May 29 2012

A Few Good Reads (5/29/12): Tunnel Project Progressing in Austin

This week: Tunneling below Austin for flood protection, California Fish & Game suing the Corps over the levee tree policy, the AEC economic outlook, 2012 flood (or lack of) outlook on the Missouri River, and Joplin one year later.

$147 million Waller Creek Tunnel Project beneath downtown on time, budget (The Statesman)

Efforts to build the Waller Creek Tunnel have been in the works since 1981, when 13 people drowned in what became known as the Memorial Day Flood, a May storm that wasted parts of the city, causing $36 million in damages.

Though the damage and death toll varies, Pantalion said the creek floods almost every decade. Only three years ago a pedestrian was pulled into the creek’s overflow and killed, he said.

But 26 feet in diameter and about 5,600 feet long, the tunnel will eliminate 28 acres from the Waller Creek floodplain, Pantalion said, protecting about 40 properties and 12 roadways downtown.

California Fish and Game sues U.S. Army Corps over levee trees (Sacramento Bee)

The Corps has said its policy is not new, and that it merely made uniform a national policy that had not been applied in California before. It allows only grass on levees, asserting that tree roots weaken levees.

California has only 5 percent of its original riparian habitat. Most of that consists of trees and shrubs on levees, which provide food and shelter for numerous species.

3 economists look at the construction industry and economic recovery (ASCE SmartBlogs)

The three agreed that the situation in Europe, energy prices, Congressional inaction and gridlock in Washington, D.C., could derail the “spotty recovery,” as Simonson put it.

As repairs continue, Corps announces 2012 flood outlook (Leavenworthtimes.com)

In contrast to last year, rainfall has been lower than average and temperatures higher for most of the Missouri River basin, and especially for the southern end of the river, said Dr. Dennis Todey, state climatologist for South Dakota. Todey said the La Nina weather pattern that had settled over the area this past winter has now moved out. Though the neutral system that has settled in since does make far-flung forecasting difficult, he said the dry, warm patterns the area has so far experienced will likely hold out for at least the remainder of May.

Joplin tornado: One year later (The Big Picture)

The city of Joplin, Mo., on Tuesday marked a year since a tornado struck, killing 161 people and destroying a third of city. Many people marched during a “Day of Unity’’ through the city’s hardest hit areas. The tornado destroyed or damaged thousands of structures, including the high school and St. John’s Regional Medical Center, both of which are being rebuilt. The storm is reported to have caused some $2.8 billion in damage.

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