Great Engineering Incidentally Creates “Leaning Tower of Dallas”

By: Marie McCarthy

Engineers are tasked with designing structures that can stand the test of time. One of Texas engineer Thomas Taylor’s projects has not only withstood time, but also 300 pounds of dynamite, wrecking balls, wind and more. Crews tried to implode Taylor’s Southland Corporation Office Tower earlier this year. The result was a new tourist attraction in the Lone Star State: The Leaning Tower of Dallas.

A failed tear-down effort made the 11-story building tilt, a-la the Leaning Tower of Pisa. For weeks, tourists and locals alike flooded the space nearby for pictures of themselves “holding up” the structure built in the 1970’s.

Dallas’ WFAA news caught up with the building’s designer, engineer Thomas Taylor, in February. He says the building has become an inside joke in town, but he’s proud of the strong building he created. “Nobody ever told me to make it easy to demolish,” said Taylor. “That’s what we’re supposed to do, is build strong buildings.”

Crews later tried to go back to the building and knock it down with a wrecking ball, but high wind prevented a safe execution. In the meantime, workers deployed a crane to chip away at the inner core that was still standing. For weeks, WFAA and other news stations had a live camera on the building for gawkers to witness it’s slow crumbling. The building even had its own Instagram. There are more than 3,700 posts on the platform using the #LeaningTowerofDallas tag.

Finally, on March 2, 2020, demolition crews at Lloyd D. Nabors used a 5,600 pound wrecking ball to finally bring the building to its knees.


Connecticut Roundabouts Win Engineering Prize

By: Marie McCarthy

A Hartford area traffic circle is saving lives and winning prizes. The Harford Courant reports that two roundabouts in Glastonbury, CT, have won awards from the state’s chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies. The roundabouts were installed at very dangerous, busy intersections. The state had not approved traffic lights at the locations so circles were built instead. The result was better than anyone could have imagined.

The paper reports that one of the circles has reduced collisions by 30%, the other one has dropped that number by 60%. A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that traffic circles are far more efficient and safer than traffic lights and stop signs.

By the numbers, the roundabouts reduce injury crashes by 75% at places where signals or signs were previously deployed. There are typically 37% fewer collisions, 90% fewer fatal collisions, and 40% fewer pedestrian collisions.

Data from the Washington State Department of Transportation shows that roundabouts are safer for three main reasons: low travel speeds, no traffic lights and one-way travel.

Further, the report shows that traffic flows faster at traffic circles because they do not need to stop and go intermittently, but rather continue driving while yielding to other vehicles. Kansas State University researchers say roundabouts reduce delays by 20%.

In addition to being safer and more expedient, they’re also more eco-friendly. The roundabouts are frequently more space efficient and require less land use than typical intersections. Additionally, without the use of traffic lights, municipalities net huge electricity savings which can cost cities up to $10,000 a year.

Even with all these benefits, some researchers say that Americans are generally resistant or hesitant when it comes to roundabouts. In the United States, there is, on average, just one traffic circle per every 1,118 intersections. Compare that with some European countries, like Germany where there is 1 for every 313, or France, where the ratio is 1 to 45.

Some states embrace them more than others, though. Florida has more than 1,200, and states like Washington and Wisconsin each have hundreds.


Energy Efficiency in Water Supply Systems (2 PDH)

By: James Shomin

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