Latest News

Utah Lake Clean-Up Proposal Stirs Debate

Date: September 10, 2021

A proposal to restore Utah Lake through dredging and one of the largest island-building projects ever attempted is meeting criticism despite the assurances of the project developer, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The developer, Lake Restoration Solutions, believes dredging and building islands will clean the lake and restore miles of habitat. The organization’s CEO says private investors have committed to covering nearly all $6.4 billion in project costs, but he also wants the backing of government agencies.

On the other side, a BYU ecology professor says, “There is almost always disagreement in the scientific and [water] management community about what to do about big problems. I have talked to almost 100 experts from around the state and I have not met a single one who thinks this is a good idea.”


Anti-Licensing Forces Miss the Point

Date: September 10, 2021

Extreme anti-licensing bills have popped up in numerous states and are posing a threat to the rigorous and established professional standards followed by PEs, architects, and others who design and construct the built environment, according to an op-ed in The Hill.

Lawmakers calling for these extreme measures don’t differentiate between barbers and manicurists, for example, and PEs and architects, say Tom Smith, executive director of ASCE, and Michael Armstrong, CEO of NCARB. “In their absolutist free-market view, reflected in the language of their model legislation, a visit to a barbershop or beauty salon should be treated the same as designing a bridge or water treatment plant.”

The legislative proposals range from measures that would eliminate licensing entirely to so-called “Universal Licensing” bills that would require states to accept licenses from any state regardless of whether the out-of-state license had the same level of qualifications behind it.


Air Pollution Reaches Alarming Levels

Date: September 10, 2021

As Utah’s economy booms and its population grows, air quality in Salt Lake City has reached levels worse than those in New Delhi and Jakarta, reports the New York Times. Smoke from California’s wildfires, ground-level ozone pollution from power plants and cars, and dust storms originating in dried up lakebeds are all contributing factors. Another factor: diverting too much water from the Great Salt Lake, mainly for agriculture. Despite water concerns, the state’s “water consumption dwarfs that of many other states, including in other arid climates.”

Symposium Presenters Question Utah Lake Dredging Proposal

Date: August 11, 2021

Presenters at a recent “hastily convened” symposium said that Utah Lake can be restored without dredging, although others disagree, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. The symposium was organized by a BYU ecology professor and UVU colleagues who oppose proposals to create an “authority” to oversee the lake’s restoration and to sculpt the lakebed into island subdivisions to absorb Utah County’s meteoric growth.

Under a $6.4 billion real estate proposal from Lake Restoration Solutions, which has won the backing of Utah lawmakers, the company would invest in various habitat restoration projects in exchange for title to lakebed. The company would deepen the lake and use the fill to create 28 square miles of islands, which would support residential and commercial development.

Presenters at the symposium said deepening the lake would not restore it. In fact, they said it would disrupt the lakebed’s ecological function and create temperature zones with cold water at the bottom, instead of the uniform temperature the water now sees. The BYU ecology professor who helped organize the symposium said, “I see almost no scenario where that wouldn’t increase the severity and risk of having these really bad water quality issues, particularly with the [reduced] oxygenation of the water.”


Opinion: Utah cities shouldn’t gamble on nuclear power

Date: August 11, 2021

In the Deseret News, the president of the Utah Taxpayers Association cautions municipalities about small modular nuclear power. “[T]he taxpayers and communities of Utah should not act as venture capitalists for risky bets,” he writes.


State Officials Unveil Plan for ‘Innovation Community’

Date: August 11, 2021

State officials have decided on a broad framework for 600-acre miniature city and innovation district, reports KUER. The development, known as The Point, is planned for the border between Salt Lake and Utah counties on the site of the Utah State Prison.

The development is expected to have housing for 15,000 people and seven districts, each with its own function. Housing, retail, and offices will make up about 60% of the area; a quarter will be for trails, parks, and open space; and the rest is slated for infrastructure and roads. Carless transportation to and within the site is also a major goal of the project.

The concept for The Point has been developed over three years, and a project timeline is unclear. The state prison isn’t scheduled to relocate until 2022 at the earliest.

Construction of New State Parks Planned

Date: July 21, 2021

Construction of Utah’s newest state park is expected to begin next year, and a second new state park is also being developed, according to KSL.com. The Utahraptor State Park will be located about 15 miles northwest of Moab, and Lost Creek is planned for an area near Croydon in Morgan County. Two campgrounds will be built at Utahraptor, along with restrooms and trailheads for the off-highway vehicle and mountain bike trail systems in the area. A construction start date has not yet been set for Lost Creek State Park, which will be in an area already popular for paddlecraft and fishing. The projects have been slated to receive $83 million.


New Innovation Network Aims High

Date: July 21, 2021

Business and education leaders in the Beehive State have unveiled a game plan to improve innovation in the state, speed the growth of high-wage jobs, and draw more talent to the region, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The team behind the Wasatch Innovation Network includes business leaders from fast-growing sectors such as biotech, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, and artificial intelligence.

The network plans to build “lateral connections” among business mentors, venture capitalists, planners, and lobbyists across industries. Lobbying the state legislature and municipal governments is also in the network’s plans. Among the priority issues will be improving public and higher education in Utah, advancing transportation of all kinds, and pressing for tax incentives for businesses and new tools to recruit talented workers.

When Earthquakes Hit, Not All Utah Schools are Equal

Date: June 9, 2021

A Deseret News article calls attention to the engineering differences that helped some Utah school buildings withstand the 2020 Wasatch Front earthquake while others were significantly damaged. Following the 5.7 magnitude quake on March 18, a number of schools in the Granite District were damaged—West Lake STEM Junior High in West Valley City was deemed a “complete loss.” However, schools in the Salt Lake City School District, which had been retrofitting facilities for years, reported no damage.

The Wasatch Front Unreinforced Masonry Reduction Strategy report explains that disadvantaged and marginalized populations face a disproportionate danger. “While much has been done, a disparity exists between school districts with significant financial resources and those that are unable to overcome major obstacles in dealing with seismically deficient buildings, including a lack of viable funding mechanisms.”

The report also notes that the Wasatch Fault “poses one of the most catastrophic natural threat scenarios in the United States. The Wasatch Front has a 43% chance of a magnitude 6.75 or greater earthquake in the next 50 years, and experts project that such an event would be among the deadliest and costliest disasters in U.S. history.”


Advanced Composites Manufacturer Expands in Utah

Date: June 9, 2021

A leading manufacturer of advanced composites technology plans to build a flagship Center of Excellence for Research & Technology in Utah, reports Chemical Engineering. Hexcel Corp., of Stamford, Connecticut, manufactures carbon fiber, woven reinforcements, resins, prepregs, honeycomb, and additive manufactured parts for customers in commercial aerospace, space and defense, and industrial markets. The company says the center will add up to 150 new high-paying jobs in the next 12 years. West Valley City is home to Hexcel’s existing operations, including its largest high-performance carbon fiber manufacturing facility in the world. The facility employs about 600 people.

A recent article in Design News covered the expected growth in the advanced composites material market. Two areas for potential market growth are the wind energy sector and automotive battery enclosures. The article quotes Dr. R. Byron Pipes, executive director of the Indiana Manufacturing Institute at Purdue University: “These material systems provide weight savings that translate into energy savings and the CO2 reduction required to fight global warming. Further, the electrification of transportation systems demands more efficient, lightweight vehicles where a greater proportion of system weight is apportioned to contemporary battery technology.”

Road Project May Help Isolated Town

Date: May 12, 2021

An isolated town in southern Utah may gain a new connection to the state highway system if a $110 million project is built, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Navajo Mountain, one of the most isolated communities in the Lower 48, has around 500 residents. They currently face lengthy drives to access basic services. While Monument Valley is only 45 miles from the community’s center, getting there requires a 120-mile drive. The Navajo Nation, Utah, and the federal government would likely need to provide financial support.

The project would have three phases, based on a draft proposal from Jones and DeMille Engineering: a $49 million dirt road connection between Navajo Mountain and Oljato; a $30.2 million dirt spur heading north across the San Juan River to connect to Highway 276 east of Halls Crossing; and the paving of both new roads.


Mass Timber Projects Come to SLC

Date: May 12, 2021

A Chicago company has proposed a 10-12 story mass timber building in Salt Lake City’s University Local Historic District, according to Building Salt Lake. The plan is for a mixed-use, all-studio project with townhomes. The company, Harbor Bay, is using a $144 million, 298-unit, nine-story (115 ft) mass timber building in Cleveland, called “Intro CLE,” as its model.

Additionally, a seven-story mass timber building is part of the Giv Group’s multiphase Project Open Development in Salt Lake City. The project is being called Utah’s first carbon neutral multifamily project.

Last November, ENR reported that 445 engineered wood projects completed or under construction, and 534 in design And the number of new mass-timber buildings in North America will double every two years.

Utah Mine Will Add to US Tellurium Supply

Date: April 21, 2021

Rio Tinto’s Kennecott mine plans to begin tellurium recovery operations later this year as a byproduct of copper smelting, reports AP. Tellurium is one of the least common elements on Earth and is used in photovoltaic solar cells. The company will invest $2.9 million to construct a new plant that will produce 20 tons per year. Michael Moats, professor of metallurgical engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, said increasing the domestic supply of the mineral is critical for renewable energy and national defense efforts in the US. He also explained that 20 tons per year is significant, given that global production is about 500 tons per year. Currently, domestic production of tellurium is chiefly carried out at a mine in Amarillo, Texas.


Provo River Delta Project Aims for Restoration

Date: April 21, 2021

Construction of the 260-acre Provo River Delta project is underway, reports ABC4. The project, says Utah DWR, will restore the interface between the Lower Provo River and Utah Lake and help recover the June sucker, a fish species native to Utah Lake and not found naturally anywhere else in the world. A majority of the lower Provo River’s flow will be diverted out of the existing river channel and into a newly constructed system of braided channels and wetlands before eventually making its way into Utah Lake. Prep work began in March 2020 and excavation began in June 2020. The project has been in planning for more than 10 years.

Siemens Plans for Hydrogen Production, Storage at Utah Plant

Date: March 15, 2021

The Intermountain Generating Station in Delta, Utah, may soon become the center of a plan to integrate hydrogen production and storage, reports Power magazine. On March 1, Siemens announced that it would begin a conceptual design study as part of an initiative “to analyze the overall efficiency and reliability of CO2-free power supply involving large-scale production and storage of hydrogen.”

The project is an example of the rapidly developing hydrogen market. The plant’s two coal-fired units are being converted into an 840-MW combined cycle facility that will run initially on a mix of natural gas and hydrogen, and then ultimately operate on hydrogen alone. Black & Veatch Corp. is overseeing the conversion. The Intermountain plant provides electricity to customers in Utah and Southern California.


Work Begins on New Highway

Date: March 15, 2021

Construction is underway on the $750 million, 16-mile West Davis Corridor, according to the Standard Examiner. Work on the four-lane divided highway begins after more than a decade of study and preparation. Farmington Bay Constructors—a joint venture of Ames Construction, Wadsworth Brothers Construction, and Staker Parson Materials and Construction—was selected to design and build the new highway. The contract requires completion of the road by fall 2024.

The project was spurred by population growth in the area. According to UDOT, by 2040, the number of homes in western Davis and Weber counties will increase by 65%. This growth is expected to increase travel delays in this area by 62%, even with all other planned projects.

Legislators Propose New Agency to Protect Water Rights

Date: February 11, 2021

State legislators are pushing for the creation of a new agency designed to advance the state’s claims to water from the Colorado River, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The proposed Colorado River Authority of Utah would have six members and a $9 million budget. According to House Speaker Brad Wilson, one of the bill’s sponsors, neighboring states that share the river’s flow have dedicated significant resources and expertise to preserve their water rights. The article reports that environmentalists believe the legislation is premised on the false idea that Utah is not receiving its full allotment of the Colorado’s flow, calling the proposed authority a “shadowy new government agency.”

At the same time, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reports that there is little chance that coming snowstorms will boost snowpack enough to improve the state’s drought conditions, according to the Deseret News. “There will be alarmingly low water supply conditions for this summer,” said an NRCS representative.


Utah Job Opportunities

Date: February 11, 2021

Senior Electrical Engineer and Senior Electrical Engineer
Doppelmayr USA, Inc.

Tenure-Track Civil & Environmental Engineering Faculty Position
Brigham Young University

Quality Engineer
Blackrock Microsystems, LLC.

Principal Construction Materials / Geotechnical Engineer
Wood

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

A Potential Electric Vehicle ‘Epicenter’?

Date: January 27, 2021

Utah State University, in a move to further its credentials in the development of electrified vehicles, is asking for the state’s help in updating and expanding its Electric Vehicle and Roadway building, reports the Deseret News. To improve the building and make space for a new research center for Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification, USU is asking state higher education officials to allow the university to issue up to $9.2 million in revenue bonds. USU trustee and former Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says, “Utah can be the epicenter” of electrified transportation nationally.


Pedestrian Bridge: It’s a Record

Date: January 27, 2021

The largest pedestrian bridge in the state was unveiled in Orem on January 14. The bridge, at 1,000 feet long and 15 feet wide, connects Utah Valley University with the UTA FrontRunner Orem Central Station. The $30.7 million bridge was built through a partnership with UVU, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah Transit Authority, Orem City, and the Utah State Legislature. The bridge, over I-15, contains 15,000 square feet of heated concrete to melt snow and ice in the winter, and a full-coverage roof to provide shelter from the elements. The walkway is lined with 125 lights and 18 security cameras.
 largest pedestrian bridge

Cities Balk at Cost of Nuclear Project

Date: December 16, 2020

“Several Southern Utah cities are putting financial limits on their involvement in a nuclear power project after other Utah cities pulled out,” reports the St. George News. The power plant’s location is planned for an Idaho National Laboratory site near Idaho Falls. Municipalities in Idaho, California, New Mexico, and Utah would receive the energy generated from the 12 small modular reactors that will make up the plant. Energy contracts are signed through the Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems.

Seven Utah cities, however, have withdrawn from the project: Heber, Logan, Bountiful, Beaver, Lehi, Murray and Kaysville. Now, the remaining cities want protection from escalating costs. The city of Santa Clara, for example, is willing to spend $397,200 this year. The city’s public works director said he doesn’t want the cost to go higher after the other municipalities dropped out. If the cost increased, he added, “I would bring it back to the council, and they would determine whether they wanted to stay in the project or not.”


Ogden Steps Up Water Conservation

Date: December 16, 2020

To deal with an increasing population and a strained water supply, Ogden is aiming to reduce its current per capita water usage of 193 gallons per day to 175 gallons per day by 2065, reports the Standard-Examiner. The city’s goal is to meet residents’ water needs without having to build additional infrastructure. To meet that goal, the city plans to fix old infrastructure, detect leaks in the water system, implement public information campaigns, and provide conservation incentives to residents.

Engineering a Geothermal Reservoir

Date: November 18, 2020

Researchers in Beaver County have started drilling one of two deep deviated wells in an attempt to determine if there is a technologically and commercially viable way to tap geothermal power from an engineered, human-made reservoir, according to the Deseret News. Funded by the US Energy Department, the project is unique due to well’s steeper angle. The upper part of the well will be drilled vertically through approximately 4,700 feet of  sediments, at which point it will penetrate into hard crystalline granite. At about 6,000 feet, the well will be gradually steered at a 5-degree angle for each 100 feet until it reaches an inclination of 65 degrees from its vertical point.


Regulators Release EIS for Proposed Railway

Date: November 18, 2020

Federal regulators say that an oil-hauling rail line in northeastern Utah would harm 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. The Uinta Basin Railway is proposed by seven counties (Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, San Juan, Sevier, and Uintah) that want to connect to the national rail network and encourage economic development in the area. Public comment deadline on the Surface Transportation Board’s environmental impact statement is December 14.


UDOT Tests Connected Vehicle Technology

Date: October 28, 2020

A UDOT pilot project to improve highway safety through the use of connected-vehicle technology is moving to a second phase, according to Government Technology. “The project will involve outfitting more vehicles — namely UDOT fleets, but also other vehicles from other public-sector agencies — with onboard technology that can connect to roadside units” the article says. UDOT is carrying out the project in partnership with Panasonic Corp. of North America.


Solar Projects Threaten Rural Way of Life

Date: October 28, 2020

The hamlet of Fairfield in Utah County is gaining popularity, but not the type its residents like. Three major solar projects are proposed within its boundaries or nearby, raising concern that its rural quality of life will suffer, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Two of the projects, proposed by NextEra Energy Resources, would each occupy about 1,300 acres of rangelands owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The third project, proposed by Sandy-based Enyo Renewable Energy, would take up 200 acres within Fairfield and the rest in Eagle Mountain and unincorporated Utah County. Some feel they have a no-win situation in which the land is used for either solar farms or subdivisions.

NTSB Report and NSPE's Action on this Issue

Date: December 11, 2019

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent letters to the governors of 31 states named in its final report on the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, including Utah. The letter requests an end to the engineering license exemption for gas pipeline operators in these states, and asks for governors to provide an update to the NTSB with in 90 days.

When the NTSB began its investigation of the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, investigative staff reached out to NSPE seeking information about licensing exemptions. Through a series of conversations and emails, NSPE shared report data, information on the licensing process and requirements, and its Position Statement on licensing exemptions. Consequently, NSPE was successful in getting the NTSB to adopt a policy of addressing and eliminating engineering license exemptions within the gas pipeline industry.

NSPE’s national staff continues to be in conversation with NTSB staff, and will continue to share updates as they happen. We are happy to support state efforts at eliminating this exemption.

Read the full report from NTSB.

NTSB Report and Recommendations

Pipeline explosionA BURNED-OUT MASSACHUSETTS HOME AFTER THE GAS EXPLOSIONS
CREDIT: NTSB

NTSB has released an abstract of its forthcoming final report on the fatal Merrimack Valley pipeline explosion from September of last year. Final revisions are being made to the report, but in the report’s synopsis/executive summary, NTSB states that “requiring a licensed professional engineer to stamp plans would illustrate that the plans had been approved by an accredited professional with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to provide a comprehensive review.” Acknowledging the importance of the role of the PE in preventing an event like this from occurring, NTSB recommends the elimination of the licensing exemption on natural gas pipeline projects in the 31 states that have the exemption in place, including the state of Utah.

Read the synopsis of the report.


2018 Continuing Education Conference

Date: May 5, 2018

NSPE Executive Director, Mark Golden, CAE, F.ASAE, visited the Utah Society of Professional Engineers for the 2018 Continuing Education Conference at the University of Utah on May 5, 2018.

Kudos to Brad Allen, Eric Anderson & Jason Foulger for putting together the 2018 Continuing Education Conference at the University of Utah. Honored to be a presenter and meet so many members.

@mjgolden May 5
Kudos to Brad Allen, Eric Anderson & Jason Foulger for putting together the 2018 Continuing Education Conference at the University of Utah. Honored to be a presenter and meet so many members. USPE and @NSPE unity in action!

Kudos to Brad Allen, Eric Anderson & Jason Foulger for putting together the 2018 Continuing Education Conference at the University of Utah. Honored to be a presenter and meet so many members.

@mjgolden May 5
Kudos to Brad Allen, Eric Anderson & Jason Foulger for putting together the 2018 Continuing Education Conference at the University of Utah. Honored to be a presenter and meet so many members. USPE and @NSPE unity in action!

USPE membership could not have been more welcoming or excited. Thanks, Utah. Utah and @NSPE - strong and united!

@mjgolden May 5
USPE membership could not have been more welcoming or excited. Thanks, Utah. Utah and @NSPE - strong and united!