A Mile High and Elevating

American Public Works Association (APWA) brings 2011 International Public Works Congress and Exposition to Denver

A PWA is bringing innovation and motivation to the Mile High City in September.

The American Public Works Association (APWA) is hosting its annual convention Sept. 17-21 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. The conference theme , “Elevate Your Community,” has also been given the tagline, “Innovation. Motivation. Elevation.”

Tradeshow Untitled 1It seems there is an app for almost everything and APWA is using its annual Congress as a way to educate attendees on how to leverage the latest technologies in public works, motivate them to use these tools, and elevate their agencies by implementing them.

There will be 125 education sessions and hundreds of exhibitors covering 90,000-plus square feet of exhibit space. “This year’s Congress will not only provide the information on the latest innovations and technologies, but will also include speakers [who] highlight new public works programs, applications, as well as sessions on social media, sustainability, funding, software and new ways to manage and think,” Peter King, APWA executive director, tells Better Roads.

Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), will address the opening general session. “Public works professionals will not want to miss his presentation on ‘Crisis Management in Complex Organizations,’” King says. “Gen. Hayden has been on the frontline of geopolitical strife and global change, and he understands the dangers, risks and potential rewards in political, economic and security situations that we all face.”

This year’s Congress also will feature a new “APWA Expo Experience” with the latest “Apps in Public Works” and new “Continuing the Conversation” program where interviews with speakers will be conducted around the clock, King says. There will “more than 200 educational sessions to choose from, and conference participants can continue to connect with public works colleagues through many networking opportunities,” King says. “We expect delegates to leave Denver with numerous ideas to ‘elevate’ their communities.”

Conference at a Glance

Sunday, Sept. 17, 2011

Opening General Session

10 a.m. to noon

Michael Hayden

Retired U.S. Air Force Four-Star General; former director, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); former director, National Security Agency

Topic: “Crisis Management in Complex Organizations”

Monday General Session

8:30 to 9:45 a.m.

Ian Hill

Award-winning change agent, founder and president of the Changing Point

Topic: “Becoming a Community Builder – Leadership in Changing Times”

Tuesday General Session

8:30 to 9:45 a.m.

Steven Berlin Johnson, best-selling author, social critic and technologist

Topic: “Creativity and the Brain – Where Do Great Ideas Come From?”

Wednesday General Session

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Gregg Steinberg

Sports psychologist, professor of human performance

Topic: “Full Throttle: How to Supercharge Your Energy and Performance at Work”

The Value of Smooth

Bumpy roads are costly roads, according to a study presented at the midyear meeting of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and soon to be published by Auburn University.

Blue Car Untitled 1Dr. Richard Willis, an assistant research professor at Auburn, says that even modest improvements in the smoothness of pavements could save up to 2.4 billion gallons of gasoline and 900 million gallons of diesel for the U.S. every year. Willis and Auburn’s Dr. Rob Jackson analyzed more than 20 studies from throughout the world.

“We know that, of all the factors that influence fuel economy – vehicle aerodynamics, engine dynamics, ambient air temperature, tire geometry, vehicle speed, tire pressure and so forth – there is only one that pavements can affect, and that is rolling resistance,” says Willis. “Rolling resistance can be thought of as the force required to keep tires rolling. It could also be thought of as the energy lost between the vehicle and the pavement. Of the two main influences on rolling resistance related to pavements – those due to the stiffness properties of the tire and those due to imperfections in the pavement surface – the pavement industry has the opportunity to influence only one, the pavement itself.”

Willis breaks down his numbers: “A study published by Schmidt and Ullidtz in 2010 showed that slight improvements in smoothness can reduce fuel consumption by 1.8 to 2.7 percent. Other studies suggest larger reductions of up to 4.5 percent. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says that vehicles traveling on U.S. highways consumed 168 billion gallons of gas and diesel in 2009. AAA reported last week that the average price of gas was $3.66 per gallon and diesel averaged $3.93. Using a conservative figure of a 2.0-percent reduction in fuel consumption, we could thus save 3.3 billion gallons of fuel, or $12.5 billion, every year,” he says.

NAPA President Mike Acott says rough roads also cost Americans billions for excessive repairs. “The Road Information Program calculates that rough roads cost the average American motorist $324 every year – a total of $67 billion – just for extra wear and tear on vehicles. Adding this figure to the $12.5 billion in potential fuel savings, we can see that the U.S. could save nearly $80 billion a year by building and maintaining smoother pavements.”

Cyclist Power

Cyclist Untitled 1There’s a new law in Los Angeles. The City Council in the City of Angels passed an ordinance to protect bicyclists from harassment and other abuses by passing motorists.

The new law comes after some fiery activism by bicyclists who claim to have been subject to treatment from recklessly dangerous to just plain crude. Supporters of the ordinance say it’s one of the toughest in America, making it a crime for drivers to threaten cyclists, either verbally or physically. It also allows a cyclist that claims to have been harassed to sue in civil court without waiting for the city to press criminal charges.



“It could be different next time when you have Son of Carmageddon.”

Dennis S. Mileti, a University of Colorado sociologist, after 10 miles of Los Angeles’ 405 freeway was closed for 36 hours without major traffic problems.



Save the Date and Innovate

Save The Date Untitled 1It’s easy to think of innovation as a technical asset. It’s also a financial asset. Outfits that can think and work innovatively have an advantage over their competition and can save time and money. They can find new markets and new niches more efficiently than competitors, they can expand capabilities, find opportunities and problem solve more effectively than non-innovators. All good for the bottom lines.

The TransOvation Conference, run Sept. 6-9 by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) in Leesburg, Va., is a place to start, or expand, your innovative thinking in the transportation infrastructure industries. (See the details and register at www.transovation.org)

The speakers, who are highlighted on the website, are exceptionally qualified to talk about innovation. And ARTBA says TransOvation is the first PDH (Professional Development Hours)-granting educational workshop and exhibit focused on innovation and developed specifically for young executives in the transportation design and construction industry. At the TransOvation workshop, you’ll earn PDHs from the ARTBA Foundation’s Transportation Builder Institute (TBI).

Participants will explore two new complex highway and bridge projects in the Washington, D.C., area — the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Intercounty Connector — and learn how innovative thinking was brought to bear during the planning, design and construction phases to overcome challenges, build teamwork, gain public support and add value while controlling costs.

Better Roads is a conference media partner and I’ll be at the conference. Look me up.

– John Latta

Not All Storms (and Stormwater) are the Same

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been told that roadbuilding contractors will be treated unfairly if it creates “one-size-fits-all” stormwater regulations.

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) told EPA that its permits for stormwater runoff from construction sites should take into account many of the features that make transportation projects unique. EPA must consider the long, linear nature of many transportation improvements, said ARTBA, because these projects spread environmental impacts over a large area of land, as opposed to the concentrated manner associated with shopping malls or other projects.

“Builders and planners need flexibility with future stormwater permitting measures, since transportation projects are initiated in every part of the country, and those in areas with heavy rainfall should not be held to the same standards as those in arid regions,” said ARTBA. The association also warned EPA that any regulations should be crafted to ensure they do not create another avenue for opponents to use litigation to delay and/or disrupt needed transportation projects, thereby increasing the costs to taxpayers in the long run.

Cat to sponsor reality series

If you think you’re the best operator out there, you could have a shot at showing off your skills on TV. Caterpillar is sponsoring “American Hard Hat,” a reality competition series to air on the Travel Channel. Using Cat machines, contestants will go head to head to prove they are the best construction worker on the job. To apply for the series, you must be at least 18 years of age and an experienced heavy machine operator. Applicants will answer a series of questions, submit photos and make a casting video. In addition to equipment expertise, the show is looking for contestants who display a colorful personality, a good sense of humor and hometown pride.