When a commercial building is up for bids and being constructed, it is important to choose the best engineering and construction firms possible. Take the time to research and learn from civil engineering disasters of the past so they can be avoided. Choose the best companies for designing, engineering, and building the type of commercial building or project that is planned.
An Engineering Firm Can Offer Many Services for a Construction Project
To get important pre-construction information, go check out Cochran and other engineering company websites. Some of the services to look for include:
- Site selection and planning, staking out and layout, and land survey
- Development plans and property right-of-way procurement
- Grading and drainage design, parking lot plans, pavement management, stormwater management, and signage
- Utility design and implementation, shopping center site engineering, and more
When the project is in the planning stages consult with well-known engineering companies and get several job bids. Make sure each company offers the necessary services.
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Civil Engineering Disasters can Be Avoided
Disasters are defined as the failure of construction managers, engineers, planners, developers or other project leaders to account for certain risks, environmental vulnerability, or the safety, health, and welfare of the public. This also includes the failure to plan for and avoid the potential dangers of operating a site or plant on the surrounding area. From engineering and scientific standpoints disasters are failures. One failure leads to another failure in a cascading effect until a catastrophic magnitude has been reached.
These engineering failures can be caused by human error, human ignorance, lack of respect for the power of nature, or even dishonesty and the cutting of corners to save money. Some disasters are caused by miscalculations or miscommunications. Some failures are due to unforeseen environmental events.
Four Historic Engineering Failures And Lessons Learned
- One of the most glaring engineering disasters was in 1984 at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal India. A toxic cloud from the plant drifted over the town killing many people and permanently injuring thousands more. This disaster led to new thinking on plants handling of toxic waste and the need for more safety features.
- The Johnstown Flood of 1889 killed 2,209 people and was caused by the failure of the South Fork Dam unleashing approximately 20 million tons of water. The dam was poorly maintained by its owner, the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. This disaster led engineers to rethink dam design, construction and maintenance protocols.
- The New Orleans Levees failed in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina and hundreds of people died. The report afterward cited several flaws in the levees. The levees had unprotected embankments that washed away in the flooding. There were weak points where many sections met and in places the levees were built on poor foundation soil. The debate is still going on about how to build levees to account for natural disasters.
- Three mile Island in 1979 failure involving a water pump in one of the nuclear power generators. The water pump malfunctioned and left too little water flowing to the steam generator, causing the system to overheat. Some of the emergency procedures worked as intended but workers forgot to open a valve for the emergency water pump. The accident spread fear about nuclear reactors. Design and engineering plans for reactors have been closely examined and it is harder to obtain public permission to locate nuclear reactors near populated areas.
There are additional design failure examples that architecture and engineering schools use as examples to teach students how to avoid catastrophic failures in projects they will work on.