The Good, The Bad & The Hope: 16th Annual Municipal Survey

Despite Extended Budget Crisis, Majority Expect Accelerated Spending
By Robert Carpenter, Editor | February 2013, Vol. 68 No. 2

Another respondent from Virginia pointed out a practical limitation of trenchless in their situation. “A large part of our interceptor system is pressure pipe (force mains), therefore the logistics of bypass pumping for isolating the host pipe makes trenchless difficult. On our gravity system, trenchless is the preferred rehabilitation method.”

This Upper Midwest official had a pragmatic view of trenchless. “We evaluate every project on its own merits and make decisions that are most beneficial.”

Yet by far, municipal survey respondents embrace trenchless when practical. “We’re using pipe bursting more so we can upsize,” said a Mountain States respondent. “Anytime you don’t have to open cut, the safety factor rises 10-fold,” pointed out this official from a New York community.

“It’s been a game-changer for us,” said a North Carolina municipal official. “Trenchless provides us with many positive options that we never had in the past.”

Engineering relationships
Each year, survey respondents are asked to evaluate, on a scale of one to 5 (with five being the highest mark) the working relationship consulting engineers have with municipalities. Engineers largely held their own in the eyes of municipal personnel in 2012 with a score of 3.73, down only slightly from 2011’s score of 3.75.

According to 83.1 percent of the municipal respondents, quality was the most important feature they seek in consulting engineers. That was followed by: ‘understanding of new technology,’ cited by 48.3 percent; ‘affordability’ cited by 46 percent; ‘cost’ mentioned by 40 percent; and having a ‘productive relationship with contractors’ was emphasized by 37 percent.

Survey respondents had many comments and advice for consulting engineers. A respondent from the Pacific Northwest said bluntly that consulting engineers should “lose the ego.” From the Midwest, a city official said “do not use our projects to train your engineers.”

A Mid-Atlantic respondent would like engineers to “stay abreast of industry and regulatory changes,” while a Midwest city official suggested engineers should “be more collaborative.”

From this Southwest respondent came a comment that was essentially repeated by several survey participants. “Help us create clear, concise and practical specs.” An Oregon muni official added that “quality control of documents needs to be improved along with avoiding vague or conflicting specifications and drawings.”