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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Diekfuss Publishes Three Articles in ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering

by Jessica Pairrett 11. October 2016 10:34

Joe Diekfuss, Ph.D., P.E.

R.A. Smith National structural engineer Joe Diekfuss, Ph.D., P.E., co-authored three articles recently published in the Journal of Structural Engineering, an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) scholarly periodical. Each of the three articles detail recently completed research on reliability-based fatigue inspection and evaluation of sign support structures. The technical papers were co-authored by Dr. Christopher Foley, Marquette University Professor and Chair, Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

“It is a great feeling to know the work I did at Marquette University will be disseminated via the Journal of Structural Engineering for the engineering community to use,” Diekfuss said of the rigorous review process.

Follow the links below to view more detailed information regarding this research effort and to access the recently published articles.

Diekfuss, J.A., and Foley, C.M. (2016). “Detail Categories for Reliability-Based Fatigue Evaluation of Mast-Arm Sign Support Structures." J. Struct. Eng., 04016044.

Diekfuss, J.A., and Foley, C.M. (2016). “Modeling Error Uncertainty Characterization for Reliability-Based Fatigue Assessment in Sign Support Structures.” J. Struct. Eng., 04016042.

Foley, C.M., and Diekfuss, J.A. (2016). “Reliability-Based Inspection Protocols for Mast-Arm Sign Support Structures.” J. Struct. Eng., 04016043.



R.A. Smith National Attends, Sponsors Brookfield Showcase

by Justin Schueler 7. October 2016 08:17

The Wisconsin chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, held a municipal showcase featuring the City of Brookfield. It’s quite the exciting time in Brookfield because the city is growing. What better way to learn about current and future developments than by taking a tour? R.A. Smith National’s Justin Schueler, P.E., traffic engineer, and Steve Miazga, P.E., business development manager, participated in the event. R.A. Smith National was pleased to be a gold sponsor of the October 6, 2016, municipal showcase event.

Justin praised the event and shared the following:

The Municipal Showcase started at the Brookfield Embassy Suites by Hilton, where Steve Ponto, the mayor of Brookfield, provided an overview of the many active and planned construction projects in the city (many of which R.A. Smith National has been involved with, including Portillo’s and The Reserve at Brookfield apartments to name a couple), and then we took a bus tour of three sites:

1. Brookfield Square Mall: The general manager of the mall presented on active and proposed improvements, including a new Chick-fil-A restaurant replacing the Associated Bank and new restaurant/retail uses planned around the outside of the exiting Boston Store.  Chick-fil-A’s opening of the 124th Street location in Brookfield was its largest in company history, which factored into them considering the second site in Brookfield. 

2. The Corridor: A mixed-use development on the former Ruby Farms site. Retail development is planned to the north along Bluemound Road and is anchored by Dick’s Sporting Goods and is home of the first Wisconsin Portillo’s (which was the company’s third-largest opening in its history). Free samples of their world-famous chocolate cake shakes were provided. The Corridor has a flex area in the middle for hotel/medical/fitness/retail development. Three large office buildings or corporate headquarters are planned to the south along I-94. 

3. The Corners: A mixed-use retail/residential “lifestyle” development. It includes the first Wisconsin Von Maur department store, planned grocery, retail and 244 apartment units. Enough concrete was used on the site to build a 46-story high-rise building. The site features an outdoor shopping setting (similar to Bayshore Town Center in Glendale, Wis., but about one-half the size). 

The event ended with a cocktail happy hour with appetizers back at the Embassy Suites by Hilton.  The developments are expected to generate thousands of new jobs and further entrench Bluemound Road as a premier commercial corridor.

In the photo immediately below: Renderings and site maps of the city’s growth.
In the photo further below: Learning more about The Corridor.

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General | Land Development | Municipal

Better Headlights are Critical for Nighttime Roadway Safety

by Laura Zavadil 27. June 2016 11:02

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently conducted its first-ever evaluation of headlight performance.  Government standards allow a wide range of illumination available to the consumer, so the IIHS tested 31 midsized vehicles with available headlight options for a total of 82 vehicle and headlight combinations. 

The IIHS study measured illumination with high beams and low beams on a test track including straightaways, various curved sections, and roadway obstacles.  Only one of the 82 combinations tested – the Toyota Prius v with LED headlights and high beam assist – earned a good rating. About one-third of the midsized cars tested can earn an acceptable rating by upgrading the headlights to the best available on the market, but another one-third cannot be purchased with headlights that rate higher than poor. This could be because some headlights are designed with aesthetics in mind, not illumination.

Headlights are a vital factor in roadway safety. About half of fatalities occur during the night or when lighting is dim such as at dawn or dusk. Better illumination does not correlate to a higher priced vehicle. For example, the IIHS study showed the best available headlights for the Toyota Prius v (rated “good”) illuminate roadway obstacles on the test track much better than the best available headlights for the BMW 3 series (rated “marginal”). Better illumination from headlights allows drivers more time to react and longer braking distances to avoid hitting obstacles in the roadway. Improved headlights could reduce nighttime fatalities by preventing drivers from hitting roadway obstacles such as deer or pedestrians, or from veering off the road by better illuminating curves in the roadway. 

The news release from IIHS and a video with additional information on the recent study can be viewed here.   

Currently there is not a great recommendation to consumers for the best possible headlight illumination. Future studies from IIHS should drive the need to improve headlight design to focus primarily on illumination rather than aesthetics.



Driver Alert! Recent Updates to Wisconsin’s Traffic Laws

by John Bruggeman 13. June 2016 02:37

Joanna Bush, state traffic signal systems engineer at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), provided an informative presentation at the 2016 Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Traffic Engineering Workshop regarding recent updates to Wisconsin traffic laws. Some have received a lot of publicity over the last year, but there are others you may not be aware of. Updates include:

  • Maximum speed limit on freeways and expressways
  • Rules of the road when a traffic signal goes dark
  • Clear definition of the terms “flashing yellow arrow,” “pavement marking,” and pedestrian traffic signal indications
  • Right-turns on red from the left-most lane when two right-turn lanes are provided
  • Right-of-way in roundabouts for large trucks
  • Use of cell phones in construction zones

Check out Joanna’s presentation here.

Image courtesy of ITE Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Traffic Operations.

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Grassroots Effort Brings Municipal Water to Bayside

by John Bruggeman 2. May 2016 09:33

John Bruggeman

As a traffic engineer, I don’t deal with water issues on a daily basis. However, as a resident of Bayside, Wisconsin, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a voluntary project that will provide municipal water access from the Mequon Water Utility to over 550 homes in the village.

The project started as part of a grassroots citizen effort over the past few years, initially focused on a small area of the central village, which spread to encompass large portions of eastern and northern areas of the village. Most of the homes in the project area were served by private or shared wells. Several smaller citizen-led projects, including the most recent in 2013, provided the framework for this project. I served as a block captain to inform residents in my neighborhood and encourage participation in the project. Most of our information sharing was by word of mouth, so it gave me an opportunity to get to know my neighbors better, listen to their concerns and answer their questions. Several project volunteers, including project leader Penny Goldman, dedicated countless hours to the effort.

The Village of Bayside (which took no official position on the project) served as the conduit between the project and Bayside residents, offering numerous public information sessions, newsletter articles and information booths at local events. The Village also provided financing options to residents to pay for the project over a 20-year term.   
After 2-plus years of hard work in planning and design, the project was constructed in summer 2015. Construction started in June and was substantially complete by late fall. Final restoration and punch list items will be completed in spring 2016. The final totals included the installation of nearly 14 miles of water main, 106 fire hydrants, and 127 mainline valves for over 500 new Mequon Water Utility customers. With this project, over 85% of the Village now has access to municipal water. 

Connecting individual residences to municipal water is a costly endeavor. This project provided an “economy of scale” by getting a large group of residents to connect at one time and provide a more cost-effective solution. It is believed to be the largest project of its kind in the state of Wisconsin.

Mequon Water Utility distribution system
Image showing a portion of the Mequon Water Utility map showing the homes to receive municipal water access thanks to this grassroots effort. View the entire map below as a PDF.

Mequon Water Utility.pdf (351.49 kb)

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