CIGMAT Hosts 15th Annual Conference

For the 15th year, the Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology (CIGMAT) and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering hosted a one-day conference on “Construction, Geotechnical, Hurricane and Flooding Issues in Houston & Other Major Cities” at the University of Houston on April 23. More than 280 attendees consisting of owners, consulting engineers, material suppliers, contractors and academia attended and participated from across the U.S.

Dr. C. Vipulanandan, chairman and professor, and director of CIGMAT and the Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology (THC-IT) made opening remarks before the general session, which focused on public works, transportation issues and the impact of rail transport to the region. Plans for maintaining and expanding the city of Houston’s water/wastewater facilities and issues related to the user fee increase for the coming years was presented by Michael S. Marcotte, director of Public Works for the city of Houston. Steve Simmons, deputy director, TxDOT, discussed the outlook and implications of fuel-efficient technologies as they relate to the department of transportation. The general session ended with a presentation by Nancy Edmonson, board of director, Gulf Coast Rail District, Houston. She discussed the necessary regulations and impact of light and heavy rails in the region.

The afternoon sessions began with four technical sessions, the first of which was a panel discussion on the “Management of Major Water and Wastewater Systems.” Daniel Menedez, deputy director, city of Houston, discussed some of the challenges and future plans for the city’s water and wastewater systems. Ravi Kaleyatodi, senior assistant director, city of Houston, commented on the past, present and future plans for Houston’s Almeda Tunnel project. Next, attendees heard from Bell Gharam, president and principal engineer, Schiff Associates, Claremont, CA. He discussed the corrosion protection properties of low-density concrete cellular grout for steel surfaces. Danny Warren, president, Warren Environmental, Boston, MA, shared several case studies on the successful use of coating and grouts to control water leaks in water and wastewater pipes around the world.

The second panel discussion focused on the challenges of maintaining small and large public works infrastructures. “Hurricane Issues and Geotechnical Issues” focused on maintaining and protecting coastal infrastructures during Hurricane Ike and a bulkhead failure in clay in Beaumont, TX. Harrison Sutcliffe, project engineer, USACE-Galveston, Galveston, TX, presented some of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ projects and plans following Hurricane Ike. Professor William Merrell, Texas A&M University, Galveston, TX, discussed the concept of the “Ike-Dike: A Coastal Barrier Protecting the Houston/Galveston Region.” Kenneth Tand, Kenneth Tand and Associates, followed with an “Analyses of Bulkhead Failures in Beaumont Clay.”

Professor Richard J. Finno, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, delivered the fifth Mike O’Neill Lecture on “Designing Excavation Support Systems to Protect Adjacent Structures.” Dr. C. Vipulanandan then presented “Field Compaction Verification Using a New Surface Penetrometer (SP-CIGMAT) During Construction.”

The fourth session rounded out the conference with a session on flooding and stormwater issues related to Harris County and along Highway US 290 during and after a proposed expansion project. The featured speakers were Mike Talbott, director of the Harris County Flood Control District, and Elie Alkhory, transportation engineering supervisor, TxDOT Houston District, Houston. A panel discussion on “Flooding Related Challenges (Funding and New Regulations),” followed the presentations.

Attendees had the opportunity to visit with a number of grouting and pipe manufacturers, material suppliers, and pipe condition monitoring and wastewater rehabilitation companies who participated in the exhibition. A reception followed the technical sessions in the exhibit area where posters were displayed on research activities at CIGMAT and in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Proceedings will be available on the CIGMAT web site at CIGMAT-2011 will be held on March 4, 2011 at the University Hilton, University of Houston, Houston, TX.

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