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Impact of construction on adjacent facilities and mitigation measures employed

  • 22 April, 2016

There's a lot more to engineering than simply applying technical knowledge to the task at hand and achieving the required outcome. While being result-oriented is a necessity, as a responsible engineer, keeping a tab on what the implications of one's actions are is of the utmost importance. Construction can have an adverse and noticeable impact on the adjacent community and facilities. An engineer aiming to pass the PE exam must not only learn the technical aspects required for construction but also be aware of its adverse impacts.

Archaeological resources:
Construction can have an adverse impact on important archaeological resources in the vicinity. Excavation or other potential developments could result in in-ground disturbances that may cause damage to historic structures.

Mitigation measures:
The Building Codes in the U.S. propose a monitoring program. Every engineer taking the PE exam prep course should know how to set up an effective monitoring program to detect the beginning of damage. This can allow one to alter the construction procedures used.

Natural resources:
Construction may also affect natural resources, wildlife and aquatic animals. For instance, the construction of an over-water pier involving in-water construction activities may displace several aquatic organisms. The noise generated may also disturb endangered birds and other wildlife.

Mitigation measures:
A survey must be carried out to identify important natural resources that may become affected. For the example stated above, following Best Management Practices (BMPs) can help contain turbid water and reduce the effects on aquatic resources. Noise impacts to fish, wildlife and birds can be reduced by using bubble curtains.

Air quality:
The local air quality may become affected due to emissions from the operation of construction equipment and construction vehicles. Activities such as hauling, dumping, excavation etc., may result in dust emissions that have been known to cause respiratory problems in humans.

Mitigation measures:
Setting up traffic management and air pollution control plans is a must. Dust control measures such as frequent watering of exposed areas and employing dust covers for construction trucks can be effective. Other measures such as minimizing construction vehicle trips and preventing idling of trucks or other equipment should be employed as well.

Traffic and parking
One of the most noticeable and immediate effects of construction is the disruption of traffic and parking spaces available to the public. Depending upon the project, construction may result in road closure, inconvenient traffic detours, reduced roadway capacity and traffic jams during peak hours.

Mitigation measures:
The significant impacts to traffic and parking that can be expected must be clearly understood. Measures like speeding up construction in key areas, setting arrival and departure times for construction workers before peak hours, monitoring movement of construction materials and setting up smart work zones may help. Adequate installation of traveler information systems and safe detours must also be provided to the public.

Parks and recreational space:
Increased traffic congestion, dust and noise make the project area a less than desirable location. The effect of poorly-managed construction activities on parks, open spaces etc. is so disruptive that recreation activities will be temporarily suspended.

Mitigation measures:
In order to avoid causing an inconvenience to the public, a responsible engineer preparing for the PE exam should set up specific mitigation measures. These measures could include identifying pedestrian and bicycle routes, setting up convenient detours, temporary sidewalks etc. As expressed earlier, mitigation measures to reduce noise and emissions should be set in place.

Other impacts to the elderly and disabled population, local businesses and public utility services may also be caused and need to be taken care of.

While preparing for the Professional engineering exam, knowing the potential impact construction can have on adjacent facilities can help one set up a proper mitigation plan. More insight can be gained on the issue by taking a PE review course in order to be better prepared for the PE exam.

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