Twin Ports Interchange

Twin Ports Interchange

January 12, 2023

By Chad DeMenge, Director of Contract Administration, WSB
Bryon Amo, Senior Engineering Specialist, WSB

Well-maintained, organized infrastructure is vital to safe travel and commerce, including the transportation of materials, goods, and people across the country. The Twin Ports Interchange in Northeastern Minnesota, which connects I-35, I-535, and Hwy 53, needed a significant upgrade to be viable and meet the modern needs of users.

The previous interchange was a series of intertwining and crossing bridges, roads, and traffic signals, serving as the main connection for goods and tourism through the city of Duluth. The original interchange was built between 1969 and 1972, and serves as a vital access point for the port of Duluth, one of the Great Lakes’ major ports.

Alternative Delivery Benefits

Delivered through a CMGC method, the contractor and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) were actively involved from the beginning of design and worked collaboratively to deliver this project. Active participation in early design allowed our team to gain an understanding of the history of the project and the impacts of the unique location and design.  

Engineering Ground Improvements

When the Interstate and interchange were originally built, the engineers were challenged by poor soils. The project area was formerly part of St. Louis Bay and had been filled by various industrial and railroad activities for over 100 years. The solution was to build the highway on low-level bridges on piers, allowing the highway to be supported on piling. The piling was nearing the end of its lifecycle and showed signs of corrosion. In addition, the open bridges between the bay and the neighborhood posed safety hazards, as pedestrians could freely travel under the highway, and through the highly active railyard.

To eliminate the low-level bridges, streamline maintenance costs, and isolate the railyard from the neighborhood, the team chose to build the roadway directly on the ground through the area, using the placement of grouted column ground improvements. The geotechnical team mapped the entire area, determining depths and spacing for over 8,000 ground improvement columns to support the new roadway embankment.

Combining Creeks

Miller Creek and Coffee Creek are two designated trout streams that crossed under the Interstate and ran under city streets. To provide a more suitable habitat for fish and other wildlife, the two creeks were opened and combined into one. Eliminating one entire crossing under the highway saved millions in construction and future maintenance costs.

Relocating Rail Lines

To accommodate construction staging throughout the project, the three-rail lines entering the railyard needed to be relocated three times. Due to the proximity of the bridges and new roadway to the railyard, the collective project partners including owner, contractor, engineer, and the railway worked together to maintain up to ten active rail crossings at a time.

Mitigating Contamination

The surrounding area is rich in industrial history that caused contamination in the soil and groundwater. To pre-treat all the groundwater before it’s discharged to the local wastewater treatment plant, the contractor built a water treatment center. Making these improvements and mitigating contamination allows the project to meet current Pollution Control Agency and Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Construction innovation for the future.

The project’s new design began in early 2019. When complete, the project will not only increase safety, but will allow operations in, out, and around the interchange to run more seamlessly for the interchange’s 80,000 daily users. The new interchange will be able to support the oversize and overweight loads coming in and out of the port. Construction of the Twin Ports Interchange is expected to be completed in 2025.

WSB Services Provided:

  • Constructability Reviews
  • Independent Cost Estimating during Design
  • Construction Oversight and Inspection
  • Contract Administration
  • Change Management
  • Material Testing Services during Construction
Construction Industry

Construction Industry Volatility and Rising Prices: Avoid Frustration & Achieve Success

October 14, 2022
By Christopher Kester, Sr Estimator, WSB

Economic instability, rising inflation, and labor and supply chain issues have created price fluctuations and instability in the construction industry. Simply put, costs and supply availability are harder to predict, adding undue complications to those planning and executing construction projects. 

Every project, every client, and every contractor is different, but many are facing similar challenges. While there are no quick and easy solutions to completely predict and overcome rising costs and swift market changes, there are some things to consider that can help mitigate risk and help you overcome obstacles. 

  1. Consider alternate materials. Material acquisition is more difficult than ever as our industry feels the squeeze of supply chain shortages. It can be difficult for suppliers to provide certain building materials to contractors at certain times, and short summer construction seasons in colder climates can squeeze supplies even more. This then causes problems for owners who don’t have a backup material they would like to use for their project. When preferred materials aren’t available, have a contingency plan and substitute building materials where possible. Clear communication between contractors and owners about which substitute materials should be used is an important part of the design process.
  1. Plan ahead. It is important to plan out projects ahead of time as much as possible and stick to your timeline. Right now, suppliers are having difficulty putting materials on hold for clients. Planning ahead and coordinating with suppliers on timing of materials can make a huge difference.
  1. Be flexible and work in stages. As the road construction season comes to an end in northern states, many suppliers are out of high-demand materials, meaning a good number of projects will have to be put on the waiting list as supplies come in. If you can delay certain parts of a project and work on others to keep a project on schedule, this can help overcome temporary roadblocks. Completing the project in increments also gives the construction team enough time to complete the tasks and gives the contractor and owner time to coordinate material acquisition.
  1. Understand risk and how developers predict cost. Trying to predict project costs has become more difficult, from the price of materials to the cost of labor, and everyone is working to keep their financial risk at a minimum. Often, there is a sizable imbalance between the price it takes a contractor to complete a project and the price the contractor bids for the work. Dramatic price fluctuations have caused a great deal of frustration for owners who are confused as to why a project might be so expensive compared to the price of the same project a few months earlier. Different types of projects like design-build and construction management/general contractor, for example, come with different amounts of risk, so it’s important to think through what works best for your project. 

While there’s no crystal ball in the construction industry, common sense planning and following these tips can help mitigate risk, provide confidence to all parties involved, and set your project up for success. 

Chris spent most of his career with a regional construction company where he prepared production-based estimates in excess of $300 million annually, many of those being DOT or State-Aid. He provides the ability to analyze from the perspective of a contractor and assemble a contractor-style estimate while identifying, analyzing, and mitigating risks.

ckester@wsbeng.com | 651.492.3853

Tips for Safely Maneuvering Construction this Summer

By Jason Daugherty, Director of Safety and Risk Services, WSB

Between the increased number of travelers and the many road construction projects underway this summer, this time of year is one of the most dangerous times to be on the roads. According to the United States Department of Transportation, there were over five million crashes in 2020 alone and as the country moves into a post-pandemic landscape, that number is anticipated to increase.

As a Director of Safety and Risk Services at WSB, it’s my job to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep drivers, passengers and road crews safe when moving through a zone where our surveyors and engineers are working, ensuring everything from signage and lights to proper barricading is in order. There are plenty of steps drivers can take to ensure the safety of those around you as you hit the road for summer travel.

Make sure your vehicle can go the distance.

Swimsuit? Check. Sunscreen? Double check. You may have nailed your packing list, but your vehicle needs just as much attention. Make sure your tire pressure and tread are up to par, and that your spare tire is looking good too. Don’t forget to keep a break-down/emergency kit handy as well. This includes a jack and tools for any flats or blow outs that may occur.

Plan ahead.

Knowing whether there is road construction on your route is important. Check with your local Department of Transportation or city website for project updates, detours and road closures in your travel area.

Stay alert.

Don’t count on coffee to keep you vigilant while driving. You may be itching to get to your destination, but make sure you take regular breaks and get at least eight hours of sleep before hitting the road.

Adjust your speed.

Speed is the number one cause of accidents and fatalities in construction zones. Move over for parked emergency or maintenance vehicles, and slow down to 20-miles-per-hour when passing.

Practice defensive driving.

It may take a bit of a driver’s ed refresh, but defensive driving is key. Accidents in construction zones are often a result of drivers having little or no reaction time, leading to rear-end collisions. Avoid distractions, cell phones, passengers, or anything that is taking your attention away from the road. Allow plenty of stopping distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, a minimum of two car lengths.

Do NOT drive impaired.

It seems obvious but driving while under the influence is a leading cause of death in construction zones, second only to speed. If you choose to indulge, be sure to have a designated driver.

As we all look forward to summer travel, keep these tips in mind. This simple list could be the difference between getting to your destination safely, and not getting there at all.

Jason Daugherty is the Director of Safety and Risk Services at WSB and has been a safety specialist and safety manager for over 20 years in construction, pipeline, aviation, DOT, environmental, and incident/accident investigation. Jason served as the emergency response officer/safety specialist for the State of New Mexico responding to, supervising, investigation and remediating incidents related to Occupational Safety and Health.

jdaugherty@wsbeng.com | 612.352.8455

Should Your Project Include a Constructability Review

By Christopher Kester, Sr Estimator, WSB

A constructability review is a useful project management tool that allows a client to “think like a contractor” throughout the design phase of a project. Looking at the buildability of a project, problem-solving cost, and risk in design has numerous benefits, providing clarity for both owners and contractors.

It is especially valuable to projects that have a higher degree of variability, whether in scope, size, location, subsurface conditions, schedule, or material shortages. Reviews consider the unique variables of every project and help better inform an owner of cost and risk, giving them the tools to make the best decisions possible for their individual needs.

Why include constructability review in your project planning? Here are five reasons why it adds value.

Greater Accuracy in Estimating Cost

It’s no mystery to anyone in the construction industry that right now costs are volatile. Whether it’s the price of oil, materials, or supply chain woes, estimating cost as accurately as possible and finding cost savings is critical.

Average prices are often used in our industry to estimate the cost of a project, but these baseline costs are relied upon too often – creating greater risk and opportunities for sizable miscalculation. Just think about the cost of materials and labor in 2021 for a project, and how much those costs have jumped in just one calendar year. Using data that could be as much as 15 months old, in a volatile market, and the significant variability of costs depending on the uniqueness of a project, shows the value of a constructability review and how it goes hand-in-hand with cost estimation.

Mitigating Risk

A constructability review provides value throughout the project’s design iterations from initial concept to final design. Every project involves risk, but the proper feedback during a constructability review can provide information to help the owner/designer better define scope and adjust their design plans and specifications as needed before the bidding process even begins. This allows contractors to better understand what to bid and how they will get paid, reducing their risk.

For example, think about how a contractor might approach a bid for a street reconstruction with no geotechnical report, and therefore not know the subbase conditions or how much pavement and base will need to be removed. That is a risk to the contractor, so they may bid higher to cover that risk. There is also a risk that unsuitable material is found once construction begins, which will increase the price of the work and potentially the schedule of the project. Understand, the contract documents how a contractor gets paid, and any uncertainty will increase pricing.

Mitigating risks should not be seen only as a means to reduce threats, but also as a way to identify opportunities to create positive outcomes. It is essential to analyze and monitor identified risks that could both positively or negatively impact the overall outcome of project. This aspect of a constructability review helps with building a mature risk register and determining evaluation practices to identify threats and opportunities appropriately.

Measure the Risk

Some risks cannot be mitigated or avoided, and a constructability review helps to identify them. The risk is thereby accepted and can be measured and calculated, along with the probability of it occurring

Furthermore, using the Monte Carlo simulation techniques and (PERT) Program Evaluation and Review Technique method to analyze the risks provides precise statistical results that accounts for thousands of potential outcomes. Utilizing these techniques to evaluate budget and schedule risk assists with improving predictability, provides guidance for effective monitor and control practices, and improves the ability to eliminate probable failures or reworks during execution.

Refining Design & Realizing Value Before Construction

Because a constructability review can be used throughout design stages, projects can identify constructability and payment issues before the bidding process which is more time and cost efficient than addressing them in the field with a contractor. Are you using a certain kind of pipe when a less expensive alternative could be substituted? Do your specifications leave a quantity up to each contractor to estimate and bid incidental or lump sum? These types of issues are easy to address throughout the design stages to save headaches down the road.

Especially for government and public entities – if bids come in higher than what was budgeted for, going back to the design process and rebidding will delay construction and add money and time to the project.

Tailoring Constructability Review to the Project

Perhaps most important is that a constructability review is scalable and can be adapted into any project. Whether it’s a high-level, one hour review into a focused risk or a deep dive in every stage of design, owners can integrate a constructability review plan that is tailored to meet their needs. Thinking like a contractor allows the owner to better understand the likely range of project costs before the bidding process begins and to improve the biddability of their plans by reducing the uncertainty for the contractor.

Chris spent most of his career with a regional construction company where he prepared production-based estimates in excess of $300 million annually, many of those being DOT or State-Aid. He provides the ability to analyze from the perspective of a contractor and assemble a contractor-style estimate while identifying, analyzing, and mitigating risks.

ckester@wsbeng.com | 651.492.3853

Construction Health & Safety Compliance

Supply Chain Woes and Construction Projects: Thinking Creatively to Overcome Barriers & Adjust

By Michael Rief, Sr Vice President of Construction, WSB

The supply chain is tightly integrated, and when one part of the supply chain faces issues, it can have a domino effect. For those working in construction, supply chain problems have caused project delays, a long wait for and lack of key materials, and frustration over the past year. Unfortunately, it shows no signs of improving in 2022.

With a shortage of labor, shipping delays, and trouble getting materials, we should prepare for our recovery to take longer than many people anticipated. As our industry continues to tackle supply chain problems, there are things construction teams can do to anticipate, innovate, and adapt to the current situation.

Be Flexible Where You Can

Flexibility is key to adapting to supply chain uncertainties. While many contracts require specific materials, if clients and contractors can build some flexibility into the contract to use alternative materials, it’s more likely that a project will be completed on time or without significant delays.

For example, some of WSB’s transportation contracts require a certain kind of seed mix, but those seed mixes may not be available for many months or at all into the foreseeable future. Allowing a substitution that is available and still meets the needs of the project allows us to finish the job sooner and more efficiently.

Consider Buying Hard to Procure Items Sooner

This applies to both construction teams and clients.

If municipalities are planning a project where they know they will need to procure certain items that may be hard to come by, doing so early and paying to store it may be more efficient in the long run and ensure your project won’t face unnecessary delays. Similarly, some contractors are procuring high-risk items and pre-purchasing material for clients, working in storage cost to help prevent delays.

Additionally, as more contractors buy materials in advance, they sometimes find they need to move materials around to different projects that face more critical needs or that have tighter timelines. Being flexible when possible can benefit both contractors and clients.

Manage Risk

With every project, it’s important to manage risk. If cities or contractors purchase hard to procure materials in advance or in bulk, and then find the value goes down in a year, they could be stuck paying to store a material that is worth less than what they paid for it. Each will have to make decisions that work best for their needs and anticipated projects.

Furthermore, building risk management into contracts can be helpful. Whether it’s procurement of materials or more flexibility on timing of projects, thoughtful contract terms can help both cities and contractors, mitigating some risk.

A great example of mitigated risk in many current construction contracts is a provision for fuel cost escalation. If the cost of fuel goes up significantly after a contract is signed, a client may pay more to cover fuel costs. Similarly, if it goes down significantly after a contract is signed, a client may recoup some of those savings. Thinking about how contracts can offer more flexibility in ways that adjust to supply chain and labor issues is something that could offer substantial benefit to all parties.

Since supply chain issues, labor shortages, shipping slowdowns, and numerous other factors are expected to continue creating challenges for the construction industry over the next year, innovation, flexibility, and adaptability can help keep projects moving forward for clients and contractors.

Michael Rief

Mike has nearly 30 years of experience in civil engineering, with an emphasis on pavements and materials, pavement management, quality management, project management, design, risk assessment, project controls, contract administration, construction, preventive maintenance, planning, education, and technical team supervision. Mike has managed several complex, high-profile projects throughout Minnesota.

mrief@wsbeng.com | 612.518.829

Improve Project Outcomes Using an Owner’s Representative

By Bob Barth, Director of Land Development, WSB

From inception to completion of a project, having an expert walk alongside you can make all the difference. An owner’s representative, often seen as a significant value in private sector projects, can and should be used for public projects to add value as well.

What is an Owner’s Representative?

An owner’s representative is essentially the eyes and ears of a project – representing the owner, investor, or developer throughout a project. A deep understanding of the overall goals of the project, as well as having an in-depth knowledge of engineering and construction, means this person is an advocate and champion that can ensure a project goes according to plan, while helping to mitigate risk.  

Given the proven value of the service, it is curious that public sector vertical construction has traditionally underutilized the owner’s representative in favor of project leadership from the lead architect or general contractor. So why should the public sector use an owner’s representative?

They help keep projects on track and on budget.

The more expensive the project, the more the architect and contractor get paid. Though obvious, this fundamental conflict creates competing incentives for both the architect and contractor. The owner representative’s compensation, in contrast, is often determined by the original project budget and does not subsequently increase or decrease as the project budget increases or decreases. Their job is to act on behalf of the owner, keep the budget on track, and represent the overall financial interests of the project.

Owner’s representatives see the big picture.

Public project financing is very different from private project funding. Public sector projects are often financed through bonding, and operating budgets serve as a proxy for revenues. Cost needs to be managed throughout a project’s duration, as do relationships. An effective owner’s representative does this.

Additionally, the project schedule is more complex than the design schedule kept by the architect, or the construction schedule managed by the contractor. The project schedule includes time building stakeholder consensus, conducting preliminary environmental and property investigations, aligning financing, and developing project parameters. These activities often precede the architect’s involvement and need to be managed by someone with a wider perspective on the project – the owner’s representative. The project schedule also includes post-construction activities such as commissioning, grant close-out, sustainability certification, occupancy, and logistics. These are not activities contractors can effectively manage but, rather, activities that the owner’s representative expects to manage.

They simplify decision-making and mitigate risk.

Finally, well-structured projects allow the owner’s representative to lead in all aspects of a project, empowering them to make decisions over contractors, architects, and other consultants. Effective owner’s representatives also build consensus among teams and stakeholders. All of this brings critical leadership and certainty to projects.

When unexpected change orders, cost overruns, unforeseen environmental and property issues, or other problems arise, a good owner’s representative help manage and mitigate risk. 

In summary, owner’s representatives bring expertise, leadership, and credibility projects. Given their value, they should be utilized in more public projects.

Bob has over 20-years of experience providing technical and management support to public and private clients. In addition to leading our Land Development Group, Bob is also responsible for our Commercial Market Sector, delivering a wide-range of services to industrial, institutional, property management, and construction clients.

bbarth@wsbeng.com | 763.231.4876

Construction projects: 5 ways a Constructability Review improves success

By Paul Kyle, Project Engineer, WSB

Construction projects are complicated and include many moving parts. One way to help assure a project’s success, is to engage in a constructability review early in the design phase of a project to make sure all those moving parts are working together as efficiently as possible. These reviews give a second set of eyes to examine your project’s plans and specifications to address areas of risk, identify areas for cost savings, and reduce claims during construction with minimal additional cost or turnaround time. Having an experienced professional provide independent review and suggestions from the viewpoint of a contractor bidding on the project can result in more bidders, better and more competitive pricing, as well as a high-quality and less risky bidding and construction experience.

However, constructability reviews can often become superficial and ineffective due to a lack of understanding of the process, improper implementation, and limited resources. By better understanding the process, the odds of success increase. Below is a list of 5 ways a constructability review can impact a project.

Knowledge of Construction Means and Methods

Effective constructability reviews begin with an in-depth evaluation using knowledge of standard construction methods, materials, and techniques so a project can be analyzed from a construction or field standpoint. Reviewing a project from this perspective evaluates things like the equipment needed to complete the work, environmental or spatial constraints, and installation procedures for the materials being used. Considering these items results in fewer issues during construction and fewer changes in scope.

Understanding of Contract Documents, Specifications, and Special Provisions

Providing a constructable project with transparent and well-defined expectations in the plans and specifications increases the likelihood of more potential bidders on the contract. Clarity in these project documents and specifications supports a clear approach to the project allowing contractors to provide more competitive and accurate bids.

Discipline-Specific Expertise and Resources

Discipline-specific knowledge and resources eliminate the potential for missed or overlooked details resulting in delays or open-ended contract requirements. Expert understanding of specific materials, practices, and specifications leads to an efficiently planned construction project that will stand the test of time.

Understanding of Contractor Scheduling and Bid Methods

Understanding contractor production rates and bid methods reduces the risk of project delays, missed completion dates, and uncertainty in bidding. Knowing how to accurately predict the contractor’s approach, sequencing of work, and bid methods will result in reduction of claims, change orders, and non-competitive or high bidding. Thus, increasing the overall likelihood of an on-time and on-budget completion of the project.

Delivering Intended Project Scope

The goals and purpose of a project often have significant influence over the design process but can sometimes be lost in the transition between design and construction. Incorporating construction specific personnel into the design process ensures the project’s original objectives are integrated into the plans and maintained during construction.

Paul has nine years of experience in construction services and is MnDOT certified in several disciplines. His expertise includes project management, quality engineer, project design, construction inspection, contract administration, record documentation, and materials testing. Paul’s experience as a contract administrator and quality assurance make him a valuable asset to any project.

pkyle@wsbeng.com | 612.360.1310

Using Advanced Traffic Simulation Technology for Construction Staging and Maintenance of Traffic

By Do Nam, Sr. Traffic Operations Engineer, WSB

Construction operations on roadways disrupt normal traffic flow and generate undesirable delay. As traffic continues to increase throughout many metro areas, the Federal Highway Administration has been encouraging DOTs to be more proactive in their maintenance of traffic during construction. 

Good construction staging provides safe and efficient traffic operations throughout a project to minimize impacts on the community during construction. WSB has begun development of traffic models that simulate the flow of traffic under different staging scenarios. These traffic simulation models consider all available routes, how construction will impact these routes and how much additional time this will add for commuters. These models are being used to determine if there are improvements that need to be made on any surrounding routes to allow for better operations throughout construction.

This new approach is more proactive than past construction staging methods and is based upon data. By modeling actual construction conditions, we’re able to pinpoint where potential challenges may occur during construction and how to avoid them. Below is a list of potential benefits of construction staging and maintenance of traffic modeling using traffic simulation.

The benefits of advanced traffic simulation for construction staging and maintenance of traffic

  1. By understanding what the impacts to the community are, we can be more proactive in mitigating them.
  2. If we better understand what routes traffic will use, we can ensure that traffic controls are set up to accommodate additional traffic volumes.
  3. Limit changes can be evaluated.
  4. Informs decisions on critical maintenance items.
  5. Provides a public engagement tool for cities and residents.

Through advanced traffic simulation technology, we’ve been able to enhance construction staging plans resulting in better projects.

Do has been a civil engineer in the transportation field for over 25 years. His experience includes modeling, operational analysis, design and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) of large-scale transportation projects in both the United States and Qatar. Do has successfully managed over 30 major transportation and research projects utilizing traditional macroscopic travel demand forecasting modeling and state-of-the-art microscopic traffic simulation modeling techniques.

dnam@wsbeng.com | 763.760.8090

Q & A – Mike Rief

Mike Rief is our Senior Vice President of Construction Services. He plays a critical role on our construction team by driving projects forward through his leadership. In this Q&A, Mike reflects on his experiences at WSB and shares his vision for the future.

Q: You’ve been with WSB for almost 15 years. What aspects of WSB make you excited about work?

I really enjoy the people I work with not only in the Construction Services Division, but throughout WSB. We have a lot of talented, motivated and passionate people and it’s fun to draw from their excitement and energy in our daily work, pursuit of work and development of plans and projects.

Q: So far during your time at WSB, what has been the most memorable moment?

There have been many memorable moments during my time, but a couple that stand out are the collapse and reconstruction of the St. Anthony Falls 35W Bridge. That project presented a lot of firsts for WSB. We were brought in to provide two to four staff for Contractor Quality Assurance. Because of our efforts, we eventually had more than 50 staff providing field support in the construction of the $234M project. We had a great team who delivered the contract administration, inspection, testing and documentation. We worked 24/7 for nine months through one of Minnesota’s coldest winters to successfully deliver the project. The other memorable moment, still very special to me, is winning the 2012 TH 90 Dresbach Bridge and Interchange Contract Administration and Oversight. This project was a significant milestone for our firm.

Q: How are our clients involved throughout the construction process?

Involvement varies significantly depending on the client. Every project is unique, and we take that into consideration. We welcome client involvement and engagement as part of our process. We work to find a balance with the client to ensure their needs are met and that they are satisfied with the administration of the project, the final product and resident perception.

Q: Our culture drives our curiosity. How does curiosity drive the construction team?

The people who are most successful in the construction industry are problem solvers by nature. That creates a certain level of curiosity in the way we perform our jobs. We ask questions and are not afraid to ask why and provide recommendations on better ways to address a challenge. It’s our staff’s curiosity that drives our innovation and improvements. We are constantly pursuing improvements to our process and the way we work and this has been the foundation of many enhancements throughout WSB.

Q: How do you think WSB stays innovative and inspired in times of uncertainty?

I think in some cases, it’s the uncertainty that creates the inspiration and innovation. Our staff is good at finding opportunities to expand services or develop new technologies. If you look back to the Great Recession, our firm grew by adding new services and exploring new markets. We’ve faced uncertainty recently when navigating the challenges surrounding COVID-19, but I’ve admired the ways our staff are identifying new ways to perform their work, deliver projects and stay engaged.

Q: What makes our construction services offerings unique?

We offer a broad range of services that complement each other. We also have become specialized in the areas of Contract Administration, Surveys, Pipeline, Environmental Compliance, Project Controls, Geotechnical, Materials, Pavements and Geohazards. All of these service areas work together by sharing knowledge, resources and lessons learned. We have strong relationships with all divisions in WSB and work collectively to deliver projects.

Q: How do you think our construction services are set up for future success?

We have become very competitive over and continue to meet the needs of our clients. We are making significant investments in our staff, training and technology. We are investing in other service offerings, new markets and new industries. Continuing to evolve and explore new markets both geographically and from a service offering perspective will help position us for continued success in the future.

Q: What are you most excited for in 2020?

2020 didn’t start the way we had hoped. The COVID-19 situation has created some uncertainty for everyone in all industries. Moving forward, I’m most excited for our season to progress and our staff to get out on projects. How we do work in the future will look different to us and it’s exciting that we are able to help define what that will look like.

Q: Inspiration is paramount to our work at WSB. What inspires you?

I draw inspiration from a lot of different areas. First, I tend to be a little competitive so, I enjoy the pursuit for projects. I also draw inspiration from our staff. Seeing our staff experience success, solve a problem or learn something new is a motivator. After 30 years in the industry, I’m still learning and sharing knowledge with others and it is really rewarding to have others do the same with me. Seeing staff, clients and contractor partners get excited about their jobs is something that should inspire all of us.

How to leverage technology and streamline environmental compliance inspection

By Zach Kolsum, Environmental Compliance Specialist, WSB

Conducting inspections on infrastructure projects can be daunting, especially when they require extensive reporting and legwork to comply with local, state and federal regulations. Fortunately, there are technological tools available to assist environmental compliance and construction inspection, which streamline the arduous process of data collection and reporting for clients. Using standardized software, WSB provides the necessary equipment and materials to conduct a variety of inspections, enhanced reporting and automated data collection.

Enhanced reporting

Electronic inspections offer an effective way for teams to visualize the work being done onsite. Data is collected and compiledusing a software application to generate a list of report leads. Project partners can share critical information instantly using the visual media tool.

Share project information quickly

Depending on the project, problems that arise during inspection can be costly and take valuable time away from clients and shareholders as they work to find a solution. WSB provides automated reporting and digital photo sharing with the click of a button to the entire project team. Reporting is tracked through an online database and clients can save documents and project findings in the application archive. Sharing project reporting instantly between team members is an easy way to monitor and ensure work is progressing on schedule.

Manage your data

Leveraging the use of mobile devices for inspection improves the effectiveness of field data collection by integrating mapping and field technologies into a single workflow. This methodology also minimizes the possibility of human error which increases the quality of data overall. Collected information is analyzed using a powerful search engine that identifies trends and future forecasting.

Use Datafi for Environmental Compliance inspection

WSB’s Environmental Compliance and GIS groups worked together to develop Datafi, a mobile-friendly mapping and workflow tool to improve the environmental compliance inspection process. Datafi is a field-to-office data management solution that has allowed multiple groups within WSB to actively and efficiently inspect numerous project sites to ensure compliance. Datafi is used on small and large-scale projects including housing and land developments. Our team of inspectors have benefited from Datafi’s enhanced reporting, efficiency and improved data management in the field.

As tedious as documentation management may feel at times, it is an essential part of any program development. Discovering new ways to refine processes is paramount for keeping information as reliable and accessible as possible. We believe utilizing technology allows project teams to focus more heavily on the technical aspects of the work and bringing their client’s vision to life.

Zach is an Environmental Compliance Specialist dedicated to improving his community. He has a strong understanding of federal and state regulations, providing technical, administrative, and operational support for a variety of clients concerning NPDES regulations (MS4, construction, industrial permitting) and compliance with the Clean Water Act. Zach is committed to improving his community through environmental and conservation services, including soil erosion and stormwater management.

zkolsum@wsbeng.com / 612.201.6809