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December 12, 2013 / Brandon

Cars and Civil Engineers – B+W Engineering and Design Blog

Cars and Civil Engineers #CivilEngineer

I get so many car related emails from a certain friend. I would like to call him Rocket Scientist since he is actually a Rocket Scientist. You don’t really meet many of them. He is a true gearhead.

So many emails in fact that he sent a picture accidentally upside down and first I thought can that Porsche 918 drive on the ceiling? The next thing in my head was maybe it can. And then I thought about the Mclaren F1 and the aerodynamics could take the car upside down at a certain speed. Or maybe that was the Saleen Supercar or one of a other handful of exotic cars. Either way this got my thinking as I drive around. These amazing cars and the awful roads around Los Angeles County. And yet we have the amazing cars littering the streets, like popcorn at a movie theater. Something in there is an understatement and its not the cars.

So here we are designing streets and I think that’s not possible that most of these newer streets are designed on paper. In fact I think that’s impossible. We have to go through so many strict guidelines that we are looking for a street designer to handle this side of things for us. Expansion is good no matter what. In my mind if we can keep a similar design to the existing street that has been there for 40+ years and is pretty smooth, lets go for it. But nope, we have to design the street out. I am not saying this is a bad thing. But the street works and is smooth by any form of standards. Why mess with a good thing?

To make this simple I would take my Porsche through certain streets with a racing suspension and hit very weird bumps in the road. I doubt these were meant to be bumps in the road, but the street was newer, though in an older part of town. And here we have it bumps. Bumps that could bottom out the car. Bumps probably because the original design was monkeyed around with enough to make everything else screwed up over time. I am not talking about concrete or asphalt rot. So after that car was stolen from me I have my even smaller car. Now instead of bottoming out on these bumps, I can scrape my front bumper on these things. I don’t know what else to call this stuff. Maybe the contractors had a huge bust based on their survey or design? I don’t know, but I am sure the designer had to go through all of the issues we do. Make the grade breaks this way or we will chew you out. Design this street like this or you won’t get a permit.

This makes less sense as I type this. I am not speaking for all cities, just maybe one in particular, I won’t even cough out the letters as we will surely be blacklisted. Where I have a really good example, would be all over LA. And I am not talking about newly built rotted out streets. I know this would be a great place to post a picture, but I am sure I will get a ticket the second I stop my car on one of these streets showing the clearance issues for anything but an SUV.

So what is a Civil Engineer to do who is also a car fan? I am not sure. This may fall completely on the contractor building the street, and ultimately on who approves this mess.

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