GHA Summer Internship Program 2024: Embracing the Future of Engineering

GHA Summer Internship Program 2024: Embracing the Future of Engineering

 

Since its inception in 1985, Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA)'s Summer Internship Program has been instrumental in developing future professionals across various disciplines. This summer, GHA welcomes its biggest intern class yet – 15 enthusiastic individuals eager to delve into the full spectrum of GHA's offerings. This includes various aspects of civil engineering, construction & surveying, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), human resources, and marketing. The program provides a comprehensive experience, exposing interns to the diverse range of expertise that contributes to GHA's success.

Orientation and Onboarding

The 2024 GHA Summer Internship Program officially launched this week with orientation and onboarding activities. Art Penn, P.E., President/C.O.O., kicked off the program with introductions, sharing his extensive company history and highlighting the diverse career paths available at GHA. He emphasized that the goal of the program is to provide experience outside of the classroom. "Be curious, ask questions, try to learn and engage as much as possible," Art advised the new interns.

Anika Moore, MAIO, C.P.O., followed with a discussion on the high value GHA places on the internship program, noting how many current employees started as interns. She emphasized the program's value and shared her advice with the new interns: "Ask questions. We're here to help teach and support you every step of the way. Don't be afraid to seek guidance. Get as much experience as possible and take advantage of every opportunity to learn."

The first day’s activities included a thrilling Lego-building competition. Divided into three teams, the interns were each given a Lego set and challenged to construct it as quickly as possible. The competitive spirit filled the air as teams scrambled to sort bricks, delegate tasks, and work together to bring their Lego creations to life. This exercise added a fun twist to the onboarding process while also helping the interns bond over a shared challenge and develop essential teamwork skills under pressure. "The Lego challenge was the perfect icebreaker," said Caylie Chattin, an intern from Illinois State University in the Marketing Department. "It taught us the importance of clear communication and teamwork, which are crucial in engineering projects."

Comprehensive Training

As part of their first-week orientation, the interns participate in classes that offer a comprehensive introduction to the world of civil engineering. These include:

  • CAD Class: The CAD class focuses on GHA's CAD standards and the importance of proper layer management for efficient project workflow AutoCAD and Civil 3D. Interns learn to create precise engineering drawings, understand the fundamentals of layers and properties, and explore various drafting platforms such as MicroStation. The course covers commands like Scale, Mirror, and Join, providing a strong foundation in both 2D and 3D drafting techniques.
  • Survey Class: The Survey Class offers insights into fundamental surveying techniques. Interns learn about various survey equipment and receive practical training on how to use these tools in the field. This hands-on experience includes understanding how to set up and operate equipment, as well as learning to collect and analyze survey data accurately.
  • Construction Engineering Class: The Construction Engineering class introduces interns to the principles of construction management and field operations. Interns receive training on the various equipment they will see and its applications, learn about utility installation for water mains and sewers, and explore excavation, grading, and subgrade preparation. The course also covers aggregate subbase materials, concrete mix designs, and paving techniques. Additionally, interns gain practical knowledge in hot-mix asphalt, milling, resurfacing, and survey techniques essential for successful construction projects.
  • SESC & EOPC Class: The SESC & EOPC class focuses on soil erosion and sediment control, providing an overview of erosion processes and mandated improvements. Interns learn about best management practices, the engineer’s opinion of probable cost (EOPC), and the importance of accurate cost estimation. The course includes practical exercises such as determining line items, calculating quantities for hot-mix asphalt and trench backfill, and preparing EOPC utilizing provided unit prices. This comprehensive training ensures interns understand the critical aspects of erosion control and cost estimation in civil engineering projects.
  • GIS Class: The GIS class provides an overview of the Geospatial Division, including field data collection, in-house data processing, and municipal data management. Interns learn about the applications of geographic information systems, such as high-accuracy data collection using drones and Trimble devices, and data integration with ArcGIS. The course also covers client GIS data services and customized web maps, equipping interns with valuable skills in GIS technology and its practical uses in engineering.

These core classes provide interns with a well-rounded foundation in both the technical and practical aspects of civil engineering. "The classes were incredibly insightful," shared Tyler Staples, a Civil Engineering Major at Marquette University. "They’ve given me a deeper understanding of the various aspects of civil engineering and how they all interconnect."

Success Stories

The Summer Internship Program's success is reflected in the stories of former interns who have transitioned to full-time roles at GHA. Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM now the Director of the Site Design Division shared, "The internship program at GHA was a pivotal moment in my career. The hands-on experience and mentorship I received prepared me for my current role and beyond." Similarly, Carissa Smith, P.E. a Project Manager in the Municipal Services Division, remarked, "Participating in the internship gave me a deep understanding of the various facets of civil engineering. It was instrumental in my decision to join GHA full-time."

Don Matthews, P.E., CFM, Vice President/Principal, who was the program’s second intern in 1986, emphasized the program's value: "The GHA internship program has been a vital part of our firm’s success, providing technical skills and practical experience. I’ve seen countless interns grow into skilled professionals. With the 40th anniversary of the program on the horizon, it's incredible to reflect on the impact it's had on so many young engineers.”

Real-World Experience

Throughout the summer, the interns will engage in real-world projects, working alongside GHA professionals to gain firsthand experience in problem-solving and project management. This practical exposure is strengthened by site visits, where interns can observe ongoing projects and see the application of engineering principles in real-world scenarios.

At the end of the program, interns will share their experiences and learnings with GHA staff and colleagues, showcasing the projects they worked on throughout the internship. This opportunity highlights their achievements while providing them with valuable experience in public speaking and professional communication. Last year’s presentations offered a glimpse into the diverse experiences of the interns, from using survey equipment for the first time to working with advanced engineering software. "Presenting my summer project was both challenging and rewarding," recalled Kevin Dumiter, a returning intern in the Site Design and Water Resources Division. "It was a great way to reflect on what I learned and to share my journey with others."

Continued Commitment

As the program unfolds, the interns will have the opportunity to experience projects and activities that challenge and inspire them. GHA's Summer Internship Program is more than just an introduction to civil engineering; it's an opportunity to develop practical skills, build professional relationships, and explore the multifaceted nature of our field. With the program's continued growth, GHA remains committed to providing interns with the chance to make a real impact through real-world experience.


GHA Connections: Shawn Hurtig - QA/QC On The Watch

GHA Connections: Shawn Hurtig

 

Shawn Hurtig standing in front of engineering drawings and a sports field - examples of QA/QC work.

During a complex engineering project, a seemingly minor detail, if overlooked, has the potential to greatly impact project success. Thankfully, Shawn Hurtig, the Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) Manager at Gewalt Hamilton Associates Inc. (GHA), possesses a keen eye for detail honed through years of diverse experience. With his comprehensive understanding of quality management system practices, Shawn is instrumental in ensuring GHA's projects are successful, lasting, and meaningful.

A Self-Starter’s Path to QA/QC

Shawn's educational background in building and construction management laid a solid foundation for his multifaceted career.  As a project manager for the Village of Algonquin, IL, Shawn's responsibilities were extensive, ranging from leading an ambitious five-year, $80 million Capital Improvement Plan to playing a key role in developing a comprehensive Geospatial Information System (GIS) program for the Village. His ability to adapt and excel in diverse areas, from large-scale construction projects to technology implementation, exemplifies his well-rounded skillset. Such a wide range of expertise made him an ideal fit for GHA.

Initially starting in GHA's Municipal Services Division, Shawn made contributions to improving project workflows, efficiency, and overall organization through the development of innovative programs. This introduced a new level of quality, seamlessly aligning with the division's goals. Always eager to expand his skillset and tackle new challenges, Shawn sought an opportunity to broaden his experience within GHA and jumped at the opportunity to work with the Construction and Survey Division.  Shawn's time in Construction and Survey sharpened his focus on proactive problem-solving. He shared, "I've always believed in anticipating challenges and devising solutions that elevate our standards." This philosophy positioned him perfectly to be GHA’s QA/QC Manager.

This move was not just a step in a new direction but a leap toward fulfilling his ambition to drive substantial change within the industry. “Choosing the QA/QC Manager role was a natural progression for me,” Shawn says, reflecting on his decision. “It’s here that I saw an opportunity to create real change, to improve processes and outcomes for all stakeholders.” In this capacity, Shawn aims to harness his diverse experience and innovative mindset to devise and enhance quality assurance and control practices at GHA, ensuring that the firm not only meets but exceeds the highest standards of excellence within the civil engineering ecosystem.

An Agent of Change

Shawn’s vision is clear: to develop and implement quality management practices, policies, and procedures to elevate the craftsmanship of his fellow employee-owners not only to their benefit but more importantly to the benefit of GHA’s clients. He achieves this through actionable strategies like thorough plan review, strategic and creative thinking, careful planning and adopting innovative software and project management solutions aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Translating his vision into action, Shawn prioritizes two key qualities for the QA/QC Manager: accessibility and exceptional organizational skills. "These aren't just desirable traits," he says, "they're critical for ensuring we maintain the highest quality standards.” Having an open-door policy and strong organizational skills position the QA/QC Manager as a transformative resource for the firm, one that actively promotes a culture of continuous improvement within GHA and the industry.

Shawn’s meticulous approach to notetaking is legendary within GHA, a practice he embraces with both seriousness and a touch of humor. “I’m a fastidious note-taker, and yes, it’s partly because my memory insists on playing tricks on me,” Shawn admits with a laugh. “But more importantly, it’s about capturing details accurately, making sure nothing is overlooked. It’s these details that often make the difference between good and outstanding outcomes in our line of work.” This careful attention to detail is not just a personal quirk but a professional tool that shows the importance of thoroughness and precision throughout the QA/QC process.

Work with GHA's Transportation Services Division

A standout example of his ingenuity is his collaboration with the Transportation Division where Shawn played a pivotal role in devising a form that simplifies and advances the traffic engineering proposal creation and project tracking process. This innovative approach intelligently populates essential information into corresponding files, initiates folder creation, and updates various planner boards and cards, all while capturing and warehousing essential project data. Dan Brinkman, P.E., PTOE, Senior Transportation Engineer notes, "This system can effectively gather up to 80% of the necessary forms and data and organize them accordingly. This greatly streamlines the proposal creation process."

Reflecting on the utility of this innovation, David Westergreen, Civil Engineer, commented, "I've found it to be extremely helpful." This feedback reflects the tangible benefits of Shawn's initiatives, highlighting his dedication to enhancing operational efficiency.

 

Highway access to a Metra railroad station. An example of QA/QC work.
US Rt. 14 Metra Access

Sustainability and the Next Generation

As QA/QC Manager, Shawn’s vision for the position goes beyond simply adhering to best management practices. He seeks to build the groundwork for sustainable and impactful projects and practices, ensuring the firm's long-term success. In his view, quality assurance and control are not just procedural necessities, but pivotal tools in constructing the foundations of successful projects.

“Quality might seem like a behind-the-scenes aspect of what we do, and its results may not always be immediately visible. However, this 'invisible' work is what guarantees our projects stand the test of time and meet the high standards our clients have come to expect from GHA,” Shawn articulates. This philosophy is central to his strategy for enhancing the business's sustainability. By integrating detailed QA/QC processes, Shawn ensures that GHA continues to deliver projects of unmatched quality and adopts practices that are adaptable, valuable, and in line with GHA’s overall vision.

Beyond the core responsibilities of the position, Shawn is deeply committed to the mentorship and development of the next generation of engineers, recognizing that their growth is integral to the industry's future and the company's legacy. “Investing in our young engineers is crucial. They are the future of GHA and the engineering field at large. By instilling a strong foundation of quality control and assurance in their work from the outset, we're not just preparing them for their careers; we're preparing them to be leaders who will continue to drive our industry forward,” he explains.

Beyond the Office: A Life Full of Passions

When Shawn steps away from the office, he throws himself into a world of diverse and engaging pursuits. From his time in college at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville providing security at the Chicago Bears training camp to his lifelong passion for sports ignited during a childhood March Madness spent with his father, sports have been a constant source of joy.

Unplanned and last-minute, attending game seven of the 2016 World Series became a reality for die-hard Cubs fan Shawn. “I honestly don’t even know how much that ended up costing me, and I don’t even care. That experience is something that I will never forget.”

A self-described 'hobby disaster,' Shawn's array of interests and hobbies paints the picture of a man with a keen curiosity and a zest for exploration. His recent resurgence in collecting sports cards is managed with the same attention to detail that marks his professional endeavors, complete with a carefully maintained database to track his collection.

The wail of a locomotive whistle isn't just a sound for Shawn, it's a shared language between him and his son.  His fascination with trains goes beyond a love of machinery; it's a deep appreciation for American history and the transformative power of the railroads. This shared passion has become a family tradition, as they explore the rich tapestry of the railroad industry and contemplate how two parallel pieces of steel can connect cities and spark the economic growth of a nation.

Shawn Hurtig: GHA’s Catalyst for Change

Shawn Hurtig’s story is a compelling narrative of ambition, improvement, and personal passion. At GHA, he is not just the QA/QC Manager but a visionary, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and fostering an environment where innovation, sustainability, and most importantly, quality thrive. His journey is a reminder that at the heart of every successful project and initiative lies a commitment to excellence and quality - values Shawn embodies every day.


Road Maintenance Programs

Preserving Pavement: Road Maintenance Programs

Preserving Pavement: Road Maintenance Programs

 

Road Maintenance ProgramsRoadways are important components of well-functioning communities. A long-term road maintenance program is equally important for supporting community operations and safeguarding public investments. Gewalt Hamilton Associates Inc. (GHA) specializes in developing road maintenance programs that reduce the need for expensive repairs and rehabilitations, reflecting our commitment to infrastructure sustainability.

Road maintenance programs prioritize preventing potential issues by addressing early signs of wear and degradation. This focus on early intervention extends the lifespan of roadways, reducing long-term costs and unplanned disruptions caused by emergency repairs. Highlighting the importance of proactive management and resource optimization, Dave Marquardt, Director of Construction and Survey notes, "Effective road maintenance is about more than acting early; it's about implementing timely, condition-specific treatments."

The Critical Role of Regular Road Maintenance

Roads form the foundation of a community, supporting economic activity, emergency services, and daily life. Through consistent road maintenance programs that address wear-and-tear from weather and traffic, roads can experience a longer lifespan. This paves the way for cost-effective infrastructure management. Promptly addressing minor issues can prevent them from escalating into expensive repairs, saving communities significant financial burdens. Additionally, consistent maintenance enhances the reliability and functionality of roads, ensuring they remain smooth and free of hazards.

Regular road maintenance isn't only about preserving pavement; it’s about environmental health. Properly constructed and maintained roads have drainage systems designed to manage runoff efficiently. These systems include features like graded shoulders, ditches, and storm sewers that channel water away from the road surface and direct it to designated areas. This prevents flooding and minimizes the amount of sediment and pollutants that wash into local waterways. Reduced sediment runoff from these well-maintained road systems safeguards the clarity and quality of nearby water bodies, benefiting local ecosystems. Carefully planned road maintenance programs contribute to roads remaining reliable and ready to support future growth and development, creating a sustainable infrastructure system that will benefit the environment and the public for years to come.

Road Maintenance Programs: A Proactive Approach

Through in-depth road condition evaluation and future needs forecasting, GHA crafts thorough, multi-year maintenance plans. These plans are designed to systematically address potential issues, ensuring the continued quality of the road network while staying within budget requirements.

Beyond preserving road conditions, regular maintenance offers economic benefits to a community. By allocating resources to the routine upkeep of roadways, we can minimize the need for costly emergency repairs that often arise due to neglected issues. As Geoff Perry, P.E. remarks, “Being proactive and planning for maintenance of roads, and employing those maintenance strategies prior to the end of the pavement’s useful life, is critical. This extends the life of a pavement at a fraction of the cost of full pavement repairs and reconstructions. These costly repairs and reconstructions are difficult for agencies to budget for."

A commitment to long-term road maintenance strategies extends the lifespan of roadways, allowing for more strategic planning of future infrastructure investments. By preventing the need for emergency rehabilitations, we can carefully allocate resources for future needs. Geoff explains, "Diligent management of road maintenance prioritizes fiscal responsibility by protecting public investments and implementing cost-effective plans.” The concept of proactive maintenance extends beyond just addressing minor issues on existing roadways. Techniques like crack sealing and asphalt rejuvenation play a crucial role in preventing future problems and extending the lifespan of pavements.

 

Sealcoating and Asphalt Rejuvenation: Essential Techniques for Pavement Longevity

For parking lots, particularly those in homeowners association (HOA) communities, sealcoating is an essential maintenance practice. Pavement conditions greatly impact property value and aesthetic appeal in these areas. Sealcoating provides a protective layer against environmental damage, extending the asphalt's life. "When you think about it, sealcoating is an investment in the property," Lucas Deferville, Assistant Director of Construction and Survey emphasizes. Beyond protecting from water, oil, and UV damage, sealcoating increases the pavement's longevity, reducing the frequency of intensive repairs.

Asphalt is a durable material, but like anything else, it ages. Asphalt rejuvenation is gaining traction as a strategic tool within comprehensive road maintenance programs. This innovative technique helps extend pavement lifespan for those responsible for road care. Unlike surface treatments, asphalt rejuvenation goes deeper, reaching the asphalt's binder. By replenishing the maltenes (oils) within the binder early in the asphalt's life cycle, asphalt rejuvenation can help the asphalt retain its flexibility and strength for an extended lifespan.

“While there is no true one size fits all solution, asphalt rejuvenation offers a possible way to extend pavement lifespan and minimize the need for future repairs,” Lucas acknowledges. Strategies like asphalt rejuvenation can lead to cost savings in the long run and contribute to a smoother, more enjoyable driving experience.

Preserving pavement longevity, functionality, and appearance requires a comprehensive program. GHA provides municipalities, park districts, school districts, and HOAs with customized maintenance plans that integrate critical practices like sealcoating and asphalt rejuvenation. These plans help provide optimal pavement conditions, extending the lifespan of your roadways and maximizing the return on investment. However, without maintenance programs, even the most well-constructed roads eventually succumb to wear and tear.

Strategic Road Rehabilitation: An Efficient Solution to Infrastructure Challenges

Some communities may lack a formal road maintenance program, leading to expensive repairs down the line. GHA offers a solution with complete evaluations and custom road rehabilitation plans. This provides access to practical and effective solutions for preserving roadways. Rehabilitation is an alternative to full replacements, which are often disruptive and expensive.

At GHA, we specialize in road rehabilitation, ensuring each community receives the right solution to extend the lifespan of their roadways. Our process begins with a thorough condition assessment, which gives us a detailed picture of your road's current state. Based on this assessment, we develop a customized plan that leverages the most effective solutions for your specific needs. When a road requires rehabilitation, we offer a range of solutions. One such option is resurfacing, a process that involves applying a new layer of asphalt to the existing road surface.  This cost-effective method restores functionality and smooths out worn surfaces, extending the lifespan of your roadways. Our customized plans may also incorporate techniques like overlays or milling. By investing in proactive road rehabilitation, you can avoid costly repairs down the line and provide a better driving experience for your residents.

GHA: Leading Sustainable Road Maintenance Solutions

By anticipating long-term infrastructure needs, GHA's commitment to road care goes beyond quick fixes. This foresight enables us to develop cost-effective maintenance and rehabilitation programs that deliver long-lasting results. “When we partner with communities to manage their roadways,” Jennifer Beckman, P.E. highlights, “we plan with an eye on both present and future challenges.”

This forward-thinking perspective on road maintenance ensures the lasting value of our communities’ roadways. GHA partners with facility and property managers to develop customized maintenance and rehabilitation plans. These plans are tailored to the specific needs and budget, ensuring optimal road functionality for years to come.

"Road maintenance is more than crack filling or repaving; it involves a well-planned approach that accounts for the infrastructure's lifecycle and usage," states Dave. Our methodology for road maintenance is comprehensive, built on continuous evaluation, adaptation, and flexible practices. This forward-thinking strategy not only extends the lifespan of our roadways but also ensures efficient use of financial resources.

 

 


Back to Our Roots: A Guide to Planning, Design, and Maintenance of Athletic Fields

Back to Our Roots: A Guide to Planning, Design, and Maintenance of Athletic Fields

 

Building a successful athletic field goes beyond construction; it is a careful blend of planning, expert design, and ongoing maintenance. This guide explores all phases from conception to construction, ensuring your athletic field becomes a valuable and long-lasting community asset.

Strategic Planning: Setting the Stage for Success

The foundation of any successful athletic field project lies in a comprehensive and well-defined planning stage. This initial phase sets the stage for the entire project, influencing decisions and strategies that will be used throughout the construction process. The first step involves securing the necessary resources – the tools, staff, and budget - required to bring the vision to life. A realistic and well-defined budget reinforces project feasibility, while a skilled team verifies the project is delivered successfully.

Beyond resources, understanding the target audience or demographic for the field is paramount. Who will use the field? Are they school children, amateur athletes, or professional sports teams? Tailoring the design choices to the specific needs and activity patterns of the intended audience is crucial for optimizing the field's functionality and overall experience. For example, a field designed for youth soccer leagues might prioritize a larger playing area to accommodate more players, while a field intended for high school football might incorporate a dedicated running track around the perimeter. Additionally, safety considerations specific to the target user group must be factored into the design.

Building the Design Team: Cultivating Expertise

Creating a high-quality athletic field requires a collaborative spirit and a deep understanding of the field's intended use. The design team, a carefully curated ensemble of experts, lays the foundation for the field's success. A well-constructed team typically consists of:

  • Project Managers: The Orchestrators of Success

Project managers act as the conductors of the project, ensuring all aspects progress according to plan. Their expertise lies in scheduling, budgeting, resource allocation, and risk management. They keep the project on track, fostering clear communication between team members and managing timely completion within budget constraints.

  • Civil Engineers: Turning Vision into Reality

Civil engineers serve as translators, transforming the design plans into technical specifications that address critical structural and drainage considerations. They possess a deep understanding of building codes, materials science, and construction methodologies. Their role is important in verifying the field's structural integrity, functionality, and compliance with all applicable regulations.

  • Agronomists: The Soil Scientists

Agronomists contribute their expertise in soil health, turfgrass selection, and sustainable field management. As essential soil scientists, they evaluate factors like soil type, drainage capabilities, and climatic conditions to ensure the best choices in turfgrass and optimal growing environments, promoting healthy fields.

  • Maintenance Experts: Invaluable Insights from the Front Lines

Maintenance experts, often overlooked but invaluable, provide crucial insights into practical upkeep considerations. Their experience on the front lines of field management translates into real-world solutions. They can foresee potential maintenance challenges and recommend design features that simplify routines, minimize resource requirements, and confirm the field remains in prime condition over time. Specific recommendations might include incorporating easy-access cleanout ports in the drainage system or water-efficient irrigation systems.

  • The Facility Director: Championing the Field's Needs

The facility director or field maintenance manager acts as the field's advocate throughout the design process. This individual bridges the gap between high-level project objectives and the day-to-day realities of field management. They champion the field's needs, advocating for practices and materials that align with the long-term vision for the field's use and care. Their focus lies on user satisfaction, sustainability, and minimizing ongoing maintenance costs.

By creating a collaborative environment where each member contributes their unique perspective, the design team develops a comprehensive plan for a successful and durable athletic field that will serve the community for years to come.

A recently mowed soccer field in use. Showing the importance of Athletic field maintenance, the field has a nice mow pattern, and is very green.

Understanding Soil Conditions: The Foundation of a Strong Field

A complete understanding of the project site's soil and environmental conditions is key to project success. The design team must consider these factors in their planning, especially in regions with challenging soil compositions. Tailoring the design to accommodate or mitigate issues with these conditions is needed for drainage, root health, and overall field quality. A comprehensive soil analysis goes beyond simple texture and pH testing; it's an in-depth evaluation that assesses nutrient levels, organic matter content, and drainage capabilities. This analysis serves as a guide for optimizing soil properties to create the ideal environment for turfgrass growth.

By understanding the specific needs of the soil, managers can customize their maintenance practices to address deficiencies, optimize fertility, and enhance the soil's physical structure. If the soil analysis reveals high clay content, which can impede drainage and root growth, the team might incorporate drainage-enhancing materials like sand to improve porosity and drainage. Additionally, if the analysis indicates a lack of essential nutrients, such as nitrogen or phosphorus, the team may recommend specific fertilization strategies to boost soil fertility and promote healthy plant growth.

Seed and Sod Selection: Laying the Groundwork for Field Success

Choosing the right grass for an athletic field is a decision that significantly affects the field's performance, maintenance requirements, and longevity. The choice between seeding and sodding depends on several key considerations, including budget constraints, time frames for field readiness, and ongoing maintenance considerations. By opting for the seeding option, you gain access to a wide variety of seed options, allowing for a customized solution that perfectly matches the field’s environmental conditions and usage patterns. Popular choices include perennial ryegrass and bluegrass varieties, each offering specific advantages in terms of wear tolerance, recovery rates, and adaptability to local climates. However, it requires a longer establishment period and careful management to achieve full coverage and desired density. Seeding typically requires ongoing weed control measures and close monitoring of moisture levels during the establishment phase.

Conversely, choosing sod provides an instant playing surface with a shorter establishment time, making it an attractive option for projects with tight deadlines or the need for immediate use. Prefabricated sod arrives with established turfgrass, allowing for near-instant use of the field. Despite higher upfront costs, sod offers a faster path to a uniform and dense turf, though careful consideration must be given to matching the soil profile and achieving successful integration of the sod's root system with the site's conditions. Improper installation or failure of the sod to establish a robust root system can lead to issues down the line.

Understanding the maintenance needs of the chosen turfgrass should play a significant role in the selection process. Different grass species and varieties have varying requirements for watering, mowing, fertilization, and pest control. It's necessary to select a grass type that aligns with the available maintenance resources and expertise. For example, a low-maintenance field might opt for a drought-tolerant and disease-resistant turfgrass variety, even if it means sacrificing some aesthetic appeal in favor of practicality.

Building a Sustainable Field

Modern athletic fields are designed and built with a long-term commitment to sustainability. Environmentally friendly practices are prioritized throughout all phases, from planning and design to ongoing maintenance, benefiting both the environment and the field's long-term budget. Some important aspects include:

  • Water Conservation: Utilizing drought-tolerant turfgrass varieties and implementing efficient irrigation systems that minimize water waste are essential aspects of sustainable field management. Employing moisture sensors and weather-based irrigation controllers promotes water conservation by making sure that the turf only receives the water it needs.
  • Responsible Use of Fertilizers and Pesticides: Basing fertilization practices on soil testing allows for the strategic application of nutrients, minimizing waste and potential environmental impacts. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices prioritize preventative measures and utilize environmentally friendly controls whenever possible to minimize reliance on harsh chemicals.
  • Energy Efficiency: Selecting energy-efficient equipment for maintenance tasks, such as mowers and irrigation systems, contributes to a reduced environmental footprint. Additionally, exploring alternative energy sources, such as solar power, for powering field lighting or irrigation systems, can further enhance sustainability efforts.

A Legacy of Excellence

The construction and upkeep of natural turf athletic fields reflect a commitment to providing high-quality athletic spaces that promote health, recreation, and community spirit. By prioritizing careful planning, expert design, sustainable practices, and ongoing maintenance, athletic fields can become centers of activity, fostering a sense of community and promoting healthy lifestyles for generations to come. As we continue to advance in our understanding of turf management practices and technologies, the future of athletic field design and maintenance holds promising solutions for even greater efficiency, delivering holistic benefits for the environment and users. Embracing these advancements will enable us to further refine our approaches, meaning that the fields we create today remain vibrant and functional for generations to come.


Welcome Dan Angspatt

Gewalt Hamilton Associates Welcomes Dan Angspatt, P.E., as Senior Project Manager

Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. Welcomes Dan Angspatt, P.E., as Senior Project Manager to Site Design Division

 

Welcome Dan Angspatt

Vernon Hills, IL – Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) is proud to announce the hiring of Dan Angspatt, P.E., as a Senior Project Manager in the Site Design Division, further enhancing the scope of development and engineering solutions GHA can offer clients. Angspatt brings ten years of experience as a commercial real estate developer and an additional ten years as a civil engineer project manager at a national Architectural/Engineer (A/E) firm, positioning him to contribute to GHA's continued growth and expansion in the development market.

Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM, Director of Site Design Services at GHA, expressed his enthusiasm about the new hire: “Dan's unique experience significantly broadens our reach within the markets we serve and across our service lines. His addition to our team is a step forward in our ongoing effort to diversify and strengthen our portfolio.”

Eager to leverage his extensive background in development and engineering, Dan is excited to join the GHA family and apply his expertise to the company's success. "I'm thrilled to be part of the GHA team," he says, "and I can't wait to put my experience in commercial real estate development to work."

Throughout his career, he has consistently delivered results. Having managed over 20 complex projects, from initial conception to construction completion, in his previous position, Dan’s impressive record is a testament to his approach, which he characterizes as a commitment to detail, forging strong relationships, and demonstrating consistent ownership over his projects. He believes that forming long-lasting relationships and maintaining a positive work environment are key to successful project outcomes. “Continued tenacity equals success,” Angspatt notes, emphasizing his dedication to fostering a collaborative environment where every team member feels valued and contributes to the project's success.

Dan believes in customizing his approach to suit the unique needs of each community and project, embodying persistence and professionalism at every turn. He places great importance on direct interaction with clients, "Direct interaction not only fortifies confidence in my capabilities but also reinforces the trust our clients place in GHA," Angspatt explains. This personalized approach and commitment to building strong client relationships ensures that each project not only aligns with but actively advances the community's vision and goals.

A firm believer in collaboration and knowledge sharing, Dan is looking forward to mentoring the next generation of engineers at GHA.  His ability to see every perspective and passion for building strong team bonds will benefit these future engineers while further enriching GHA's collaborative culture. “GHA struck me as a place where everyone is passionate about what they do. I’m excited to bring my real estate development perspective to the table and show how it can benefit both the company and our clients,” Angspatt concluded.

Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) is a Professional Engineering and Land Surveying firm licensed and registered in the State of Illinois. For more than 40 years, GHA has been providing civil engineering, surveying and related services to municipal governments, townships, county and state agencies, school districts, park districts, colleges and universities, and private organizations.

Media Contact:
Michael McFarlin
Marketing Manager
mmcfarlin@gha-engineers.com
847-478-9700


GHA Connections: Julie Roberts

GHA Connections: Julie Roberts

 

Julie Roberts' path to the Transportation Services Division at Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) began with a pivotal encounter. During a visit to the University of Detroit Mercy for the Engineering and Science Department's Board of Advisors, GHA Co-founder Robert Hamilton had lunch with a group of aspiring civil engineering students, among them Julie Roberts. Impressed by her role as the president of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Bob immediately noted her exceptional knowledge and leadership. He recalls, "Julie's leadership and expertise, particularly as president of the ASCE student chapter, were striking. We connected quite nicely, and I was impressed with her knowledge and positive personality."

Soon after, when seeking internship opportunities, Julie reached out to Bob with her resume. Upon receiving her resume, a recently retired Bob did not hesitate to recommend her to GHA. “As soon as I received Julie's resume, I immediately recommended her for the program,” Bob recalled. Julie's impressive qualifications and passion for civil engineering made her a standout candidate for GHA’s internship program, setting the stage for a journey that would allow her to create a lasting impact on both the projects and culture at GHA. Reflecting on the beginning of her professional career, Julie shares, “Meeting Bob was a turning point for me. His guidance and GHA’s welcoming environment were important in shaping my career.”

Julie’s internship at GHA played a crucial role in her development as a civil engineer. Over her summer as an intern, she immersed herself in all aspects of engineering from design work to site visits for a wide range of projects. Julie fondly recalls, "The number of different opportunities that were available was exciting. I gained valuable insights from everybody involved in each project, from design to construction.”

Her hands-on experience was more than just educational—it was transformative. Through her different roles on projects, Julie saw the impact of field decisions on design strategies and vice versa. This observation sharpened her understanding of the direct link between practical challenges and design solutions. Her insights led to a greater appreciation for civil engineering's complexity, showcasing the value of blending fieldwork with strategic design to create innovative solutions. After completing her internship, Julie transitioned to a full-time role in the Transportation Services Division, where her comprehensive understanding of all project phases proved to be invaluable. This insight into the relationship between fieldwork and design strategies significantly enhanced her contributions to the division and its projects.

Todd Gordon, GHA CEO, noted Julie's remarkable ability to integrate practical experience with design concepts early in her career, "Julie's ability to take her time in the field and apply it to design work was impressive. It was exciting to see such a seamless blend of on-site experiences with design principles in a young engineer."

By emphasizing the importance of fieldwork in enhancing design knowledge, Julie's early experience at GHA was foundational to her nuanced understanding of civil engineering. This blend of theory and hands-on experience was crucial during her work on the Molidor Road project in Grant Township. Julie not only contributed to the design but also provided construction observation, seamlessly bridging the gap between design conception and construction reality. Her multifaceted role helped ensure the project's design integrity and execution from start to finish.

Julie's involvement with every stage of the Molidor Road project showed the significance of a hands-on approach in civil engineering. "Seeing a project evolve from the first sketch to the final product is incredibly rewarding,” she reflects. “My involvement with the Molidor Road project showed me the benefits of being involved in all project phases." Julie's journey at GHA exemplifies our belief comprehensive engagement in all phases of a project provides a catalyst for growth and innovation.

While at the University of Detroit Mercy, Julie had her first foray into leadership as the Captain of the Concrete Canoe Team. This experience allowed her to develop leadership skills that complemented the technical knowledge she was acquiring. Coordination, project management, and navigating team dynamics were key aspects of her role, providing her with valuable lessons in responsibility, teamwork, and communication.

Reflecting on this period, Julie noted, "Leading the Concrete Canoe Team was my first real taste of leadership, teaching me the importance of clear communication and collaborative problem-solving." Her academic path supported this growth, with a minor in leadership studies deepening her understanding of leadership styles and group dynamics.

Developing her leadership skills during college laid a solid foundation for Julie’s professional career, where she was recently selected for the 2023 class of the Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association Emerging Leaders Program. This achievement is a testament to her growing influence at GHA and in the field of transportation engineering.

Matt Turk, Director of Transportation Services at GHA, who played a key role in nominating Julie for the program, remarked, "Julie's selection for this prestigious program was a no-brainer. Her leadership skills, combined with her technical acumen, make her a standout professional." This recognition highlights Julie's individual talents and shows GHA's commitment to fostering and promoting emerging leaders within the industry.

EPN Whirlyball Outing

Julie's leadership potential was evident early in her career at GHA, exemplified by her role in leading GHA’s Emerging Professionals Network (EPN). This initiative was driven by a desire for a space for young professionals to come together and network, share ideas, and promote professional development. "The initial EPN meeting was designed as an open forum, with a simple question on the whiteboard: 'What do you want from the EPN?' This allowed us to collectively define the group’s future direction, objectives, and framework," Julie recalled, emphasizing the value of collaborative input in the early stages of the EPN. Since that first meeting, the EPN has grown into a vibrant community within GHA, supporting the growth and development of its members while aligning with the company's commitment to supporting emerging talent. "Seeing the EPN grow from that first meeting into a thriving community within GHA has been incredibly rewarding," Julie reflects. "It's a testament to what we can achieve when we come together, it's something I'm very proud of.”

Away from work and her contributions to the EPN, Julie finds joy in the company of her beloved Corgis, cherishing the downtime and the unconditional love they offer. Whether it's a long walk in the park or simply lounging together at home, Julie treasures every moment spent with them. Their spirited companionship provides a joyful balance to her busy life. “After a day's work, there's nothing like unwinding with my Corgis, Winston and Windsor. They're the real bosses at home,” Julie quips with a smile.

When she isn’t spending time with her four-legged companions, Julie is often found spending time with her nieces and nephews or immersed in DIY home improvement projects. Her current DIY project is a labor of love, carefully restoring her kitchen to its original allure. Even amidst the dust and paint, her Corgis remain close by, overseeing the progress. "They’re pretty good project managers," Julie jests.

Julie Roberts' connection with GHA goes beyond her responsibilities in the Transportation Services Division and with the EPN. She values the company’s unique culture, which resonates deeply with her personal values, particularly GHA's dedication to its employees. "GHA is not just a workplace; it's a community that values strong connections," she notes. Julie Roberts embodies the spirit of GHA through her dedication and innovative approach, making significant contributions not only to the projects she works on, but GHA overall.

 


GHA's ADA Compliance Toolkit: A Nationwide Journey

GHA's ADA Compliance Toolkit: A Nationwide Journey

 

At Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), our commitment to the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is evident in our operations, highlighted by our ADA Compliance Toolkit. This toolkit, conceived and developed by GHA, is a direct response to the essential need for precise ADA compliance in a wide range of environments. Created from a blend of practical expertise and innovative vision, this toolkit is instrumental in our ADA retrofit operations, reflecting our proficiency in meeting and advancing accessible design standards.

ADA Compliance Toolkit: A Closer Look

GHA’s ADA Compliance Toolkit is a model of efficiency and practicality. Comprising of four tools – two 4-foot levels, a tape measure, and a 2-foot level – it exemplifies the concept of 'less is more'. Each tool has been chosen for its specific role in verifying ADA compliance across project locations.

Utilizing two 4-foot levels for compliance checks enables us to cross-verify their accuracy. This approach ensures each tool independently verifies the measurements, enhancing the precision and trustworthiness of our evaluations. “The 2-foot level is an ingenious addition for tighter spaces, making it possible to assess compliance in more confined areas, which is a common issue in retrofit projects,” Mitch Rogalski, Engineering Technician notes.

Integral to Retrofit Operations

The ADA Compliance Toolkit is a vital companion to GHA's ADA retrofit program, gracefully journeying through every phase of our projects.  It's crucial for ensuring compliance, proving to be an invaluable resource throughout the entire process from design and permitting to construction oversight and quality control.

The toolkit's presence continues into the final inspection phase, where it helps confirm that the completed retrofit work meets ADA standards. Its continuous use throughout the retrofit process exemplifies our comprehensive approach to ADA compliance. "The toolkit is basically our trusted travel companion," Alex Kendzior, P.E. explains. "It allows us to verify compliance efficiently at all stages, from initial assessments to final inspections."

Real-World Application and Impact

In the field, the toolkit's practicality shines. Alex shares, "Using the toolkit, we've efficiently checked gradients, pathway widths, and other essential features to verify compliance with ADA standards. It's uncomplicated yet thorough, allowing us to quickly identify and address possible non-compliance issues." Utilizing the toolkit on-site has enhanced our ADA retrofit program, providing faster and more accurate compliance checks.

When the Toolkit discovers compliance or non-compliance factors on-site, detailed annotations are made on the site plans. These markings, directly inspired by the toolkit's findings, ensure that all potential non-compliance issues are accurately recorded and addressed. Photographic evidence plays a crucial role in the compliance process, ensuring both accuracy and reliability. By providing a clear record, it effectively guides the necessary actions in retrofitting, assuring ADA standards are met at every step. "Every project site visit the toolkit visits is an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to ensuring accessible and compliant environments," Mitch adds.

Travel Anecdotes: The Toolkit's Odyssey

The ADA Compliance Toolkit's journey from bustling metropolitan areas to serene rural communities embodies the versatility and reach of our ADA retrofit efforts. With every stop, the toolkit's epic tale adds a new chapter, reflecting the GHA team's commitment as they ensure accessibility standards nationwide. The toolkit has its share of unique travel stories, and these tales of transit provide a glimpse into the everyday dedication of our team.

Due to its size, the ADA Compliance Toolkit is typically considered oversized baggage, adding an intriguing twist to our team’s travel narratives. Locating the toolkit in various airports' baggage areas has become a familiar, if unconventional, part of our journeys. "It transforms the start of each project into a mini adventure," quips Jeremy Fisher, Engineering Technician.

Getting through airport security can be a comical hurdle at times. "The toolkit has been mistaken for everything from sporting equipment to a musical instrument in the eyes of security," chuckles Jeremy. These moments at security checkpoints show the frequent use of the toolkit in our retrofit operations across the country.

Selecting vehicles for site visits has evolved into an art form, dictated by the toolkit itself. “It's almost as if the toolkit picks the rental cars, demanding enough space to comfortably fit,” Mitch amusingly notes. At four feet wide and a weight of 30 lbs, the toolkit's size is a key factor in our vehicle selection process. This attention to logistical nuances, while easy to overlook, affirms GHA's skill in navigating challenges to deliver ADA compliance solutions, regardless of the destination. The foresight involved in selecting the appropriate tools is critical, demanding a blend of anticipation and precision that may not be immediately apparent but is pivotal in delivering a superior service to our clients.

Reflections and Future Outlook

Reflecting on the expansive journey of our ADA Compliance Toolkit, it’s traveled more than 27,000 miles, touching down in eight states to assist in our ADA retrofit missions. Florida claims the distinction of hosting the toolkit the most, with 15 visits, contributing more than 15,000 miles to its travel log. This extensive travel showcases the toolkit's integral role in our nationwide efforts to champion accessibility standards, highlighting the dedication and reach of the GHA team as we work to ensure ADA compliance across diverse environments.

Team members across GHA offer their insights on the ADA Compliance Toolkit. "Every time we use this toolkit, it reaffirms our role in shaping accessible spaces," reflects Alex. Brian Sears, Civil Engineer, chimes in, "It's rewarding to see the direct impact our work has on verifying environments are ADA compliant."

Looking ahead, GHA commits to maintaining and elevating accessible design standards. "Our goal is to continuously innovate and improve our approaches," states Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM Director of Site Design Services. "The toolkit, while pivotal, is merely the beginning. We're exploring technologies and methodologies to further elevate our ADA retrofit initiatives."

"The toolkit has become an essential member of our team, journeying with us to each site with its own seat in the van," jokes Brian. "And just like any team member, it occasionally demands its own cup of coffee in the morning."

 


Welcome Anika Moore, CPO. Anika standing in front of gray background, with her title on her left side.

Gewalt Hamilton Associates Announces Anika Moore, MAIO, as Chief People Officer

Gewalt Hamilton Associates Announces Anika Moore, MAIO, as Chief People Officer

 

Welcome Anika Moore, CPO. Anika standing in front of gray background, with her title on her left side. Vernon Hills, IL – Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), a leader in civil engineering consulting, is proud to announce the appointment of Anika Moore, MAIO, as the company's first Chief People Officer (CPO). Having previously served eight years as GHA's Director of Human Resources, Anika returns to the company as CPO, bringing a strong commitment to driving forward the company's ambitious growth and development goals.

The creation of the CPO position reflects GHA's commitment to its most valuable asset – its people. Recognizing the vital role employees play in achieving strategic objectives, the CPO will spearhead initiatives that solidify GHA's position as a premier destination for career development and achievement.

This includes leading the development of GHA University (GHA U). GHA U exemplifies the company's vision for employee development, focusing on creating a well-defined career lattice, team-based project execution, and a robust learning management system. This program will be tailored to meet individual career objectives and aspirations, enabling professional growth and advancement within the company.

"I am honored to fill the position of CPO and to return to GHA, a company I truly love," said Anika Moore. "It's been incredibly touching to be welcomed back. I'm eager to build on the strong foundation we have and to take GHA to new heights." Anika brings extensive experience and a strong grasp of GHA's culture and values.

Todd Gordon, P.E., CEO of GHA, expressed his enthusiasm for Anika's return and the future of GHA under her leadership. "Anika's appointment as CPO is a testament to our commitment to making GHA the best place for our employees to grow and achieve their goals. Her role in establishing GHA University will be instrumental in transforming our organizational culture and ensuring every team member has the resources and support they need to reach their fullest potential."

Anika is recognized as a Strategic Human Resource Leader, I/O Practitioner, and Certified Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Professional. Her approach to embracing the future and new possibilities has made her a trusted advisor and motivator, known for building relationships that yield lasting results. This expertise will be invaluable as she leads GHA’s efforts to foster an inclusive, innovative, and forward-thinking workplace culture.

As CPO, Anika will also resume her role as Director of the Administration Division, working closely with the team on exciting new initiatives designed to enhance the employee experience and continue to develop a strong, positive culture. Her leadership will enhance GHA's collaborative environment, foster individual growth, and reinforce the company's position as an industry leader in employee development and satisfaction.

Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) is a Professional Engineering and Land Surveying firm licensed and registered in the State of Illinois. For more than 40 years, GHA has been providing civil engineering, surveying, and related services to municipal governments, townships, county and state agencies, school districts, park districts, colleges and universities, and private organizations.

 

Media Contact: 

Michael McFarlin
Marketing Manager
mmcfarlin@gha-engineers.com
847-478-9700


Winter Utility Work: Paving the Way for Quiet Summers

Winter Utility Work: Paving the Way for Quiet Summers

 

At Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), our project management philosophy emphasizes efficiency and maximizing community benefits, while always considering the needs of each community. As part of this philosophy, we assess the viability of scheduling utility work for roadway projects during the winter months. This is a strategy that focuses on leveraging the colder season to serve community interests better. Through a combination of in-depth analysis, technical knowledge, and insights into local conditions, we aim to provide tailored solutions that are aligned with each community’s needs.

Melinda/Hiawatha Utility & Street Improvement Project

Scheduling utility work to start in the winter months proved advantageous for the Melinda/Hiawatha Utility & Street Improvement Project in the Village of Buffalo Grove. This forward-thinking strategy allowed for the water main installation to start at the beginning of the construction season. By initiating this work in the colder months, we were able to proactively address and promptly resolve potential issues, thereby reducing the impact on the daily lives of community members.

This project exemplifies our ability to integrate design and planning with practical execution. Our decision to schedule utility work in winter was driven by an analysis of weather patterns, traffic flows, and community activities. Adapting our project planning to incorporate these factors allows us to provide solutions that are specifically tailored to the unique needs of each community we serve. The Melinda/Hiawatha Utility & Street Improvement Project’s success showcases GHA's ability to transform off-peak periods into highly productive work phases, directly benefiting the communities we partner with.

"The Melinda/Hiawatha project shows our ability to analyze and adapt to local conditions, ensuring that our solutions are both timely and tailored to the unique needs of each community," explains Lucas Deferville, Assistant Director of Construction and Survey Services at GHA.

Challenges Faced

While the success of the Melinda/Hiawatha project highlights our adeptness at delivering tailored solutions, it's essential to recognize that even projects that face challenges provide important benefits. GHA's role in the project also yielded valuable insights, shaping our future strategies. This project encountered an issue of frozen water services, leading to temporary disruptions in residents' water supply. Facing this challenge highlighted the need for adaptability and innovative problem-solving. The situation highlighted the need for close collaboration, drawing upon our strong partnerships with contractors to develop effective solutions.

Image of utility work being performed. Three workers in high visibility vests performing utility work with an excavator at the intersection of Bernard and Hiwatha Drives in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
Melinda - Hiawatha Project in the Village of Buffalo Grove, IL

This teamwork proved to be a pivotal element in the project's success, leading to a valuable discovery: clay used for backfilling offers better insulation than frozen stone, a vital detail in preventing water services from freezing. While typically used to prevent settling, stone offers less insulation for water services than clay, which prevents them from freezing. This adjustment ensured that, by winter's end and before paving, any potential trench settlement was effectively managed.

Navigating through winter's challenges requires strategic planning, especially with snow removal. By collaborating with local public works, we manage snowfall effectively, ensuring projects stay on schedule during winter weather.

Through strategic scheduling and proactive planning, we can effectively navigate the winter’s freeze-thaw cycle. Careful planning addresses potential issues with frozen ground, ensuring equipment can successfully complete tasks in cold conditions. Similarly, proactive planning for utility work minimizes thaw-related issues, avoiding unnecessary messes and streamlining subsequent cleanup. This foresight significantly reduces extensive restoration needs, ensuring the project site and surrounding areas are ready for use by the community during the summer months. By adapting operations based on weather conditions, we help projects advance efficiently, despite the season's obstacles, reflecting our adaptability and commitment to progress.

Winter Utility Work Benefits

Scheduling utility work during the winter has a substantial impact, facilitating the proactive identification and resolution of potential issues. This strategy significantly diminishes the risk of delays or unforeseen challenges in the main construction phase. "Our proactive approach in winter helps to identify and manage challenges early on. This not only streamlines work but also allows for direct benefits to the community," comments Lucas, stressing the long-term benefits of this strategy.

Winter utility work also offers the advantage of reduced pedestrian traffic, which allows for smoother operations. Less foot traffic in the colder months means that work on the project can proceed with fewer potential disruptions. "The decrease in pedestrian activity during winter helps the execution of projects while reducing public inconvenience," remarks Lucas, highlighting another strategic benefit of winter utility work.

Scheduling utility work to start during the winter months provides us with an opportunity to address critical infrastructure needs, paving the way for expedited progress in the subsequent construction periods. As a result, we are well-prepared to schedule road improvement projects to begin at the start of the construction cycle when the warmer seasons arrive. This timing plays a crucial role in minimizing disruptions, ensuring that roadwork and other infrastructure projects have minimal impact on the daily routines of residents, particularly during peak traffic periods. "Our goal is to schedule work intelligently, minimizing the impact on the public while maximizing the benefits to the public," notes Leo Morand, P.E., Director of Municipal Services.

Community Benefits

The residents of the communities we serve gain the most from our winter utility work approach. As a result of planning utility work during the cold weather season, we align our projects better with community schedules. As temperatures rise and schools enter their summer holidays, residents will enjoy community spaces without the hassle of construction and road closures. “Our strategy is thoughtfully tailored to each community we serve, ensuring work aligns with times that minimize intrusion and maximize convenience for residents," notes Leo.

An often-overlooked benefit of winter utility work is its role in reducing construction dust. The moisture prevalent in winter plays a key role in binding dust particles, significantly minimizing the impact on nearby residents and communities. Another overlooked benefit of winter utility work is its alignment with quieter periods in community activities, creating an environment where construction noise is less likely to be a disturbance. As a result of our strategic scheduling, restoration can begin with the arrival of spring, allowing communities to enjoy fully restored neighborhoods throughout the summer, with minimal impact from construction activities.

These timely improvements to infrastructure contribute to an overall improved quality of life and are a direct result of focused efforts during the winter months. "The feedback we've received has highlighted unexpected perks, like the joy of opening a window to a cool, quiet summer breeze, undisturbed by construction noise or dust," mentions Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM, Director of Site Design Services. "The positive feedback we receive from community members confirms the value of our approach. It’s gratifying to see the benefits that this strategy brings to their daily lives," says Brian, highlighting the impact of winter utility work for residents.

Maintaining Project Timeline

This strategic timing is crucial for keeping project timelines on track and effectively managing potential delays. By initiating utility work during the winter, we proactively tackle issues that could arise, addressing them before the busier, warmer seasons begin. This forward-thinking approach allows for smoother project transitions and directly benefits residents by minimizing disruptions during peak community activity periods, demonstrating our commitment to community-centric solutions and efficient project management. "Utility work in the colder months positions projects effectively for road improvements with the change of seasons," remarks Brian. "Careful planning helps us maintain project timelines, allowing for steady project advancement." By advising on strategic scheduling, particularly for winter utility work, we help guide projects toward timely completion, enhancing community infrastructure with minimal disruption.

 


Hydrant Flushing & Maintenance: Essential for Your Community

Hydrant Flushing & Maintenance: Why It's Essential for Your Community

 

At Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), our Facilities and Utilities Management (FUM) Division understands that the availability of clean, safe water is a top priority in any community. One often overlooked aspect of maintaining this vital resource is hydrant flushing and maintenance. While it may seem like a minor detail, this practice is essential for guaranteeing that residents receive high-quality water and that hydrants are fully operational for emergency firefighting situations.

The Guidelines

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) Manual M17 is the definitive guide for hydrant inspections and maintenance. It recommends performing inspections at least once a year, typically in the spring. However, it's good practice to conduct an additional inspection during the fall. Following these guidelines, GHA's FUM Division conducts inspections at least twice a year. This ensures that hydrant barrels are drained to prevent freezing during the winter months, a proactive measure that can save communities both time and resources in the long run. "Regular hydrant maintenance is one of those things that you don't notice until you really need it,” says GHA Utility Operation Technician Rob Ulrich “It's a fundamental aspect of community safety and well-being."

Ensuring Water Quality

Hydrant flushing is not just about emergency preparedness; it's also about water quality. Dead-end water mains, or those that don't have sufficient daily flow, can become a breeding ground for bacteria and can cause chlorine residuals to drop to ineffective levels. Flushing these mains ensures that water quality remains high and that chlorine residuals are maintained, making the water safe for everyday use. Mike Grinnell, Director of Facilities and Utilities Management, added, "How well we maintain our hydrants directly impacts the quality of water in a community. It's not just about emergencies; it's about everyday health and quality of life.”

 

Two GHA employees flush a hydrant in Round Lake Beach.
Two GHA employees flush a hydrant in Round Lake Beach.

Emergency Preparedness

In the event of a fire or other emergency requiring large volumes of water, a malfunctioning hydrant can have serious consequences. The regular maintenance performed by GHA’s FUM Division goes beyond simply turning a valve. The maintenance process is comprehensive, covering a range of checks and procedures. These include flushing the hydrant to remove foreign material, verifying drain valve operation, and checking for leakage at specific points like flanges and seals. These steps follow the AWWA Manual M17 guidelines and aim to ensure optimal functioning of each hydrant component. This level of attention to detail can make all the difference in emergency situations, where every second counts.

 

Community Benefits

Beyond the obvious benefits of clean water and emergency preparedness, regular hydrant maintenance can also offer financial advantages for a community. A well-maintained water system is more efficient, reducing the costs associated with water loss and system failures. Communities that can demonstrate a high level of preparedness may also see benefits in terms of insurance ratings, potentially lowering premiums for property owners.

Hydrant flushing and maintenance is a critical aspect of community infrastructure that often goes unnoticed until it's too late. By adhering to guidelines like those set forth by the AWWA and by maintaining a regular schedule of inspections and flushing, communities can ensure that they are both saving money and, more importantly, safeguarding the health and safety of their residents. At GHA, our FUM Division is dedicated to upholding these standards, ensuring that we continue to deliver reliable and effective solutions for our communities.