented, “we continue to live by our internal company motto – Do Right.” Alta Vista has competed for and won the lead quality inspection contract three times since initially joining the project in 2008. “Our firm has stood solidly behind this project and our client from the moment we began our work. We were confident this issue would be resolved and are pleased that the press has responded swiftly to the thorough and comprehensive work done by the CHP,” Alta Vista CEO Dr. Mazen Wahbeh commented after reading the headlines.

While Caltrans has been cleared of any legal wrong doing, the media articles say the CHP found that communication needed to be improved and led to perception problems and distrust with some of the Bay Bridge staff. “Communication is a very important element in delivering quality projects,” Dr. Wahbeh commented. “While it may be true that Caltrans needs to improve, there is more than just one side in any dialogue. We have an opportunity here to both understand the value of good communication and to improve how we share information and work together.”

About Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000. Alta Vista Solutions has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management and Surveying.

Please see our website for more information at www.altavistasolutions.com. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions. Alta Vista’s client-focused philosophy—supported by uniquely qualified expertise and experience—delivers appropriate solutions to projects around the world.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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NEWS FLASH: Alta Vista – 20th Fastest Growing Engineering Company in America by Inc. 5000

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Hosts Special ASQ Exams August 6, 2014

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE
Alta Vista Hosts Special ASQ Exams

Sacramento, Calif.—August 6, 2014—Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista) has become a Site Member of the American Society of Quality (ASQ). Alta Vista hosted the special ASQ exams for Certified Quality Auditor (CQA), Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) and Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) in July 2014 in our Sacramento and Los Angeles offices. A total of 15 Alta Vista employees went through one of these three exams and we are pleased to announce that they received 100% passing rate.

Alta Vista’s mission and culture is committed to continually seek improvement of our internal quality systems, deliver quality services to the client, and help our clients establish Quality Management Systems to improve the impact of their responses in regards to their services and ultimately, their projects.

Alta Vista continues to grow and assume ever-increasing roles in large transportation projects around the world. Recently, Alta Vista has been awarded new Construction Inspection work in support of the FHWA, along with being involved in several pursuits for Bridge Inspection work with various National Agencies. With these new opportunities, comes the need to understand new technical challenges and take on new leadership roles which Alta Vista has passionately pursued as part of their mission in emphasizing the importance of quality.

As a leader in the quality of infrastructures, Alta Vista continues to expand the technical knowledge and competence of their employees, enabling them to go above and beyond through offering new and relevant training and certifications. Alta Vista plans to continue offering ASQ training and special certification opportunities on a regular basis.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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Alta Vista’s response to CA Senate Hearing on SFOBB Lessons Learned

Alta Vista’s response to CA Senate Hearing on SFOBB Lessons Learned

Alta Vista’s Role on the New San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

To say that Alta Vista stands by its work on the new Bay Bridge is an extreme understatement. We are incredibly proud of the work we performed and with the final product that stands majestically on the San Francisco Bay now safely carrying over a quarter million cars a day across one of the busiest and most seismically active areas in the world.

Although we did not design or construct the bridge, we were a big part of solving some of the most difficult challenges that a project of its immense size and complexity would naturally face. Alta Vista has been responsible for quality assurance on the new bridge since December 6, 2008 and during that time, the materials we have released have met expectations. In other areas, we helped Caltrans by identifying issues with grouting, anchor bolts, water infiltration and documentation.

Alta Vista helped provide solutions to existing issues using mathematical corrosion models and testing protocols that help determine the root causes of problems. We also made sealing and dehumidification recommendations to make the structure more durable. Alta Vista specializes in Structural Health Monitoring. We provided innovative monitoring solutions for several elements on the new bridge.

While Alta Vista worked directly with some of the world’s foremost engineers and construction and fabrication experts, ensuring that this bridge is safe, the media has run unbalanced stories that have negatively affected public perception on the project. Bay Area motorists, Californians, Americans and people from any nation should feel as safe going across the new Bay Bridge as they are impressed with its world-class beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Caltrans Response to the Final DeWolk Report

Caltrans Response to the Final DeWolk Report

…Continue reading Caltrans Response to the Final DeWolk Report.

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Awarded FHWA-CFLHD Contract June 13, 2014

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE

TEN MILLION DOLLAR FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION
INSPECTION CONTRACT AWARDED TO ALTA VISTA

LAKEWOOD, Colorado—June 13, 2014—The Department of Transportation-Federal Highway Administration’s Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD) has awarded Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista), up to a five-year, $10 Million IDIQ contract to provide Construction Inspection Augmentation Services within 14 western states. The CFLHD selected the Alta Vista team after reviewing qualifications from four experienced firms.

Alta Vista will support CFLHD by providing construction management support and construction inspection services for transportation construction projects throughout their 14 state footprint, from North Dakota to Texas and west across the Pacific into Hawaii, to ensure the goal of quality projects. Alta Vista’s President, Patrick Lowry, stated, “We are thrilled to be selected by CFLHD for this project. Our amazing team of professional engineers and inspectors are eager to work with our Federal partners and leverage our knowledge, expertise and experience to ensure quality on these much needed transportation projects.”

About Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a California-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 19th fastest growing businesses in the region by the San Francisco Business Times. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself through their client-focused philosophy and by providing a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Management, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Quality/Program Management, Surveying and Structural Health Monitoring.

Please see our website for more information at www.altavistasolutions.com.

Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions. Alta Vista is committed to meet the needs of the client with resources throughout the USA and around the globe.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Awarded Caltrans D7 Contract February 28, 2014

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE
Alta Vista Awarded Caltrans D7 Materials Sampling,
Testing and Inspection Support Services Contract

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Feb. 28, 2014—The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has awarded Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista), a three-year, $6 Million contract to provide Materials Sampling, Testing and Inspection Support services throughout Caltrans District 7. After reviewing qualifications and conducting interviews, Caltrans selected Alta Vista from among three experienced firms.

Alta Vista will support District 7 by providing materials testing and plant inspection services for transportation construction projects throughout the district to ensure the goal of quality projects. Alta Vista’s President, Patrick Lowry, stated, “We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Caltrans and do more work in the dynamic Los Angeles region. Our amazing team of professional engineers and inspectors are ready to ensure quality and help realize some of the exciting projects coming online in Southern California.”

About Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 19th fastest growing businesses in the region by the San Francisco Business Times. Alta Vista Solutions has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management and Surveying.

Please see our website for more information at www.altavistasolutions.com. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions. Alta Vista’s client-focused philosophy—supported by uniquely qualified expertise and experience—delivers appropriate solutions to projects around the world. Alta Vista is beginning work to improve the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York, as well as assisting in the development of the quality management system for the California High-Speed Rail Project.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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PRESS RELEASE: Bay Bridge is Safe, New Report Concludes February 3, 2014

Bay Bridge is Safe, New Report Concludes
New Bay Bridge Report Contradicts Testimony at California Senate Hearing
Executive of Previous Engineering Firm Accused of Misleading Senate

Sacramento—A new report by the engineering firm that completed independent inspections on the Bay Bridge demonstrates a top executive from a prior engineering firm on the Bay Bridge provided misleading and inaccurate information about the Bay Bridge construction safety concerns in a California Senate Committee report and testimony.

Alta Vista Solutions, which competed for and eventually won the contract to perform independent quality assurance inspection for Caltrans on the new East Span of the Bay Bridge project, released a 14 page analysis that calls into question the accuracy of “The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: Basic Reforms for the Future Preliminary Report,” authored by former KTVU Fox News television producer Roland De Wolk.

The Alta Vista report “agree(s) with the Preliminary Report’s primary conclusion that “transparency in the affairs of the public is paramount and leads to accountability,” but “corrects inaccuracies and misstatements” in the report to the Senate Committee on Transportation, which was largely based on interviews and testimony by two individuals that had been removed from the project and not worked on the new bridge construction for over five years. The first individual was Doug Coe, a former Caltrans engineering manager that had been removed from the project for being unable to work effectively with the project team. The second was James Merrill, a current executive at AMEC (previously MACTEC), the previous Bay Bridge engineering firm that lost the contract to Alta Vista Solutions.

Alta Vista Solutions sent its report to Senator DeSaulnier and the Senate Committee on Monday, February 3. The company’s report challenges the transparency and accountability of De Wolk’s report and said that “transparency was not a value that Mr. (James) Merrill promoted while he was actually on the job (with MACTEC).” In response to testimony by Mr. Merrill that he urged additional testing of the anchor rods that eventually failed, Alta Vista provides detailed engineering reports where Mr. Merrill’s company AMEC (MACTEC) recommended the anchor rods be accepted “as-is” without any additional testing. The report also notes that Caltrans has put forth an unprecedented testing program to determine whether the remaining anchor rods will perform as intended.

The new report describes the components of Caltrop/Alta Vista’s strategy to win the independent inspection contract in 2008 in an open and fair selection process that included independent panel members from three transportation agencies: the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), and Caltrans. Additionally, despite information to the contrary in the Preliminary Report and testimony before the Senate, the documentation provided demonstrates that the quality assurance inspection team (Caltrop/Alta Vista) selected in 2008 to replace MACTEC (AMEC) was found “to have the skill and the certification” necessary to assure quality of the new Bay Bridge.

The Alta Vista report concludes that “The Bay Bridge was built to the highest standards of safety and quality used to date, anywhere in the world. The notion that safety and quality were sacrificed in the interests of scheduling is simply incorrect; if anything, the exact opposite is true.”

A copy of Alta Vista’s full response to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee can be found at http://altavistasolutions.com/news/.

Contact: Sam Singer
For Alta Vista Solutions
Phone: 415.336.4949
Email: Singer@SingerSF.com

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Alta Vista’s Response to the Senate Transportation Committee Preliminary Report February 3, 2014

Alta Vista’s Response regarding Senate’s Preliminary (DeWolk) Report January 24, 2014

Patrick Lowry, President of Alta Vista Solutions, responds to the Senate’s Preliminary (DeWolk) Report at the Senate Hearing on January 24, 2014.