Thursday, June 30, 2011

#74 Railroad Embankment Failure

Pictured here is the aftermath of an embankment failure. The spring of 2011 has brought record amounts of rain to the midwest, and this rain has to go someplace. This railroad track in Ann Arbor was supported by approximately 30ft of earth and aggregate embankment. Water from rain runoff flows along side the embankment, and slowly infiltrates into the ground. However, with all the rain this spring, the water wasn't able to infiltrate quickly enough and a pond formed. This pond of water had the strength to push approximately 2000 CYD of earth and trees onto the adjacent Plymouth Rd. It left nearly 200 ft of railroad track suspended like a roller-coaster about 25ft above the washed-out ground. Fortunately, no trains were scheduled to use the track before emergency personnel were notified and responded to the situation.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#73 Pedestrian Tunnel

Pictured here is a pedestrian tunnel under a roadway. Similar to a culvert, a tunnel starts from an open space and ends in an open space. The difference, of course, is that a tunnel allows for the movement of people while a culvert allows for the movement of water. Tunnels such as this one allow for the safe passage of pedestrians under a road.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

#72 Small Open Channel Flow

Pictured here is an example of what you call open channel flow. This is a small stream of water, which eventually flows into a a pond or river. A channel is basically a geographic area where water is able to flow within some sort of physical boundary, such is the banks of a river. Open channel flow is a sub-field of free surface hydraulics.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#71 Small Weir

Pictured here is a small weir. A weir is simply a wall or some sort of barrier placed within an open channel which restricts the movement of water as it flows downstream. Weirs are used to change the flow characteristics in a stream or river and manage the flow rate within the channel. In this way, engineers can use devices such as the weir to prevent flooding and sustain the safety of the public.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#70 ADA Sidewalk Ramp

Pictured here is an ADA sidewalk ramp. This type of sidewalk ramp is replacing older ramps according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The current standards for sidewalk ramps include details for maximum running slopes and cross slopes, maximum grades and minimum dimensions for landing areas, as well as location of the detectable warning domes. The ADA creates design guidelines that help persons with disabilities navigate our public spaces with ease.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#69 Structural Frame

Pictured here is the steel structural frame of the new Sangren Hall building currently being constructed at Western Michigan University. The load paths can be seen nicely here: the beams which are connected to the girders, and then to the columns which transfer the loads down to the foundation where it is loaded safely upon the earth.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

#68 Steel Retaining Wall

Pictured here is a retaining wall constructed using steel. A retaining wall is used when there is a large elevation difference in a short horizontal distance. In this case, the pond on the left of the photo is much lower than the parking area on the right of the photo. Retaining walls hold back the earth for the higher land to remain stable from erosion.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

#67 Water Tower

Pictured here is a water tower located on the northside of Ann Arbor, MI. Water towers can be seen all over the world. The purpose of a water tower is to store water needed for the residents of the municipality that operates the tower. Usually located in a higher elevation in the area, this allows gravity to do the work in the municipalities water distribution system.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

#66 Detention Pond

Pictured here is a simple detention pond. A detention pond is a temporary place to store water, usually rain runoff from a nearby development, for a calculated period of time while it is slowly discharged. This provides an effective way to control flooding caused by developments. The water enters at the culvert end sections, and exits through the riser.