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Public Private Partnerships

Public agencies nationwide are utilizing Public Private Partnerships (P3s) to allocate project risk and capital to build and repair critical transportation, water, airport, energy, military, and social infrastructure.  At the recently held P3 Federal Conference in Washington, D.C., infrastructure owners, consultants, contractors, and developers examined the financial, technical, and legal considerations that go into evaluating P3 as a project delivery option.  Infrastructure owners such as the cities of Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Denver were on hand to discuss their successes with P3s, as well as the process they go through to pick the appropriate project delivery process.  P3s are contractual arrangements between an owner (typically a public agency or municipality) and a private sector entity (typically a developer or financial partner and a design/engineer team).  Through this agreement, the assets and skills of each participant are shared in delivering the project for use by the public.  

P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., Consulting Engineers participated in the dialogue between infrastructure owners, such as the cities of Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Denver, and federal representatives, including Mr. D.J. Gribbin, Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy.  In total, over 85 experienced speakers presented on the value proposition behind P3s, principles of successful partnerships between owners, engineers, builders, and developers, and how P3s are being used to improve infrastructure nationwide.  

While the traditional delivery methods of Design-Bid-Build and Design-Build are still the prevalent models for delivering infrastructure projects in the U.S., P3s continue to gain momentum.  According to Dr. Linda Hanifin Bonner, Executive Operations Manager, Water Design-Build Council, “P3 projects are often perceived as large and complex, and they typically require a developer to serve as an intermediary between and owner and their traditional design consultant.”  Traditional roles and relationships between owners and their “trusted advisers” in engineering roles may be disrupted, particularly for smaller firms.  In addition, many contractors or builders look for designers and engineers who know and have standing relationships with project owners.  

Panelist Jensen Clarke, Vice President of Fengate, stated, “In Canada, most P3 projects are at the municipal level.”   In Virginia, the Department of Transportation compares the P3 delivery method to other delivery methods, only pursuing P3 if it makes sense.  Similar approaches are taken in municipalities such as Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado.  President Trump, according to D.J. Gribbin, is focused on infrastructure from three perspectives: legislative changes, regulatory changes, policy changes, and cultural changes.  According to Gribbin, “Now there is an enormous appetite for infrastructure legislation.”  

Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation, Pete K. Rahn, discussed what could potentially be the largest proposed P3 project in the Nation.  Including the Washington Beltway, S.R. 270, and the Washington Parkway, this P3 project could have a price tag of close to $9 billion.  According to Rahn, this area now ranks as the single most congested area in our country.  Building on Maryland’s prior P3 successes, such as the Purple Line Transit Project, Rahn described this proposed project as a “quality of life” project.  

P3 Projects are here to stay; they offer an alternative delivery method that leverages private funding resources, otherwise not available to owners.  P3s have their own unique set of risks and weaknesses which need to be seriously considered.  Comparing project delivery options, including weighing associated risks, is something that many infrastructure owners are seriously considering for future projects around the country.

 

Marty Malone,
Client Services Director
P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., Consulting Engineers

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Municipal Transportation Projects in Pennsylvania- Part III Funding

               Funding is a constant challenge for municipalities, especially when considering undertaking a large commitment like a transportation project.  To aide in these endeavors, a municipality may apply to the governments for cost reimbursement programs to alleviate a significant portion of the financial burden.  If your municipality meets certain criteria, it may be eligible to have as much as 95% of the total project costs funded.  Liquid fuels monies may also be used for local projects.  We will also discuss the PA Infrastructure Bank (PIB) as a potential funding option.

               It is worth noting that reimbursement programs are not the same as grants.  With a reimbursement program your municipality must first incur the cost then place a request for reimbursement from PennDOT via a formal invoice. 

               Cost reimbursement programs include the Surface Transportation Program (STP), State Bridge funding (Act 89), discretionary funding from the legislature, and other various Federal and State programs.  For this blog, we will focus on STP, Act 89, and discretionary funding.   The STP is used as flexible funding that may be used by states and localities for projects to preserve and improve the conditions and performance on any Federal-Aid highway, bridge, and tunnel projects on any public road.  The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a federal organization responsible for the Local Access Road program funding.  Monies from this program are included in STP funding.  ARC Local Access Road program funding affords State Governors the opportunity to use up to $3,000,000 of Appalachian Development Highway System Programing awarded to each state.  For more information on the Local Access Road program click here.  Resurfacing/rehabilitation are not eligible for Local Access Road funding. 

Discretionary spending by the legislature is a process in which a specific project is explicitly identified within federal legislation. 

               Act 89, originally known as the “Bridge Bill” when initially passed in 1982, is the transportation funding vehicle used by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Projects must be included on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP)/Twelve Year Plan (TYP) to receive Act 89 funds.  From 2014 through 2019, between $2.2 million and $2.4 million will be spent on transportation projects throughout the Commonwealth.  Act 89 is also the funding vehicle for the Dirt and Gravel program, increasing the available monies from $5 million to $35 million and earmarked $8 million for roads with 500 vehicles per day or less.   The primary focus of the Dirt and Gravel program is not paving and repaving roads, instead the focus is on long-term environmental benefits.  The one limitation to large culvert and bridge replacement is that the structure must be deemed undersized and be the cause of stream degradation.  The application process is completed through your local conservation district.  Any state or local entity maintaining public roads is eligible to apply.   

               The PIB provides direct, low-interest loans offered as a financing opportunity for transportation projects throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The interest rate is figured at half of prime, 2.125%, at the time of this writing, with a repayment term of up to 10 years.  A PIB loan may also be used to meet the matching requirement for cost reimbursement programs. For every project, except equipment loans, a match is required from the municipality.  You can read more on PIB by checking out the official handbook online here.  Below is an example of what a current projects list from PIB looks like, note the projects that a PIB loan was used to fully fund.

P. JOSEPH LEHMAN, Inc., Consulting Engineers is committed to assisting our clients in any way possible, including assistance with obtaining funding for your project. Our experience Grantsmanship team has worked to assist in obtaining funding for multiple boroughs, townships, counties, and private entities. 

If you have any additional questions regarding funding for your project or would like to further know how P. JOSEPH LEHMAN, Inc., Consulting Engineers can possibly assist you with funding for your project please do not hesitate to contact us at (814) 695-7500.       

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2018 Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside

PennDOT has finalized the details of the 2018 Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside funding and intends to allocate $55 million during this statewide funding round.  Eligible applicants may apply starting July 10th, all applications must be completed online on the webpage https://spportal.dot.pa.gov/planning/appreg/TAP/pages/default.aspx and must be submitted by September 22nd, with project selections being made in late January 2018.  Eligible applicants/sponsor include: local governments, regional transportation authorities, transit agencies, natural resource or public land agencies, school districts, local education agencies, schools, and tribal governments. 

The 2018 Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside funding is earmarked for programs and projects defined as transportation alternatives, such as on- and off- road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-drive access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, environmental mitigation, recreational trail program projects, and safe routes to school projects.  PennDOT’s examples of project activities include but are not limited to: sidewalks, bike lanes, wide paved shoulders, off-road trails, rail trails, pedestrian signals or signs, traffic calming, lighting that primarily benefits cyclists and pedestrians, bicycle and pedestrian education for grades K-8, scenic overlooks, interpretive signage, stream channel stabilization, and historic preservation and rehab of historic transportation facilities (must be on or eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places). 

Projects applying to utilize Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside funding must have a minimum construction cost of $50,000 and a maximum of $1 million.  A project may exceed $1 million if it is of exceptional regional or statewide significance.  The program is 80 percent federal funding and 20 percent state/local funding.  PennDOT does not require the sponsor to provide a true local match, instead the sponsor is required to pay pre-construction activities and PennDOT provides 100 percent reimbursement for all construction activities.  Sponsors must remember that this is a reimbursement program, no activities or construction performed prior to federal clearance via a completed Federal Form D-4232 the sponsor will not receive a reimbursement for incurred costs. 

Sponsors are highly encouraged to meet with both their Planning Partner (Metropolitan Planning Organization or Rural Planning Organization) and their PennDOT District to discuss the project prior to applying, additional points will be awarded to applicants who meet with both organizations.  PennDOT will be placing an emphasis on projects that will be ready to begin construction by August 31, 2020 during the selection process.  Projects with increased complexity through right-of-way, utility, environmental, public support, or other issues potentially adding to the cost or delay project delivery will score lower and are less likely to be selected. 

If you have any further questions regarding Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside funding or have questions on how P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., Consulting Engineers can assist eligible sponsors apply, please call Marty Malone, Client Services Director at (814) 695-7500, or by email at mmalone@lehmanengineers.com. 

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Flood Elevation Certificates and the Land Surveyor

 By David Butterbaugh, Jr., P.L.S.

           A flood elevation certificate is an official document distributed by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that requires various measurements to determine elevations concerning your structure or property.  The elevations are to be compared with FEMA data devised from flood studies or assessed data in unstudied areas.  Many people, who own property in a floodplain or an area close to a river, stream or body of water, need a flood elevation certificate.  A variety of reasons sets the wheels in motion for the necessity of a flood elevation certificate.  Perhaps you applied for a loan, applied for homeowners’ insurance, wish to build a new structure, an addition to an existing structure, or you’re looking to purchase a new place to call home.  A simple review of your homeowner’s insurance policy or loan may trigger the need for a flood elevation certificate.  In 2012 the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act created a tool for map and cost revisions.  This put many new properties in a flood plain that were not considered for flood insurance before that time.

           When you need a flood elevation certificate it’s time to call a Land Surveyor.  The Surveyor will conduct research for your property and research FEMA data to find the type of flood zone that applies.  This will help determine the BFE (Base Flood Elevation) for your property and/or structure.  The BFE is one of the main numbers your insurance or lending institution will be using to assess your potential costs.  The BFE is the elevation the water may reach during a 100-year flood or storm (the strongest predicted storm in a 100-year period or a 1% chance of occurring in any given year).    Once the preliminary office and research work is complete it is time to collect field and structure data.  This will require a visit to the property to obtain measurements on the outside and inside of your house or building; such as floor elevations and major appliance (furnace, hot water heater, washer, dryer etc…) elevations.  Once this data has been collected and processed it will be time to fill out the flood elevation certificate and seal the document for submission to you, your insurance or bank and possibly FEMA.

           In some cases, the data may show the need for a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) to have your structure or property officially removed from the hazard area.  This would eliminate the need for flood insurance and is a best-case scenario.  If your property or building is not LOMA eligible there may be a change in the premium.  Sometimes the premium is significantly lower, sometimes higher and sometimes there is little change; I had a client get a premium change of $4.00 per year.

           It is of utmost importance to realize it is NOT the Surveyor’s job to get you out of paying flood insurance or to lower the premium.  I have had people get upset when their situation did not change for the better.  I have had people very happy when they became exempt and no longer had to pay for flood insurance.  There is no way to know beforehand what the outcome will be.  The role of the Land Surveyor is merely to obtain the data and submit it the institution involved.  In other words, the Surveyor is merely hired to give truthful accurate data via a professional service.

           The professional team of surveyors at Lehman Engineers consistently provides high-quality surveying services to a wide range of private and public-sector clients. With decades of relevant experience, our survey crews are always lead by a highly-qualified Professional Land Surveyor, utilizing the most recent and innovative survey technology.  Please do not hesitate to call us at (814) 695-7500 if we can be of service to you.  

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PA Senate Bill 172: Automated Speed Enforcement Systems

          With spring, birds return for the summer, baseball practices begin, and we begin to once again see what some have dubbed the state flower of Pennsylvania along our roadways, the orange construction barrel.  As workers head out to maintain our over 250,000 miles of state-owned highways across the Commonwealth, safety measures are implemented by engineering designs, by contractors themselves, and by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately, current safety measures have not prevented all deaths in work zones.  Since 1970, 86 PennDOT employees have been killed in work zones and since opening, over 30 Pennsylvania Turnpike employees have lost their lives in work zone accidents.  According to the Federal Highway Administration, there were over 700 fatalities in work zone accidents in 2015. 

           The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania currently does not have a program in place permitting the use of automated speed enforcement systems (i.e., cameras to monitor traffic), unlike our neighboring state of Maryland.  In the 2015-2016 legislative session, Pennsylvania Senators worked to pass legislation (S.B. 840) to permit the use of automated speed enforcement systems (ASES) in active work zones.  The legislation passed with full support of the Senate in October of 2016 but died when the session ended on November 30th.  The legislation, now known as S.B. 172, was reintroduced in January of 2017 at the beginning of the 2017-2018 legislative session and referred to the Transportation committee, whereby a vote was held, and the bill passed with unanimous consent.  Currently, S.B. 172 is tabled in the Senate awaiting further action.  The proposed program will have a limit of five years with an opportunity for extension by the General Assembly.   The purpose of this article is to help you gain an understanding of the proposed legislation and where the monies generated will be directed. 

Program Overview

           ASES will automatically detect vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 miles per hour and record the vehicle’s rear license plate, location, date, time, and speed.  S.B 172 proposes the implementation of such devices in active work zones on interstate highways under the jurisdiction of PennDOT, interstate highways, or freeways under Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) jurisdiction.  The use of an ASES will not be without warning, minimally two appropriate warning signs must be clearly placed BEFORE the active work zone to notify motorists.  PennDOT or PTC must identify the location of an ASES on the corresponding, publicly assessable, website for the duration of the project.   If the work zone is not active, an ASES cannot be used to assess fines. 

           When a violation occurs, a notice will be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle identified in the photographs.  Along with the notice of violation, offenders will find a copy of the image recorded, the registration number, the date, time, and location, and instructions on how to remit payment or request a hearing.  The fine for a violation under this law will be $100.  Any violation will NOT be placed on the driver’s operating record or be used for merit rating for insurance purposes.  Permissible defenses written into the legislation to protect owners from a wrongful penalty include; a vehicle reported stolen to a police department that has not been recovered prior to the violation and receipt of a notice of violation by an individual other than the registered owner of the vehicle.  If an owner challenges a violation, hearing times will be held in the following metropolitan areas:  Erie, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.  The hearing will be informal, and the decision of the hearing officer will be final.  An owner may request, in writing, to have the decision of the hearing officer appealed, in which case, the magisterial district judge for the district in which the violation occurred, will hear and rule on the matter. 

           Photos collected by an ASES are not permitted to be used for any other surveillance purposes, be considered public information and accessible under Right-to-Know (P.L.6, No.3), and will be destroyed within one year of a notice of violation.  The limitations of the program are null and void, should a court issue an order for the information to be provided to law enforcement officials regarding a criminal law enforcement action.  If a court order is issued, images will be destroyed within two years of the order being issued, unless extended by a separate court order. 

Funding

           S.B. 172 directs fines remitted into two separate restricted accounts established in the Pennsylvania State Treasury.  The first account will be used to pay for the administration of the pilot program and the system administrator’s invoice costs.  Once administration fees have been covered, the remaining funds will be directed into the second account.

           Seventy-five percent of the fines collected will be deposited on a quarterly basis.  Within 90 days of the deposit, the Department of Revenue will transfer an amount equivalent to the previous quarterly deposit to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).  Fifty-five percent of PSP funds will be used for recruiting, training, or equipping PSP cadets.  Forty-five percent of PSP funds will be used to pay for increased PSP presence in work zones on PennDOT and PTC managed State road systems not utilizing concrete barriers.  Twenty-five percent of fines collected will be transferred to PennDOT or PTC, dependent on whichever State road system utilized an ASES for safety and the education of the public on work zone safety. 

           Funds generated are considered supplemental.  Should the amount of funds be lower than the previous fiscal year, the Motor License Fund may not be used to make up the difference.  PSP will not be prohibited from obtaining additional funding from any other means due to monies, received from the program. 

           S.B 172 can be tracked via the General Assembly website here.  Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this legislation, you may contact your Senator and/or Representative.   Click here to find out who your legislators are and to get their contact information.  To learn more about work zone safety check out Operation Orange Squeeze

           P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., Consulting Engineers is committed to safety above all in construction zones and incorporates safety into our designs to the highest degree possible.

           P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., Consulting Engineers is made up of a growing team of highly-skilled professionals and experienced specialists in transportation design, structural engineering, site development, surveying, environmental science, environmental characterization and remediation, and geology and construction services. Lehman Engineers currently maintains offices in Hollidaysburg, Bedford, and Harrisburg, PA.

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Municipal Transportation Projects in Pennsylvania- Part II Planning and Programming

               As we continue our series on Municipal Transportation Projects, we look at the planning and programming phase.  The importance of proper planning cannot be overlooked in any endeavor, more particularly one utilizing public funding.  We will begin by looking at the various organizations and lists utilized by both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Federal government. 

               Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) and Rural Planning Organizations (RPO) function as PennDOT planning partners on a local level, to find contact information for your MPO/RPO click here.

A voting member of each MPO and RPO works with other transportation agencies to identify transportation-related issues, then develop policies, strategies, and proposals to address the issues.  These professionals identify potential projects to

be included on the Long-Range Transportation Plans (LRTP).  LRTP is a financially balanced 20-year plan that serves as a basis for the development of a list prioritizing projects to be placed on the region’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).  TIPs are 4-year plans, and when completed, all TIPs are compiled into a single list, Statewide TIP (STIP), and utilized as the official federal programming list. 

        The Twelve-Year Plan (TYP) serves as a state programming document, prioritizing proposed transportation projects per both need and financial constraints.  TYP is organized into three, four-year increments.

  In the early stages of having a project placed on the TYP, the MPO/RPO considers the purpose and the need of the potential proposal, as well as, any environmental issues and resources.  Identifying the purpose and need is one of the most important components of the transportation project, because the purpose and need statement is intended to clarify the expected outcome of the public expenditure and to justify the expenditure.  Funding is allocated based on priority and available resources.   PennDOT’s goal is for a transportation system that provides choice and convenience and is coordinated with the way the community lives and grows.  Below is an example of the current TYP:

PennDOT has defined 10 Core Principles to assist with evaluating and prioritizing potential projects:

1. Money counts:  Due to current fiscal constraints, cost estimates must be as accurate as possible, and projects must be fundable. 

2. Choose projects with high-value-to-price ratio: The improvement must be justifiable under the following standards: need, fit within the community, and investment.

3. Enhance local network: Utilize existing structures, right-of-way, and alignments. 

4. Look beyond Level of Service (LOS): Fit the solution to the project need, community/roadway type, and project complexity.   

5. Safety first and maybe safety only: Safety is always the first goal, and for some projects, safety improvements may be all that are required. 

6. Accommodate all modes: Consider solutions that address all modes of travel, not only vehicular. 

7. Leverage and preserve existing investments: Existing infrastructure should be maintained and improved first. 

8. Build towns, not sprawl: consider local planning and investments in existing infrastructure. 

9. Understand the context; plan and design within the context: Respect the community character, how existing roadway is used,  and understand “place”. 

10. Develop local governments as strong land use partners: Integrate local land use planning with transportation planning; encourage local involvement in the process. 

The task of having a project placed on TYP may seem like a daunting task but it is not a task you must undertake alone.  P. JOSEPH LEHMAN, Inc., Consulting Engineers can assist you in this process by developing accurate cost estimates and testimony which promotes the consideration of your project for programming.  All municipal transportation projects much be on the TYP, in order to receive any federal or state funding.   Recently, Barr Township in Cambria County, was able to have a bridge project listed on the TYP with the help P. JOSEPH LEHMAN, Inc., Consulting Engineers.  Regarding the service P. JOSEPH LEHMAN, Inc., Consulting Engineers provided, Barr Township had this to say: “Within 30 days of meeting with Barr Township to discuss our failing bridge, P. Joseph Lehman, Inc. had members of the County Planning Department on site to field view and discuss programming our bridge on the Twelve- Year Program!”  Mr. Giles Dumm, Barr Township Supervisor (20 years). 

 

In the next section, we will discuss the funding options for municipalities once a project has been programmed.  Please don’t hesitate to call us at (814) 695-7500, if we can assist your municipality. 

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Municipal transportation projects in Pennsylvania – Part I Introduction

Part I – Introduction

Municipalities in Pennsylvania that are responsible for bridges and roads are often faced with the challenge of extensive repairs or complete replacement of these facilities in order to maintain safety for the travelling public.   The process can be overwhelming to municipal leaders, especially those experiencing these types of projects for the first time. This includes all local governments, as well as local government agencies. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has developed a very complete process for municipal leaders to follow to complete local bridge or road projects. It is thoroughly described in Publication 740, Local Project Delivery Manual, which is “a compilation of Department policies and procedures relating to the procurement, design, letting, construction inspection, and management of contracts for projects sponsored by local public agencies.” (Publication 740, November 2013 Edition)

This is the first in an eight-part series describing local project delivery. It follows Publication 740 closely, boiling it down to key components. It also describes how P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., Consulting Engineers has completed this process hundreds of times for Pennsylvania municipalities, and can do it for your municipality as well. PennDOT recommends that “…Local Project Sponsors requiring assistance in completing their project utilize firms or individuals that have previous PennDOT experience. History has shown that when firms or individuals who have previous PennDOT experience are assigned to work on these projects, the projects go through the process much quicker and with fewer revisions, thereby saving the Local Project Sponsor time and money.” [1]

The series of articles is broken down as follows:

Part I (Introduction)

Part II (Planning and Programming)

Part III (Funding)

Part IV (Project Management Processes)

Part V (Project Development Procedures)

Part VI (Right-of-Way Phase)

Part VII (Utility Coordination)

Part VIII (Construction Phase)

These articles are condensed versions of the material covered in Publication 740, 2013 Edition. All credit is given for direct quotes and for the general process of local project delivery. In addition, interpretations and opinions of P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., Consulting Engineers based upon close to 50 years of relevant experience supplement the material.

Your municipal project may be eligible for a variety of federal and state funding, depending on project type and meeting eligibility requirements that we will discuss more in Part II, Planning and Programming. In that section, we will discuss the Twelve-Year Transportation Program (TYP) and funding eligibility and options.

[1] Local Project Delivery Manual, Publication 740, November 2013 Edition, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Executive Summary

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An Interview with Elizabeth Heggi, P.E.

P. Joseph Lehman, Inc., Consulting Engineers strongly believes in workplace diversity and creating opportunities for women and minorities. Elizabeth Heggi is a Professional Engineer employed by Lehman Engineers since 2010. In the following interview, Elizabeth sheds some light on overcoming challenges she faced as a woman in an industry often dominated by men.

QUESTION: “As a high-achieving student, you could have chosen any field of study in college. Why did you choose Civil Engineering versus other areas? And why not other fields of engineering?”

ELIZABETH: “Good question. You know, when I entered my senior year in high school, I had absolutely no idea what career path I wanted to pursue after graduation. This is what I knew: I loved math and physics and I wanted to go to college. In the college course selection handbook, I remember that the Civil Engineering program caught my attention because of all the math and physics requirements. I also saw that the Civil Engineering program had courses in concrete and steel design, which sounded very interesting to me. But I entered my freshman year of college still not knowing what a career in Civil Engineering entailed.”

QUESTION: “During your time studying Civil Engineering in college, what were some of the unique challenges you experience as a woman?”

ELIZABETH: “Well as you know, I am a little quiet and shy. And sitting in classrooms made up mainly of men, I was a little intimidated. However, there were a few other women in my class. That made me feel more comfortable. As time went by, I got to know my classmates and realized that I knew and understood the material as well as they did. That made me feel less intimidated.”

QUESTION: “Did you experience any unique challenges as a practicing female Processional Engineer?”

ELIZABETH: “After graduation, it was intimidating entering a male-dominated profession. In the beginning, I would occasionally hear some negative comments. However, as time went on, I was able to prove to my co-workers, and more importantly to myself, that I was very well-qualified to do my job. Sometimes men and women approach things differently with other perspectives. I don’t consider that a challenge though. I think that has made me a valuable member of the team I work with. And everybody I work with contributes greatly to the team.”

QUESTION: “In your opinion, why aren’t more women choosing the field of Civil Engineering as a profession?”

ELIZABETH: “I honestly don’t know why more women aren’t choosing Civil Engineering. It is possible that the old school of thought is still out there…math and science careers are for men and not women. But I see those stereotypes and barriers coming down. It is also possible that women are drawn to professions like teaching and medicine, where they can be more nurturing.”

QUESTION: “Please tell me about your role models.”

ELIZABETH: “In college, my role models were my professors. They had a lot of knowledge. In my career, my supervisor has been my role model. Ken Szala has been my supervisor now for many years. I say he is my role model because I try to emulate him. His ability to put Civil Engineering concepts and principles into constructible projects is excellent. I also emulate him because of his high level of ethics.

QUESTION: “What was your favorite project?”

ELIZABETH: “I have worked on hundreds of projects. I can’t say that one in particular was my favorite. Being in land development, I have had the privilege of working on many diverse projects from small retail stores to large hotels and restaurants. I’ve also worked on trail projects, parks and streetscapes. I have really enjoyed each project with their own unique challenges to overcome. I also really enjoy being able to see the site under construction. It excites me to have my designs actually being constructed.”

QUESTION: “Would you have any advice for women considering the field of Civil Engineering?”

ELIZABETH: “My advice would be for anybody, not just women considering Civil Engineering. Talk with more than one person who is a practicing Civil Engineer. Visit at least one place of business to see the inner workings. Actually witnessing engineers during the occurs of a day and speaking with them can give you a much better understanding of what a career in this field can involve.”

Elizabeth A. HeggiElizabeth Heggi is a Professional Engineer at P. Joseph Lehman, Inc. Consulting Engineers working in the Land Development and Building Systems Department. She can be reached through email at eheggi@lehmanengineers.com or by calling 814-695-7500.

 

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Develop Goals With Built-In Success

January.  Gym.  Diet. Organization.  Relationships.  Bad Habits.  These are areas in my life that I look to set goals around in the beginning of each year.  I join gyms, start eating more sensibly, start out getting myself organized, even quit smoking….but for some reason, I often don’t keep up with my good intentions.  I have done it a hundred times. “This is the year I am going to organized.” Or “This is the year I am going to lose weight.” Why do I continue to set these seemingly fantastic goals and then end up just throwing them out the window after a month or so? Am I really that weak or uncommitted to making improvements in my life?  I end up getting tired of failing year after year and, to ease the pain of failure, stop making these resolutions.  I scratch my head and ask myself why….why can’t I seem to accomplish these seemingly simple things that would make my life so much better?

What’s Wrong With My Goals? What’s Wrong With Me?

The fact of the matter is that nothing is wrong with me.  At least for the purpose of discussing this topic, nothing is wrong with me.  My wife may have a different answer if posed that question about me.  It’s not me, it’s my “goals.” They really aren’t goals at all.  They are “wishes.” My father used to have a saying about “wishing” and about those who were labeled as “wishers” or “dreamers.” I won’t repeat it in mixed company though. He was partially right. And he was partially wrong. Any goal worth its salt starts with a wish…or a dream. And that is where many people just stop. The vital step that I usually missed in turning my dreams into reality was what came next; the goal-setting step. I never knew what constituted a good good versus a poor goal.  Never knew the difference between a goal that had success built-in and a goal that had failure written all over it.

A goal that has built-in failure is one that doesn’t flesh out the details. It doesn’t describe first of all “why” I want to accomplish it.  We have all seen hundreds of them.  For me, these were my New Years’ Resolutions. Not that they were bad or wrong, they just didn’t have  a clear description of concrete objectives that could be worked on every day. For me, it’s like starting out on a trip in my car. In addition to making sure I have enough fuel, my car has been inspected, and the weather will be ok, I need to know my ultimate destination. After that, if I don’t chart my course out on a map (the old fashioned way that I still use….sometimes), then I will be driving around aimlessly and eventually just go home out of frustration. Through using a map (or now the map app on my iPhone), I can chart my course. Each mile I travel, I know that I am supporting my ultimate objective of arriving at my destination at a certain time. Like planning and executing a trip, a goal needs a well-defined destination and a well-developed strategy to success.

Elements of a well-defined goal.  The devil is in the details!  And be S.M.A.R.T. about it!

Be SPECIFIC.  I capitalized Specific because “S”is the first letter of the acronym I use to remember what should be part of any good goal.  It is the only mnemonic technique I know of that helps me remember. Instead of writing that you want to become “better” at some skill or task, take the time to really define what “better” means. If better includes becoming faster at a task, for example, them put details in defining HOW fast.

Don’t forget to include the dream part. Write WHY you want to achieve this thing.  Talk about affirmations within your goal. Describe how things will be different or better when you have achieved your goal.  These can also serve as motivators in achieving goals. Even break this component of your goal down more. Create a list of support you will need to achieve your goal. This can be support from others, resources, such as additional training, or the allocation of time to achieve your goal. The more detail and specificity you build into your goal, the more chance you will be able to achieve it.

Build in MEASURES with your goal.  That is the “M” of a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  Write how you will measure your progress and your overall success.  A critical part of this step is building in plans for anticipated failures within your goal. And many people need to fail multiple times before they succeed. Don’t be afraid of failing. Just have a back up plan if you do.

Also, ask  yourself simply, “What is the time frame I will need to achieve my goal in its entirety?”  Make sure you have a realistic time frame. I know I used to get caught up in this area.  Often my goals were not realistic with regard to how long I thought they would take to achieve.  For me, I need to have an open calendar when I develop this part of my goal.  And time frames were not the only part of my goals that used to be unrealistic…

Set ATTAINABLE goals.  This is the “A” of course. My goals used to be unattainable. That is another difference between a well-developed goal and simply a dream. Goals need to make sense. They should challenge us but not be so far out as to be unreachable.  They should push our “comfort zone” a little. I used to set goals that had nothing to do with the direction my life was headed, the area I chose to study, my career, or the place I currently lived. Don’t know how you are going to do it?  That is why we are developing goals with built-in success features!

Make sure your goal is REALISTIC.  Although I know many people who would probably be great Presidents of the United States, how realistic is it to set a goal to do that?  Be careful not to crush dreams.  (We talked about the importance of dreams earlier). For me, I want to set realistic goals in the four “Fs” of my life: Family, Finance, Friends, Fitness and Faith.  Oops, I meant the FIVE Fs of my life.  (I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which one I forgot!). Strike a balance between your goal being achievable and it being challenging.  Always remember that failure doesn’t mean we have to through the goal away.  It means we should anticipate it and have a plan when it happens.

And finally, your goal should be TRACKABLE.  An easy way to do this is by putting the finish line date on your calendar.  If you really want to track your progress, set dates within your goal to achieve various milestones. These milestones should be “mini-objectives” that are all in harmony with achieving your overall goal. Setting and achieving “mini-objectives” not only helps me work toward achieving my goal, it also boosts my self-confidence level regarding my goal.  Breaking otherwise seemingly huge goals which can be intimidating into smaller, “bite-sized” pieces is a great way to be constantly working on your overall goal, every day. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!

I remember hearing some statistics on how many people in the US actually set goals. It was amazing to me that they suggested on a couple percent (2 or 3) of the population in our nation actually set goals.  I wondered at the time if the majority of people did not set goals because of the frustration they experienced in not accomplishing them.

Here at Lehman Engineers, everybody sets goals.  They are based upon annual performance evaluations.  I always suggest to employees that they target areas within their evaluation that are not as strong as they would like as goal-setting territory.  I really believe that just the act of writing a goal down, combined with the thought process needed to incorporate the elements discussed above, is crucial to achieving a goal.  I write my goals in a notebook that I carry with me everyday.  That way, when I have down time, I can re-read what goals I have set.

 

Marty Malone, Client Services Director, has been with Lehman Engineers for close to 20 years. To contact Marty, please email him at MMalone@lehmanengineers.com.

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