Owners Must Demand Quality

Congratulations to william h. Lewis for holding the construction industry to a higher standard. I was surprised at the slant of your article, "South Carolina School District ‘Grades’ Bidders–and Some Fail," which seems to favor the contractors who do not seem to be able to rise to the quality level demanded (ENR 12/16/02 p. 32). I have only to look to the school construction in my hometown to see how inexperienced contractors working with poor plans cost the homeowner more and more. I have only to turn the pages of the same issue of ENR to see how the lack of controls led Los Angeles to its situation with the Belmont Learning Center.

Thirty years of construction inspection have taught me that you get only the quality you demand. It is about time that the owner’s side takes the steps necessary to employ qualified construction managers that can exert some control on the projects that cost us so much. The end result will be a more qualified industry that will get respect instead of suspicion. Keep up the good work Mr. Lewis.

Mahopac, N.Y.
Immersed Tube History

Immersed Tube History

A minor note to your excellent article, "Boston Unveils $6.5-Billion Section of Central Artery Job" (ENR 1/20 p. 16): While Fort Point Channel Tunnel is certainly the first modern concrete immersed tube highway tunnel in the U.S., it is by no means the first. That honor goes to the 1928 Posey Tunnel in Alameda County, Calif., which had 12 203-ft-long concrete tube sections.

A predecessor, which utilized prefabricated steel and concrete sections, was the 1914 subway tunnel under the Harlem River. This tunnel had two sections, 200 and 260 ft long. All were preceded by what may have been the first immersed tube tunnel, in 1811, a 9-ft-dia, experimental brick tunnel under the Thames River.

New York, N.Y.

Breakaway Bolts

Your article "inventor of support Bolt Seeks Support from Federal Agency" should have been titled, "If You Can’t Make It on Your Own, Ask Uncle Sam to Help" (ENR 12/23/02 p. 15). The federal Highway Administration has the responsibility to review and approve for use all safety devices. The approval is strictly for the safety aspect, which is tested under the NCHRP 350 test protocols. The approval letter states this fact and leaves it up to individual states to review the structural adequacy of the device for use in its state. Evidently the states have not seen fit to approve the Dent Bolt.

Transpo’s Break-Safe omni-directional breakaway support system for sign posts was developed by structural engineers to not only meet but to exceed the safety requirements and also to be able to withstand 100-mph winds on huge signs. Perhaps that’s why this system has been in use for over 17 years and approved for use in 28 states.

He is right about one thing. Omni-directional breakaway supports do save lives. In thousands of impacts with our breakaway systems for signs and light poles over the last 17 years, there has not been a fatality attributed to our breakaway supports.

Chairman, CEO
Transpo Industries Inc.
New Rochelle, N.Y.


Parson Brinckerhoff’s role on Houston’s Katy Freeway reconstruction project was incorrectly described in a recent article (ENR 2/10 p. 13). PB is general engineering consultant for Texas Dept. of Transportation, managing 10 consultants.