Latest News

Ward 7 Slated for New General Services Headquarters

Date: June 7, 2021

Funding to the tune of $105 million has been secured to construct new headquarters for DC’s Department of General Services in Ward 7’s Minnesota/Benning submarket. The property, called Northeast Heights, will house the government agency, which has more than 700 skilled employees. The agency will lease the entire office component of the building. The six-story building will include 18,000 square feet of street-level retail, the Commerical Observer reports. Mayor Bowser has been leading an effort to develop all eight wards of the city to increase equity and opportunity.


Northeast Boundary Tunnel Project Addresses Flooding

Date: June 7, 2021

Excavation of the $580 million Northeast Boundary Tunnel has been completed. The project, which used an Earth Pressure Balance Tunnel Boring Machine, completed the combined sewer outflow tunnel that is meant to improve the water quality of the Anacostia. About 27,700 feet of tunnel were excavated and 4,442 rings installed, according to Construction Equipment Guide. The final project will increase the capacity of the sewer system to help manage flooding caused by rain, a longtime problem in DC.

For Purple Line PE, Progress is Paramount

Date: May 14, 2021

Matthew Pollack, P.E., of the Maryland Transit Administration, “took over the Purple Line project just before it became a 16-mile swath of mostly abandoned construction sites across the Washington suburbs,” reports the Washington Post. Now he’s responsible for getting it done.

In an interview with the Post, Pollack described himself as “a public transit fan or rail nut, or whatever you’d want to call me.” Why did he want to oversee the project even though it was over budget and behind schedule? “Part of it is I’ve worked on enough projects that I know there’s no such thing as a perfect project. What might seem like a dire situation to the public is really just a project that needs a different way forward….”


Governors and Mayor Request Additional Funding for Bay

Date: May 14, 2021

Governors from Chesapeake Bay watershed states, plus DC mayor Muriel Bowser, are urging Congress to spend an additional billion dollars on Bay restoration efforts, according to the Bay Journal. In an announcement on Twitter, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said, “Our Billion for the Bay Initiative will create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and protect the health of America’s largest estuary.”

The letter said the additional money would provide a “significant and much needed infusion of new funds that will jumpstart the final phase of Bay restoration and put people to work building clean water infrastructure, including green infrastructure that will reduce stormwater and agricultural water pollution, the restoration of natural landscapes, and helping us adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

The region faces a 2025 deadline to implement all pollution control measures needed to clean up the Bay.


DC Locally Made Grant Invests in Manufacturing

Date: May 14, 2021

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s DC Locally Made Manufacturing Grant has invested $1 million in local businesses that are located in a Great Streets corridor and engage in light manufacturing with funding for capital or tenant improvements of commercial property with a designated industrial use. This grant incentivizes the Great Streets initiative to bolster manufacturing, grow the District’s local business economy, and strengthen supply chains within the city.


National Building Museum Reopens

Date: May 14, 2021

The National Building Museum has reopened after being closed since December 2019 for renovations and due to the pandemic. The only US institution dedicated to the built environment, the 41-year-old museum’s current exhibits focus on a nonprofit architecture firm working to address public health and personal well-being, the Gun Violence Memorial Project, and architectural photography.

Upstart Launches Electric Moped Line in DC

Date: April 16, 2021

Micromobility company Lime has launched an initial fleet of 100 shareable mopeds in Washington, D.C., and plans to eventually deploy 600 total. The mopeds can reach up to 28 miles per hour and can travel 87 miles on a single charge, with each vehicle containing two helmets, for a driver and a passenger, according to utilitydive.com. Riders can locate and reserve the mopeds using a mobile app. Lime expects to launch similar fleets in other international cities, starting with Paris.

In January, the National Academies issued a report saying that if shared modes of transportation such as mopeds and scooters can improve sustainability and equity in major metropolitan areas, then they should be explored. The report highlights some significant barriers to achieving increasingly integrated transportation services, and advises all entities involved should pilot test, evaluate, and share best practices.


City Considers Soundproofing Requirements for New Residential Construction

Date: April 16, 2021

DC lawmakers are considering a bill to require soundproofing for newly built residences near areas with concentrated nightlife and entertainment or music venues. The Harmonious Living Amendment Act of 2021 was introduced in April in response to complaints from residents living near outdoor performance spots, particularly in gentrifying neighborhoods.

The act would create a grant program for soundproofing entertainment venues, as well as a property tax deduction for soundproofing buildings. It also requires the mayor to publish a report on strategies to accommodate outdoor performances, with a focus on physical improvements like streetscape design, building code revisions, band shells, or other design standards to contain sound.

Geotechnical Challenges on Wharf Redevelopment Project

Date: March 11, 2021

In 2020, significant work was completed on the second phase of the Wharf redevelopment project. One aspect of the project, the foundational work, was carried out by the geotechnical firm Keller, included site dewatering and treatment of contaminated groundwater, in addition to jet grouting, tiebacks and piling, according to GeoEngineer.org. Dewatering the site and treating the contaminated groundwater were complex undertakings. After water authorities denied Keller’s request to discharge all of the site water into the combined sewer system, the water had to be discharged into the storm-water system that empties into the Washington Channel. But this required treatment beforehand to remove contaminants such as iron, arsenic and pesticides.

The biggest challenge: severely high levels of naturally occurring iron that precipitates out of the groundwater and rapidly builds up in pipes, pumps, and drainage structures. To keep the iron in solution and preventing it from plugging the filter beds of the treatment system, a chemical iron sequestering agent was injected into the pumping system.


Air Particulate Matter from Metro Found To Be at Risky Levels

Date: March 11, 2021

A study on air pollution in and around the major subway systems in the US, including Washington’s Metrorail, has found air particulate matter at potentially dangerous levels. The air pollution included carbon, iron, and silicon, which is flung up by train brakes and created by the friction between the train wheels and rails, according to the study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Other trace elements were also found, such as sodium, copper, and zinc at the Capital South Metro station. This raises concern for passengers exposed to the particulate while waiting for trains and more so for Metro employees who breathe the air throughout their shifts.

Metro Commission Says Current Structures and Procedures May Be Unsafe

Date: February 11, 2021

Ten Metrorail bridges may be unable to withstand an earthquake, according to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. The commission is calling for changes to procedures within WMATA as well as structure modifications to keep customers safe, according to WUSA 9. The recommendations outlined by WMSC, an independent oversight organization, were part of a safety audit of WMATA’s inspection, maintenance, and repair procedures for elevated structures.


Norton Returning as Subcommittee Chair for Transit, Development, Water

Date: February 11, 2021

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) was elected by her fellow Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to return as the chair of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee. Norton has focused her congressional committee work on transportation and infrastructure, most recently as a primary architect of the Moving Forward Act, which provides major funding for highways, bridges, transit, and rail. The subcommittee’s jurisdiction over transit, including WMATA rail and bus systems, is of particular importance to the District and the national capital region.

In addition, Norton will serve on three other subcommittees that she sought because of their strong impact on the District: Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management; Aviation; and Water Resources and Environment.


DC Joins Transportation and Climate Initiative

Date: February 11, 2021

In December, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the District became the first jurisdictions to formally join the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which focuses on infrastructure that promotes bicycling and walking. The initiative could save millions of lives and billions of dollars across 12 northeastern states and DC, according a study published in the Journal of Urban Health. The partnership, still under development, would implement a cap-and-invest program to reduce transportation-sector emissions across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, including substantial investment in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure as well as other sustainable transportation strategies like electric vehicle charging and public transit.

Critics of the initiative cite expected gas price increases as one problem with the plan. Additionally, there is some controversy about whether there will be enough oversight to ensure that transportation accessibility and cleaner air will be brought to the impoverished communities that need it most. Also, many environmental groups are skeptical about the effectiveness of cap-and-trade systems, Greater Washington reports.

DC MATHCOUNTS News

Date: January 27, 2021

With the emergence of the COVID pandemic, MATHCOUNTS announced that for this year’s competitions there will be four levels (Chapter, Chapter Competition, State, and National); all conducted online.

This year 15 DC middle schools have registered 152 students to compete in DC MATHCOUNTS Chapter, Chapter Competition, State level competitions. All of these students are eligible to compete at the Chapter level competition on February 5-6.

Based on the scores from the Chapter level competition, students invited to compete at the Chapter Invitational on February 25 will include the top 20% plus the top scoring student from each school. Somewhere between 30 and 44 students will be eligible to compete at this level.

As for the State competition, which will take place on March 25, the 15 top scoring students from the Chapter Invitational will be invited to compete. The four students with the highest scores will represent DC at the National competition on May 8-11. Further information about DC MATHCOUNTS can be found on the DC MATHCOUNTS’ Facebook page.


DC Utilities Launch Website Aimed at Helping Customers with Energy Bills

Date: January 27, 2021

Four District agencies charged with serving DC utility consumers have unveiled the website here2helpdc.dc.gov, which is designed to inform residents and businesses about energy and money-saving initiatives to help them minimize the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The website is a part of #Here2HelpDC, a public awareness campaign launched in June by the Department of Energy & Environment, the DC Public Service Commission, the DC Sustainable Energy Utility, and the Office of the People’s Counsel for the District of Columbia. On the website, the agencies provide tips and tools to help consumers conserve energy and water resources, reduce billing costs, and use relief and payment programs.


Washington Gas Fined for 2016 Apartment Explosion

Date: January 27, 2021

Washington Gas was fined $750,000 for 2016 Silver Spring Apartment Explosion for failing to inform the Public Service Commission that it had not replaced all its mercury regulators as promised. The regulators were found by the National Transportation Safety Board to be the likely cause of the explosion, which caused seven deaths and 65 injuries. The company was also required to provide a list of all residents who likely still have the old regulators within 30 days.


Experiment To Test Effectiveness of Spending Warnings by Text

Date: January 27, 2021

Mayor Bowser launched a pilot program that will use data from traffic cameras around the city to randomly send text messages to drivers with a history of speeding, warning them they may be in danger of getting in an accident. The experiment will test whether messaging can change driver behavior to make roads safer, according to WTOP. A 2015 report from the Journal of Traffic and Engineering found that drivers with multiple traffic violations are more likely to be involved in crashes.

Metro Budget Cuts Loom

Date: December 16, 2020

In light of drastically reduced ridership during the pandemic, Metro is moving closer to severe cuts in transit service that include eliminating weekend service and closing a number of stations. According to a Washington Post article, there will be "a public comment period during three to four weeks beginning in mid-January." Metro's challenge is consistent with the revenue shortfalls experienced by transit agencies across the country, with coastal cities experiencing a more pronounced effect.


Manufacturing Jobs Disappearing in the District

Date: December 16, 2020

The Federal Reserve reported that only 1.7% of all jobs in the District are in the manufacturing sector. Out of all major U.S. metro areas, D.C. reports the smallest share of employment in manufacturing. Today, there are 30% less manufacturing jobs in the metro area than in 1999. This represents a wider nationwide trend.


Free Webinar—Engineering Ethics

Date: November 18, 2020

On November 13, NSPE-DC President Dan Hanlon, P.E., F.NSPE and NSPE Treasurer and Chair of the Board of Ethical Review Susan Sprague, P.E., F.NSPE served as presenters during the webinar Engineering Ethics: The Basics.

In this webinar, Hanlon and Sprague explore the ethics—specifically the NSPE Code of Ethics—that are at the heart of the engineering profession and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Engineers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia can access this webinar at no cost. Other members can access this and other webinars for $99 ($129 for nonmembers) through NSPE’s PE Institute.


Bus Garage Replacement Project Raises Community Concerns

Date: November 18, 2020

Metro is rebuilding its Northern Bus Garage to again hold 150 buses, but area neighbors in DC want WMATA to use electric buses to reduce noise and air pollution, the DCist reports.

Under the plan, the 100-year-old garage will be demolished and a new one reconstructed in its place starting in 2022. Metro intends for the garage to be LEED-certified and able to hold 150 “clean diesel” and hybrid-electric buses. WMATA, however, will not have 150 electric buses by the time the garage is completed. Currently, the agency runs a combination of diesel, compressed natural gas, and hybrid buses.


Systems Engineering a Highly Paid Field in the District

Date: November 18, 2020

A ClearanceJobs report on the job market in D.C. lists systems engineering as one of the top five highest paid jobs in the District, with an average salary of $130,250. Industries in this category included aerospace, avionics, geospatial, modeling, simulations, and management. At the same time, the report says, workers with government clearance in D.C. are more likely to fall into the Government/Military and Business/Finance job categories than IT and Engineering.

Capitol Crossing Project Among Mid-Atlantic’s Best

Date: October 28, 2020

Engineering News-Record has named Capitol Crossing as the Best Project in the highway/bridge category for the Mid-Atlantic. The $263.3-million, five-year project involved construction of a seven-acre platform above I-395. Now the three-block section has infrastructure to support up to 2.2 million sq ft of commercial, retail and public open space.

“Developers are losing available space in D.C., which is already limited vertically,” says Alan Le, project manager at Balfour Beatty, referring to the city’s 130-ft height limit for buildings. “They have to be innovative in terms of creating space. When the [Capitol Crossing] concept came out to build over an active highway, it was the first project of this type to be built in the city.”


Geography of Environmental Toxins in the District

Date: October 28, 2020

A survey of the District of Columbia’s environmental toxins including soil contaminants, air pollution, and water pollution found that people living in Wards 5, 6, and 7 are exposed to more toxins than other District residents, according to the D.C. Policy Center.

These are some of the lowest income areas of Washington. Recent studies have found a 7% increase in incidents of cancer within counties with high environmental toxins. In addition, pollutants in the environment have a negative impact on quality of life, in large part because of health impacts.


COVID-19 Pandemic’s Dramatic Impact on Transit

Date: October 28, 2020

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington, DC, has seen a 66% reduction of ridership on Metrobus and 90% reduction on Metrorail, according to the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board (TRB).

The TRB executive director said civil engineers and other professionals will need to rethink how transportation will look in the future. Factors that should be considered include public perception of safety, equity issues, and possible long-term teleworking arrangements for many workers. Transit appears to have been the form of transportation most affected by the pandemic.


Are You the Next Federal Engineer of the Year?

Date: October 28, 2020

Honoring the commitment of federal engineers to innovation and service is the hallmark of the Federal Engineer of the Year Award. Nominations for the award, which attracts participation from more than a dozen federal agencies, are open until October 31.

The FEYA ceremony is scheduled for February 18, 2021, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Tickets will be available for sale in January and sponsorship opportunities are available.


DCSPE Annual Banquet

Date: June 8, 2019

On June 8, the DCSPE and MDSPE-Potomac Chapter hosted an evening to celebrate the engineering profession, install 2019- 2020 officers, and support DCSPE programs and scholarship fund during their Annual Banquet at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Washington, DC.

During the banquet, they also presented the Project of the Year to the SmithGroup for their collaboration with a design-build partner to designing a world-class headquarters for DC Water.

DCSPE Annual Banquet 2019

LEFT: DAN HANLON, P.E., F.NSPE
CENTER: DON POSSON, VICE PRESIDENT, CORPORATE DIRECTOR FOR THE SMITH GROUP
DATE OF PICTURE: JUNE 8, 2019

2019 DCSPE BANQUETDCSPE 2019 ANNUAL BANQUET
2019 DCSPE BANQUETDCSPE 2019 ANNUAL BANQUET

A Celebration of the Profession

DCSPE and the Maryland Society of Professional Engineers—Potomac Chapter invite you to attend the 2019 Annual Banquet to celebrate the profession and help to usher in new leadership on June 8, 2019.

The event will take place at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Washington, DC. Reservations are open until May 31 ($65 per person).

All proceeds from the event will support the DCSPE/MDSPE Scholarship Fund.

> Learn more about the 2019 Annual Banquet and sponsorship opportunities.

2018 Project of the Year Award

Dan Hanlon, P.E., F.NSPE and DCSPE Board Member presents the DCSPE 2018 Project of the Year Award to Madison Marquette for their Wharf Project located at the Southwest Waterfront in DC.

2018 Project of the YearLEFT: DANIEL MCCAHAN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DEVELOPMENT, MADISON MARQUETTE
CENTER: DAN HANLON, P.E., F.NSPE
RIGHT: DAVID PATALITA, DIRECTOR OF CONSTRUCTION, MADISON MARQUETTE
DATE OF PICTURE: DECEMBER 12, 2018

DC Society at the 2018 PE Conference

From July 18–22 in Las Vegas, at Caesars Palace, NSPE members enjoyed an exciting week full of exceptional education programs, speakers, and great networking.

Dan Hanlon, P.E., F.NSPEDAN HANLON, P.E., F.NSPE, DC REPRESENTATIVE AT #PECON18

#PECON18 House of Delegates, InstallationHOUSE OF DELEGATES, INSTALLATION

IMAGES COURTESY OF NSPE AND CHRISTIE'S PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIOS

Save the date to join us in Kansas City for the 2019 Professional Engineers Conference July 17-21, 2019!

DCSPE Board Meeting

The DCSPE Board of Directors generally meet at 12 PM (Noon) on the first Friday of each month. Board Meetings are held at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering Conference Room (Suite 212M) located in Building 42 of the UDC campus at 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. The meeting location is Metro accessible via the Van-Ness/UDC station on the red line. For more information, please contact Pradeep Behera.

News for the DC Society Community, a new monthly e-newsletter

This newsletter is available to DCSPE members, the kind of information you receive as a benefit of your membership.