Engineering Needs More Surveyors

By Brad Oswald, Director of Survey Operations, WSB

Some elements of engineering are bright and shiny. Surveying is not classically considered bright and shiny. The work of a surveyor often goes unnoticed, but it is an important step to delivering a project on time and within budget.

A surveyor measures land, considering the topography of a project site, to delineate where to put infrastructure like pipes, wind turbines, solar arrays and more.

You may need a surveyor if you are:

  • Buying or selling a home or piece of land
  • Dividing a larger piece of land into smaller pieces
  • Installing a fence or pipeline

At WSB, developers, construction companies and their contractors rely on surveyors to perform boundary and land surveying on small and large projects. Boundary surveying is when a surveyor establishes the boundaries of a project site. A surveyor can tell you exactly where the boundaries of your property are, so you know what is and isn’t yours, and what’s developable. Next, a land survey will identify any easements or encroachments on the project site to determine where site improvements can be placed. The surveyor then provides a base map to engineers, who start designing the site. Once the site is designed, a surveyor will stake the design into the ground, so contractors know where and what to build on the site.

These steps help prevent any legal or monetary liabilities. A new homeowner may want to build a fence on their property. If they build that fence without surveying the property, they could be hit with a lawsuit if the fence encroaches on the neighboring property. Consider it on a much larger scale. A developer may plan to install wind turbines on a site. After paying the thousands of dollars to install the turbine, they could find that the turbine is encroaching on a neighboring property. Surveyors can mitigate these problems long before the wind turbine is in the ground.

Right now, the surveying industry is facing a challenge.

Less people are entering the industry. The engineering industry must come together to underscore the importance of surveying. Opportunities in the space are growing, too, as industries are focusing on increasing renewables projects across the country, even the world. These projects include pipelines, wind turbines, solar arrays, transmission and transportation projects.

Technology is also enhancing the field. With more satellites orbiting the Earth, improved GPS technology makes the job not only more efficient, but more interesting. Drones are also being utilized on larger project sites.

The work of a surveyor is critical to delivering a project, as designs and builds are based on surveys. The workforce must grow with the industry to ensure all projects are successful.

Brad has 21 years of experience in the land surveying industry with the last 16 focused on management, project delivery and mentoring. He has extensive experience in the electric and federal market sectors providing boundary, ALTA/NSPS, topographic surveys and construction staking.

boswald@wsbeng.com | 720.324.9595

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.

Hyatt House-Civic on First Groundbreaking

Community leaders and local residents gathered in downtown Rochester yesterday to break ground on the Hyatt House-Civic on First project. Referred to as the “new gateway to the city”, the $46 million project features a 172-room extended stay hotel.

Formerly the home of the beloved community watering hole, American Legion Post 92, the Hyatt House has a large footprint to fill. The over 30-year-old downtown establishment bid a bittersweet farewell to Civic Center Drive and its loyal patrons, but remained optimistic for future development efforts. The Hyatt House hotel is expected to connect the Rochester community and Mayo Clinic campus and spur economic development growth in the area.

Our Land Development team assisted EKN Development Group, PEG Companies, and HKS as the Planning and Entitlements Lead. We completed the planning and entitlement process, civil engineering, geotechnical, survey, and landscape architecture work. Completion for the Hyatt House project is anticipated for summer 2020.