Sunday, November 24, 2013

Merrick announces design contract with Denver for multi-use path

Merrick & Company  has been selected to provide professional design services for a 12-foot wide hard-surface, multi-use path along the east side of Inca Street between 38th Avenue and 45th Avenue in Denver, CO and to improve the existing conditions of the 38th Avenue Underpass at Inca Street. The underpass improvements will provide safety and aesthetic enhancements at the 38th Avenue Underpass such as lighting, refurbishment of the underpass walls and railings, and sidewalk repair. The multi-use path will provide pedestrian and bicycle access to the planned commuter rail station located at 41st Avenue and Fox Street and to the Platte River Regional bike trail. The project will include close coordination with the City and County of Denver, RTD, and local and adjacent landowners.  Merrick anticipates the project will complete final design in mid 2014.  

Additionally, Merrick was recently selected by the Castlewood Water and Sanitation District to provide district engineering/program management services for the district. Other current and ongoing civil infrastructure projects for Merrick includes significant work along the Front Range.

Merrick & Company, a $116 million employee-owned firm founded in 1955, provides comprehensive civil engineering and surveying services to private and public sector clients. Merrick focuses on civil infrastructure for public works, municipal, district, federal, and private development clients, including services for street and roadway design, drainage engineering, water resources, wastewater systems, land development, and federal base infrastructure. The company maintains 16 offices in the U.S. as well as offices in Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stat-X fire suppression systems protect Eurostar trains

Eurostar trains in Europe were designed with channel tunnel safety in mind and consist of two independent half-sets, each with its own power car. In line with Eurostar policy, continuous research is carried out to establish the best means of protecting both rolling stock and passengers while at the same time complying with all current safety and environmental issues. This includes the Kyoto Protocol, which forbids the use of Halon as a fire suppression agent.

On behalf of Eurostar, and responding to the Kyoto requirement for legally binding commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gases, Brush Traction engineers researched available fire-extinguishing systems such as water mist, FM200, Novec 1230, inert gases and condensed aerosol systems as possible alternatives to the current Halon system installed. Their research concluded that the technical leader was Stat-X.  

Stat-X fire suppression systems are distributed throughout Europe by Nobel Fire Systems, a trained and certified Stat-X distributor. Over the last two years Brush, Eurostar, and Nobel have been working together to prove the effectiveness of the system to the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority (CTSA) and the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (ICG), including a series of full-scale mockup fire tests at the French fire systems approvals and testing authority CNPP based in Vernon France. On successful conclusion and with final signoff from both the CTSA and the ICG, Eurostar awarded Nobel the contract in July 2012, due for completion in 2015. Nobel has started the removal of the Halon and installation of Stat-X systems, and work on the first two of the 28 trains is now complete. 

The Stat-X system, which also includes a custom interface control panel, is designed to protect the power car, including transformer, common block, and motor block, using both localized and total flood protection methods. In the event of an onboard fire, Stat-X generators can be activated either manually or automatically via the integrated dash-mounted control panel. On activation, the generators produce an ultra fine, potassium-based aerosol.

Unlike gaseous systems, Stat-X aerosol generators are cost-effective to install and maintain as they do not require the pressure vessels, piping, or expensive installation costs associated with other extinguishing systems. Space and weight requirements are minimal and, in many applications, the compact size of the Stat-X aerosol generators makes them the only viable option. Stat-X aerosol generators are virtually maintenance free and have a shelf life of over ten years.

Stat-X fixed systems and Stat-X First Responders are automatic condensed aerosol fire suppression solutions that are eco-friendly (zero ozone depletion, zero atmospheric life, and insignificant global warming potential) and non-toxic. They save lives and protect property for facilities, machinery, vehicles, and industrial sites such as surface and underground mines, military vehicles, long-haul buses, rolling stock, remote telecom sites, wind turbines, power substations, electrical cabinets, and various marine and off-shore settings. They can be manually, thermally, or electrically activated by industry-standard control panels. Stat-X is manufactured by Fireaway, a company with production facilities in Minnetonka, Minnesota and Minden, Louisiana.  Visit for further information.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Engineering students help design award-winning WPI Sports and Recreation Center

Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) new Sports and Recreation Center has garnered accolades, with its natatorium structural design acknowledged with an award by the Precast Concrete Institute (PCI) and the U.S. Green Building Certification Institute awarding LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold certification. 

PCI named the Sports and Recreation Center its 2013 Best Higher Education Building award winner. The 145,000-square-foot Sports and Recreation Center opened last year. In addition to providing WPI students, faculty, and staff with state-of-the art sports and fitness facilities, the center provides the university space for hosting regional and national robotics competitions as well as other non-sporting events such as admissions open houses, career fairs, and national academic conferences.

Development of the new center was part of WPI's seven-year capital plan. In February 2007 the WPI Board of Trustees adopted a policy calling for all future buildings on campus to be environmentally friendly and designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification. The center is WPI’s third LEED-certified building, after the Bartlett Center—home to the Admissions Office and the first LEED-certified building in Worcester—and East Hall, a residence hall built in 2008 that boasts Worcester’s first living green roof and that received LEED Gold certification. 

Sustainability is a major focus for the university. Faculty members have incorporated sustainability into many student projects and focused on various aspects of sustainability around the world. In the year 2012 alone, some 51 energy-related projects were completed at WPI. Topics of these projects range from those with a social focus to highly technical investigations. Other recent highlights include the Solar Decathlon China 2013 and the Electric Power Industry Symposium.  

During the construction of this the center, WPI also capitalized on the opportunity to provide teaching and learning opportunities for engineering faculty and students. Civil and mechanical engineering students worked with the architects Cannon Design of Boston and the construction managers, Gilbane Building Co. of Providence, to enhance 3D building information modeling (BIM) software, creating a system that integrates all design and construction data. The enhanced system enabled the designers and builders to make changes in HVAC plans and increase the height in the new robotics area, greatly improving its effectiveness and value.

A major feature of the Sports and Recreation Center is the precast concrete natatorium structure housing a 25-meter competition swimming pool with spectator seating. The structure features five-piece precast concrete components spanning 110 feet across the pool. The five pieces include two column pieces, two corner pieces, and one center beam piece.  Precast concrete double-tees span between the bents and support the four-court gymnasium above. The steel-frame structure of the third-floor gymnasium is supported on the precast concrete natatorium structure. The natatorium structure is also integrated into other surrounding steel structures.