APWA AZ Newsletter 2017 Aug

APWA AZ Newsletter 2017 Aug

NEWSLETTER                                                                                                                                                                      AUG 2017


August 11, 2017
Events & Community Service Committee Meeting
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August 24, 2017
Education and Training Committee Meeting
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August 29, 2017
Texas, Arizona & Oklahoma PWA Chapter Dinners
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September 5, 2017
Communications Committee Meeting
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September 8, 2017
Events & Community Service Committee Meeting
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September 20, 2017
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September 20, 2017
APWA Luncheon
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September 21, 2017
APWA Mixer with YP
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September 28, 2017
Education and Training Committee Meeting
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What is Public Works? “Public Works is the work of building such things as roads, bridges, schools, and reservoirs, carried out by the government for the community” as defined by the dictionary. However, according to the APWA National Association when it comes to Public Works, one size definitely does not fit all, so defining the term becomes problematic. Even APWA members have trouble arriving at a common definition, for now, APWA has suggested the following definition:

“Public works is the combination of physical assets, management practices, policies, and personnel necessary for government to provide and sustain structures and services essential to the welfare and acceptable quality of life for its citizens.”  

Last week we celebrated our Public Works Industry at the 2017 APWA Arizona Statewide Conference. We focused on Leadership and recognized our local leaders. We honored our award winners and learned what technology is new in the industry. In discussion with many Public Works Leaders, even with the recession behind us, the topic of funding and how to pay for the needed infrastructure for our cities and towns is still a problem. There are some examples of utilizing Public Private Partnerships as a funding alternative, and many successful projects have gone that route. During the conference, an Economic Development Panel highlighted their efforts and goals to bring new industry into our state over the next decade. They emphasized the relationship with the Economic Development and Public Works Departments working together to achieve these development goals. Later this month APWA will gather in Orlando for the National PWX Conference to discuss the current Public Works Industry needs nationwide.

Everyone seems to agree that our infrastructure is aging and we need to find a way to fix it. Our legislature will be debating how to fund these needs. The one take away from the conference is, we all need to stay informed and get involved at the state and national level and advocate for theservices essential to the welfare and acceptable quality of life for its citizens.” as defined above.   

Lastly, I would like to say Thank You to Christy Sipos & Scott Kirchhofer for their contribution as Co-Chairs of the Conference Committee and to all the committee members for an outstanding conference. It was a great success from beginning to end. For all of the attendees please, watch for the on-line conference survey. It will assist us with planning for next year’s conference. 

Conference Committee

Christy Sipos, Conference Co-Chair, Civiltec Engineering
Scott Kirchhofer, Conference Co-Chair and Site Committee Co-Chair, Achen-Gardner Construction
Chris Simko, Technical Program Chair, Stantec
April Victorino, Site Committee Co-Chair, Stantec
Cindy Laughlin, Exhibitor/Sponsorship Chair, EPS Group, Inc.
Al Field, Al Field & Associates
Bill Linck, Entellus
Dana Varieur, Dibble Engineering
David Jensen, Olsson Associates
Joe Soto, Pima County
Kelly Kaysonepheth, AZTEC Engineering
Kristin Peck, E & A Consulting Group, Inc.
Lisa Folsom, Regional Pavement Maint.
Matthew Kuehn, E & A Consulting Group, Inc.
Nancy Cole, Pima County
Nathan Gardner, Wilson & Company, Inc.
Ray Montoya, Kimley-Horn
Sean Sudol, DN Tanks
Sergio Montano, City of Scottsdale
Steve Pageau, AECOM

Loretta Flick

APWA Luncheon Program: 

Sep 20th from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm
Phoenix Country Club

Topic: Deconstructing Proposals to Creatively Respond to RFP's.
Sign up for our next luncheon where Brandi Barr will look at "Deconstructing Proposals to Creatively Respond to RFP's" Registration is at http://arizona.apwa.net/EventDetails/10768

Don't miss our upcoming events including our Networking Mixer!!

Conference Photos and Videos

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2017 Statewide Conference. Visit our Facebook Page for photos and videos of conference events. https://www.facebook.com/Arizona-APWA-221528281205625/

Sustainability Committee
In order to confront the challenges of the 21st Century, public works professionals must have strong sustainability credentials and commitment so that they can continue to deliver infrastructure that serves the triple bottom line. Providing infrastructure in a socially, environmentally, and financially responsible way that creates the broadest value over each of these metrics on a local and regional scale.

Craig Bolze is the new committee chair and he is looking for individuals to join this committee which meets monthly. If you would like additional information about the sustainability committee or would like to attend a meeting, please contact Craig Bolze at cbolze@colestl.com.

New Member Spotlight

Name and Title: Jamie McCracken, Field Operations Director, City of Tolleson, AZ

With APWA Since: June 2017

Describe your job responsibilities: Areas of responsibility include Streets, Grounds, Building, Sanitation, and Fleet Maintenance Divisions. The department also provides assistance and support for the City’s many free events offered to the public, ranging from concerts to festivals.

What was your favorite project to work on in the last 10 years? While working in Castle Rock, Colorado, the supporting infrastructure for a water main’s stream crossing was damaged during a major rain event. Once the rain subsided, the team was responsible for placing several Supersacs (1-ton sandbags) with an excavator to support the structure. It was a favorite project because even though the work was critical, what other paid profession lets you and your friends play with heavy equipment in the middle of a creek?

Where have your travels taken you?: In 2015, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit both Ireland and Scotland. 

Name one thing not many people know about you: Well before ancestory.com, we had long known distant ancestors from the 1700’s were civil rights leaders in Ireland. On our trip there, we were able to visit a pub named after them where their house once stood, as well as their resting place in Belfast.

New Member Spotlight

Name and Title:  Nicolai Oliden, P.E., Roadway Project Engineer

With APWA Since: May 2017

Describe your job responsibilities:  I joined Ethos early in 2016 as a Roadway Project Engineer. As a small family business, I also assist the Structures department, wear the HR “hat”, and participate in Business Development.

What was your favorite project to work on in the last 10 years? I’ve been extremely fortunate to work on many great projects (big and small) across the state of Arizona but I’d have to say my favorite project is a project that I am currently working on, the SR202 South Mountain Project. While it’s nice to work on a high profile project, the best experience has been the opportunity to interact closely with so many great engineers from different companies here in Phoenix. The nature of the project is fast moving and I’ve enjoyed the quick pace.

Where have your travels taken you?:  I honestly never counted until I was asked this question but I have traveled to 19 different states and 8 different countries. My wife and I are excited to continue traveling in the future but for now we will be taking a break since we have a new baby girl (Olivia) at home along with our three year old son (Jackson).

Name one thing not many people know about you:  I am a certified Financial Coach and enjoy helping people in my spare time to design a plan to achieve their financial goals. I’ve had over 300 people go through a class that I facilitate and have coached clients to pay off more than $1 million of debt and climbing.

New Members

Ms. Carla BlackwellDirector Dev SvcsPima County
Mr. Erich T. BonzSr Civil Engineering Proj MgrCity of Tempe
Mr. James CooperSr Engineering Assoc Const MgrCity of Tempe
Mr. Robert James CrowleyAssociate EngineerCity of Sedona
Mr. David A. DirrenPrincipal / Project ManagerSunrise Engineering
Ms. Susan M DuncanPrincipalThe ABCs of Accessibility inc
Mr. Craig HaytonParks MgrCity of Tempe
Mr. Doug Mann, PEProject ManagerSEG
Mr. Anthony T. MardamVice PresidentStanley Consultants Inc
Mrs. Amy S. MarschelPW SupvCity of Tempe
Ms. Amanda McKeeverPublic Works AdministratorCity of Glendale
Mr. Thomas Otto HD Supply
Mr. Jack E. PlauntyStreets SuperintendentCity of Kingman
Mr. Wayne SmithOperations SupervisorCity of El Mirage
Mark A. VejarAccount ManagerAerotek
Mr. Stephen M. WhitePlanning Research AnalystCity of Tempe
Mr. Robert I. YabesPrincipal PlannerCity of Tempe
Mr. Scott M. YocumEquip & Facilities SuptCity of Kingman

Beyond the Headlines: Is there a Labor Shortage for Infrastructure Projects in AZ?

By Rebekah Morris, AZBEX, special for APWA

We’ve all read the headlines about what the construction labor shortage is doing to the industry. From blanket statements of doom and gloom to more moderate projections and cautionary visions of price increases and schedule delays, it’s hard to tell what the real impact is to local projects. Some of the largest public owners and general contractors were kind enough to provide their thoughts on the matter.

Market Sector Activity Levels are Steady, will Rise with Funding

From ADOT to City of Phoenix and MCDOT, from contractors of various sizes, the infrastructure sector is busy and activity levels will only increase as funding for infrastructure projects increases.

Kini Knudson, City Engineer with the City of Phoenix states: “The City of Phoenix’s 5-Year CIP is in a great place.  Although it has not recovered to the pre-recession levels ($7.0B – FY2007-2012), it has increased nearly $1.4B over the past two years (budget cycles). It remained steady last year, but the recently approved $4.6B 5-year CIP for FY2017-2022 represents an increase of $1.1B over the previous year. The increase is primarily attributable to major projects at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, additional infrastructure investment in our water and wastewater facilities, and implementation of the Transportation 2050 program (Proposition 104).” 

Similarly, Alfred Erives, Division Manager with MCDOT explains, “the $92M programmed budget for FY17-18 is healthy, although we’re a ‘little slow right now.’ That programmed amount leads to about $40-$50M in construction activity for the fiscal year.”

AZBEX Capital Improvement Program research points to continued growth in the public sector. Of the 10 largest programs we look into each year, they collectively show a 10.14% increase over last year’s totals. Those numbers are likely to tick up as tax revenue continues to exceed projections.

Contractors Absorb Impact of Labor Shortage

Infrastructure general contractors have projects underway in all corners of the state. Mike Abraham of J. Banicki Construction highlighted projects at Sky Harbor and the City of Yuma. As a union contractor, he has the ability to pull workers from the hall, but, as he explains, the quality is down. Currently, he has 4-5 skilled positions open. He’s struggling to find good, qualified candidates. They’ve now included a labor availability metric to help determine if they’ll even pursue a project.  When asked about subcontractor performance, he indicated that they’re performing slower at times, and as the General Contractor, they will supplement with in-house crews to supplement, or rework the project schedule to adjust. 

Similarly, FNF Construction has projects all over the state – from work on I-40 near Flagstaff to the I-10 Ehrenberg Port of Entry Phase II in Ehrenberg, AZ. With the ability to self-perform almost every scope on a project, they haven’t seen a major impact to their projects. According to FNF’s Business Development Manager, Deena Ross, “we have a prequalification process for our subs that requires data that gives a good idea of their ability to complete work. The industry is relatively small and word travels fast. There is a pretty strong reliance on relationships in this industry. Our ability to self-perform most of the work we do allows us to fill in gaps if the need should arise.”

Mild Concern at the Owner Level

By and large, public owners are insulated from the construction labor shortage by stringent contracts with steep daily liquidated damages for not adhering to the contract schedule. The sentiment from MCDOT, City of Phoenix, and ADOT was one of awareness and mild concern. No one is adjusting engineers’ estimates or construction schedules to reflect an overall labor shortage and the expectation of higher prices. Alfred Erives even stated that he’s seeing high numbers of qualified bidders place bids on projects with very competitive numbers.

The most dramatic impact we heard about was on two MCDOT projects: both crack sealing contracts that experienced a major shortage of laborers. MCDOT’s remedy was to replace the contractor with one who had access to manpower and could complete the job. 

Erives explained that crack sealing is both temperature dependent and the first step in a multi-step process of pavement preservation. If the crack sealing didn’t get completed as planned, they would have been set back a year on the program. He went on to explain that the positions the contractor had trouble filling were entry-level, most likely the lowest paid position on the crew.

These two instances happened since January 1, 2017 when the state minimum wage was raised to $10/hr. “How can you blame a guy who doesn’t want to go out on pavement that’s 120 degrees + for $12/hr, when they can go inside somewhere and get $10/hr?”

Larger construction projects are not seeing that same lack of entry level manpower. Instead, contractors are struggling to find qualified persons to do the work.

Entry-Level, Highly Skilled Workers Needed

As the public sector continues to grow, the need for entry-level and highly-skilled workers will continue to grow as well. General and specialty contractors alike are intensely focused on developing skills for employees, providing a career path instead of ‘just a job’.  Culturally, the emphasis has been placed on obtaining a college degree instead of pursuing a skilled career path. To answer this, contractors and associations are engaging with the community much earlier than high school, reaching into middle schools and even elementary schools to communicate that there are many paths to a good career in the construction industry, many that will not require years of college and a mountain of student loan debt.


The following 10 Arizona Chapter APWA Project of The Year awards were celebrated during the Statewide Conference Awards Luncheon on August 3, 2017. Congratulations to all of the project teams for their hard work and dedication to excellence in our industry. 


Environment Category - Less Than $5 Million
Project Name: 22nd Street Sewer Augmentation Project
Managing Agency: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department
Primary Consultant:  EEC Engineering and Environmental Consultants, Inc.
Primary Contractor:  KE&G Construction, Inc.

Structures Category - Less Than $5 Million
Project Name: Pedestrian Undercrossing Facility at Mariposa Land Port of Entry & SR189
Managing Agency: Arizona Department of Transportation
Primary Consultant:  Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.
Primary Contractor:  Meridian Engineering

Structures Category - $5 Million to $25 Million
Project Name: Mesa Fire and Medical Regional Dispatch and Emergency Operations Center
Managing Agency: City of Mesa
Primary Consultant: HDA Architects
Primary Contractor: CORE Construction

Transportation Category - Less Than $5 Million
Project Name: Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements - Broadway Road from Mill Avenue to Rural Road
Managing Agency: City of Tempe
Primary Consultant: WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff
Primary Contractor: Achen-Gardner Construction

Transportation Category - $5 Million to $25 Million
Project Name: Sabino Canyon Road, Tanque Verde Road to Kolb Road
Managing Agency: City of Tucson, Department of Transportation
Primary Consultant: PSOMAS
Primary Contractor: The Ashton Company, Inc.

Transportation Category - $25 Million to $75 Million
Project Name: Interstate 15 Virgin River Bridge No. 6
Managing Agency: Arizona Department of Transportation
Primary Consultant: Jacobs
Primary Contractor: Pulice-Wadsworth Brothers JV

Transportation Category - More than $75 Million
Project Name: Northwest Light Rail Extension
Managing Agency: Valley Metro Rail
Primary Contractor: Sundt / Stacy and Witbeck, A Joint Venture

APWA Project of the Year - Small Cities/Rural Communities Category Structures Division
Project Name: Pima Mine Road Bridge Replacement
Managing Agency: Town of Sahuarita
Primary Consultant: TranSystems
Primary Contractor: Borderland Construction Company, Inc.

APWA Project of the Year - Small Cities/Rural Communities Category Transportation Division
Project Name: Ellsworth Road Improvements, Ryan Road to Germann Road
Managing Agency: Town of Queen Creek
Primary Consultant: Bowman Consulting Group
Primary Contractor: Hunter Contracting Co.

Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair Category - Less than $5 Million
Project Name: 27th Avenue and South Mountain Avenue Regional Basin
Managing Agency: City of Phoenix, Street Transportation Department
Primary Consultant: Stanley Consultants
Primary Contractor: Ames Construction

Thanks to the Arizona Chapter APWA Judges and Award Committee Members:
Jeanne Sapon, DBA Construction (Co-Chair)
Ken Kawamoto, Achen-Gardner Construction (Co-Chair)
Scott Bender, Pinal County Public Works
Kent Dibble, Dibble Engineering
Mike Holder, Pima Association of Governments
Dave Moody, Valley Metro
Kevin Murphy, Slater-Hanifin Group
Donna Sullivan-Hancock, City of Tempe
Chris Turner-Noteware, City of Phoenix

Public Works Job Announcements

Your next Adventure Awaits with the City of Prescott…..

Civil Utilities Engineer

We are seeking an experienced, knowledgeable and collaborative licensed professional engineer to assist with the design and review of both City and private development projects, with an emphasis on utilities.  Under general supervision of the City Engineer, will serve as primary source for utility design and installation with multiple divisions, departments and outside agencies to provide technical and administrative support on behalf of the department related to water and wastewater utilities. The majority of work envisioned will be utilities related, the civil utilities engineer may be involved in design, review and other areas of engineering.

Development Review Supervisor

The City is seeking a dynamic self starter Development Review Supervisor that will lead the daily operation of the Public Works team within the permit center.  This position performs technical level engineering support for both internal and external customers with a focus on commercial development.  The ideal candidate will be proficient in reviewing plans, engineering reports and specifications; coordinate assigned activities with those of other city departments and staff, contractors and utilities, and management of a small team.  Other key elements of the position include: interaction with customers at front counter, permit processing, utility research, floodplain delineations, reviewing plats and maps using the Geographical Information System (GIS), compiling and interpreting data, maintaining, updating records and reports.  May also supports the City internal design review team with projects as assigned, including CADD, survey and design.  Collaborates with other departments, specifically Community Development, Building, and the Fire Department.

Henry Hash, PE, Director, City of Prescott Public Works

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