Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley on Dec. 17 an-nounced that the state has reached a settlement with Powers Fasteners Inc. regarding the July 10, 2006, Interstate-90 tunnel-plenum collapse that crushed a car and killed a 38-year-old local woman, Milena Del Valle. The tunnel is part of Boston’s $14.6-billion Central Artery/Tunnel project, which was completed in 2005. The collapse of some of the new tunnel’s concrete ceiling panels has been linked to improper use of the Brewster, N.Y-based firm’s fast-set epoxy in the an-choring system. Under the agreement, Powers will stop selling the fast-set epoxy and recall all previous sales. The
President-elect Barack Obama has selected a veteran team of regulators and administrators to fill his administration’s top energy and environmental posts. Environmental and industry groups expect the team, announced on Dec. 15, to be more focused on climate change and renewable energy than the Bush administration. They believe the designees will be sympathetic to boosting funds for programs like Environmental Protection Agency water-infrastructure aid, but overall budget pressures may work against that. Photo: AP / Wideworld Veteran. Lisa Jackson to be EPA nominee. For energy secretary, Obama tapped Steven Chu, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics and heads
The U.S. Interior Dept. issued final regulations on Dec. 11 that clarify when consultations with other agencies are required under the Endangered Species Act. Interior says the change was needed to prevent lawmakers from using the law as a back door way to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. The new rules were narrower than an August proposal, which was widely criticized by environmental groups. The final version permits agencies to forgo consultation only in limited circumstances, Interior says. Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the top environment committee Republican, calls the revision “a step in the right direction.” But the National Audubon Society is
President-elect Barack Obama on Dec. 13 named New York City Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Shaun Donovan as his pick for Housing and Urban Development Secretary. Donovan was a HUD deputy assistant secretary in the Clinton administration and later a Prudential Mortgage Capital Co. managing director. HUD construction programs include Community Development Block Grants.
The Senate and House cleared a pension bill that offers temporary help for single-employer and multi-employer funds and individual retirees hurt by the financial markets’ downturn. Final action came with Senate passage on Dec.11. Multi-employer plans are important in unionized construction. The bill gives underfunded multi-employer plans 13 years, up from 10 now, to implement improvement plans. It also lets multi-employer plans elect to freeze their category—healthy, endangered or seriously endangered—for one year, which would help plans that were healthy until the markets’ plunge. “It’s a great temporary fix and ...was very much needed,” says Dana Thompson, Sheet Metal and
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced December 17 that a settlement has been reached with Powers Fasteners, Inc., Brewster, N.Y., regarding the July 10, 2006 Interstate 90 tunnel plenum collapse that killed a 38-year-old local woman, Milena Del Valle. According to the agreement Powers will stop future sales of its fast-set epoxy and recall all previous sales. The firm will also pay a $16 million settlement: $15.5 million will go to a state transportation infrastructure fund and $500,000 to the City of Boston. According to Coakley the deal closes out most civil and criminal matters resulting from the tragedy. In
Timing is everything. With the nation buzzing about the economic stimulus package—considered extremely likely to include billions of dollars for infrastructure—the American Society of Civil Engineers brought 80-plus experts together for a critical infrastructure summit. The meeting was part of ASCE’s long-range planning effort, but attendees found themselves discussing the next few months as well as the decades to come. Blaine Leonard, ASCE president-elect and research program manager of Utah Dept. of Transportation, told attendees at the Dec. 8-10, Landsdowne, Va., session that their mission was to begin to identify how organizations that work with multifunded, multijurisdictional, long-term construction and
The U.S. Dept. of Energy’s “Super Energy Savings Performance Contracts” initiative is heading overseas. The State Dept. announced on Dec. 8 that it is joining with DOE to use its ESPC delivery mechanism for energy audits and implement systems upgrades at U.S. embassies worldwide. The Super ESPC vehicle is a public-private partnership that enables companies to conduct energy assessments and carry out upgrades at federal buildings with no initial cost to the agencies. Firms get regular payments that equal savings realized from the improvements until the contract’s full value is paid back. DOE has teamed with several agencies over the
The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have issued a new guidance document that they hope will clear up some of the considerable confusion over the scope of federal wetlands jurisdiction in light of the U.S. Supreme Court 2006 Rapanos decision. The revised guidance, released on Dec. 2, replaces a July 2007 version, which critics claimed created more fuzziness than clarity in defining which wetlands are subject to Clean Water Act permitting requirements. The high court’s ruling in Rapanos v. U.S. said that although federal jurisdiction does extend beyond strictly “navigable waters,” other areas in which jurisdiction
In a move that construction-machinery dealers are hailing as a victory, Caterpillar Inc. has dropped a federal lawsuit seeking to ban nonauthorized dealers from importing foreign-made, used Cat excavators into North America. Three remaining defendants, Hoss Equipment Co., Worldwide Machinery Inc. and World Tractor and Equipment Co., settled with the Peoria, Ill.-based manufacturer this past summer, one day before it was scheduled to go to trial, sources confirm. Under terms of the settlement, dealers must now address critical safety features such as operation manuals and seat belts within 45 days after importation. Dealers say they have already been doing so.