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Copyright 2013, Urban Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, re-disseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Urban Engineers, Inc. For permission to reprint any portion of this publication; to notify us that you have received more than one copy; or to be removed from the mailing list, please contact us at or (215) 922-8080. Formulating ExcellenceÂŽ is the trademark of Urban Engineers, Inc. registered in the United States. Other marks, names, and logos contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Founded in 1960, Urban Engineers is a privately-owned (ESOP), ISO 9001:2008-registered, multidisciplinary design, construction management, construction inspection, planning, and environmental consulting firm.

Although reasonable effort has been made to present current and accurate information, Urban Engineers, Inc. makes no guarantees of any kind. The reader’s use of the information provided is at his or her own risk. In no event shall Urban Engineers, Inc., its officers, employees or agents, be held liable for any special, incidental, or consequential damages, whatsoever arising from the use or inability to use the information contained in this publication. Some links within this e-newsletter, or within the Urban Engineers, Inc. web site, may lead to other sites owned and operated by third parties. Urban Engineers, Inc. is not responsible for their content and does not necessarily sponsor, endorse or otherwise approve of the materials appearing in such sites. In addition, linked sites may be subject to terms of use and/or privacy policies of their owner/operators, and anyone who uses such a link is responsible for checking what those terms/ policies are for themselves. Furthermore, the opinions expressed in materials transmitted from this e-newsletter or the Urban Engineers, Inc. site are the opinions of the individual authors and may not reflect the opinion of Urban Engineers, Inc. or any of its principals, employees and/or agents.

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Executive Perspective

pg. 1

Edward M. D’Alba, PE, President, and CEO.

Urban Climbs In ENR Rankings

with Rugnab Bangura, PE, and David Metcalf. pg. 2

Urban’s CM and design rankings are rising.

Seventeen locations across six states. pg. 12

Getting It Done A tribute to the men and women of Construction Services.

More Than Bricks and Mortar

pg. 27

Giving Back Kevin Brown, EIT, contributes to the ACE Mentoring Program.

pg. 3

Field Trip

pg. 25


pg. 17

People dynamics that make a successful project. pg. 19 What advice would you give to someone just starting out in construction services?

Video Q&A

pg. 32 Maintaining perspective when unforeseen circumstances arise.

Proactive Resolution

pg. 35 What’s your favorite sight, sound, or smell on a construction site?

Video Q&A

pg. 37 Resident Engineer Antonio Ditri, EIT, takes us through a typical workday.

A Day In The Life

pg. 43 Rob Tuttle, EIT, Azad Kareem, PE, and Scott Walker, EIT.

Movers and Shakers

pg. 21

The Night Shift A night in the worklife of Construction Inspector Deborah Montgomery.

Contributions Authors




Copy Editors

Luke Cloran Chris Connor Edward D’Alba Cody Lowry

Luke Cloran Dave D’Alba Andrew Ludewig Kaytalin Platt

Urban Video Productions

Luke Cloran Kaytalin Platt

Andrew Cushman Cody Lowry Bruce Wagner

Special Thanks



Dr. Alan Atalah, PhD, PE Diana Eidenshink Jacqueline Heavener Emily Romick

Luke Cloran

Andrew Cushman

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Executive Perspective EDWARD M. D’ALBA, PE, PRESIDENT, and CEO At Urban, we have an incredible pool of talent who show up to work, often in uncomfortable conditions, through harsh winter weather, and in the summer on heat-absorbing blacktop. These are the men and women of our Construction Services, 182 individuals working in 10 states as I write this, who all work together to get the job done. They toil at night amid the glare of oncoming interstate traffic, going and coming from who knows where, so that the rest of us can conveniently travel, unimpeded by ongoing construction. During the day, they sleep when their families are awake so they can work the night shift. They manage construction in active freight yards with massive locomotives emitting high-pitched sounds that will break the eardrum if the plugs are forgotten. That said - we rarely hear complaints. Instead, we often hear that these men and women consider themselves privileged to work alongside so many awesome clients who want the product they and the public are paying for to be the very best. This publication is a tribute to the people who serve you and the built-environment you use day-in and day-out. They continue to foster a work atmosphere that helps attract and retain like-minded coworkers with a common desire to serve our clients well. This publication is dedicated to those who have set a standard of excellence second to none – the men and women of Urban Engineers’ Construction Services.

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Urban Climbs in Enr Rankings

Providing top 100 construction management services successfully is A RESULT OF in our ability to control time, cost, and quality, supported by excellent communication. Joseph P. McAtee, PE Executive VP and COO

Urban continues to ascend in the Engineering News Record’s (ENR) annual ranking of consultant firms despite ongoing tough economic times. Among the largest construction managementfor-fee firms, Urban ranked 41st nationally among all firms offering such services in 2013. Firm rankings are based on 2012 revenues, including revenue from program management activities. Urban was ranked No. 1 in this category among Philadelphia-based firms. “Providing top 100 construction management services successfully is a result of our ability to control time, cost, and quality, supported by excellent communication,” said Joseph P. McAtee, PE, Executive Vice President and COO. “Urban prides itself on these characteristics, supported by our ISO certification, internal training programs, and regular repeat work from our clients.”

Likewise, Urban jumped 10 spots in ENR’s ranking of the top design firms. As noted in ENR, “The signs of the recession’s end can be seen. The Top 500, taken as a group, had overall design revenue of $90.24 billion in 2012, up 6.1% from $85.06 billion in 2011. This marks the second year since the recession began that the Top 500 experienced revenue growth.” “While revenues are improving for the first time in several years, the postponement and/ or delay of projects of significance need to be addressed,” said Urban’s CEO and President Edward M. D’Alba, PE. “A long-term transportation bill, with adequate funding for all modes, would go a long way to putting America back on its feet and people to work on projects that will provide economic benefits for decades to come.” construction services / 2

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As members of Urban Engineers’ Corporate Development, we regularly attend groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, and other media events. But more often than not, we are in front of our computer screens designing, writing, and editing. And while we interact daily with senior management and our design engineers, some of us had yet to see the other side of the firm: the men and women of Urban’s Construction Services. Presented by: Luke Cloran David D’Alba Cody Lowry Andrew Ludewig Kaytalin Platt

We wanted to learn more about who they are, what they do, and what is important to them. So, we set off on a “field trip” that consisted of traveling from our Philadelphia headquarters to 17 locations across six states over two months. This is our perspective of that journey - a celebration of Urban’s unsung heroes.

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AND HERE WE MET IN THE FIELD, WORKERS AND SPECTATORS. ADMIRERS WE ARE AND SHALL REMAIN. More than anything else, we observed on this field trip that what makes Urban unique is its collective will. Whether designer, construction manager, inspector, president, marketer, or intern, each task is accomplished by the engine of determination. Down to every nut and bolt, our staff demonstrates singular focus and devotion to their assignments, regardless of client, project size, or dollar amount. Their workplaces demand common sense and their actions demonstrate it. The men and women of Urban’s Construction Services are in the field for endless hours, weekdays, weeknights, and weekends. They often arrive at the job site when most people are still asleep. These professionals are responsible for building bridges to support tens of thousands of vehicles per day, roadways to withstand the strain of natural disasters, and buildings to keep occupants safe. Each job site was challenging in a different way. There was construction on 100-year-old buildings, on bridges over bucolic trout streams, and on some of the most expensive real estate in America. Every day, we speed through their construction sites, perhaps aware of the bright orange signs, many not heeding their warnings. After having been just inches away from speeding traffic, walking around barrels and cones, and observing the ballet of worker and machine, we have a new respect for what they do. Many believe the excavation and deconstruction of a site is just as important as the actual development and construction. We usually see engineers as builders, constantly constructing and designing; however, for a project to be successful, the digging (the dirty work) and preparation of land and material is just as essential. We learned that there are two sides to construction - one is the process, which engineers study in school. The other, and, perhaps more important one, is the dynamic of human relationships. How you get along with your client, the contractor, and other consultants affects schedule and work flow, and can damage a project’s integrity if mishandled. With projects often lasting several years, team members form bonds akin to family. From mathematicians to carpenters, each individual had a unique and fulfilling story. Some are living their childhood dreams, imagined while playing with wooden railroads and building Lego® cities. Others are doing their best for newly formed families. All were thankful for the work opportunities they had been given.

11 22 33 44 55 66 77 88 99 10 10 1111 12 12 13 13

14 14 15 15 16 16 17 17

I-95 Reconstruction, GR1, Philadelphia, PA I-95 Reconstruction, GR1, Philadelphia, PA I-95, CP2, Philadelphia, PA I-95, CP2, Philadelphia, PA SR 202, Section 320, Chester County, PA SR 202, Section 320, Chester County, PA Newport Viaduct, Newport, DE Newport Viaduct, Newport, DE NJ Turnpike Interchange 8, East Windsor, NJ NJ Turnpike Interchange 8, East Windsor, NJ Hoboken Terminal, Hoboken, NJ Hoboken Terminal, Hoboken, NJ One World Trade Center, New York City, NY One World Trade Center, New York, NY West 125th Street, Harlem, New York City, NY West 125th Street, Harlem, New York, NY 475 Fifth Ave, New York City, NY 475 Fifth Ave, New York, NY I-190 over CSX, Erie County, NY I-190 over CSX, Erie County, NY Various Projects, Erie, PA Various Projects, Erie, PA Norfolk Southern Locomotive Maintenance Building,Southern Conway,Locomotive PA Norfolk Maintenance Building, Conway, PA SR 0019, A13, Wexford Flats Project, Northern Allegheny County, PA Flats Project, Northern SR 0019, A13, Wexford Allegheny County, PA SR 081, Section 064, Cumberland County, PA SR 081, Section 064, Cumberland County, PA I-95 Express Toll Lanes, Baltimore County, MD I-95 Express Toll Lanes, Baltimore County, MD Component Change Out Shop, New Haven, CT Component Change Out Shop, New Haven, CT CTfastrak, Hartford, CT CTfastrak, Hartford, CT

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Dave D’Alba (center) meets Brian Guillaume (left) and Adam Ostinowsky at the SR 0081, Section 064, Project in Cumberland County, PA.

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Jordan Wood, PE, Construction Manager for Interchange 8 of the New Jersey Turnpike’s 6-9 Widening Program.

Construction Inspector Keith Glunt at the I-95 Express Toll Lanes Project in Baltimore County, MD.

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THE MEN AND WOMEN OF CONSTRUCTION SERVICES For the past three decades, Urban’s Construction Services Department has been operating at the highest level, competitive with any firm in the country. We aren’t simply running with the crowd; we are continually benchmarking the competition and doing everything possible to outperform them. Here is our story.

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C O NSTRU C TION S E RVICE S AT A GL A NC E Year started: 1977 Total staff:


Total number of CI projects since 1981: Average career duration of current staff: Average career duration of management:


9.5 years 20+ years

Total number of active projects:


Consecutive years in ENR’s Top 50 CM Ranking:

2012 total revenue:


$ 40.5 million


THE EVOLUTION OF CONSTRUCTION SERVICES Edward M. D’Alba, PE President and CEO Our journey from a company with only a few assigned to the field to one with almost 200 men and women working in Construction Services, began with now Executive Vice President Joseph P. McAtee, PE, being assigned to the Center City Commuter Tunnel Project in Philadelphia in 1977 as Resident Engineer. I soon followed as the Resident Engineer for the Southern Tier Expressway in western New York in 1979. The size of these projects attracted some of the best talent these regions had to offer. An unprecedented decade of construction management assignments from 1985 to 1995, including PennDOT’s I-76 Schuylkill Expressway Reconstruction, I-676 Vine Street Expressway, I-476 Blue Route, SR 30 Exton Bypass, and the SR 202 Projects, led to the department’s growth and expansion, as well as the development of Urban’s current staff. We won our first construction inspection assignment with PennDOT in 1981. The practice grew in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York as the states began outsourcing this service. Today, Urban is a well-respected regional leader in construction services, having completed hundreds of projects totaling approximately $5 billion. To this day, Joe and I frequently reference and celebrate the names of the individuals, many of whom are still with us, who brought knowledge, determination, and a desire to grow this line of work for Urban.



Construction begins on the $330 million Center City Commuter Tunnel. Joseph P. McAtee, PE, serves as Resident Engineer.

Urban’s first CI contract with PennDOT.


Founding President (1960 – 1990), Robert C. Olson, PE, was Resident Engineer for the Yonkers section of the New York State Thruway and a section of the Cross Bronx Expressway.



Urban Engineers founded.

Southern Tier Expressway Project begins in western New York. Edward M. D’Alba, PE, is Resident Engineer. He later transitions role to now Erie, PA Office Manager and Senior VP George H. Willis, PE.

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Construction Management (CM) is a professional service that applies effective management techniques to the planning, design, and construction of a project from inception to completion for the purpose of controlling time, cost, and quality. Construction Inspection (CI) is the review of contractor work for compliance with contract documents, including but not limited to plans, specifications, general and special provisions, and approved shop drawings and samples. The inspection team also quantifies the contractor’s completed work for payment purposes. While inspection is the review of contractor work for quality and compliance with contract documents, construction management goes further. The construction manager oversees the entire process, which includes reviewing and monitoring the schedule, chairing job meetings and providing minutes, managing the submittal process, coordinating with outside entities engaged or affected by the work, interpreting contract documents, responding to and resolving issues, penning correspondence, and performing other duties as may be required to obtain successful completion of a project.

Gerald C. O’Neill, PE, CCM Senior Vice President and General Manager, Construction Services

1988 The Blue Route (I-476) begins construction. Urban manages over $500 million in contracts.



Al Alberts, PE, and Joseph P. McAtee, PE, are on board for the “Schuylkill Squeeze” (I-76 Schuylkill Expressway Project), PennDOT’s first CM contract.

Vine Street Expressway (I-676) opens in Center City, Philadelphia. Urban managed and inspected construction, during which 97 burial sites of the 19th century African Baptist Church were exhumed.


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ON SAFETY CHRIS CONNOR Urban’s Safety Manager, Chris Connor, is a retired Fire Department, City of New York, Fire Marshal. A first responder on 9/11/2001, Connor has the unique opportunity to oversee construction of the new One World Trade Center. Additionally, he regularly provides safety and hazard avoidance training to Urban’s staff and clients across America.

GROWTH AND EXPANSION 1990s With increasing work, Urban hires former contractors, owners, and career consultants.



Urban’s first major CM/CI project in central Pennsylvania involving I-81/83 near Harrisburg.

Urban breaks ground on US Airways’ Ground Service Equipment Facility. The building achieves LEED Silver Certification.



Urban starts work on New Jersey Turnpike’s Southern Mixing Bowl project, one of the largest initiatives in the Authority’s construction program, affecting over 100,000 daily patrons.

A time of geographic and client expansion, as well as new Construction Services offered.

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For anyone who thinks that engineering does not provide excitement, spend a day in the boots of Urban’s Construction Services Department. They are on the front lines and in the trenches of construction on land, sea, and air (ports). While many hazards are eliminated through proper planning, some are inherent to the work and must be managed appropriately. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are almost 15 construction worker fatalities per week, or approximately two deaths every day. The leading causes of worker fatalities on construction sites are falls, followed by electrocution, being struck by an object, and getting caught in or between something.

2013 One World Trade Center becomes the tallest building in the western hemisphere at a symbolic 1,776 feet. Urban provides integrity monitoring of construction.

PICTURE THESE DANGEROUS SCENARIOS: Two workers are killed every month in trench collapses. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car. In 2011, falls accounted for 35% of total deaths in construction. Think about having to measure the thickness of paint while in the blazing sun, at a high elevation on a multi-lane bridge, while workers are placing concrete for bridge decks, median barriers, and parapets. There is no room for error. Scared of heights? Imagine yourself ascending on an exterior construction hoist 105 stories to monitor construction on the largest building in the western hemisphere.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of all work-related fatalities in America. Spend time working on a highway at night with cars speeding past and you will think twice about ignoring the “Give Us a Break” signs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011. Our staff regularly inspect steel, rebar, and concrete placement daily amid heavy machinery. Many of Urban’s employees and senior managers have seen the worst possible results of accidents prior to joining Urban. These incidents have left lasting impressions on them. We refer to these employees as safety champions. They teach our staff about their professional lessons learned so that they can become the best and safest leaders in our industry. These people redouble efforts to maintain a safe work place. Thanks to better safety education and awareness, worker deaths in America are down from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 13 a day in 2011. At Urban, we believe in the five necessary building blocks to a successful safety program. They are management commitment, employee involvement, work site analysis, hazard prevention, and safety training. By consistently reinforcing these five principles, our employees return home safely to their families each day. Our OSHA recordable rates are consistently below the national average and we regularly receive A grades from third party safety review companies. Our clients value our history of working safely and delivering an excellent product.

2011 Urban helps bring Denton County Transportation Authority’s $350 million A-train to completion in Texas. The project wins an ACEC/TX Transportation Award. construction services / 16

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John Osborne Project: Task Order Contract Client: NJ TRANSIT

Sita Mohan

Rosemarie Zampese-Bakk

Hoboken Terminal, NJ

Successful construction projects require that people of different priorities, motivation, and personalities reach common ground. This often presents the toughest challenge to construction managers trying to deliver quality work.

THE ROLE OF PERSONALITIES “I have found that there is no engineering solution beyond our capabilities,” said Thomas Nodar, Urban’s Vice President of Transit and Passenger Rail Construction. “Typically, it’s the personalities that can have a huge difference on a project.” For 25 years, Nodar was the Chief of Construction and Project Management at New Jersey Transit (NJ TRANSIT), responsible for delivering $600 million in capital improvements annually. He recently joined Urban, but agreed to provide the owner’s perspective.

“Without trust a project can go south in a hurry,” he said. “The client needs to have confidence that the project team is providing the service for which it was contracted, but more importantly, that it can handle adverse conditions in a manner that is appropriate, give a true picture of status, protect the client’s interests, and give sound advice when necessary.” According to Dr. Alan Atalah, PhD, PE, Associate Dean of Graduate Affairs at Bowling Green State University’s College of Technology, listening, understanding, good communication, and negotiating in good faith are essential to building and maintaining trust among the owner, contractor, and consultants. Dr. Atalah has researched the role that personality plays in construction management. In “The Personality Traits of Construction Management Professionals,” he attempts

to define the range of personality traits of construction management professionals and identify the traits that differentiate them from the population at large. He found that construction management professionals were significantly different from the general population in 34 traits ranging from conceptual ability and teamwork to assertiveness and extraversion. In addition to having the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience, construction managers should possess the personality traits that enable them to lead their firms successfully. “Construction managers deal with many different people with different backgrounds, interests, education level, and specializations that require daily negotiations,” Atalah said. “The ability to listen, synthesize, and understand where these people are coming from is essential.” On the flip side, personal friction between the

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superintendent/construction manager and the architect or owner representative is a recipe for building mistrust, construction delays, extra cost, and lose-lose situations. “The project manager has to understand where others are coming from and how they operate,” Atalah stated.

BUILDING TRUST “Sometimes, personalities just click,” Urban’s Sita Mohan, EIT, said. “It makes it easy to come to work in the morning when you have confidence in people to solve problems.” Mohan is one of three engineers assigned to a NJ TRANSIT Task Order Contract. She is currently working as the Assistant Resident Engineer for a Roof and Façade Improvement Project at Hoboken Terminal. The other two, Rosemarie Zampese-Bakk and John Osborne, are working on the rehabilitation of Richmond Street UG Bridge on the Raritan Valley Line in Plainfield, NJ. During the past 12 years, together they have worked on a dozen construction projects on NJ TRANSIT properties totaling more than $200 million.

EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY TO MAKING THINGS RUN SMOOTHLY. Rosemarie Zampese-Bakk Office Engineer These projects are vital to NJ TRANSIT’s mission of providing safe, reliable, convenient, and cost-effective transit service to the 223 million passengers it serves each year. “Excellent communication is the key to making things run smoothly,” said ZampeseBakk. “Who wants a hassle every day? As far as compatibility goes, for us in the field, different experiences allow you to learn something new about yourself and each other.” Mohan, Zampese-Bakk, and Osborne have become an invaluable extension of NJ TRANSIT’s staff, which is evident from their repeat assignments under the Task Order Contract. On site, they appear to be NJ TRANSIT employees. “This is the ultimate compliment to be paid to a field consultant,” said Nodar.

While at NJ TRANSIT, Nodar worked with them on various projects like Metropark Station and the Richmond Street Bridge rehabilitation. “I counted on the information and actions of all three numerous times,” he said. “Whether I was seeking information as prep for an executive session, or merely checking the status of a job activity, I would contact any of them directly and use the information they provided me without hesitation. I trusted each implicitly.”

IT'S ABOUT THE PROJECT “We have a responsibility to help the client make tough decisions,” said Osborne. “We do it because it’s the right thing. NJ TRANSIT wants to send out packages that are buildable. Communication and fairness are critical for this to take place.” From the owner’s perspective, they appreciate it when consultants are proactive. “It shows that they have our best interests at hand,” Nodar said. Additionally, Nodar believes another area of major significance where consultants often miss the boat is operations. “Mitigating any circumstance that could affect operations, such as detours, directional signs, how we’re going to treat the customer – it all makes a huge difference in building confidence among the public, owner, and project team,” he said. “The public puts their trust in us daily,” Mohan said. “We have an enormous responsibility to keep them happy during construction.” Above all, the goal is to deliver a product that will safely serve the millions - perhaps billions - of men, women, and children for many years to come. “There is nothing better than seeing the project done and everyone happy with the final product’s quality,” Mohan said.

CLIENTS APPRECIATE WHEN CONSULTANTS ARE PROACTIVE. For 25 years, Thomas Nodar was NJ TRANSIT’s Chief of Construction and Project Management, delivering $600 million in capital improvements annually. He recently joined Urban as Vice President. construction services / 18

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DEBORAH MONTGOMERY, CONSTRUCTION INSPECTOR What does the typical worknight look like for a Construction Inspector at an engineering and construction services firm? To find out, we asked Deborah Montgomery, who is working on PennDOT, District 8-0’s SR 114, Section 22, Project. This effort consists of milling and resurfacing the existing roadway, and constructing minor drainage and guiderail along with ADA ramps.

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A typical work night in the words of Construction Inspector Deborah Montgomery.

Construction Inspector Deborah

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4:00 pm

I pack my bucket with drinks and a snack or two and head to the job site.

5:15 pm 5:30 pm

I get with the other inspectors to give them a rundown of the night’s activities.

5:45 pm I find the superintendent and discuss the traffic pattern for the paving operation. We discuss whether we are having detours, which lane will be closed first, and the number of flaggers and where they will be stationed throughout the night. I call the Traffic Management Center to inform them of the night’s activities and how paving will be affecting traffic. Once again, I record the information in my notebook.

6:00 pm

I meet the foreman of the paving crew. We discuss his plans for the night and issues that might come up, such as the impending rain. This might become an issue, so we discuss how he will handle the situation. He then gives me the tonnage of asphalt he is planning for the night and how many trucks he will need to haul. I call in a release to the blacktop plant. After speaking with the plant inspector, I record the time and tonnage that I released.

Prior to the paving, I gather my clipboard with the box and core sam sample tonnage locations, my Spec book, plans, and my thermometers rm that have been calibrated. I run a Maintenance and Protection rote (M&P) check to be sure long-term construction ion signs are in place, visible, and operational, and fillout the CS901 S90 (Daily M&P of Traffic Checklist). I also check the temporary signs sign that the contractor has placed for the night to be sure they aree at proper distances and in good condition. As I am checking the M&P M& , the broom truck is cleaning the roadway that is to be paved. ved

6:15 pm The truck has completed placing tack on the first area and it needs time to cure.

6:40 pm I stow my bucket and raincoatt o on the “shuttle buggy” (asphalt transfer machine) as the first trucks uc arrive. Temperatures are taken on the first three trucks and d recorded on each ticket. Afterwards they are taken for everyy ffifth truck. The tack has cured and paving begins. Everything runs sm smoothly for the first few hours. We check depths, widths, and d ffigure yields and watch the rollers. The contractor’s materials technician checks density and ni is notified when a box sample (Loose Asphalt ph Sample) is needed to be taken and witnessed by one of the inspectors. The box for ns the sample is marked with the station, offset, t, date, ECMS number, and any other pertinent information.

7:00 pm to 12:00 am


Everything runs smoothly.

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6:45 am

I turn off the lights, lock the job trailer, and head for home for some sleep.

5:30 am All traffic restrictions are off the road and flaggers have been signed out. I collect the tack usage ticket and proceed to the office. I sit down at the computer and enter the PSA and payments that are necessary.

4:45 am Due to time restrictions in the contract, the contractor stops paving and begins the process of cleaning up.

12:45 am



Thee contractor and I check the radar and see tthat a heavy rain is approaching. The contractor informs the plant to put a hold ra on thee trucks waiting to get loaded. There are two o trucks in front of the shuttle buggy to unload ad and two on the road. The rain is still very ry light with no puddling of water. As a truck is pulling away from the shuttlebuggy gy after dumping, the rain increases and nd I grab my rain coat and a snack.


2:00 am

3:00 am I mark the first core location, station, and offset. The contractor's technician then checks the location’s density. I witness the cutting of the core. Measurements are taken at four equal places around the core to determine it has proper depth. I record these, and deliver the core back to the job trailer.

The contractor is given the okay to continue paving. Tack is again applied, but lightly, and paving begins again. Tonnage is monitored and core locations and offsets are noted on the work sheet.

1:15 am The rain subsides. The contractor brings out the power broom and proceeds to sweep the rain from the unpaved roadway, going over it as many times as necessary, to dry the surface.

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RUGNAB BANGURA Project: West 125th Street Redevelopment, New York, NY Client: New York City Economic Development Corporation Rugnab “Bangs” Bangura, PE, is the Construction Manager of a streetscape improvement project along the 125th Street Corridor in Harlem. This project is part of a larger revitalization effort bringing incredible momentum to one of the city’s most diverse and celebrated neighborhoods.

What are the unique challenges related to working in New York City?

What lessons are you trying to teach younger engineers?

What differentiates Urban from other firms?

Generally, projects are pretty straightforward in that you are dealing with a set of plans and documents. However, in New York City, there is a tremendous amount of congestion, both above grade with vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and below grade with utilities, which complicates your approach to projects.

I try to teach young engineers to pay attention to details. They should never assume they know how to follow a project because each project is unique. Contractors sometimes give young engineers a hard time, so they have to build confidence and be able to back up their answers with a source.

When I worked for another company I was just another number. So, after only two months of working for Urban, I was pleasantly surprised when the President came into the room and said, “Hello, Bangs.” At my other job, I would go to the main office and have to sit outside like a visitor. Urban engages its employees.

What is your favorite part of a construction site?

Best part of the job?

What motivates you about a project? I feel that the way Urban embraces its employees makes you want to do more. When you’re working on a job, you feel like you’re working for your family. You know that if you do well, you’re laying the foundation for the next project and your family’s success.

I enjoy resolving issues.

I like watching the movement of a construction site. It makes me feel that things are getting done.

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DAVID METCALF Project: Route 202, Section 320, Widening and Upgrades, Chester County, PA Client: PennDOT

Originally built in the 1950s, Route 202 was practically outdated the day it was done. Today, PennDOT is widening and upgrading the highway to improve traffic flow and safety. Urban’s David Metcalf is in his third year as PennDOT’s Consultant Project Manager, second in command to PennDOT’s Resident Engineer.

How did you get into this career? I have been in construction my whole life. I had a 20-year career as a union carpenter until I went back to college in my 30s and got a degree in construction management. In 1989, I began inspecting construction and during the next 10 years worked my way up to managing projects.

What lessons have you learned along the way? I have learned to appreciate the people I’m working with for who they are. A good manager learns the best way that each person can contribute and doesn’t spend a lot of time asking them to do something that they’re not familiar with.

What do you like most about your day?

Do you have any advice about working with clients?

Successfully managing and bringing a project to completion is what I like most. What I like least is the amount of paperwork because there is a part of me that still wants to be on the site. But getting the job done requires both.

Staying flexible is important, so that you can adjust your style to what the client needs. One can have opinions, but you should be able to accept that things won’t always get done your way. It’s important to understand that you are there to represent both the client and Urban.

What is your favorite smell? I like the smell of freshly turned earth. When you first break ground and walk through an excavated area, it signifies the start of something that I’ll be involved with for years. However, I don’t like the smell of bituminous paving.

What distinguishes Urban from other companies? Urban makes you feel like you’re really a part of something, whereas working for other consultant firms, you’re just a warm body. I’ve never had that feeling at Urban.

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KEVIN BROWN, JR. Project: Reconstruction of I-95, Section GR1, Philadelphia, PA Client: PennDOT

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PEOPLE LIKE KEVIN HELP THE ACE PROGRAM GROW AND SUCCEED. Diana Eidenshink, Director of ACE Mentor Regional Programs, Mid-Atlantic.

Kevin Brown mentors ACE participants at Urban’s Philadelphia office.

West Philadelphia born and raised, Kevin Brown, Jr., EIT, spent most of his days...not thinking about his education. In fact, not until a high school counselor forced him to start applying to universities did he give it a second thought. Nine years and a degree in civil engineering later, Brown became the first member of his family to graduate from college. Today, he is completing his masters degree in civil engineering, and studying for his PE license, all while working on a significant project for Urban – the $91.3 million reconstruction of I-95, Section GR1. For the past year, Brown has worked closely with PennDOT and the project team to keep this behemoth project ahead of schedule and within budget. Brown credits his success to having mentors every step of the way. And that is why he spares his weeknights volunteering as a mentor to high school-age participants of the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentoring Program. Once a member himself, Brown understands the importance of giving back and never forgetting where he came from. “Before ACE, I had no clue what I wanted to do,” he recalls. “Now I’m hopefully

helping students in the same position that I was in at their age discover the exciting career possibilities available in construction.” Brown is especially proud that he often gets to mentor students from his former high school. Before he gets into anything technical, he focuses on communication and having students working together toward a common goal “Watching Kevin interact with his high school students through the ACE Mentoring Program is remarkable,” Edward M. D’Alba, Urban’s President and CEO, said. “We’ve learned from other mentors in the program that the students really look up to him.” Brown has also been instrumental in Urban growing its participation in the ACE Mentor Program as a sponsor. “People like Kevin help the program grow and succeed for all involved,” stated Diana Eidenshink, Director of ACE Mentor Regional Programs, Mid-Atlantic. “It’s a true testament to the program when a graduate wishes to come back and give back to future students.”

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Kemley Lahrmer-Whiteside, Office Engineer for the Walt Whitman Bridge Redecking Project, Camden County, NJ. The second largest capital improvement project ever undertaken by the DRPA, the project is progressing ahead of schedule and under budget.

L to R: Ernest Cotilus, Nick Loberto, and Lou DiNicola at the Newport Viaduct Project in Newport, DE.

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t has been said that certain things always occur in life: death and taxes, usually. On construction projects, unforeseen circumstances always arise. When they do, Urban’s Construction Management and Inspection professionals are the best in the business in getting these issues resolved. We visited some of Urban’s most seasoned and experienced transportation professionals managing construction projects in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey to learn how they approach these issues.


Dean Kurutz, Transportation Construction Manager, Warrendale, PA.

In the field, critical decisions have to be made in real time, with realtime consequences. Proactive communication is essential to overcoming these challenges. “Getting everyone on board right away to resolve an issue is very important,” said Dean Kurutz, a Transportation Construction Manager for Urban in southwestern Pennsylvania. “Anything can be resolved. The bottom line is that the project, or client, always comes first.” When we met with Kurutz, he was finalizing a $21 million roadway improvement project in suburban Pittsburgh. The client was keeping him on the job longer than expected so he could assist in tying up loose ends. Kurutz, who has been working in this industry for more than 20 years, likes resolving problems and is never one to shy away from a challenge. His advice? “Don’t panic. We’re all a team. The client has to ultimately pay for it so they need to be aware of any issues up front. The contractor needs to understand the various options available. The designer has an interest in getting the job done because they designed it.”

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SENSING FRUSTRATION Projects aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. When we visited the SR 141 Newport Viaduct Project in Delaware, unforeseen field conditions had caused some delays. We could sense the project team’s disappointment, but also their determination to get back on track. “When the work isn’t getting done quickly enough, it’s frustrating,” said Construction Inspector Lou DiNicola, PE, who has spent 13 years working with Urban on roadway projects in Delaware and Maryland. “I want to see the job get done.” Office Engineer Nick Loberto has been with Urban for more than four years. He feels that the relationships they have developed with the project team and client make it is easier to work on a daily basis, and proves valuable during times of frustration. Assistant Construction Manager Ernie Cotilus said, “Despite work moving slowly in the beginning, things are going more smoothly now and we expect to gain back the time that was lost.” A former surveyor for the City of Philadelphia, Cotilus’ role is to proactively manage the schedule and identify potential roadblocks. He may make suggestions to the contractor and client as to how an operation in the past has performed efficiently through his experiences and lessons learned always keeping in mind that the contractor has the ultimate responsibility for the means and methods of conducting work. The crew is now transitioning to Phase Four of a five phase project. “The gratifying part of a job is seeing different segments get completed,” he said.

Top (L to R): Jordan Wood, Patrick Harding, Agya Nyame Kusi, and Thomas Griffin, Urban’s consultants on the New Jersey Turnpike Widening Program. Bottom (L to R): Bruce Joyner, Andrew Thompson, and Lou Marraffino at the I-95, CP2, Project.

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COME TO THE FIELD Certain project elements require first-hand experience and knowledge of the work site to be properly designed and built. Complex, multi-year, multi-billion dollar projects come down to the final twist of a wrench. They can be thrown off schedule and over budget because a beam is too long or a crane too wide. “You can draw something in two dimensions on paper, but you can’t fully understand how everything is connected unless you come to the field,” said Jordan Wood, PE, Construction Manager for the Interchange 8 portion of the New Jersey Turnpike’s 6-9 Widening Program. Wood believes that field experience is essential for designers. Team members Thomas Griffin, Agya Nyame Kusi, and Patrick Harding all echoed this opinion. “You have to come to the field and learn how to put things together,” Harding said. The team has a good relationship with the designer, which they said facilitates easy communication. “Sometimes we just need to learn the reason behind the design,” Griffin said. “Other times we discuss the issue and identify a better, easier, cheaper way to get it done.”


Bruce Joyner, Construction Inspector

On the day we visited the Interchange 8 team, we didn’t observe any construction taking place, but a major deck pour was upcoming. Later, we learned that during the pour, a stay-in-place deck pan failed and the remaining pans seemed likely to fail too. The pour was abandoned and concrete that had been placed was washed out. “The issue was later resolved by placing a temporary engineered support system to hold the deck pans,” Wood said. The subsequent pour was completed successfully. “We are still investigating why this issue occurred,” he said. “You never know what can happen in the field.” We visited another Construction Services team working on the $212 million CP2 Reconstruction in Northeast Philadelphia, an important step in PennDOT’s Revive I-95 Program. Lou Marraffino, PE, who has spent 16 years with Urban, has observed all aspects of construction. When unexpected challenges occur, he steps back, looks at everything, remains patient, and stays level-headed. “When you can do this, the project comes together well,” he said. His CP2 colleague, Andrew Thompson, has seen first-hand the disconnect between what has been designed and what can actually be built. “The challenge comes in the last-minute changes that always cost money. If we can resolve something early on, it will be a better result,” he said. “Take the book, but learn the field,” said Bruce Joyner, Construction Inspector on the CP2 Project, who has 20 years of experience. “Not everything can be done by Google.”


Project: Rehabilitation of South Walnut, Market, and Fourth Streets over the Christina River, New Castle County, DE Client: Delaware Department of Transportation

YOU COULD BE THE BEST ENGINEER IN THE WORLD BUT WHEN YOU COME IN TO THE FIELD, IF YOU DON'T HAVE COMMON SENSE, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE VERY SUCCESSFUL. Jared Krause, PE, was the Assistant Resident Engineer and Senior Inspector on the staged rehabilitation of three 220-foot-long, double-leaf Bascule bridges with steel girder approach spans in Wilmington, DE. Typically a Bridge Design Engineer stationed in the firm’s New Jersey office, this was his first field assignment. As a kid, Krause was always building things with his hands. This, coupled with his design knowledge, allowed him to quickly adapt to the work. “Being able to work on a construction project for 18 months was invaluable,” he said. “It’s given me a new perspective on the field of engineering.” He believes that all design engineers can benefit from working in the field because of the real-world perspective they gain. “You could be the best engineer in the world but when you come into the field, if you don’t have common sense, you’re not going to be very successful.”

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TAKING A TRIP NARRATIVE ANTONIO DITRI, RESIDENT ENGINEER What does the typical workday look like for a Construction Manager at an engineering and construction services firm? To find out, we asked Antonio Ditri, EIT, Resident Engineer for the City of Philadelphia’s $4.2 million ADA ramp/signalization project, to share.

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Here’s a look into Resident Engineer Antonio Ditri’s typical workday, in his own words.

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5:15 am 6:55 am

When I arrive at the field office, I begin discussing with our field inspectors which operations each person will cover for the day, issues and challenges that we might need to address, and a brief reiteration of specs and plans that could be useful throughout the day.

8:00 am I begin entering pay quantities in CDS NeXtGen, updating record drawings, and making computations in the Item Quantity Books.

9:45 am

We beg egin in our u inv nves estitiga gatitio on of a co collllap apse sed d storrmw st wat ater er inllet tha hatt wa wass di d srrup u teed duri ring ng the demo de molilitition on of th thee in inte ters rsec ectition on’s ’ cur urb b an and d si side dewa walk lk.. W determine that a complete rebuild of th We he inlett is i necessary.

10:00 am I discuss with the contractor a strategy to work around this corner until Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) has evaluated its utility and what procedures must be taken to properly bury the line again.

10:15 am I call PGW’s assigned engineer who assures me someone will be out to inspect within 24 hours. Satisfied, I thank him and temporarily move on to other matters.

THE ALARM RINGS, I PUSH THE SNOOZE BUTTON. The alarm rings again. This time annoyed and somewhat conscious, I arise to shower, change, pack a lunch, put an “everything” bagel in the toaster, fill up a cup of coffee, and head out the door.

7:35 am

As I check my emails and PennDOT Engineering and Construction Management System website for Work Order & Estimate statuses and updates, I receive a call from my City of Philadelphia supervisor who tells me that the ADA ramp design is still in review status. This does not make me particularly happy. I tell him we need to get a move on - the contractor is beginning to run out of work. He concurs.

9:30 am Our ace inspector, Jim Miskey (shout-out to Jim, 25 years at Urban!), calls and asks me to come out on site, uttering the dreaded words,


12:00 pm Now back at the office. Like clockwork, my stomach growls. I stop for a quick lunch consisting of last night’s leftovers, an orange, and a bottle of water.

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3:30 pm

2:00 pm In other field matters, the contractor is working at an extremelly fast pace, so I help the inspector who needed an extra set of eyes to make sure the contractor follo ows the specs and meets grades for concrete placement at ADA A curbs and ramps.

1:15 pm An inspector calls saying, “We have another problem.” We investigate a PECO pole with a transformer on it that is old and leaning towards an adjacent property, five feet away. As a precaution, I call PECO to notify them of the situation. I am told, that due to PECO’s busy storm season workload, there will be someone out by next week.

3:55 pm After a long day, I start my trek home. A nice 45-minute ride to unwind and revisit the day’s events in my head.

While a stressful day, for sure, I remind myself how grateful I am that Urban gave me the opportunity to run my first project.


We begin wrapping up activities for the day. With the help of the inspection team and contractor, we determine that disturbed corners and intersections are buttoned-up and safe for pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

1:50 pm A failed attempt at calling the PECO rep a second time. I insist to the contractor’s PM that he put in an emergency call. I explain that although there was a pre-existing condition, we could still be held liable since we disrupted the surrounding concrete and soil. We both want to take extreme precaution in the matter, so he calls the emergency number.

1:40 pm I ta t ke ano n th her look at the PECO pole. A this po At poin nt, t I notice cracking in thee conc co ncre rete te sid idew ewal a k ar a ou o nd the base. This is concerning g bec ecau ause se we ha h d just demo de molilish shed nearb by co conccre rete te curb and it look lo oks lilike ke the h re could ld bee fr fres esh h cracking due to our ur ope p ration.

The Inspector calls saying,


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Tim Gallagher in the new Erie Insurance Parking Garage, Erie, PA.

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Eric Sailer, PE, Construction Inspector for a bridge replacement on I-190 in Niagara County, NY.

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ROBERT TUTTLE Project: Locomotive Maintenance Building, Conway, PA Client: Norfolk Southern Robert Tuttle, EIT, had recently graduated from Drexel University and was working as a Construction Inspector when his co-worker asked him, “Wanna move to Pittsburgh?” There was an opportunity to manage the construction of a 44,000-SF Locomotive Maintenance Building (LMB) for Norfolk Southern. Tuttle’s girlfriend at the time, now wife, was from Pittsburgh, so it made a lot of sense. Several months later, he was managing the $12 million project. “It was shocking overnight, but it was the best decision I have ever made,” Tuttle said. Three years later, his work on the LMB facility is nearing completion. “In the beginning, everything was a new experience, so it was all pretty amazing,” he recalled. “You can see dimensions on paper, but until you see all the concrete and steel, it’s hard to grasp the size and scale of this project. The building’s foundations have to carry locomotives, so they are pretty enormous compared to a normal building. Imagine a car garage, but scaled up 10 to 15 times greater. The amount of rebar is mind-boggling.” Concurrent with the completion of the LMB, Tuttle is managing the construction of a 12,000-SF Welfare and Material Storage Facility. His ability to communicate and resolve project issues before they arise has positioned him as a trusted leader among the various contractors, designers, and Norfolk Southern personnel. His advice for others in a similar position, “Take chances and every opportunity you get.” 43 / construction services

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AZAD KAREEM Project: Vidal Court Revitalization, Phase Three Client: Charter Oak Communities Azad Kareem, PE, is no stranger to complex construction projects. A native of Iraq, he began his career in the 1980s with a project to construct 75 miles of six-lane expressway, including 19 new bridges. Because of his leadership on this project, the Iraqi government selected him to manage 1,800 personnel, constructing 37 miles of a $3.6 billion, 752-mile, six-lane expressway connecting the Persian Gulf with Europe in the 1990s. He worked closely with German design engineers, as well as contractors from all over the world. The enormity of these projects was unheard of at the time in Iraq. Seeking a better lifestyle, Kareem immigrated to the United States in 1998, and eventually came to Urban’s Hartford, CT office in 2006. For six years, he worked side-by-side with Charter Oak Communities (COC) in Stamford, CT. He was the Construction Inspector and On-site Monitor of the $135 million, multi-phase Vidal Court Revitalization, a series of projects transforming a physically obsolete, state-assisted public housing complex into a self-sustaining, mixedincome community. These assignments were particularly rewarding for him because they were welcomed enthusiastically by the entire Stamford community. In 2012, after having successfully completed the second step in the revitalization, 76 mixed-income housing units of the Palmer Square Phase, Kareem transitioned to Chief Inspector on Section Five of the CTfastrak Bus Rapid Transit Project in Hartford.

As he was assisting the CTfastrak effort, COC began preparing for Phase Three of the Vidal Court Revitalization - 45 mixed-income housing units consisting of 10 one, -two, -and three-story buildings on an approximately three-acre site in a neighborhood setting. Although he was already on another project, COC requested that Kareem return for Phase Three. “We conduct an open solicitation for construction monitoring for every project, and Urban Engineers and Azad have been selected as the superior team each time,” said COC’s Jonathan Gottlieb, Vice President. COC’s complex and high quality developments are on a tight budget, with many private and public funders watching every construction and operating dollar closely. “We rely on Azad to be our eyes and ears on the job site and to protect our interests and those of our multiple public and private funding sources,” said Gottlieb. “We have been very satisfied with his performance and the Urban Engineers team. The contractors appreciate Azad’s fairness and thoroughness, analytical ability, and excellent reporting and record keeping. With his help, our developments have won awards and also full acceptance by the broader community.”

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SCOTT WALKER Project: Post-Superstorm Sandy Cleanup and Repair, Brooklyn, New York Client: NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

In February 2013, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation awarded Urban a resident engineering task for the emergency clean-up and repair of park facilities damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The $1.8 million construction involved the Shore Road Bikeway and adjacent pedestrian path located between 92nd Street and Bay Parkway in the Borough of Brooklyn. Scott Walker, EIT, chose to temporarily relocate from the firm’s Buffalo office to assist with this quick-turnaround assignment. The project is wrapping up and Walker has since returned to Buffalo. Here are his thoughts on the experience.

How did you learn about the project? I completed work on a three-year project for the New York State Thruway and was ready to move on but there was no immediate work for me. Urban’s New York City Office

Manager, Chuck King, PE, called me one day as I was on my way out the door for vacation. He asked if I would be willing to work on the project in Brooklyn. I spent the whole vacation thinking about the opportunity and discussing it with my fiancé. At many points, I was back and forth on whether to work away from home. In the end, I decided it would be a great opportunity to learn more about Urban.

What are your future plans? I plan to take everything I learned about Urban’s other operations and bring that knowledge to the Buffalo office. I encourage everyone to take the opportunity if it comes to them to work in a different Urban office. It’s a wonderful and welcoming experience.

How do you feel about your decision? I feel that I made an excellent decision. It was a great way to explore how different agencies work in New York and, most of all, learn other aspects of Urban and its marketplace. Also, it was a great opportunity to meet wonderful and helpful people that we have working for Urban like Chris Connor, Oscar Bustos, PE, and Patty Robles, EIT.

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clients + people + projects

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Excellence - Summer 2013  
Excellence - Summer 2013  

Special Issue - The Men and Women of Urban Engineers' Construction Services