May 14, 2021 Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week:Lost amongst the pipeline hacks and gas lines, a significant crack was found on the I-40 bridge between Memphis and West Memphis. The good news is that the crack was found before there was a catastrophic failure. The bad news is that now the 71-year-old I-55 bridge is the only crossing in a 160 mile stretch of the Mississippi River and barge traffic under the bridge is essentially shut, which will greatly impact the movement of goods. Yet another reason why infrastructure benefits more than just the construction industry.
Looking ahead:More work in the resiliency space will begin this week. The governor’s signing of SB 1954 and SB 2514 will – among other things – invest hundreds of millions of state dollars in flooding infrastructure projects. In addition to the funds, which are definitely needed, though, the plans that accompany the funds are really the exciting part. Instead of these being one-time infusions, this will create a financially sustainable plan for future generations of Floridians.
May 7, 2021 Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week: This past week, the Federal Treasury said it expects to borrow $463 billion in the current April-June quarter, which will be part of its plans to borrow $2.28 trillion for the full budget year, which ends September 30. The $463 billion represents a significant jump from the government’s initial estimate three months ago that it would need to borrow just $95 billion in the current quarter. The government ran up a record $3.1 trillion budget deficit last year, reflecting the COVID relief spending and a drop in revenues caused by the recession. We need to stop reckless spending.
Looking ahead:Last year, the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) created a task force on local government efficiency. The task force has effectively finalized its recommendations to streamline government processes. The Local Government Efficiency Task Force, established by the Legislature last year, is set to hand its final report to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls by June 1. The report includes recommendations on elections, public meetings, reporting, pension plans, unfunded mandates and business taxes. The question comes down to whether or not these recommendations will make next year’s legislative agenda.
April 30, 2021 Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week:$100 Billion! I hear that with the voice of Dr. Evil from an Austin Powers movie, but this isn’t a comedy, this is a tragedy. Trust me, I know that we have needs in this state – health, economic and infrastructure – but I’m very concerned that the state budget crossing this boundary violates a mental barrier that future legislators won’t hesitate to cross. Florida still has an immature economy, depending on transactions in the form of sales tax and doc stamps. Until we have a more robust manufacturing economy to add additional stability, we need to stay lean and mean as a state.
Looking ahead:The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is 169 years old, representing over 150,000 members in 177 countries, making it the largest civil engineering organization in the world. Why is that important in the coming weeks? Because the election of the next President-elect (and other positions) will happen during the open voting period of May 1 through June 1. Of personal significance, I am one of the two candidates vying for President-elect. This would make me the third Floridian (and first native) elected, bringing Florida into the national (and international) spotlight once again. I’ll know the results June 3.
April 17, 2021 Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week:To obtain my civil engineering degrees, I was only required to take two classes about traffic and transportation practices. It may not seem like a lot, but it’s two more than everyone on the Florida House Commerce Committee has taken, and yet, they seemed to think that passing House Bill 1113 last week was a good idea. This bill requires the removal of yellow flashing lights at crosswalks, in favor of changing them to red lights. Federal standards do not allow red lights, so the flashing lights will be removed. Why throw out years of practice for political posturing?
Looking ahead:I’m preparing to get my second COVID-19 Pfizer shot, like many of my colleagues and clients. I’ve noticed, though, that CDC guidelines have barely moved even when including those who are vaccinated. How is a business supposed to “get back to normal” when the CDC guidelines don’t factor in those who voluntarily vaccinated? We strongly believe in personal choice and freedoms, but as things get back to “normal,” quarantining after a flight or international travel is going to become onerous, particularly if those employees are vaccinated. The “new normal” needs to have at least a little normal in it.
April 9, 2021 Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week:I was very disappointed in the House State Affairs Committee this past week. In a 12-8 vote, they moved HB 1131 through the committee. The sole purpose of the bill is to remove the requirements for the State University System to follow FS 287.055 – the Consultant’s Competitive Negotiation Act. This state law requires public agencies to hire architects and engineers on qualifications first and price second. Do you want your high-rise building or bridge designed by the lowest bidder? This is required for federal funding and is overall bad policy – why start the slippery slope?
Looking ahead:Next week, we’ll continue to see the state House and Senate get together on budget appropriations. With water in the forefront of everyone’s policy, right now only about 12 of the hundreds of budget requests are in the draft funding list in both chambers. While this isn’t a death sentence for these projects, it is a step in the wrong direction. The appropriation requests were already reduced with the impacts from COVID unknown at the end of 2020. The time for our Legislature to get together and make water a priority is now.
April 2, 2021 Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week:As the “infrastructure guy” in the SF100, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan unveiled by the president this week. The problem with the figure is that, of that money, half is allocated toward elderly/disabled programs and research, development and job training. While I certainly find value in the latter, they are not capital investments in infrastructure. This result in the program only achieving about 40% of what the ASCE Report Card on America’s Infrastructure unveiled just a couple weeks ago. It’s a start, but I worry that it will be too little too late.
Looking ahead:Sticking with the topic of infrastructure, but this time putting the emphasis on the political will to make the necessary investments. In less than 20 years, not properly funding infrastructure will cost America $10 trillion, over 3 million jobs and nearly $3.4 trillion in exports. It’s a frustrating world as an engineer when we know how to fix these problems, and we hear our politicians saying they want to give the general public the best, but they are unwilling to make those tough choices. It’s not a matter of if, but when, we need to act.
Last week:This past Tuesday, it was a little breezy in South Florida, but in Egypt, there were sandstorms hitting with 50 mph gusts. Why is that important? Because that day, the Ever Given, one of the world’s largest ships, lost power and became grounded at an angle, effectively blocking the Suez Canal. A very important trade route, this blockage impacts nearly 100 ships a day. This may have impacts to oil pricing in Europe and may delay semiconductor delivery in the United States. Next time someone brings up infrastructure, please don’t forget just how interconnected this world is.
Looking ahead:As the details of President Biden’s Build Back Better infrastructure stimulus come to light, it appears that an infrastructure package would include roughly $1 trillion for roads, bridges, rail lines, electrical vehicle charging stations and the cellular network, among other items. The goal would be to facilitate the shift to cleaner energy while improving economic competitiveness. I’m a pretty fiscally conservative person, but I know that the design and construction of infrastructure improvements like these has a significant return on investment that extends well past those in the hard hats. Let’s embrace infrastructure as our future.
Last week:I was in primary school, watching a show at Parker Playhouse when the whispers came down the row, “the Challenger exploded.” When we got back to school, the news was nonstop, made even harder because a teacher was on board. This past week, Allan J. McDonald, a rocket scientist and whistleblower who refused to sign off on the launch of the Challenger space shuttle over safety concerns and, after its explosion, argued that the tragedy could have been averted had officials heeded warnings from engineers like himself, died. Thirty-five years later, this is still a lesson on how ethics matter.
Looking ahead:This coming week, the Florida House Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee will hear House Bill 891, intended to limit the liability of engineers that work with urban search and rescue teams. Most people don’t even know that for every 40 people deployed as part of disaster recovery, typically 10% of that team are structural engineers that crawl into the pile to shore the rubble so that first responders can safely search for survivors or recover casualties. Over the last five years, we’ve lost 80% of those engineers as they and their companies worry about lawsuits. We need their help.
Last week:What would you do with an extra $3,300 a year? That’s the cost of poor infrastructure in our country. This past week, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2021 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure. This was the eighth release since the original 1988 report, and the overall grade raised to a C- for the country. The grades range from a B in rail to a D- in transit. Overall, 11 category grades were stuck in the D range, a clear signal that our overdue bill on infrastructure is a long way from being paid off.
Looking ahead:I’ve spent the last two weeks doing a number of mock interviews with engineering students as they are preparing for potential internships this summer – for internships that they aren’t 100% sure will actually happen. Last year, we had eight interns, but most other engineering companies cancelled their programs. The ability for a student to intern is so critical in their career path and it isn’t really something that can be done virtually because (particularly first-time interns) have no idea what they are doing. In order for us to build the infrastructure we need, we need safe work environments.
Last week: This past week was the 70th anniversary of National Engineer’s Week. Most readers probably don’t care about that, until you start to realize that everything you do, from your first drink of water until your last alarm setting in the night, wouldn’t have happened without an engineer. In this pandemic, the technology we use has become even more important and we rely even more upon our incredible infrastructure in this country. I’ve been an engineer for more than 20 years, and I know that we work without expectation of appreciation. Just once, though, it would be nice to hear thanks.
Looking ahead: On March 3, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will release its quadrennial “Report Card on America’s Infrastructure,” giving a comprehensive assessment of our nation’s infrastructure and recommending solutions we need to improve Americans’ quality of life. Broken into 17 categories, ASCE breaks down the country’s most outstanding needs through research and coordination with many governmental agencies. Not to just point out that there is a problem without a solution, though, the “Call to Action” report will quickly follow the release of the report card to give budget-level estimates and policy ideas to legislators.
Sean Dannelly, CPA, is the CFO for Chen Moore and Associates and a member of our firm’s executive committee. In 2007, Mr. Dannelly founded Paladin Global Partners, LLC as a partner and in that role, he oversees the accounting and financial aspects of the firm including providing audit assistance, strategic development for clients, developing succession plans, mentoring finance management, and establishing internal controls and infrastructures to maintain audit compliance. He is also President of Dannelly, Monteleone & Associates, P.A. firm where he is dedicated to meeting the needs of small and medium sized businesses through tax planning, financial reporting, and financial planning services. Mr. Dannelly received his Master of Accounting degree and Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Florida.
P.E., LEED AP
Shareholder & Corporate Secretary
Safiya Brea, P.E., LEED AP, is Secretary and Sr. Project Manager for Chen Moore and Associates. Her experience includes large neighborhood improvement projects, including the design of roadways, sidewalks, drainage, water and wastewater infrastructure. She is currently the Project Manager and main client contact for the Broward County UAZ 110/111 & 113 Water Sewer Improvements (an estimated $60 million infrastructure improvement project). In addition, she has managed projects ranging from thousands of dollars to multi-million-dollar, large-scale neighborhood improvement programs. Ms. Brea has managed and designed streetscape improvements, roundabouts, lift station, stormwater improvements and master plans, and booster station basis of design reports. Her duties include construction management, design work, water sewer modeling and project management for municipalities throughout Florida. Ms. Brea received her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida. She is currently on the board for the Florida Engineering Management Corporation and is a graduate of Leadership Florida Connect Class 8.
Ray Monteleone is President of Paladin Global Partners, a business management consulting firm, and Partner with Dannelly, Monteleone & Associates, a full-service CPA firm. Ray focuses on strategic management, problem solving, mergers & acquisitions, compensation consulting, growing companies, and senior executive mentoring for clients worldwide in industries such as healthcare, high tech, manufacturing, education, financial institutions and not-for-profit organizations.
As the President of the firm for over a decade, Mr. Moore has helped to grow our firm from three staff when he joined in 1999 to over 60 staff today. Mr. Moore has served in numerous leadership positions in engineering organizations, including President of the Florida Engineering Society, President of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Florida and the Region 5 Director for the American Society of Civil Engineers. He volunteers with numerous collegiate engineering programs, including the University of Florida, Florida Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University, and works with youth programs at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science. Peter is a life member of Leadership Florida, the Florida Engineering Leadership Institute and Leadership Broward, where he is also a Past Chair of the Foundation. Mr. Moore also serves as a board member for Florida TaxWatch, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog for more than one third of a century which works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Mr. Moore served on the board of the Sailboat Bend Civic Association for several years beginning in 2006 where he used his job skills to assist the neighborhood with traffic calming and construction concerns. Mr. Moore received his Master of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida.
Jose L. Acosta
Jose L. Acosta
Jose L. Acosta, P.E., F.ASCE, is Vice President of Chen Moore and Associates. Mr. Acosta is responsible for business development and strategic planning for the firm. He also serves as Principal-in-Charge and Senior Project Manager for several significant public and private sector Clients. Mr. Acosta has over two decades of experience in various types of public and private sector civil engineering infrastructure projects. He has lead design teams for land development, water/wastewater infrastructure, roadway/transportation, and education/institutional projects throughout Florida. Prior to joining CMA, Mr. Acosta served as the director of engineering for a multi-discipline firm in Florida. Mr. Acosta has been a long standing leader in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), serving as a local branch President, chairing various state committees, President of Florida Section and as a Region 5 Governor, where he represented Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Mr. Acosta also served as President of the Cuban-American Association of Civil Engineers (CAACE) and is currently on their board of directors. Mr. Acosta served on the Industry Advisory Board of the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Miami and has worked as an adjunct professor. He was the recipient of the Broward Branch’s 2003 and 2009 Young Member of the Year Award. In 2008, the Broward County Chapter of the FES named him the Young Engineer of the Year. In 2011, the CAACE named him their Young Engineer of the Year. In 2015, Mr. Acosta was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 by the South Florida Business Journal. In 2017, ASCE Region 5 named Mr. Acosta their inaugural winner of their Engineer of the Year award recipient. Mr. Acosta was a member of Leadership Florida’s Cornerstone 37 Class and currently service on its Southeast Region’s Board of Directors. Mr. Acosta has Bachelor Degrees in Civil and Architectural Engineering from the University of Miami and a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University.
P.E., LEED AP
Jason McClair, P.E., CFM, LEED AP, is Treasurer and Vice President of Chen Moore and Associates. Mr. McClair is responsible for the project operations and resource management of the firm. He is also the Principal-in-Charge for several key clients and serves as a Senior Project Manager for several important public sector clients. Mr. McClair is an expert in stormwater management modeling in Florida and has been the lead engineer on various stormwater master plans throughout Florida. Mr. McClair also has over 20 years of engineering experience in utility infrastructure design, regulatory permitting, modeling for stormwater collection, water distribution, and sanitary transmission systems. Mr. McClair received his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida.
Dr. Ben Chen
Dr. Ben Chen,
Dr. Ben Chen, P.E., BCEE, is the founder of Chen Moore and Associates (formerly Chen and Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc.) and serves as Chairman of the Board for our firm’s Board of Directors, where he is responsible for the long-term planning for the firm’s future. Dr. Chen has had a wonderful career, working on some of the most significant utility and neighborhood improvement projects in South Florida. Dr. Chen has also had a long-standing history of being a leader in the community as an advocate for infrastructure needs throughout Florida, but also as a philanthropist throughout Florida. He has a served organizations in leadership positions of all types, including the Florida Engineering Society, Workforce One (known as CareerSource Broward now) and on university civil engineering department advisory boards for Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, and formerly St. Thomas University. Dr. Chen received his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil and Sanitary Engineering from National Taiwan University before immigrating to the United States to obtain his Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech.
Cristobal Betancourt, RLA, is Director of Planning and Landscape Architecture for Chen Moore and Associates. He has experience providing planning and landscape architecture design solutions for public and private sector clients. Mr. Betancourt leads a team that has extensive experience on significant municipal streetscapes, parks (including master plans), transportation projects, campuses, facilities and land development projects throughout Florida (from northern Florida to Key West). Examples of such projects include the implementation of the Complete Streets Master Plan developed by the Broward County Metropolitan Planning Organization, master planning for SunTrax in Lakeland, segments of areas on the Florida Turnpike and the incorporation of an existing street in the pedestrianized Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach. In addition, Mr. Betancourt is the principal for our LA Department’s efforts for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) throughout the state. He and his team are well versed in designing for multiple modes of transportation including air, rail, roadway, and multimodal transit facilities. He has been the Project or Task Manager for districtwide landscape contracts, highway beautification projects and LAP funded projects. Mr. Betancourt completed his post graduate studies in urban design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University.
Brent Whitfield, P.E., ENV SP is the Director of Water Resources for CMA. Mr. Whitfield has worked for a variety of public sector clients at the City, County and State level. His experience includes tasks as varied as hydrologic and hydraulic modeling related to environmental and flood protection studies and detailed engineering design and construction oversight for roadway, water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure. Mr. Whitfield has provided infrastructure solutions in various settings from residential neighborhoods to commercial airports. As a life-long resident of Florida, Mr. Whitfield has maintained a commitment to serving the community both professionally and personally serving as an appointed board member for a municipal advisory board with maintaining involvement in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Florida Engineering Society (FES) and Leadership Florida. He serves as the chair of the water resources committee for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Florida. Mr. Whitfield holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida.
William “Bill” Thorp has decades of experience as a Certified Public Accountant, eventually specializing in the financial management of the transportation industry. He served as the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) as well as the Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Mr. Thorp attended the City College of New York from which he holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Arts degree. He also attended the University of South Florida. Mr. Thorp is married and has three grown children and four grandchildren all of which he is very proud. His hobbies include fishing, photography and silversmithing.