25 stories for 25 years | Chris Petree

On October 5, 2020, WSB will celebrate our 25th year in business. Since 1995, we’ve added new service areas, expanded our reach and served our communities.  Throughout our tenure, our dedicated staff has been a constant.

In honor of our 25th year, we’ll be highlighting 25 stories of the people behind the projects.

Story 1 of 25

Chris Petree, Director of Rochester Operations | Joined WSB in 2019

What do you think is special about celebrating 25 years as a company? 

I remember when WSB was a small company and today we’ve grown into an industry leader without sacrificing our founding principles and core values. Throughout the firm’s 25 years, the team has led with integrity and integrity has remained a constant.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career at WSB? 

It wasn’t when I was employed with WSB, but rather when I was one of WSB’s clients. While I was in Lakeville as the Director of Public Works, I partnered with WSB to create a comprehensive pavement management program that resulted in one of the most aggressive street reconstruction programs in the state.  I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished together for the Lakeville community.

What WSB value do you connect most with? (Bold, Visionary, Authentic, Passionate, Optimistic) 

I connect with all of them, but honestly my top value is being authentic. I witnessed WSB’s authenticity as a client and I find it to be true as a staff member. I came to WSB after over 24 years in the public sector and I wasn’t asked to change my style, approach or beliefs. Instead, I have been encouraged to bring my authentic self to the clients we serve.

What about your work gives you energy? 

Making an impact for our clients and their communities.  It’s energizing to form partnerships and collaborate to find creative solutions not just for this generation, but for the generations of the future.

Why do our clients continue to work with us?   

I think clients work with us because of our core values.  We bring these values into every project, idea and client interaction.  I also think that WSB has hired and retained some of the top professionals in the industry and our clients benefit from that expertise.

WSB Selected to Design TH 169, Rebuilding Gateway to Greater Minnesota

WSB is thrilled to partner with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to provide final roadway and bridge design services for the Highway 169 (TH 169) Reconstruction Project.

TH 169 is a significant north-south highway in Minnesota. It serves rapidly developing communities and is a gateway to exploring recreational areas in Greater Minnesota. The highway is heavily traveled by both vehicles and pedestrians. Expanding the highway is intended to improve safety and reduce the average rate of collisions in the area.

Jody Martinson, vice president of transportation at WSB, anticipates this project will have a lasting impact and looks forward to delivering a safer commute for surrounding communities.

“This project is incredibly important to users of the TH 169 corridor,” said Martinson. “Being able to work side-by-side with MnDOT to improve the safety and mobility for motorists and pedestrians is extremely gratifying. WSB is excited to utilize technology and innovative solutions to improve the efficiency of design and construction.”

The reconstruction will address operational, infrastructure and mobility issues, all important elements considered when the project was selected for the Corridors of Commerce (CoC) program. The project will replace four signalized intersections with interchanges and consolidate access points, drastically improving safety and mobility. Local roadways will be reconstructed to create ADA accessible routes at the interchanges. The TH 169 project is expected to reduce roadway delay by more than 1,000 hours per day, eliminate $1.7 million in annual crash costs, and provide more reliable travel times for the public.

The project is also a CMGC project. As a CMGC (Construction Manager/General Contractor), the process will involve several stakeholders and team members throughout the design and construction process. The project will also require strong coordination and communication with MnDOT. Project manager, Peter Muehlbach formed an expert team to ensure the CMGC process is efficient, effective and economical for reconstruction.

“When fully utilized, the CMGC design process allows for a more collaborative work environment between designer and contractor,” said Muehlbach. “I am excited for the opportunity to make design decisions together with our MnDOT, Sherburne County, city of Elk River and Ames Construction partners.”

Additionally, the project team will leverage state-of-the-art and emerging technologies to provide sustainable solutions during the design phase. By utilizing modeling tools, WSB will streamline construction management, drainage and utility relocation processes.

Planning for the TH 169 Reconstruction Project is underway with final design set to begin this summer. Phased construction will begin in fall 2022 with project completion set for 2024.

Changes to MS4 Permitting

Soon Minnesota’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) communities will continue the reissuing process and applying for coverage under the revised MS4 General Permit. The updated MS4 General Permit is expected to be reissued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) this Summer of 2020. This will create significant changes in the ways that MS4 permittees will operate, starting with modifications to address any procedural and programmatic changes needed as a result of the updated rules.

Below are the Top 5 Proposed Changes – What You Need to Know

  1. Volume control requirements to treat all new and fully reconstructed impervious surfaces equal to one or more acres.
  2. New performance-based responses to chloride, bacteria, and temperature TMDLs; including a written plan to identify and prioritize activities to achieve reductions.
  3. Additional education and outreach efforts on salt use and pet waste.
  4. Increased responses to snow and ice control operations. Improved management of salt storage at commercial, institutional and non-NPDES permitted industrial facilities.
  5. Additional documentation requirements to better evaluate permit compliance and SWPPP effectiveness.

The MS4 permit application process is a two-part process. The first includes the permit application fee, contact information for the applicant, and applicant certification. Existing permittees have already completed this step in late 2017 or early 2018. The second part, known as the Part II Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP) Reauthorization Application document, includes information about the applicant’s current SWPPP. It compares it to the revised permit rules and identifies action permittees will take to be compliant with the updated MS4 rules.

Once the MS4 permit is reissued by the MPCA, there will be a 5-month (150 days) period for applicants to submit an application electronically through the MPCA’s website to the MPCA Commissioner for review. After permit applications have been approved by the MPCA, the new SWPPP document will be placed on public notice for 30 days with the opportunity for a hearing on the preliminary determination. Following the public notice, permittees will have 12 months to update their MS4 programs to meet the new permit requirements. Our Environmental Compliance group is familiar with every step of this MS4 permit reissuance period and available to assist.

In the meantime, MS4s must continue to implement their programs and follow the expired MS4 permit’s rules. This means that routine efforts to provide education and training, identify illicit discharges, and monitor and maintain the MS4 system must continue. MS4 permittees are also expected to continue their erosion control inspection schedules and monitor active construction projects despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspectors are encouraged to wear masks and maintain social distancing standards while out on site. Our Environmental Compliance team is available to help your community meet this permit requirement. We can help augment site audits by regulators, provide temporary inspection support, carry out enforcement protocol, and provide any other support to help local erosion control programs.

Please contact us for additional assistance or questions.

Meghan Litsey is director of our Environmental Compliance team and has over eight years of experience. She specializes in providing environmental compliance services in construction site permitting, SWPPP design and inspection, and MS4 program development. 

[email protected] | 763.287.7155

WSB promotes Meghan Litsey to lead firm’s environmental compliance efforts

Local engineering firm WSB today announced the promotion of Meghan Litsey to director of environmental compliance. Litsey will oversee the firm’s environmental compliance services and will focus on advancing projects for the firm’s construction, municipal and environmental divisions.

“Meghan is a natural leader who has grown through the ranks at WSB,” said Mike Rief, WSB’s senior vice president of construction services. “She has earned the trust of both field and office staff and shows immense strength and leadership in challenging situations.”

Litsey has worked in the erosion and stormwater industry for nearly ten years and joined WSB in 2014. Throughout her tenure at the firm, she’s held many positions within the environmental compliance service area and is a Certified professional in Erosion and Sediment Control. She recently worked on several high-profile projects throughout the state including supporting the contract environmental compliance officer on the Highway 371 Four-Lane Expansion and prepared and completed the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan for the I-35 Minnesota River Bridge.

“I’m looking forward to stepping into this leadership role,” said Litsey. “I’m most excited to elevate the team to support and grow WSB’s compliance services in Minnesota and other markets. There is a big opportunity in front of us and we have a talented team ready to drive us forward.”

WSB is the fourth-largest engineering firm in the Twin Cities and has 14 offices in four states.