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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Levee sheet pilings surprise

Dang. It would have been so convenient to nail the Corps of Engineers for those levee failures. Apparently, though, those sheet pilings that seemed (via seismic tests) to have been driven to only ten feet were, in fact, driven to the specified depth. From NOLA.com:

While the hands-on measurements seem to reduce the possibility of criminal conduct, corps officials and independent engineers said serious questions remain about how the wall failed during the Aug. 29 storm.

“The investigation will be ongoing until we find out exactly why, the scientific and engineering reasons why some levee parts of the system were able to withstand the forces of this hurricane and others did not,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Crear, commander of Task Force Hope, which is assisting in the recovery of the New Orleans area.

I believe completely that the reasons for the breaches will be exposed. They have to be. However, if large sections of the system have to be redesigned and rebuilt because of the soil composition, I’m concerned that NOLA may be facing a (possibly) insurmountable problem. (Of course, my concerns rest partially on my lack of a civil engineering degree. My educational sheet pilings in this subject are driven to almost no depth at all...)

The mystery continues…


  • At 12:56 PM, Blogger westrom said;

    the USACOE is still to blame, even more so. if the pilings were shorter than designed, it would have been the contractor's fault (the ACOE only has a design team, and hires outside contractors for the work). But because the pilings were exactly the designed depth, the responsibility is squarely with the designers, which are government employees. also, a local private structural consulting firm hired by the USACOE claims that they have recommended much deeper pilings, but the army went ahead against their reccommendations because of budget constraints.
    I, as an architect, am required to carry liability insurance and am liable for my mistakes. if something fails because i am at fault, my insurance pays and then the insurance sues me for professional fault if i am responsible or at least drops me or increases my rates.
    The Army though carries no insurance except the government's responsibility to pay in case they do something wrong, and cannot be sued... except in this case, they will be, and it's gonna be a long fight.


  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger Polimom said;

    Thanks, Vlad, for some explanation.

    I suspect you're absolutely right - it'll be a long ugly fight.


  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger Schroeder said;

    No civil engineering degree? Hmmm ... well, if you were so inclined, you'd couldn't go anywhere in New Orleans to learn your trade now that Tulane put a fork in its engineering programs.

    I guess that one day we'll just contract out the East Indians and Chinese to do that work for us too.

  • At 11:44 PM, Blogger westrom said;

    hey, if they do it right, i have no problem, as long as they pay taxes like everyone else, and not bribes.
    but i would prefer hiring the dutch for the levees, the germans for machinery and some romanian architects :)

    OTOH, tulane had hard choices to make, and i am with them. this university has contributed a whole lot to this city, and who are we to question their private decisions? they are just trying to survive...
    we can and should however question the public entities who failed miserably!

    polimom, it would be great to meet you when you come to the point. just email.
    we might have a party at the house i just sold.


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