The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 12:20

Honolulu Rail Project Underway

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) is expected to open bidding on $1.3 billion worth of contracts for the planned Honolulu Rail Project this week. The controversial $5.2 billion project was approved by voters in 2010 and will be completed in two phases with the first phase operational in 2017 and the second in 2019. A rail system on the island of Oahu has encountered strong resistance since the idea was first proposed in the 1960s and was the main issue of the 2008 Honolulu elections, but the project is now moving forward and it has strong federal support. Those opposed to the project cite the project’s cost, potential for cost overruns, and increased traffic during the construction phase as their main concerns with building the rail system. Honolulu already has some of the worst traffic of any city in the United States, and it is expected to get worse as work begins on building the tracks.

Friday, 16 May 2014 11:39

How Big Will Godzilla Be In 2050?

Deep Sea News recently posted an article about Godzilla’s increasing size through the years. The full article can be found here.  The author of the post uses statistical analysis and some biological rules to conclude that Godzilla will be roughly 288 meters tall in the year 2050. Another blogger’s analysis from Wired led him to believe that Godzilla will be 170 meters tall in 2050. Either way, it seems that Godzilla has grown at an exceptional rate over the past 60 years since he first appeared as a 50-meter tall monster in 1954.

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Thursday, 15 May 2014 12:00

Daytona Rising Project Making Progress

Daytona International Speedway is one the most famous racetracks in the world and prides itself on offering fans one of the best race day experiences of any track in NASCAR. Each year, the 2.5-mile long superspeedway hosts the Daytona 500 in February, another NASCAR race around the 4th of July, and the Rolex 24 endurance race in January. The Daytona Rising project at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in Florida broke ground last summer. The $400 million renovation aims to upgrade the front stretch grandstand’s exterior appearance and improve fan experience on race days. The new grandstand will feature 11 football field sized “neighborhoods” that will allow fans to socialize and interact with one another during the race without missing any of the action.  DIS is working closely with design-builder Barton Mallow to ensure the three-year project runs smoothly and does not interfere with any race preparation or activities.

Last week Professor Wang Mengshu from Beijing Jiaotang University’s tunnel and underground engineering research center revealed that China is considering building a high-speed train that would travel between China and the United States. The rail line is being referred to as the China-Russia-Canada-America line. The train, averaging 350 kilometers per hour throughout the 13,000 km trip, would arrive in the United States from Beijing in less than two days. While Professor Wang Mengshu, also an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, believes the technology exists to build the world’s largest underwater tunnel necessary to complete the line, many question whether the Chinese government supports the proposal or has the funds to complete the project.

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Seattle Tunnel Partners will begin digging a 120-foot deep pit this week to reach the front side of tunnel boring machine Bertha. The machine is the world’s largest tunneling machine, and it has been stuck underneath Seattle’s downtown waterfront since December 6, 2013. Bertha was built specifically for the Washington State Department of Transportation to work on the $3.1 billion Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Tunnel project. The machine completed a little over 1,000 feet of the expected 9,000-foot tunnel before getting stuck.

Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman recently stated that the two rail tunnels under the Hudson River in New York have less than 20 years left in their life expectancy before they need to be shut down. He states that he does not know the exact amount of time Amtrak has before the century-old tunnels need to close, but it could be less than 20 years. New tunnels will take approximately 7 to 9 years to complete once the project is officially agreed upon. Boardman would like to quickly resume planning for the multi-billion dollar tunnel replacements.

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Thursday, 08 May 2014 12:37

Tilt! Set To Open to Public on Saturday

Chicago’s newest tourist attraction is set to open to the public on Saturday. Tilt! is part of the newly redesigned John Hancock observatory, referred to as 360 Chicago for its panoramic views of the city. Visitors will be able to spend 75 seconds leaning up against the 94th floor windows as they tilt outward up to a 30-degree angle. The attraction will compete with the Willis Tower’s retractable glass boxes for the most nerve wrecking view of the city. The Skydeck boxes opened in July 2009 and they allow people to walk a few feet out of the skyscraper and look directly down at the street below. Tilt! is unlike any other tourist attraction in the world as it allows people to go from standing inside the skyscraper to leaning out over the street below and back. Most other observation deck attractions around the world are stationary and usually retract only to be cleaned or during bad weather.