ACEC OKLAHOMA UPDATE
December 2, 2020
In This Update:

  • Benham Design, Craig & Keithline, and Garver Win National Engineering Excellence Awards

  • ACEC OKLAHOMA Board Meeting Recap

Benham Design, LLC Receives “Honor Award” During
ACEC National Engineering Excellence Awards Gala
Craig & Keithline, Garver Earn National Recognition Awards
ACEC OKLAHOMA is excited to announce that Benham Design, LLC, received an Honor Award during ACEC’s Engineering Excellence Awards Gala which was held virtually on December 1st. Earlier this year, Benham Design also won ACEC OKLAHOMA’s 2019 Grand Conceptor Award for the state’s top project.

The “I-235 Broadway Widening at 50th Street and BNSF Railroad” project was one of top 36 projects in the country. Out of some 200 entries, 20 Honor Award winners, including Benham Design, were named along with 16 projects receiving Grand Awards. The “Grand Conceptor Award,” chosen from the Grand Award winners, went to Barge Design Solutions for their Copperhill Watershed Restoration Project in Ducktown, TN.

Benham Design and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) partnered to widen I-235 from four lanes to six from NW 36th Street to NW 50th. The project included rebuilding NW 50th Street, an entrance and exit ramp, Sewell Avenue, and realigning the BNSF railway. The existing BNSF bridge was also replaced, removing a bottleneck to the widening without reducing the number of traffic lanes during construction.

This was ODOT’s largest construction package in history, at a contract bid price of $81 million. Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) minimized disruption to the 115,000 daily commuters and BNSF rail traffic. ABC methods also prevented the contractor from constructing the trusses over traffice or reducing the number of travel lanes during construction. The contractor erected the trusses offsite and moved them into place using Self-Propelled Modular Transports, avoiding a reduction to one lane each way on I-235 for several months. Instead, highway closure time was only needed for a single three-day weekend, and rail for less than one day.

Craig & Keithline received a National Recognition Award for the City of Tulsa “Gilcrease Expressway North Mitigation Project” and Garver also received a National Recognition Award for the “Del City Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements.”

CONGRATULATIONS to the teams at Benham Design, Craig & Keithline, and Garver on these high honors recognizing their exceptional engineering achievements!
ACEC OKLAHOMA Board Meeting Recap
Some 60 ACEC OKLAHOMA members “zoomed in” to join the Board of Directors for the November Board meeting.

ACEC President & CEO Linda Bauer Darr was our guest speaker. Darr provided a comprehensive update on ACEC activities including a review of the recent national elections and how it will impact the consulting engineering business; ACEC efforts to assure that engineering continues to be classified as an “essential business” during the pandemic; a review of the PPP program and possible negative impact on FAR overhead calculations; discussion of the Biden administration views on infrastructure and climate change; and, a variety of other topics. 

Also, Chairman Grinsteiner introduced Mike Thompson, who has been selected by the Board of Directors to become President & CEO of ACEC OKLAHOMA effective January 1, 2021, succeeding Jim Sullins who will be retiring December 31, 2020. Grinsteiner welcomed Mike to ACEC OKLAHOMA, and Thompson made brief comments.

Here’s a recap of actions and discussions during the Board meeting:

  • Treasurer Adam West presented Current Financial Report which was reviewed and approved.

  • Membership Vice Chair Mike Vahabzadegan presented Membership Report was reviewed and approved.

  • Vice Chair of Education/P.R. Doug Glenn reported that he and Business Practice Vice Chair David Neuhauser would be working together to develop a brief survey of member firms to determine challenges and opportunities firms are facing as the pandemic continues, and what ACEC OKLAHOMA can offer to be of assistance by providing timely programming and information.

  • Vice Chairman of Business Practice David Neuhauser discussed his firm’s approach to the impact on firms’ employee relations during the COVID crisis. He urged firm leaders to take time to have more personal, non-business related interactions with staff, especially in cases where firms are still requiring employees to work remotely.

  • ACEC National Director Brent Schniers reviewed that actions taken during the recent ACEC national Board of Directors Meeting.

  • On Chairman Grinsteiner’s recommendation, the Board approved formation of five new committees to implement the new Strategic Plan: Knowledge Exchange, Key Partner, Legislative Advocacy, Branding, and Membership Diversity. Grinsteiner reported that he had assigned a Board member to chair each committee and those chairman had recruited members to serve. Lastly, it was also noted that those appointed would serve as a “steering committee” for decision making purposes, but that all committees would be “open” to allow interested ACEC OKLAHOMA members to join and participate.

  • Grinsteiner presented amendments to the Strategic Plan which would update various target calendar dates. He explained that with the pandemic, dates originally set in the plan became unrealistic, and that the amendments would simply change 2020 dates to 2021 targets. After review, the Board unanimously approved the amendments to the Strategic Plan.

  • Brent Schniers and Chairman Grinsteiner next led a discussion regarding municipal engineering contracts which contained language which might be both outdated as well as punitive to engineering consultants, and how ACEC OKLAHOMA could work with municipalities to assist them in updating their engineering contracts. After discussion, it was decided to form an ad hoc committee which would be charged with developing a “model” contract.  It was further decided that after development the Committee would then work with a select municipality to determine their willingness to begin discussions to update and modernize their contracts.
 
  • President Sullins provide a brief update on possible legislation for the 2021 session which will begin in February. He reported that Representative Ryan Martinez had agreed to introduce both the Peer Review and Indemnification legislation from last session which were held up due to the COVID crisis. Additionally, Sullins noted that there had been two interim studies from which legislation was expected to be introduced, those being legislation proposed by the county officials to gain control of the CIRB program without ODOT oversight, and, legislation dealing with electric and electric/hybrid vehicles to implement some type of fee paid by owners to offset lost motor fuel tax revenue.

  • Consulting Engineers PAC Chairman Geoff Covalt reported that the PAC had expenditures of $22,750 during the recent election cycle. He further reported that the PAC was involved in 25 specific races, and that the supported candidates won 22 of those 25 races. He further reported that in all cases, the PAC met personally with all 25 of the supported candidates which allowed members to educate the candidates on issues important to the engineering community as well as provide an overview impact the consulting engineering business has on the overall quality of life in Oklahoma.

  • ACECPAC Champion Keith Angier reported that ACEC OKLAHOMA was well behind in efforts to reach our 2020 contribution goal, having raised only just over $4,000 (35%) of the $11,657 target. He noted that while ACEC OKLAHOMA members had only contributed $4,000, ACECPAC had contributed $10,500 to Oklahoma candidates for federal office during the same time period. Angier also reported that the year-end “Last Chance Sweepstakes” was being conducted by ACECPAC, and asked everyone at the meeting to consider entering the sweepstakes by making at least a $100 contribution to ACECPAC.

  • Lastly, President Sullins reported on two letters which ACEC OKLAHOMA had sent recently to U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe regarding the PPP/FAR issues as well as an issue with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers TORN policy. Sullins noted that Inhofe was contacted at ACEC’s request since the Senator is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and is a member of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee.

The next regularly scheduled ACEC OKLAHOMA Board and General Membership Meeting is set for Thursday, January 28, 2021, and will include the presentation of our 2020 ACEC OKLAHOMA Engineering Excellence Awards. Mark your calendars today for this meeting, and keep your fingers crossed that we can hold this as our first “in person” meeting since last January.
The ACEC Business Insurance Trust invites you to a FREE a one hour (60 minute) webinar to discuss trends affecting the architect and engineer industry along with insight into some of the potential changes and exposures for design professionals. 

During this webinar we’ll review and discuss:
  • How design professionals are becoming more reliant upon technology
  • How a reliance on emerging technologies is affecting claims and overall liability exposure
  • How technology is impacting the standard of care and what constitutes reasonableness for the work performed by design professionals
  • How a lack of experience can lead staff to rely too much on technology, putting them at greater risk to violate the standard of care
  • How design professionals can help limit their risk through the use of best practices risk management techniques
 
Date:   December 16, 2020
Time:  4:00PM ET

This is a very timely program and we thank the ACEC Business Insurance Trust for providing this FREE webinar for our member firms.
James F. Sullins, CAE
President & CEO
220 N.E. 28th Street, Suite 135
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Phone: (405) 525-7696
Cell: (405) 826-6481
Fax: (405) 557-1820
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