A Well-Earned Partnership: Thirst Project and American Structurepoint

One of our company’s community outreach programs of which I am most proud is our work with the Thirst Project. This nonprofit organization is the world’s leading youth water activism organization dedicated to building freshwater wells in developing nations and impoverished communities to provide people with safe, clean water.

In just nine years of existence, Thirst Project has raised $8.8 million to build 2,217 projects in 13 countries. Not only that, the organization is nearly 74 percent successful in reaching its ambitious goal of providing clean drinking water to the entire kingdom of Swaziland, located in southern Africa, by 2022.

I first learned about Thirst Project in 2011 when I met the organization’s dynamic, young CEO, Seth Maxwell, 29. Upon seeing Seth’s passion for ending the global water crisis, I knew American Structurepoint had to get involved. After all, providing safe, clean water to improve quality of life is part of our DNA.

Our $73,000 in contributions to the Thirst Project work has produced six new wells that pump clean, safe water to people in desperate need of this essential resource. We recently received a video of our latest well that provides clean water to the village of Ondiyaneni. Please consider supporting this organization in bringing clean water to those who need it most. To learn more, click here.

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Supporting a Charity Bike Ride to Fight Cancer

1,600 miles. 17 days. 1 mission.

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One of our clients who combines his passion for charity organizations and bike riding is at it again. Real estate developer Jim Frey and four of his friends are going on a 17-day bike ride from Minneapolis to New Orleans to raise $200,000 for the Women’s Global Cancer Alliance (WGCA), a Louisville-based organization that helps women in developing countries live healthier lives.

Jim’s team, known as the FivexFives, begin their ride on October 15. They plan to cover 95 miles a day for 17 days along the Mississippi River, concluding on Halloween. Each team member has been affected in some way by cancer through friends and relatives who serve as the inspiration for their ride.

Three years ago, Jim completed a nine-day solo bike ride benefitting WGCA that raised $80,000. Jim is excited about the 2017 trek that more than doubles the monetary goal for WGA and doubles the first ride’s distance.

“I have participated in many fundraising rides over the years, but this one is particularly close to my heart,” Jim said. “WGCA is doing great work across the world to treat and defeat cervical cancer, and I’m very proud to do something to support their cause.”

I invite you follow to Jim’s journey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube by searching for “FivexFivesRide.” More importantly, please donate to the cause by clicking here and click on the “Donate Now” button.

Bus Rapid Transit Moving Forward in Indianapolis

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The arrival of a bus rapid-transit line in Indianapolis is revving closer to reality, and with it comes a long-awaited delivery of a much improved public transportation system in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Public Transit Corporation is now accepting bids for civil work and for station work for the much-anticipated Red Line and the 28 stations along the 13.1 mile Phase 1 route that runs from Broad Ripple southward to the University of Indianapolis. Deadline for submitting bids is November 13; contractors will be approved at a December 7 meeting; construction will begin in early 2018; and the first Red Line riders will board all-electric-powered buses in 2019.

Why bus rapid transit? Simply put, it’s a public transit solution that will significantly improve mobility for thousands of people who need to connect to where the jobs are, to where learning happens, and to more cultural and recreational opportunities.

This segment of the Red Line route will come within a quarter mile of more than 50,000 residents and nearly 150,000 jobs – a quarter of all jobs in Marion County. Once open for service, the Red Line will run 20 hours each day, seven days a week and is expected to grow daily ridership to 11,000 within a year of operation.

The Red Line will connect several neighborhoods to the state’s largest concentration of jobs (downtown Indianapolis), the state’s largest hospital system, and three higher education institutions – Ivy Tech Community College, University of Indianapolis, and IUPUI.

These are just a few benefits that the Red Line will bring. American Structurepoint is serving as the Indianapolis Department of Public Works’ technical representative. Our role is to facilitate the coordination of the project’s multiple facets, such as construction schedules and maintenance of traffic. We will work diligently to ensure that the Red Line progresses as smoothly as possible for all major stakeholders and the traveling public. As the design partner for CDM Smith, American Structurepoint also has provided traffic signal analysis and design, general roadway design, topographic survey, right of way engineering and plan development, and public involvement assistance.

We are eager for this new chapter in public transit to unfold in Marion County. I invite you to learn more by visiting a newly launched website, www.indygored.com. This will be a key site to check for detailed updates and information in the weeks and months ahead.  Once construction begins, you will be able to scroll through an interactive map to help understand impacts and restrictions along the corridor

Saluting An Indiana Surveying Legend

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Tom Campbell/Purdue University

American Structurepoint sends a sincere salute to a Hoosier surveying legend who recently turned 100 years young – Indiana Department of Natural Resources Field Surveyor Bob Vollmer.

It’s safe to say that wherever Bob goes, a tripod, compass, and a Trimble S6 robotic total station are sure to follow. Vollmer, the oldest state employee in Indiana history, is an inspiring, energetic soul who still    works four days a week surveying DNR properties. The state has no mandatory retirement age, and Bob is determined to stay in the field as long as possible.

“I don’t believe in retiring,” Bob is quoted in The American Surveyor Magazine. “When you retreat, that’s when you get in trouble.”

This World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy graduated from Purdue University in 1952 with a degree in biological and agricultural engineering. He joined the state’s Division of Engineering in 1962 when the DNR was the Department of Conservation. Since then, his work has taken him to 90 of Indiana’s 92 counties – all but Dearborn and Switzerland. He’s surveyed nearly every inch of the 3,000-acre O’Bannon Woods State Park that’s nestled inside the 26,000-acre Harrison Crawford State Forest in southern Indiana.

Bob is well-respected and beloved at DNR, so much so that in December, he received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award. Later this year, the state will dedicate a plaque in Bob’s name at the Ten O’clock Line Trail in Brown County State Park.

Here’s to many more days in the field for this dedicated professional. Congratulations to Bob for reaching this incredible milestone and for a life well lived.

Drive Safely During National Work Zone Awareness Week

Drivers should always remember to be on high alert when traveling through work zones, but all too often, we know this isn’t the case. Let us all stay vigilant to ensure that National Work Zone Awareness Week from April 3 through 7 stays as accident free as possible.

This year’s theme is “Work Zone Safety Is in Your Hands.” American Structurepoint joins with the Federal Highway Administration in asking motorists to slow down in work zones, give their full attention to the work occurring around them, and to expect the unexpected.

Pay attention to the reduced speed limit in work zones. Exceeding the speed limit doesn’t buy you that much time. According to an Indiana government website, the difference between driving 65 MPH and 45 MPH through a 2-mile work zone is a minute.

According to the 2017 edition of “Injury Facts,” a chart book from the National Safety Council, 700 deaths and 35,500 injuries occurred in work zone crashes in 2015. Approximately 40,000 crashes occur in work zones every year. A vast majority of these occur because drivers are following too closely, speeding, or are inattentive.

Workers in roadway construction zones are real people with real families. The Indiana State Transportation Workers Foundation was formed in 2006 to address the real adversity these families face when a loved one is killed or disabled while working. American Structurepoint Executive Vice President and Partner Greg Henneke is the president of this 501 (c) (3) organization that strives to ensure these family members are not forgotten. In fact, the organization is taking steps to expand its reach to offer hardship funds and scholarships to these families.

It’s unsettling, but true, that work zones can become an accident scene within seconds. Please remember that, not only this week, but always.

America’s Infrastructure Grade: At Risk and Near Failing

America’s infrastructure is close to failing.

So says the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which released its 2017 infrastructure report card earlier this month, giving the nation’s overall infrastructure a grade of D+.

Translation: Our roads, bridges, water systems, and transit systems are in pretty bad shape.

Every 4 years, ASCE provides a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s 16 major infrastructure categories, using a simple A to F school report card format. ASCE assessed the categories based on capacity, condition, funding, and public safety. Mass transit received the worst grade, a D-. Roads and airports received a D, the same mark as in 2013. Railroads earned a B, the highest grade given in the report. Wastewater and public parks and recreation received a D+; bridges and ports received a C+.

Startling statistics

Here are just a few of the eye-opening statistics uncovered in this year’s extensive report, available online.

  • More than 2 out of every 5 miles of the nation’s interstates are congested.
  • Traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted fuel and time, which equates to 42 wasted hours per driver a year.
  • In 2016, 56,000 of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient.
  • American’s water systems are leaking trillions of gallons of water a year.
  • By 2020, 24 of our 30 major airports are expected to experience Thanksgiving Day peak traffic levels at least once a week.

Hope on the horizon

President Donald Trump has pledged to seek up to $1 trillion in new programs to rebuild our infrastructure. Last November, voters approved 72 percent of the ballot measures seeking to raise taxes at the city, regional, and state levels to pay for transportation, light rail, rapid transit, bike paths, and other infrastructure improvements.

Much work needs to be done. ASCE’s report card says it will cost an estimated $4.59 trillion to get the national’s infrastructure into relatively good shape by 2025.

To those outside of our industry, it may seem self-serving for the country’s civil engineers to point out infrastructure deficiencies. We civil engineers strongly believe it’s a matter of public safety necessity and quality of life for all.

Infographic courtesy of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

American Structurepoint Among the Best Employers in Indiana and Ohio

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Simply put, our staff rocks! We are thrilled and honored to see American Structurepoint included on two lists ranking the best employers in Indiana and Ohio. We are among 100 companies named to the 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana and one of 34 companies earning a sport on the 2017 Best Employers in Ohio list.

Best Companies Group, a firm that handles the selection process, oversees similir programs in 29 states.  The lists are compiled after analyzing employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys.

All of our employees, from Indiana to Ohio and from North Carolina to Texas, pride themselves on delivering excellence, value, and exemplary customer service to our clients. As a company, we also place a high priority on improving the quality of life for our people and our communities. Making these “best-of lists” in Indiana and Ohio is a wonderful validation of their success and our staff’s satifsfaction level in serving our clients to the best of their abilities.

We will learn our final rankings on both lists in May. We do know that on the Indiana list, we are 1 of 19 honorees in the “large companies” category with 250-999 US employees. We can’t wait to find out where we place when the rankings are revealed.

Supporting Transformation at IPS

All of us at American Structurepoint are so proud to be part of continuing progress at Indianapolis Public Schools, the largest school district in Indiana. Thanks to a strong vision, bold initiatives, and innovative changes enacted by IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee and the IPS School Board, many good things are happening at IPS, which translate into greater opportunities for IPS students. Our $250,000 commitment to make possible additional high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum via Project Lead The Way programming is just one example of positive change. Here are three more examples.

Graduation rate hits a 10-year high. The most recent data from the Indiana Department of Education shows that 2015-2016 IPS high school graduation rate is 77 percent, an increase from 72 percent for the 2014-2015 school year, and the highest rate the district has seen in 10 years. It appears that the efforts of graduation coaches – first used in the 2015-2016 school year – played a big part in the progress. Graduation coaches provide tutoring services and other interventions to ensure student achieve their post-secondary goals.

IPS chosen to improve teacher quality. The Indiana Center on Teacher Quality in October selected IPS as one of five school districts and one charter school to implement a process to improve student learning by providing a continuum of instruction from highly effective teachers. Activities will focus on systems and structures to improve teacher quality to meet the academic and behavioral needs of all students.

A new medical/STEM middle school will open next school year. The new school will replicate a popular program currently at Harshman Middle School that has a waitlist of more than 500 students. This will bring more opportunities to students interested in exploring future careers in the healthcare or STEM fields. Students will work together in a STEM-focused curriculum to gather the skills to think critically, solve complex problems, and drive advancements.

Many more positive accomplishments are happening at IPS. We are encouraged with the progress we’ve seen, and we can’t wait to see even more accomplishments in IPS’ future.

Touting the Opening of the Lewis and Clark Bridge

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American Structurepoint congratulates the entire Kentuckiana community on the December 18 opening of the new Lewis and Clark Bridge and East End Crossing public-private-partnership project.

The $2.3 billion Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges project, which also includes a new downtown bridge crossing, truly is a major achievement 40 years in the making and turns the page on the start of a new era of economic opportunity and cross-river mobility for the entire region.

The East End Crossing project covers 8.5 miles of roadway that connects an area just east of Jeffersonville, Indiana, to the eastern edge of suburban Louisville. The Indiana portion extends Indiana 265 four miles to the Ohio River from its previous termination at SR 62. The Kentucky portion extends Kentucky 841 from its previous end at US 42 and includes a pair of 1,700-foot tunnels beneath US 42 and the historic Drumanard Estate.

Its centerpiece is a stunning 2,500-foot cable-stay bridge spanning the Ohio River. The bridge also features 2 diamond towers rising 300 feet above the river and a shared-used path for pedestrians and bicyclists. American Structurepoint served as the design firm for Section 6 of the project, which is the portion located in Indiana.

The project brings many benefits to the area. Chief among them are improved traffic safety and an anticipated reduction in traffic congestion in downtown Louisville by providing an alternate route for crossing the Ohio River. The new roadways and bridge also are expected to dramatically increase the region’s role in the nation’s freight economy. Indiana Governor-elect Eric Holcomb estimates an economic impact of more than $87 billion throughout the region over the next 30 years.

Great things are happening in this area as well as at the nearby River Ridge Commerce Center, the 6,000-acre former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant being transformed into a thriving business and manufacturing center.

American Structurepoint is so grateful, proud, and honored to be among the many firms joining together to improve the quality of life in this region. Here’s to continued growth – the best is yet to be.

A season for giving

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The holiday season – and its emphasis on giving – is now in full swing. Giving back to the communities that have helped us achieve our success is a cherished value at American Structurepoint. We believe in the importance of year-round giving and continual community service because we are committed to improving the quality of life in the communities we serve.

Our employees volunteer their time to serve organizations such as Dream Alive, Meals on Wheels, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Mid-Ohio Food Bank, and the ACE Mentor Program. We also provide financial support to dozens of causes and organizations throughout the year, such as the Thirst Project to build water wells in Swaziland. We are extremely excited about our $250,000 gift to expand quality Project Lead the Way STEM education programs in all Indianapolis Public Schools. This investment to boost STEM skills in young people, which we made to celebrate our 50th year of business, is the perfect ‘thank you’ to the city of Indianapolis that we believe will pay many dividends for years to come.

Each group and cause that we support has a story. In nearly every case, that story continues to unfold. The need is great in communities near and far, from those in our own backyard to those on the other side of the globe. At this time of year, I urge you to find a cause that speaks to your heart, to the values you live by, and give whatever you can. Your support could make a big difference in someone’s story.

Prior to December, our Give Back program has supported 40 organizations in 2016. We look to increase that support to an additional 30 groups in December as our Give Back program shifts into high gear.

We are honored to have assisted these groups this year: Backpack Attack (Indianapolis), Flood Relief in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Big Brothers and Sisters of Central Ohio, Catholic Charities of Genesee County, Michigan – Water for Flint Michigan, Camp Reveal (Evansville), Dayspring Center (Indianapolis), In Memory of Derek Knowling (Indiana), Dream Alive (Indianapolis), Faith, Hope & Love Community (Indianapolis), Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, IPS Northwest High School food pantry and uniform closet (Indianapolis), JasperStrong (Greenwood), Julian Center (Indianapolis), Lazarus Living (Indianapolis), LifeCare Alliance (Columbus, Ohio), Line of Duty Fund (Dallas, Texas), Meals on Wheels (Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio), Million Meals Movement (Indianapolis), Mid-Ohio Food Bank, Morning Light (Indianapolis), Mozel Sanders Foundation (Indianapolis), National Foundation for Transplants, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation, Packapalooza Day of Service (Lake Area United Way), Paw Pantry at Fall Creek Valley Middle School (Indianapolis), Pals on Patrol (Noblesville), Salvation Army (tornado relief), Schools on Wheels (Indianapolis), Scholarship Africa (Indianapolis), Serving Sistas, (Indianapolis) Teachers’ Treasures (Indianapolis), The Sharing Place Food Pantry (Indianapolis), Thirst Project (international effort), Vanderburgh County Foundation (Evansville), Vanderburgh County CASA , (Evansville) Wabash Valley Community Foundation (Terre Haute, Indiana), and two families needing financial help.

Happy holidays to all.