MicroPAVER Field Inspector 1.0

 General, GIS, Infrastructure Management  Comments Off on MicroPAVER Field Inspector 1.0
May 242012
 

PAVER Field Inspector™ is the new PAVER™ companion software that takes advantage of GIS/ GPS state of the art technology as well as innovative graphics to facilitate pavement inspection using handheld computer tablets.

The program allows the user to identify his location on a pavement network map displayed on his/her tablet computer.  As the user clicks on the section to be inspected, the program already knows all the section information and the user is ready for immediate data entry.  As the user is entering pavement distress data, the PCI is being calculated and displayed to the inspector in real time and the program has built significant data entry validation tools to identify errors before they are recorded.

When inspecting concrete pavement, the program allows the user to generate graphics of the individual concrete panels (slabs) and record identified distresses on each slab.  These graphics are stored with the inspection and can be viewed later.  When inspection is completed, the program generates an error free XML file for import into PAVER.

The program has wide applications especially for agencies with more than one  evaluation team where each team is assigned to inspect different parts of the airfield and the data are later imported into the main copy of PAVER™.

More on Field Inspector…

SR-125 Road and Storm Drain Condition Evaluation

 General, GIS, Infrastructure Management, Planning  Comments Off on SR-125 Road and Storm Drain Condition Evaluation
Feb 152012
 

Opened in 2007, the State Route (SR) 125 toll road is approximately 10 miles long and extends from HWY 54 to I-905 in the City of Chula Vista, San Diego County, California. The city of Chula Vista witnessed rapid growth in housing development during the housing boom of the mid-2000s. An estimated 30,000 residential, commercial, and other parcel units were slated for development in this region. The SR-125 toll road, which was privately operated by South Bay Expressway (SBX), was created to accommodate this rapid expansion.

However, the economic slowdown of 2008 arrived and hit boom towns like Chula Vista particularly hard. Ridership and revenue projections made during the boom cycle fell short under the reality of recession. On July 29, 2011, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) voted to purchase the lease from SBX for about $345 million with various contingencies. (http://www.sandag.org/index.asp?newsid=698&fuseaction=news.detail)

VanderHawk Consulting LLC was contracted to perform a condition assessment of the road pavement and storm drainage systems on the SR-125 toll road and report the findings. The road pavement condition assessment was performed in accordance with the MicroPAVER pavement management protocol, while the storm drainage assessment was performed in a manner consistent with CalTrans’ storm drainage system evaluation procedures.  Almost 1,400 images (many geo-tagged) were captured for this project and comprise the most extensive analytical photo archive of the SR-125 toll road and drainage networks to date.

Using GIS to Prioritize Sidewalk Installation and Repairs

 GIS, Infrastructure Management, Risk Management, Uncategorized, Walkability/ADA  Comments Off on Using GIS to Prioritize Sidewalk Installation and Repairs
Mar 212011
 

Sidewalk Installation Priority Map

So, you’re a public agency trying to improve the walkability of your community and you know you have a bunch of missing sidewalks.  You may have even gone through the process of identifying where the sidewalks are missing, how much you need to install, and how much it will cost.  If you are like most other agencies, you don’t have the resources to fix all your problems at once.  You need to establish a prioritization system that is credible and defendable…and one that will  maximize your available resources.

The example above shows the result of using ArcGIS to calculate sidewalk installation priority for the City of Rancho Cucamonga based on a number of factors.  These factors included various locations such as senior centers, bus stops, schools, and parks; and weighted the missing sidewalk links based on their proximity to these locations.  The number of riders at each bus stop were also taken into account.

Locations such as senior centers and bus stops were given the highest value due to liability concerns related to potential trip/fall accidents and the fact that most people who utilize public bus transit walk to the bus stop.  Yes, there are those who bike (or use a wheelchair) to get to the bus stop, but it is safe to assume that folks aren’t getting dropped off at the bus stop by a car- that would be somewhat contradictory.

Those segments that have the highest priority are shown in red, while those with the lowest priority are shown in blue.  Bus stops (hollow circles) and schools (pink polygons) were added for effect…adding the other feature classes takes away from the priority ranks symbology.

Current estimates show that about $7-$10 million is required to install sidewalks at all missing locations.  This cost will likely be spread out over a period of time, such as 10 years; with higher-priority segments being installed first.  Some interesting notes about this GIS utility are that it can take into account multiple other locations and can also be used to prioritize other municipal operations, such as trip/fall hazard repairs.

 

Feb 092011
 
Numerous trip hazards winning the war vs. asphalt ramping

Trees and Trip Hazards winning the war vs. Man and Asphalt Ramping

There was a recent news story of a 79-year-old woman in Royal Oak, MI (about 10 miles northwest of Detroit) winning a $49,000 settlement with the city after tripping on a residential sidewalk.  She was carrying her infant granddaughter at the time of the fall.  She broke 2 toes and displaced 4 others (I’m assuming both feet were involved).

One wonders what sort of mitigation plan the city has in place, if any.  Perhaps they have a well-planned, proactive sidewalk inventory and repair plan and suffered from a stroke of bad luck.  The city’s claim of “governmental immunity,” however, seems a bit desperate and not in character of an agency that is proactive on trip-and-fall hazards within their property.  This is speculation at this point and we’re going to follow up with the City of Royal Oak and continue to research this topic in an effort to get additional clarification.

It’s interesting to note that the Royal Oak case evaluation panel had previously awarded the trip/fall victim $83,000!  We talk with our clients about this sort of stuff all the time.  There are 2 extremes on this spectrum: (1) shakedown artists who make a living looking for trip/fall/ADA/other reasons to make a quick buck, often by suing and settling; and (2) the targets of the lawsuits (e.g., public agencies or small businesses) who stick their head in the sand and won’t fix anything unless they get sued.  Their reasoning is often that “I don’t want to know about it because if I do I am now liable.” Although this is true to a certain extent based on  interpretations of certain laws, it is generally unreasonable in practical terms.  A proactive, middle-ground approach is much more reasonable than these two extremes and will have the greatest possible benefit.

It is not reasonable to punish a public agency or business for wanting to inspect their property’s infrastructure and get a good understanding of the problems at hand.  It is equally (if not more so) unreasonable to expect a public agency or business to fix ALL of their problems in a single day.  This is not the same as an agency or business that absolutely won’t budge unless faced with a lawsuit.  Proactive property owners know they have problems, have a plan to fix them, and have allocated budget to do so over a reasonable period of time – with ongoing allocations for management and maintenance to boot.

Vanderhawk not only has experienced staff to inspect your infrastructure assets, we also have a highly experienced legal defense team and Certified Accessibility Specialists on board to help guide your agency, business, or non-profit through the murky waters of trip-and-fall claims.  Our saying is that if our trip-and-fall management services reduce the number of your claims by just 2 or 3, they will have often paid for themselves.

Rancho Cucamonga Sidewalk Inventory Study

 GIS, Infrastructure Management, Risk Management, Walkability/ADA  Comments Off on Rancho Cucamonga Sidewalk Inventory Study
Feb 032011
 

SIDEWALK INVENTORY STUDY HELPS RESOLVE SAFETY, WALKABILITY AND DEVELOPMENT ISSUES FOR CITY OF RANCHO CUCAMONGA

Sidewalk availability in proximity to schools

Sidewalk availability in proximity to schools

An innovative sidewalk inventory program implemented for the City of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, is not only resolving safety concerns but will help with various infrastructure improvements and long-term development projects.

Rancho Cucamonga, with a population over 150,000, is located in western San Bernardino County, CA, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. During the 1970s, the unincorporated communities of Alta Loma, Etiwanda, and Cucamonga experienced rapid and uncontrolled growth due to Los Angeles and Orange County families seeking affordable housing.  Citizens were concerned about managing development and voted to incorporate as the city of Rancho Cucamonga in November 1977. In 2006, Money Magazine’s annual ‘Best Places to Live 2006’ ranked Rancho Cucamonga as #42 nationwide.

According to Associate Engineer Walt Stickney, the city needed to obtain an inventory of missing sidewalk links primarily on its non-local roads.

“When the city was incorporated more than 30 years ago, for various reasons there were a number of developed and undeveloped areas lacking sidewalks,” said Stickney.  “The community of Alta Loma, for example, was established over a century ago and was predominantly agricultural, consisting of citrus groves and vineyards.  Prior to incorporation, being a rural area, development did not always trigger a requirement for sidewalks.  Now, being nearly built out, these segments of missing sidewalk are a high priority to the city.”

Stickney added that there were two key reasons for conducting the inventory – safety and convenience.  The city also plans to use the collected data to improve overall community walkability.

“When you have schools, retirement centers, community centers, and other such facilities requiring pedestrian travel, you provide safe paths of travel where possible,” said Stickney.  “Along with being safer, paved sidewalks are more user-friendly and encourage walking.  This city is very proactive in providing avenues for the public to walk and bicycle, having recently completed a first class trail main-line along the abandoned Southern Pacific Railroad corridor.  The joining of sidewalks can also foster economic development in commercial areas.”

Carlsbad, CA-based VanderHawk Consulting, LLC was retained to conduct the sidewalk inventory, analyze network-wide coverage and generate required reports.

The goal was to create a centerline representation of sidewalk coverage using a 2009 aerial orthographic photo as a reference point for current sidewalk locations.  Unfortunately, the aerial photo was almost two years old and some sidewalk or missing sidewalk segments weren’t visible due to resolution quality or tree canopies.  Other visual impediments like shrubs, fences, and K-rails made it challenging to determine if a sidewalk was actually present or not. So field spot checks were performed as an additional quality control measure.

The sidewalk polylines were cleaned up and spliced in specific locations to represent any missing links and segmentation breaks that corresponded to the city’s MicroPAVER pavement management segmentation.  A green line represented a concrete or asphalt sidewalk; a blue line was used for decomposed granite community trails; and a red line indicated a missing sidewalk link.

Each sidewalk segment contained the following attribute information:

  • Street name and From/To limits
  • Sidewalk presence
  • Street light presence
  • MicroPAVER section ID
  • Calculated length
  • Estimated width
  • Estimated surface area (can also be used for GASB 34)
  • Location Type- Hospital, library, school, senior centers/ housing, malls, etc.
  • Location Proximity- 500’, 1000′, and 1500′ buffers created around key locations.
  • Reason(s) for missing sidewalk
  • Installation Priority Ranking

Stickney said the data gleaned from the sidewalk inventory is proving invaluable and has revealed some unusual scenarios.

“In older areas of the city the necessary right-of-way may never had been dedicated,” he said.  “In these situations the property owners sometimes have extended their walls or other improvements into a future sidewalk alignment.  The right-of-way costs and physical obstacles add greatly to the cost of improving the sidewalk.  As such, we have to address these occurrences when prioritizing a work program.”

As one example, a homeowner built a wall extending to where a proposed sidewalk will be installed.  The city will have to determine and resolve this particular right-of-way issue before the sidewalk and other improvements are installed.

Stickney added that the sidewalk inventory is also providing proximity criteria to high-pedestrian zones such as malls, schools, mass transit, hospital, court house, retirement homes and other facilities.

“We’re developing a priority matrix that will help the city plan for these improvements.  Included in this priority matrix are proximity attributes which are derived from a series of concentric buffer zones around these facilities,” he said.  “In addition, the type of nearby facility will be assigned a ranking.  This can give a greater ranking, or priority, for where to add missing sidewalks.  VanderHawk is coordinating its resources with the city’s GIS department in developing these buffers and priorities.  Of course, developing a work program is not as cut and dry as crunching numbers.  We will attempt to consolidate the extent, or limits, of a capital project to avoid being spread throughout the city.  This will help in keeping contractor’s bids lower, and also reduce wasted travel time for the city’s inspectors.”

A sidewalk installation program report, scheduled to be delivered to the city in February, will include a segment-by-segment breakdown of installation costs and will summarize data based on factors such as priority ranking, maintenance zone and proposed year of installation.

“We are excited about the development of this useful tool which will enable the City to both quantitatively and qualitatively prioritize sidewalk projects for inclusion into our CIP,” said Mark Steuer, Director of Engineering Services/City Engineer for Rancho Cucamonga.

“The bottom line is that this inventory program will provide a master plan toward addressing the construction of missing sidewalks,” added Stickney.  “The realities of the budget process results in these construction projects being a multi-year program.  The first step in most inventory projects is to establish how the inventory will be maintained and current.  With this inventory, the quantity of missing sidewalks will only be reduced over time.”