Last week: I just wanted to give a quick thank you to everyone who ran for office, regardless of the success of their campaigns. America was built on everyday people giving of themselves for the betterment of their communities and I’m proud of everyone who put themselves out there. Win or lose, there are always positive things to take away from the experience.
Looking ahead:Well, the deck is stacked more than ever in the favor of the majority party as we looked forward to the special session on property insurance in mid-December. There are so many reasons why this is critical for the state of Florida, and this is the first great test of the now more deeply red environment. With 7.03% of the homeowners claims originating in Florida, but 76.32% of the homeowners insurance lawsuits originating in Florida, there are many reforms needed. From eliminating one-way attorney fees to tightening the definition of bad faith to Citizens Insurance reforms, we need change now.
Last week: The Clean Water Act (CWA) was signed 50 years ago this week. The CWA is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. Its objective is to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation’s waters. The law recognizes the responsibilities of the states in addressing pollution and provides assistance to states to do so, including funding for publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment and maintaining the integrity of wetlands. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has delegated authority to manage and, sometimes, fund this in Florida. This was a great day in American history.
Looking ahead:Recently, the largest clean energy lending institution, Ygrene, stopped funding PACE loans to homeowners in Florida without warning. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs provide an alternative way for Florida homeowners to finance energy efficient upgrades to their home, like impact windows and doors. This financing program allowed participating counties and municipalities to assist homeowners in financing these improvement projects. Not only are they not funding any more projects, but they are not funding any projects that have already been approved. Homeowners that were trying to do the right thing were left out in the cold. They need help soon.
Last week: I’ve seen a lot of people that excitedly posted about dropping gas prices due to the gas tax holiday that is taking place the entire month of October 2022. This effectively reduces the price of gas by 25.3 cents per gallon. Sadly, most Floridians don’t know that these taxes go to fund a large portion of the Florida Department of Transportation and local governmental budgets for capital projects and mass transit. In this particular case, the lost money will be offset by federal COVID relief dollars, but robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t great policy.
Looking ahead:The University of Florida’s Presidential Search Committee has unanimously recommended U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse as the sole finalist to become the University of Florida’s 13th president. Sasse currently serves as a senator from Nebraska and is a former college president, highly accomplished scholar and nationally recognized authority on higher education. While this still needs to move forward for approval by the Board of Trustees, this is a huge change for the state’s flagship university.
Last week: For Floridians, the story of the week was Hurricane Ian. For those of us that grew up on 1990s end-of-world disaster movies, though, the story of the week was NASA’s successful Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission relating to altering the trajectory of asteroid Dimorphos. While It will take days to weeks for astronomers to confirm whether DART accomplished its primary goal, which is to speed up the time Dimorphos takes to orbit its partner asteroid, Didymos, by perhaps 10 or more minutes, the mission to make contact with an object 11 million kilometers from Earth was achieved.
Looking ahead: Hurricane Ian is heading to Tampa … Tallahassee … Tampa … And then it ends up in Fort Myers. In the time following recovery and rebuilding, there will be much learned from the data collected and how it impacts the models used to predict the path and intensity of hurricanes. Similarly, engineers use past information to calculate the duration and intensity of rainfall to prevent loss of life from hurricanes and random December rainstorms. Collaboration between cities, counties, water management districts and other stakeholders helps put the big in “big data,” which continues to make predictions better — but not perfect.
Last week: The condo reform legislation passed as a “side thought” in the special session on insurance reform was the gem of this legislative year. Putting in place a comprehensive program for inspections, with special emphasis on high risk properties, along with not allowing condo boards to waive reserve funds specifically used for the maintenance of these structures will save lives, period. Just as importantly, this legislation restores confidence in the value of condo structures as a viable place to live and invest. The Florida Legislature showed leadership with compromise and understanding to benefit all Floridians.
We are barely scratching the surface. What’s next for our nation’s infrastructure? | Opinion
On Nov. 15, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA) into law. The White House has considered this to be “a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness.” As a civil engineer, I give credit to all the politicians involved in creating excitement around infrastructure funding. We can point to this act as only progress, and we can now begin to measure the impact of this investment and, more importantly, we can begin to measure the multiplicative return on investment that is well-documented from past investments. And from what we can measure, a trillion dollars doesn’t go too far.
Despite all the appreciation that I have as a civil engineer and a citizen, the IIJA barely the scratches the surface of our nation’s needs, and if this is the only investment in infrastructure in this generation, the United States will fall even further behind on the world stage. This is evident on a couple of levels.
When the average person hears about a $1.2 trillion investment, it sounds more than sufficient to meet our needs, but in reality, it falls far short. The first example of this shortfall is the fact that, of the $1.2 trillion, only $550 billion is actually new money programmed to be spent on transportation, water and power infrastructure and pollution cleanup. The remainder, more than half, is simply regular annual spending on infrastructure projects.
Drawing on the technical knowhow of its membership, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) produces independent reporting on America’s infrastructure for the benefit of both our decision makers and the average citizen. Every four years, ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card, assigning letter grades based on the physical condition and needed investments for improvement. While this publication produces bite-sized pieces of information that help guide decision making, the accompanying Failure to Act Study provides the economics behind the grades.
Based on the latest Failure to Act Study, the total needs for the nation based on current trends and extended until 2029 are just short of $6 trillion ($5.937 trillion to be exact), while funding levels, inclusive of the IIJA, which was passed after the study was published, are closer to $4 trillion.
Even worse, the Failure to Act Study highlights that, without action, by 2039, failing infrastructure will cost the US $10 trillion in gross domestic product, over 3 million jobs and $2.24 trillion in exports. This further dries up the pool of funds available for investment in not only infrastructure, but any other needs that our country faces. Keep in mind 2039 is only 17 years away, which is less than any current timeframe considered to be a “generation.”
Infrastructure spending obviously benefits engineers, but infrastructure spending has a return on investment that also benefits the greater population. Direct benefactors obviously include material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and construction workers, but secondary impacts push down to those who mine or farm the materials, those who build the equipment, and those who feed, equip and train the construction workers. Overall improvements, particularly to increase reliability, benefit the logistics and manufacturing industries overall. Finally, general benefits to the average person include reduction in commuting, traffic calming and other time benefits. Every dollar invested in infrastructure returns between three and seven times to the overall economy.
We have the needs. We’ve proven the investment pays returns. Thank you, but isn’t it time we say what’s next?
Peter Moore is president and CEO of Chen Moore and Associates, a civil engineering firm specializing in water resources, water and sewer, landscape architecture, transportation, planning and irrigation and electrical, environmental and construction engineering services.
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, FACEC President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week:This past week, President Biden signed into law the appropriations behind the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), providing significant funding for the next five years for various infrastructure initiatives. This includes a 43% increase in funding for highway programs, a 61% increase for public transportation projects and a 137% increase for airport construction. Each of these is a significant “down payment” towards the nearly $2.2 Trillion in funding gap between what is authorized and what is needed according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ recent 2021 Failure to Act study. Let’s keep the momentum going!
Looking ahead:Next week I’ll spend my 21st consecutive year judging a civil engineering competition called the Concrete Canoe. The concept is to gain a hands on knowledge of the design, construction and racing of a canoe that is made of concrete products that floats. Since the early 1970’s, experiments in light weight concrete led to the development of concrete canoes, but the first National competition was held in 1988. The competition includes a technical paper, presentation and aesthetics, going well beyond the typical purposeful designs that engineers are typically synonymous with. These are our next generation of infrastructure leaders.
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, FACEC President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week: The past week, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) unveiled the first of five digital worlds within the Future World Vision (www.futureworldvision.org) project. To build the future, first we must visualize it. Mega City 2070 is not science fiction. It’s not a video game. Guided by extensive scenario planning and grounded in deep research, Future World Vision introduces a plausible city and its evolution from 2020 to 2070. The immersive, 3D digital model puts users at the heart of Mega City, inviting contributions to the platform. Thinking about the future guides the decisions we make today.
Looking ahead:In light of the Russian and Ukrainian conflict, a new European Union energy strategy is expected to be unveiled March 2. It calls for a 40% reduction in fossil fuel use by 2030, coincidentally the approximate amount that the EU receives from Russia, and requires European energy companies to fill their storage tanks with natural gas this summer so that the continent is less dependent on Russian gas next winter. A focus on renewable energy is a large part of that strategy and reminds us here, far from the conflict, of the importance of energy independence.
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, FACEC President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week:Last week, while I was in Tallahassee, there was an addition to a relatively simple bill that essentially does away with personal liability protection for design professionals in construction projects. This is a provision that the design community worked for years to get into place after a court case considered this for the first time about 15 years ago. Every design professional works for a business with much deeper pockets than any individual, and if this provision isn’t killed, it will make getting people to enter this profession, which is already in need, much more difficult and will slow all construction.
Looking ahead:There are a series of bills related to the Surfside tragedy that will be considered over the next couple weeks. Many are backed by leadership, so they will flow through the committees and floor votes easily. Hopefully, this will bring clarity to a situation that has had as many opinions as condo units that were lost. While the situation was absolutely tragic, there needs to be a measured response for new construction and inspection of existing buildings. Annual inspections, destructive testing or other extreme measures aren’t in anyone’s best interests.
December 12, 2021 Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, FACEC President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week:With Gov. DeSantis unveiling the “Always Ready Florida” program’s first wave of projects, including $270 million spread over 76 projects throughout Florida, it appears the ball is starting to roll. The plan still has to be approved by the Legislature in the 2022 session, which means it could always be subject to change, although Republican leadership in the House has signaled support. For now, it’s made up of a list of projects that were initially submitted to the Resilient Florida grant program, the first-ever pot of state money specifically designed to help cities and counties adapt to climate change.
Looking ahead:I moderated a session at the 13th Annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit relating to resilient infrastructure. The real work comes in the following weeks, though, as our leaders come back and begin to make regional plans. The New York City Economic Development Committee (EDC) is preparing a nearly $4 billion plan to build protective flood walls, 12 to 15 feet above sea level, to protect the incredible assets in Lower Manhattan. It will take that kind of regional approach for South Florida to make meaningful progress. Water will always find its path of least resistance.
Freeman Bass, P.E. is the Director of Energy for Chen Moore and Associates’ electrical engineering team and specializes in leading and managing electrical power, control, and lighting design, plan preparation, permitting and construction oversight projects. His experience includes collecting existing utility data; performing modeling and simulation; lighting design; communication design layout; substation physical layout; protection & control wiring; transmission system modeling; distribution design; and substation physical layout. Mr. Bass holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Florida.
Thomas Gardner, P.E. is the Vice President of Electrical Engineering for Chen Moore and Associates’ electrical engineering team and has experience in design and management of numerous electrical power, control, and lighting projects. He excels at client responsiveness and at dealing quickly and decisively with project concerns. His diverse experience allows him to anticipate obstacles on the front end of projects and creatively address complications all the way through construction. Mr. Gardner holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of North Florida and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas.
Chief Financial Officer
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.
Peter serves as the President and CEO of Chen Moore and Associates, an approximately 100-person multidisciplinary firm in the Southeast US, particularly Florida. Having been with the firm for over 22 years, Peter helped grow the firm from three people to its current size of over 100 employees with a combination of strong vision and the highest quality consulting.
Peter is a two-time graduate from the University of Florida (BSCE and ME), where he serves on the Department Advisory Board for the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and the Environment (ESSIE – Civil and Coastal Engineering Department and Environmental Engineering and Sciences Department). He serves on the Florida Atlantic University Foundation Board and is a member of the Nova Southeastern University Industry Advisory Board for the College of Engineering.
He has participated in many leadership programs, including Leadership Broward (lifetime member, served as Board Chair), Leadership Florida (lifetime member, served on both finance and audit committees), and the Florida Engineering Leadership Institute (lifetime member, program chair). He’s a past President of the Florida Engineering Society (FES) Broward Chapter, the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida (ACEC-FL) and has served as the FES/ACEC-FL Government Relations Chair for over a decade. Peter is a Fellow of ASCE, ASCE and FES, with numerous other individual awards throughout his career from engineering and civic associations.
Patrick Kaimrajh, P.E. is the Director of Land Development for Chen Moore and Associates and specializes in leading and managing civil engineering design, permitting, and construction oversight. Mr. Kaimrajh has worked for a variety of public sector clients at the City, County and State level, as well as private development clients in commercial, hospitality, healthcare, industrial, mixed-use and residential market sectors. Land development involves numerous engineering specialties to transform a plot of land to a built environment. Patrick has the expertise needed to complete complex land development projects. His experience includes preparation of final design packages including paving; grading; drainage collection systems with controlled outfalls and injection wells in coastal areas; water distribution systems; wastewater collection systems and lift stations; pavement marking and signage; traffic control and phasing; and erosion and sediment control plans. He is currently serving on the Civil Engineering Advisory Board for the University of Miami College of Engineering, as well as serving as Secretary-Treasurer for American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Florida Section. He is a graduate of the Florida Engineering Leadership Institute (FELI) and ULI SE Florida Leadership Institute, and an active member of Florida Engineering Society (FES) and Urban Land Institute (ULI). Mr. Kaimrajh holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Miami.
Jose L. Acosta
Jose L. Acosta
Executive Vice President
Jose L. Acosta, P.E., F.ASCE, is Executive 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
Senior Vice President
Jason McClair, P.E., CFM, LEED AP, is Treasurer and Senior 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.
G. Benjamin Lehr, P.E., LEED AP is the Director of Transportation for Chen Moore and Associates. In his role, he is focused on business development and project execution for State of Florida Departments of Transportation (FDOT) and public sector clients in Florida and Georgia. Ben has completed a variety of projects for Cities, Counties, and State level government. His experience includes project oversight, management, workload planning, and structural design for numerous projects in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. His responsibilities include project management, client management, staff management, workload planning, and marketing. Ben has been involved with the management of large-scale design-build projects ranging from a $66M new bridge over the intracoastal waterway to a $425M, 21-mile interstate widening. Ben holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Engineering Degree from the University of Florida in Civil and Structural Engineering respectively and is technically proficient in the design of highway bridges and miscellaneous structures. He is an active member of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the Design-Build Institute of America Florida Region (DBIA-FL) and is a member of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida (ACEC-FL) Transportation Committee.
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.
Daniel Davila, P.E. is the Director of Water and Sewer for Chen Moore and Associates. Mr. Davila has assisted numerous private and public clients that range from residential developers, industrial developers, municipalities, counties, federal agencies, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions. His experience includes planning and design of water and wastewater facilities, utilities master planning, utility infrastructure renewal, stormwater systems, roadway design, and construction management. His true expertise comes in the design and permitting of complex large diameter pipelines including replacement and rehabilitation of infrastructure via Trenchless Technologies having worked on dozens of horizontal directional drills, pipe bursting, sliplining and swagelining projects in Florida, Central America and the Caribbean, these projects also entailed design of thousands of linear feet of pressure pipe ranging from six (6) inch to fifty four (54) inch in diameter as well as the design of several utility intracoastal crossings ranging from eight (8) inch to forty eight (48) inch in diameter. He is an active member of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Florida Engineering Society (FES), Florida Healthcare Engineering Association (FHEA), and American Association of Employment in Education (AAEE). Mr. Davila holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida.
Vice President of Landscape Architecture & Planning
Cristobal Betancourt, PLA, is Vice President of Landscape Architecture and Planning 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.