Posts filed under ‘Transit’

Sustainable Highways, Transportation & GREENROADS?

The blogs have often discussed the need for sustainable transportation in the US. Whether we discussed transit, high speed rail, the SCHWEEB or SkyTran, we are fascinated with the concept of finding a way to be better to our planet while getting where we need to go when we want to get there. One thing is for sure, the majority of us will not give up our cars and highways will always be needed.

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) has developed the Sustainable Highways Self-Evaluation Tool, INVEST (Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool), version 1. INVEST was built using the FHWA concept of sustainability. FHWA describes how sustainability in highways:

A sustainable highway should be planned or replaced, financed, designed, constructed, inspected, operated and maintained in a way that provides sustainable benefits related to three principles: Social, Environmental, and Economic. 

 with the understanding that highways are one part of transportation infrastructure, and transportation is one aspect of meeting human needs. In addition to addressing environmental and natural resource needs, the development of a sustainable highway should focus on access (not just mobility), moving people and goods (not just vehicles), and providing people with transportation choices, such as safe and comfortable routes for walking, cycling, and transit.

Sustainable transportation may be described or defined in many ways that broadly address environmental, social and economic impacts, safety, affordability, and accessibility of transportation services. Transportation agencies address sustainability through a wide range of initiatives, such as ITS, livability, smart growth, recycling, planning and environment linkages…Transportation planning processes that incorporate these values and integrate the elements of sustainability should be the foundation from which to implement sustainability decisions as a project moves forward. Measures of project success include a wide range of indicators, such as travel performance, gains achieved through material selection, and construction methods.

Are you familiar with GREENROADS and the GREENROADS rating system? Do you think it is worthwhile to worry about sustainability  with our highways and “promote environmental stewardship, accountability and integrity”  or is this just another “roadblock” to development?

 By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion


August 15, 2012 at 11:39 am Leave a comment

Are You High On Speed…Rail?

 Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,

View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

It’s been quite some time since I have touched on this subject, so at the risk of “beating a dead horse,” here I go again!

Have you ever known anyone who has traveled via high-speed rail?  Have you actually experienced High Speed Rail yourself?  At the very least you have recently read about it or heard about it on the news.  I have never personally experienced it myself, but I’ve read enough about it  and viewed enough videos to know that I am very excited about what the future holds.  I have also spoken to folks who have actually traveled on High Speed Rail and the reviews were glowing!

Imagine blowing up a balloon; you’ve populated the balloon with enough air that is appears to be at full capacity, but maybe you want it a little bit bigger, so you put two more breaths into it.  It’s good.  It hasn’t popped, so you put two more breaths in.  It’s now stretched pretty thin, but maybe the kids are chanting, “Bigger! Bigger! Bigger!”   You push your luck one more time and in the middle of your next breath….POP!  As I write, our highways and airspace are pretty much maxed out when it comes to capacity, and as our population grows and our economy inches its way back into growth mode the constraints will be even heavier.  In fact,  on Monday CNN reported the following from the FAA:

Air travel in the United States is expected to more than double in the next 20 years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual forecast released on Tuesday.

It also predicts U.S. airlines will carry 1 billion passengers a year by 2021, a milestone that will come two years earlier than previously thought. (To put that number into perspective, about 712 million passengers flew on domestic carriers in 2010.)


If we fail to truly embrace High Speed Rail our infrastructure will share the same results as the balloon.

Last week Joe Biden announced a comprehensive plan that would allow for 80% of our hard-working population to have access to High Speed Rail by 2035 and has committed to $53 billion over six years.   Check out what the US High Speed Rail Association’s vision of what a national High Speed Rail system would look like:

The build out of High Speed Rail lines is a lengthy process; the environmental planning and reports, the public meetings, more reports, more meetings,  and one of the most, if not THE most sophisticated engineering and construction processes in the world requires much patience.  Of course the longer the discussion gets hung up in DC the even longer this will take.  As the United States continues to talk about High Speed Rail, the other countries on our globe continue to stay one step ahead of us.  I personally am not concerned about competing with other countries because at the end of the day I think the US rocks!    But all this talk over the years surrounding High Speed Rail, and the limited action is getting old – the advantages of High Speed Rail, as you and I both know, are enormous:

*Job creation

*Increased opportunities for employment due to easy access between cities

*A reduction in carbon emissions

*A national HSR system could reduce oil consumption by 125 bbl / year (according to Environment America)

*Reduce the stress already on existing, over-capacity infrastructure

*Ability to text message and check Facebook on phone without having to lookup for oncoming traffic 🙂

Look, the list goes on and on as to the advantages, no doubt.  A couple of years ago I wondered if people would really be able to give up their connections to their cars  on a daily basis.  The convenience they provide; the status they may show, etc.  But I think with all the studies that have been compiled, and the horrible recession that we have recently passed through, that particular mentality has passed its prime.   The development of true High Speed Rail has begun in FL and CA and significant investments have already been made in those regions.  May the rest of our country follow in their footsteps…let’s get this show on the road, or  shall I say, on the rail!

So, are you high on speed…rail?  I know I am and I would love to hear your thoughts – especially from anyone who may be against this type of innovation in our country…

Thanks for reading!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

February 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm 32 comments

Civil Engineering Concept – The Road Straddling “Fast Bus”

 Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,

View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

I am a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan.  I’m a Phitin’ Phillie Phan during baseball season, I bleed green during football season, and I bleed orange during hockey season (and if the Sixers could give me an inkling of hope…anywhere…I would bleed for them as well!).  I am blessed with a wonderful wife who is pretty patient with me when it comes to watching the games on TV, especially the Phillies since every game is on TV – not that I watch every game, but I watch enough to admit that I may get in trouble in other homes.  In any event, a couple of times a year I score some tickets to head into Philly to watch a game or two. A few  weeks ago was one of those times.  Under normal circumstances, during non-rush hour times, I can make it down to the Philadelphia sports complex in about fifty minutes.  During rush hour I would give myself an hour-and-a-half just to be safe.  This would give me enough time to enjoy a few cold one’s at McFadden’s before hand, or enjoy some crab fries from Chickie & Pete’s.   Well, two weeks ago I left at 4PM for a 7:05PM game where Roy Halladay would be vying for his 20th win of the season…plenty of time to sip a few suds and grab a bite to eat before game time, right?  As it turns out, from 4PM – 6:30PM I had the following view:

Now, at the end of the day, after parking and walking to my seats I was able to grab a beer and a kielbasa sandwich from Bull’s BBQ in time to see Halladay’s first pitch on his way to his 20th victory of the season.  It was all good.

Where am I going with all of this and what could this possibly have to do with civil engineering?  Well, I would have much rather taken a 3D Fast Bus:



As U.S. cities continue to pursue funding and public support for light  and high-speed rail services, Civil, Rail, and Transit Engineers in China continue to develop advanced concepts that will help alleviate congestion on our roads and make travel a much more enjoyable, less stressful experience.  There is not a doubt in my mind that we will eventually get there ourselves, as not only do we have the some of the most creative and innovative engineers in the world, but we really do not have a whole lot of choice based upon the current state of our infrastructure and the needs of our society…I just wish a 3-D Bus was in place a couple of weeks ago!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

October 13, 2010 at 7:31 am 3 comments

High Speed Rail Can’t Get Here Fast Enough

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

The Obama Administration recently laid out their plan for investment in a national network of High Speed Rail lines across the United States.   This investment includes $8B to be generated from the $787B stimulus plan along with a proposed $5B coming from his proposed 2010 fiscal budget.  On the grand scheme of things this is a drop in the bucket, and seemingly light years away from China’s initiative, but I guess you need to start somewhere, right?

According to a recent article in the China Daily, China is “poised to become the world’s High Speed Rail leader.”  They are set to build 42 new high speed lines spanning a total of 13,000 km over the next three years.   And while our current administration is contemplating how to spend $13B in high speed rail, China is investing $300B in their high speed rail initiative by the year 2020. If a country as smart and as talented as China is blazing this trail, shouldn’t we be more aggressively following their lead?

HSR Corridors

The way I see it, the positive impacts of building out High Speed Rail lines are good & plenty, here are just a few:

  • **A reduction in highway traffic
  • **A decreased dependency on oil
  • **Minimized pollution
  • **Increased employment options for commuters who would not normally drive to certain locations
  • **Newly created jobs for planning, design and construction professionals, among MANY others
  • **A reduction of air traffic
  • **Increased property value for those outlying areas that would otherwise have limited options in getting to “the city.”

And these are just a few.  I recently listened to a debate on the High Speed Rail topic  between Richard Harnish, Executive Director-Midwest High Speed Rail Association and Randall O’Toole, Sr. Fellow with the CATO Institute. Grab a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun…or two…and take a listen:

The information available on this topic is endless.   I believe High Speed Rail to be a great and necessary alternative, but like everything else, it boils down to money and acceptance.  The proposed $13B investment is a nice start, but where will we get the funds to finish?  And once these High Speed Rail lines are up and running, will there be enough funds from rider revenue, taxes, and government subsidies to keep up with the cost of operations and maintenance?

I believe that one day High Speed Rail will be a mainstay in our country, it’s just a matter of when. What do you think?

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September 23, 2009 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

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