Category Archives: Engineering
Not exactly recent news, but exciting none the less. As an avid OS X user and fan of all Apple products, I’m very excited to see AutoCAD coming back to Mac. While a lot of designers can find their software made for Mac OS X, most engineering software is very hard to come by outside of Windows. Has anyone tested it out yet? I’m eager to hear of its intuitiveness. Along side the software, Autodesk is releasing a free mobile app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Now we just need TransCAD on here and we’ll be all set. I’ll start holding my breath.
The following is an email I sent to Wake County Representatives, concerning the issue of legislation-run engineering. If you can, write something similar RIGHT NOW to your representatives. A list of NC Representatives can be found here. Here is a list of NC Senators.
From: Mike Roselli
To: Jennifer.Weiss@ncleg.net, Paul.Stam@ncleg.net, Deborah.Ross@ncleg.net, Tom.Murry@ncleg.net, Grier.Martin@ncleg.net, Darren.Jackson@ncleg.net, Rosa.Gill@ncleg.net, Nelson.Dollar@ncleg.net, Marilyn.Avila@ncleg.net, Richard.Stevens@ncleg.net, Josh.Stein@ncleg.net, Neal.Hunt@ncleg.net, Dan.Blue@ncleg.net
Senators and Representatives,
I live in Wake County and I work in the engineering field. I’ve been made aware of H561, a bill to supersede engineering safety design decisions made by engineers at NCDOT. I urge you to NOT back this bill. It is not based on facts, research, or scientific credibility, but on fears of change. It has been well established in the engineering community that highway medians substantially increase driver safety and save many lives every year without impacting local businesses.
A research paper on this topic can be found here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/sites/drupalblogs.newsobserver.com/files/docs/ncsu2009-12FinalReport.pdf
Over 30,000 people will die this year in the U.S. from motor vehicle collisions. We cannot set a precedence of State legislature overseeing every engineering decision made in the name of public safety. Do we remove stop signs when businesses ask? Do we remove bridge supports when someone finds them unappealing? That is, in essence, what some are suggesting: taking the complaints of the uneducated few and using these complaints to stifle progress in public safety and safety awareness at the cost of human lives.
I have a write up on my website with more details.
Thanks for everything you do,
Wake Co Resident
1. Source: List of Motor Vehicle Deaths by Year
Mike Roselli is a graduate of the NC State Civil Engineering Department. This writing reflects the views, opinions, and judgement of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or judgement of NC State University or NCDOT.
From: Mike Roselli To: Stephen.LaRoque@ncleg.net Sent: 5/11/2011 12:42pm
Dear Representative LaRoque,
I work for NCDOT and I have studied Highway Safety at NC State. Not only do I find Bill 561 a despicable act of politics, but I find it offensive for you to imply that you know more about the engineering of highways than the engineers at NCDOT. I urge you to reconsider your endorsement of this bill and read the facts. Here is a fantastic report on how medians do NOT affect local businesses, studied by researchers at NC State and UNC:
It will be a sad day when State engineers, who work tirelessly to provide life-saving solutions for collision problems, have to report to the state legislature about every median, stop sign, or other collision-reducing counter measure they want to install.
Today, the News and Observer reports that the State Senate will be voting on House Bill 561, to require NCDOT to remove a half mile of center median installed on new projects in Asheville, NC, “at a cost estimated by NCDOT at $797,500”, and to give the State legislature power over road design for other projects.
Other than ripping up a nearly completed project to nullify the design, the legislation would force DOT to change widening plans and forget other median installations planned on other routes. The fact that politicians, who know next to nothing about road design, can be influenced by their constituents to change engineered designs is unfathomably horrific.
Restricting left turns is good for safety. Median installations that require drivers to plan their left turns and u-turns at a limited number of intersections increase road safety by decreasing all sorts of collisions and allowing traffic to flow more smoothly. The decisions made in these designs were based on safety.
So who has a problem with this? Well, access restriction is seen by many locals as harmful to businesses, despite some studies showing evidence to the contrary. The latest is by a research team here at NC State and UNC, titled “Economic Effects of Access Management Techniques in North Carolina”. I’ve attached the study and you can download it here.
The study confirms that little to no evidence of economic problems was found after the installation of turn-restricting medians.
Additionally, it’s important to note that drivers are more aware of road safety than they think. And in fact, some drivers may be more inclined to use your business if they feel safer about entering and exiting the access to it. The Federal Highway Administration has a great write up on safe access and what it means for businesses. I’ve attached it and you can read it here.
Indeed, with enough fussing to the legislator whose campaign you backed, it seems businesses may be able to “buy” the road design they want for their businesses, regardless of safety concerns. Even in the face of state budgetary concerns, it doesn’t seem to bother Rep. Stephen A. LaRoque to use another million dollars to remove a brand new installation developed in the interest of public safety. What exactly seems to be going through his mind? This:
“The legislature should have the final say on projects like this before they go through.” -Rep. Stephen A. LaRoque
This is a problem. It is a sad day when engineers who make sound decisions based on data can have their life-saving designs overseen and rejected by
bought elected officials in the name of cheap tricks and politics.
Bottom line? Let engineers do their jobs. And write your representatives an email and tell them. I did.
Source: News & Observer
It seems the Senate has delayed voting on this issue for now. I’ll be posting more on this as it develops.