What’s HappeningNewsCreating a Better World, Leading with Science®

Creating a Better World, Leading with Science®

April 6, 2023

TAC Sponsor Spotlight Article

From the first rudimentary coastal wave impact studies more than 50 years ago to the extreme weather effects data-driven modeling of today, Tetra Tech has led with science.

At Tetra Tech, science is more than just a body of knowledge or a collection of processes for defining and answering questions. Science is a means for solving problems and a prism through which to see the world and its people—and their potential—in new ways. In this article, we explore how Tetra Tech is Leading with Science® by conducting insightful assessments and crafting creative solutions through innovation, data analysis, and sometimes pure ingenuity. These solutions are both efficient and effective, successful and sustainable.

Designing for performance, building for endurance: Using science to optimize asset management

Tetra Tech is a leader in the water, waste, and environmental sectors, with No. 1 and top 10 rankings to prove it. Now, a new category of infrastructure is emerging as a potentially significant growth area, driven by designs informed by a whole new array of specialized analytics.

“People have always thought about pavement in a pretty routine way,” notes Bryan Palsat, a pavements engineer in Tetra Tech’s Edmonton, Alberta, office. “The client tells you what to build and how to build it, and that’s that. There wasn’t much attention paid to long-term operation and maintenance until later. However, we are seeing a whole new approach to road building in both Canada and the United States. No one has the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to repair and replace all of our crumbling roadways and bridges.”

The public-private partnership—PPP or P3—approach has emerged as a favoured method of project delivery, Bryan says, and it requires a different mode of thinking about total project costs.

“Under the PPP model, you have the traditional design-build method, but you also have the financing and operations considerations folded in,” he said. “The concessionaire who is operating and maintaining the road suddenly has a lot of interest in how it is designed and constructed, because those two things have a major impact on long-term performance. That is where we come in.”

Bryan noted that Tetra Tech’s pavement investigation expertise dates to the 1980s and includes all aspects of road building—engineering, design, materials, analysis, and nondestructive pavement testing. Tetra Tech’s team uses a suite of carefully collected assessment information to analyze roadway degradation, getting at the root problem causing the cracking, rutting, and potholes that plague drivers and municipal budgets.

“There are lots of variables—climate, design, materials, construction, repair methods, type of use,” Bryan said. “We do our own testing, to see firsthand how pavement responds to these variables. All that data goes into models we build to forecast future pavement conditions. We’re able to project maintenance and rehabilitation needs based on how the road was designed, built, and operated. That sort of knowledge can save the owner-operator 10–15 percent or more over the long term. When you are considering transportation projects in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, those kinds of savings really add up!”

Tetra Tech has leveraged its niche in pavement management for PPP projects in Canada into a broader portfolio that now includes airport runways and partnerships in the United States and beyond.

“What we do is unique to industry,” Bryan said. “We use our experience and analytical expertise to develop performance-based designs that specify not just how to design and construct the roadway pavement, but how it should function over its expected life span.”

“It’s all about using the data to analyze lifecycle costs and identify and define the performance requirements up front,” he added. “We’re working with our clients to support design and construction elements that maximize usefulness and minimize operation, repair, and maintenance costs over the long term to reduce overall expenses. That can save a lot of money, and for our clients, that’s the bottom line.”

Building on our reputation for excellence and innovation

From assessing problems and probing potential paths forward to creating and implementing clear solutions to complex problems, Tetra Tech teams are Leading with Science® throughout the project life cycle. Tetra Tech brings together interdisciplinary talent from across its global operations to work together to deliver solutions to clients. It leads with science every day, applying that broad discipline to developing practical solutions that advance clients’ projects around the globe.

Thanks to Tetra Tech for being a TAC sponsor. Learn more about the company by reading its sponsor profile or at www.tetratech.com