The latest news in surveying and mapping.

FHWA tested this GRS structure for reinsforcement.

Re-visiting Ancient Construction Methods

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) researchers constructed an 18-foot tall bridge pier and two full-scale bridge approach ways using a technique based on construction methods developed thousands of years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. The structures were built using a technique known as Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) technology, which is simply alternating layers of compacted soil such as gravel and thin sheets of geosynthetic reinforcements. With GRS, the strength and soundness of the structure comes from proper spacing of the reinforcement materials and the quality and compaction of the gravel soil fill. The reinforcement materials confine the soil so that the structure is internally supported.

A full-scale abutment with concrete girder applied GRS technology.
Many geotechnical experts believe GRS will improve roadway drainage and support, or to construct retainment walls or bridge abutments—all at a significant savings in time and costs. FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle surmised, “Meeting the challenges of a 21st century transportation system requires thinking outside of the box, which sometimes means reaching into the past and building upon yesterday’s successes.”

Trimble/Spectra Merger Creates New Division

Stemming from the merger of Trimble Navigation Ltd., Sunnyvale, Calif., and Spectra Precision, Atlanta, Ga., a new division has been created called the engineering and construction division. The combination of Trimble and Spectra Precision’s prominent status in the industry unites the optical and GPS survey systems from each company.

Trimble’s engineering and construction division focuses on the development of surveying, machine control and construction laser solutions. In the future, Trimble anticipates the release of three-dimensional solutions that allow for real-time layout.

Trimble’s engineering and construction division is based in Dayton, Ohio. To locate a dealer, visit the company’s website at

MSPS Debates Michigan-Ontario Reciprocity

Senate Bill 1378 was reviewed recently during the November MSPS (Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors) Board of Directors meeting. This Bill would allow a “licensed, registered or otherwise regulated” applicant from Ontario, Canada, to be given reciprocity to practice in the state of Michigan as long as the Ontario authority also granted reciprocity. If passed, Bill 1378 would amend Public Act 299 of 1988, which requires individuals seeking reciprocity to write and pass the Michigan specific exam as it relates to becoming a professional surveyor.

The MSPS Board supports the process of reciprocity but feels that Bill 1378 doesn’t adequately address the requirement of a Michigan specific exam.

In a letter sent to the senators who proposed Bill 1378, Jan Fokens, PS, MSPS president, stated, “We believe that in order to maintain the necessary standards as it relates to land surveying records and accuracy, the individual must first be aware of exactly what Michigan law requires.” He continued, “We support the concept of reciprocity as long as the requirement of examination of the Michigan specific examination is a component of the process.”

No final action was made in 2000; the Bill will be re-introduced in the 2001 legislative session.

Construction Contracting Up For 2000

Contracting for new construction climbed 3 percent in October 2000 to an annual rate of $472.4 billion, reported F.W. Dodge, a Division of the McGraw-Hill Companies, one of the leading sources of construction information. The gain for total construction was due to a sharp increase for nonresidential building, which more than offset a slight loss of momentum for residential building and nonbuilding construction. Nonresidential building in October jumped 11 percent to $173.8 billion, residential building decreased one percent to $205.7 billion, and nonbuilding construction decreased one percent to $93.0 billion.

During the January-October period of 2000, total construction was up 2 percent over 1999. Three of the five major regions showed total construction gains during the January-October period of 2000—the northeast, up 8 percent, and the south Atlantic and west, each up 5 percent. Both the midwest and south central regions posted 3 percent declines for total construction compared to 1999.

Success in Providence

“Practical Applications in the Geospatial Information Sciences” held in Providence, R.I., was a great success, reported its hosts, ACSM and ASPRS. The fall 2000 conference was held in conjunction with the surveying societies of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. More than 850 attendees chose from a total of 35 workshops during the weekend ranging from GPS, riparian boundaries, orthophotos, geodesy, LIDAR, softcopy photogrammetry and surveying land techniques. Introduction to GPS, riparian boundaries and GIS applications sessions were among the most popular.

More than 50 vendors hosted booths displaying the latest and greatest in software, equipment and accessories. Other event gatherings invited attendees to socialize during a lively auction, which raised money for New England college students pursuing degrees in the mapping sciences; a map/plat competition; and a geospatial sports competition, which gave participants an opportunity to contend in events including pacing, estimating the angle and angle turning.

ASPRS committee meetings and ACSM business meetings were held at the Westin Providence Hotel throughout the week. Each New England state society held its annual meeting and awards luncheon at the Westin Hotel, also.

POB magazine used the successful conference as a chance to launch its Road Show, a website link for visitors to read about conferences from their desktops. Through the POB Road Show on POB Online (, both text and pictures deliver late-breaking manufacturer announcements, course reviews and accounts of social activities to visitors. Participate remotely for the next POB Road Show during the ACSM conference from March 19-21.