Tag Archives: maintenance

Duluth artwork gets some TLC

A team of art conservators chip away at the damage left by years of wear and tear at Duluth’s statues and monuments.

Public sculptures in Duluth received a makeover this week from an art conservation specialist and local apprentices.

Kristin Cheronis, a caretaker of public art in Minneapolis and St. Paul, used her tools to combat and prevent weather damage as well as the man- and bird-made destruction of artwork in local parks and pavilions.

“Our goal is to keep (the sculptures) strong and meaningful and as close to the artist’s original intent as we can,” she said.

She worked on “Spirit of the Lake” in Canal Park and “Green Bear” in Lake Place Park on Monday. On Tuesday, she moved on to the “Man, Child and Gull” in Canal Park and the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial on First Street.

Cheronis studied the three bronze figures at the memorial Tuesday with her hands on her hips. They got their start in the early afternoon and planned to spend the rest of the day on the project.

Within seconds she could tell that a bird likes to sit atop Clayton’s hat and that passersby often touch the trio’s shoes, which poke out of the concrete wall where they are inset. She noted streaks of green where the protective wax had thinned. She worried that a neighboring business’s painting project might stain the work.

Cheronis, sculpture technician David Fitzgerald and Penny Perry of the Duluth Public Arts Commission first wiped down the memorial with a non-ionic soap with sponges and gloved hands. An old layer of protective wax was stripped from the sculptures with turpentine. They planned to apply a fresh layer of wax, wait for it to dry, then to buff the art.

Left untended, the pieces would corrode, Cheronis said. The sculpture needs to be addressed at least every other year, with a full service job — like they performed this week — done every five years.

“In another five years, you wouldn’t see the forms,” said Cheronis, whose background is in studio art, art history and chemistry. “It would look seedy.”

Perry served as an apprentice, learning the basics of conservation so Duluth’s 25 to 30 pieces of outdoor public art can get regular attention from a local eye.

Earlier in the day she had seen man-made and natural corrosion damage such as chunks of bubble gum, flecks of nail polish and bird excrement, and learned to spot trouble areas, like the streaks of green worn into the figures at the memorial. She saw the “before and after” of two days of work.

“Working on these gives you a new appreciation,” she said. “When I see the ‘Green Bear’ now, I’m invested in it.”

Peter Spooner of the Duluth Public Arts Commission said public art adds character, and upkeep leads to pride in an area.

“They create a sense of a cared-for space or aesthetic space that people want to develop and keep looking good,” Spooner said.

The trio of workers attracted attention in the high-traffic pavilion on East First Street and Second Avenue East. A few people thanked them for their work, and one woman volunteered to help.

Henry Banks noticed the workers when he rode past on the bus. The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial was a project he initiated in 2000 as co-chairman of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Building Committee. He said he often stops by the site and said he appreciated the fix-up.

“This is timely and important,” he said, taking photographs. “People put heart and soul into this monument for our community.”

SOURCE: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/205307/

Bridge inspection in Bristol, Massachusetts revealed ‘severe’ corrosion

Bristol, MA — The inspection that led the state to drop the Brightman Street Bridge weight limit to 3 tons noted “severe” deficiencies in multiple parts of the bridge, including some that were said to require action as soon as possible.

Five months after the inspection, the Department of Transportation hasn’t made the repairs because the bridge is expected to be replaced by late summer by the Veterans Memorial Bridge, a DOT spokesman said. The weight limit was lowered instead.

Corrosion in some locations was also so bad that parts of some beams had withered away entirely. The report, from an inspection in February, also described “wavy deformations” on some bridge supports and “severe cracking” — including some fissures longer than two feet — to some steel girders and beams.

In addition, 170 cracked steel bars were found on the bridge deck, and corrosion holes of up to 1.5 inches in steel grid primary bars, the inspection said.

The condition of multiple supports was marked “severe,” a 3 on a 0-to-9 scale, indicating deterioration, or cracking steel or concrete that made “local failures… possible.”

Brightman street bridge
Advanced deterioration throughout the length of a sidewalk stringer on the Brightman Street Bridge.

The DOT said in a statement that safety remains its highest priority.

“Mass DOT carefully monitors and inspects all bridges on a routine basis,” spokesman Michael Verseckes said. “Through a combination of strategic repairs and the reduction in the weight limit, we have taken the necessary steps to ensure the Brightman Street Bridge is safe for travel for ordinary motor vehicles as well as ambulances. We look forward to the opening of the new Veterans Memorial Bridge in the near future.”

The inspection focused on five parts of the bridge — the deck and various support beams and girders — that had also previously been noted as being in “severe” condition. The only worse conditions on the rating guide are “critical,” in which the bridge may need to be closed until repairs are made, “imminent failure,” in which the bridge is closed but could be repaired, and “failed,” when a bridge is beyond repair.

Photos included in the report show cracks to the steel bars in the middle of the bridge span, major deterioration to support beams below the sidewalk, cracked welds, and corrosion in numerous other areas.

A cover sheet to the inspection report dated May 24 suggested the weight limit for vehicles be lowered from 9 tons to 3 until the recommended repairs were made or until the bridge was taken out of service. The weight limit was reduced about a month later.

Since then, despite police presence leading to the bridge, vehicles that well exceed the limit have been seen passing over the bridge anyway, including an 18-wheeler soon after the limit was changed. Ambulances, which can weigh up to 9 tons, were allowed an exception as long as they’re driven in the middle of the two travel lanes. One beam below the bridge deck, called a stringer beam, was repaired last weekend.

The Veterans Memorial Bridge is planned to open in August or September, but no specific dates have been given.

SOURCE: http://www.heraldnews.com/archive/x1009566775/Brightman-Street-Bridge-inspection-revealed-severe-deficiencies#ixzz1Spm8Dl37

Between the lines of the Big Dig lights saga…

Sunday’s report in the Sunday Globe about the reaction – and delays thereof – within the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to a falling ceiling light in a Big Dig tunnel was eye-opening on its face.

There was the recounting of a Central Artery maintenance worker finding a 8-foot-long, 110-pound light lying on the road in the middle of I-93 North – and throwing it into the back of his pickup truck as if it were a McDonald’s bag or some other piece of meaningless trash.

There was the story of a Big Dig electrician who saw the scrapped light the next day, realized what it was and what it represented, and alerted the chain of command so inspections elsewhere could begin.

Then there was the re-creation of email traffic surrounding the discovery and inspections, and the questions about whether MassDOT reacted with appropriate haste and proper notification to the governor and the public about the unfolding problem.

But outside that main narrative, which has emerged in bits and pieces since March, there were revelations that raise leadership concerns for Governor Deval Patrick, a key Cabinet agency, and his administration more broadly.

*There are millions of gallons of seawater infiltrating the Big Dig every year.

Some of this was expected, given the thin-wall construction technique used to wedge the Central Artery tunnels into a narrow thruway, as well as their proximity to Boston Harbor and the fact they traverse backfilled areas that once were in the harbor itself.

Designers took water into account, building in drainage lines and powerful pumps to remove it.

But 2 million gallons of seawater – with all its corrosive properties – just last year from an area near the North End? And another 1.2 million gallons from an area along the Fort Point Channel? Some 400,000 gallons at Leverett Circle?

The drains and pumps were designed, in part, to remove water sprayed on the tunnel walls to remove automotive grim and winter road salt; now they are working hard not to remove road salt, but salty seawater.

*It may cost $200 million to rewire the tunnels and replace the 25,0000 lights.

For some perspective, that is roughly what Jeremy Jacobs spent building the TD Garden that sits between the Zakim Bridge, which is proving to be the Big Dig’s proudest accomplishment, and the southbound entrance to the O’Neill Tunnel, which is turning out to be one of its most embarrassing products.

Yesterday’s report showed that MassDOT leaders are already weighing tapping the more than $400 million Big Dig maintenance trust fund. It was set up in 2008 when Attorney General Martha Coakley settled with Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff for civil and criminal liabilities stemming from the 2006 tunnel ceiling panel collapse that killed Milena Del Valle, as well as to cover other defects in the project.

If that cost estimate holds, replacing the overhead lighting system could consume nearly half the trust fund – when there also appear to be serious leak issues with the tunnels themselves.

One of the central problems appears to be the designers’ decision to put dissimilar metals – the stainless steel light clips and the coated aluminum bracket to which they are affixed – in direct contact.

That decision appears to violate Engineering 101, as you can find by using the words “dissimilar metals” in a Google search.

The first response begins: “Galvanic corrosion (some times called dissimilar metal corrosion) is the process by which the materials in contact with each other oxidizes or corrodes.”

*There now is a very public breach in collegiality, and dispute over safety protocol, at the top of MassDOT. There also is the suggestion by a former top official that someone is lying in this affair.

One of the central figures in yesterday’s story and the whole issue – Helmut Ernst, the chief MassDOT engineer in the region that includes the Central Artery – revealed that Big Dig engineers have curtailed their use of written records in the aftermath of the Del Valle episode for fear they will become evidence in lawsuits.

This change in attitude comes despite state policy requiring the engineers to make written reports of potential safety problems, which will allow email and text message alerts to move up the chain of command.

The central allegation in the entire light episode is that that notification did not happen in a timely manner, and even when it finally occurred, the bad news was soft-pedaled.

Ernst also made several other statements.

The engineer said that he verbally briefed Frank Tramontozzi, who was his supervisor while the state highway administrator is on leave, and that he also briefed the highway division’s senior staff nearly three weeks later.

Tramontozzi denies any such briefing, and records kept by one attendee at the senior staff meeting do not confirm it.

Phone records obtained by the Globe also show that Tramontozzi called Ernst on Feb. 9 – the day Ernst claimed he called Tramontozzi to alert him of the light problem.

The question of who called whom, and what was discussed, is especially relevant because Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan cited Tramontozzi’s alleged delayed response in announcing March 25 that he had accepted Tramontozzi’s resignation.

Nine days earlier, Mullan had sat beside Tramontozzi at a news conference called to allay public concerns about the issue.

Elsewhere in the story, Ernst appeared to second-guess Mullan’s decision by telling the Globe that no one should have been fired for the incident, and that the episode will cause engineers to be even more wary of taking action in the future.

Should the public ask, given those self-admitted concerns, whether he should remain as engineer in the MassDOT region that includes the Big Dig – a major piece of transportation infrastructure with safety concerns?

*Mullan’s relationship with current and former key players in his Cabinet agency appears in question.

Ernst’s statements to the media, and the revelations they encompass, are good for public disclosure but arguably less-than-good for institutional cohesion.

Ernst told the Globe that engineers have curtailed putting things in writing because of litigation concerns; Mullan told the Globe that is not the case.

Boiled down, an employee and his boss are at odds over what might be considered an important safety protocol.

Mullan said in a follow-up statement yesterday: “Any inference that safety concerns in our tunnels … are neglected or not reported is false. “

Tramontozzi, meanwhile, alleges that as he departed, Mullan seemed amenable to him getting credit for 10 weeks of unused vacation time, which would allow him to qualify for a state pension. Yet when Tramontozzi left, he says a state human resources official denied him the credit, for fear that it would trigger a negative news story.

Can’t basic payroll records resolve whether the time is owed?

Meanwhile, Joe Landolfi, who oversees Mullan’s public communication on a direct assignment from the governor himself, says Tramontozzi was never told that helping him qualify for a pension would trigger “a bad news story.”

The episode prompts questions about who is telling the truth – and calling the shots – inside the MassDOT.

Those who know Mullan know his blue-collar work and management ethic.

He is a son of Worcester and a graduate of UMass-Amherst who has given up a better-paying law career for public service. If the state work doesn’t take enough time, he serves his hometown of Milton addressing zoning issues as a member of the Board of Appeals.

He walks his own dog, skips lunch to keep working, and spends dinner time returning phone calls and answering emails.

Mullan is known to study leadership, and to argue that society needs more strong leaders. He’s also known to believe that petty controversies dogging MassDOT and agencies such as the MBTA distract from the broad scope of transportation reform embraced by the governor.

That includes an accelerated bridge replacement program to reduce a dangerous backlog of work, reconfiguring Massport and the MBTA, all while overseeing consolidation of the state’s unwieldy transportation bureaucracy into a single MassDOT.

Yet the issues raised in yesterday’s story seem to push the light fixture episode more toward the serious than to the trivial.

And a even a casual reader doesn’t have to look hard to find leadership questions.

SOURCE:  http://www.boston.com/Boston/politicalintelligence/2011/07/between-the-lines-the-big-dig-lights-saga/HjaYI7gwjeW6HCr7k26FTO/index.html

Iowa bridges third-worst in the nation

At first glance, the two-lane bridge over Wapsinonoc Creek seems up-to-date. But a closer inspection reveals rusted bolts, graffiti, and crooked beams. More than 4,000 cars travel across it each day, and it has not been renovated since 1956.

The bridge, located in Muscatine County, is one of 5,000 bridges in Iowa classified as structurally deficient, giving Iowa the third-worst bridge conditions in the nation, according to a recently released report.

Although the report said bridges all over America are in a sad state of repair and getting worse, Iowa’s bridge problem stands out by several measures.

More than 40 percent of Iowa’s spans are more than 50 years old, which is the normal design life span of a bridge.

Nearly 22 percent — more than one in every five bridges — are structurally deficient, and that is almost double the national average. For comparison, the states doing the best job of keeping their bridges safe are Nevada, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Utah, where deficient bridges range from 2.2 percent to 4.5.

The report “The Fix We’re in For: The State of Our Nation’s Bridges,” was released in late March by Transportation for America, a group mainly concerned with maintaining the nation’s current infrastructure, according to spokesman David Goldberg.

The report’s findings put Pennsylvania and Oklahoma as the only states with a higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges than Iowa.

“The nation’s bridges are aging and traffic demands are increasing, even as state and local revenues are shrinking,” the report said. And the problem is likely to keep getting worse, because state-level needs have nearly doubled since 2006.

The report called on the U.S. Congress “to ensure that [federal] funds sent to states for bridge repair are used only for that purpose.”

And it warned states that deferring maintenance of bridges is not only a safety risk but a false savings. “Deferring maintenance of bridges and highways can cost three times as much as preventive repairs,” it said.

On the list of the worst 100 counties, Iowa holds 17 of the spots, more than any other state, with Adams County being the 10th-worst in the country. Almost 47 percent of Adams County’s bridges are structurally deficient. Winnebago, Davis, Lucas, and Plymouth Counties not far behind. The counties with the safest bridges are Clinton and Jackson.

“We try, as money permits, to keep improving them,” said Eldon Rike, the bridge engineer for Adams County.

Out of the 24,722 bridges that motorists use in Iowa, 5,371 of them are considered structurally deficient, according to the study, meaning engineers have rated one of the three bridge components at a 4 or less on a scale from 0 to 9, 9 being the best condition. These numbers then contribute to the overall condition of the bridge, which is on a scale from 0 to 100. This number is called the “sufficiency rating.”

“We’ve known about this for a while,” said Norm McDonald, the director of the Office of Bridges and Structures for the Iowa Department of Transportation. “We use the funding and do the best we can.”

SOURCE: http://www.dailyiowan.com/2011/06/30/Metro/23950.html

Cincinnati museum center pitches $150M bond

Money would be used 
to help repair the 
80-year-old building.

Union Terminal is literally pushing itself apart.

Officials at the Cincinnati Museum Center went before the Hamilton County Commissioners Monday to ask for a $150 million bond to be put on the November ballot to help repair the 80-year-old building.

The commissioners didn’t say “no” to passing a proposal to the levy review committee, and Cincinnati Museum Center Board Chairman Otto Budig Jr. said they were “receptive to our point of view.”

In an independent study conducted by Cole Russell Architecture and Design at the request of the museum, they found the building is showing signs of “significant accelerated deterioration” as a result of the 1931 construction of the exterior wall system.

Specifically, the lack of internal flashing to expel moisture from the wall system has led to the corrosion of the internal steel I-beams. That moisture allows for the building’s inner structure to expand and bulge, leading to cracks behind the walls of the building’s hallmark original murals. That’s only one example of structural deterioration.

The more cracks there are throughout the building’s façade, the more water moisture seeps in, leading to a further deterioration of the steel I-beams, said Cincinnati Museum Center CEO Doug McDonald.

As a result, repair costs will increase at an exponential rate, McDonald said. And as deficiencies continue they have a compounding effect over time,in causing accelerated deterioration.

McDonald said now is the best time for the $150 million bond to be put on the November ballot.

“It will cost more later if we delay the repairs,” McDonald said. “This is the most cost-effective time to do it as construction costs are lower than they have been in a few years and interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in decades.

“If we miss the opportunity of low costs, then the cost goes up significantly.”

If repairs are delayed to 2016, it will cost upward of $225 million instead, $75 million more than the projected 2011 total, and the museum center is incapable of raising those kinds of funds, McDonald said.

“The public owns the building and we can’t raise that much money,” McDonald said. “It’s not our building, we’re a tenant, and so we need the public to help us with this.”

The bond issue would cost approximately $11 per year for a resident with a $100,000 home, Budig told commissioners on Monday. If voters pass the repair work, it would bring up to 1,200 jobs to the area, McDonald said.

The deadline to put issues on the ballot is Aug. 10 and a spokesperson for Commissioner Chris Monzel said the board is still reviewing the proposal before it the would consider passing it on to county’s review committee.

Although the city, not the county, owns the building, as Monzel pointed out on Monday, McDonald said the county is responsible for repairs.

“The city owns the building, the county owns the improvements, and there is more value in the improvements than the building,” McDonald said. “If you bought a building for a $1 million and you had a partner that put in $10 million into the building, then who owns the building?

“It’s the county’s asset.”

SOURCE: http://www.middletownjournal.com/news/middletown-news/museum-center-pitches-150m-bond-1199719.html