Latest News

Virtual Membership Meeting on 2/18: Don’t Miss It

By Harry Gong, P.E., F.NSPE

I am inviting all Mississippi NSPE Members to attend a virtual membership meeting that is scheduled for Thursday, February 18, 2021 from 11:30am to 12:30pm. During this meeting the following items will be presented and discussed:

  1. NSPE Updates
    a. New Executive Director & CEO - Monika Schulz, CAE
    b. Updates from NSPE Officers/Staff
  2. Mississippi Legislature Updates
  3. Engineers Week (February 21 - 27)
  4. Nominations for Mississippi House Delegate 2021-2023
  5. Time for members to share

Please make note of item 4 as I intend to share the duties and commitment that are required to serve as the House Delegate in addition to other volunteer opportunities for serving NSPE. So if you are interested in serving, please attend this meeting so that you can learn how you can get more involved with NSPE.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to comment or email me directly.


Governor Signs EWeek Proclamation

Governor Tate Reeves has signed a proclamation declaring February 21-27 as National Engineers Week in Mississippi. Get all the details about EWeek on the DiscoverE website.


Where To Spend Lottery Dollars? State or Local Roads?

Date: February 10, 2021

Lottery revenue earmarked for maintenance on state highways would be diverted to local road and bridge needs under legislation pending in the Mississippi Senate, according to Mississippi Today. During a special session in 2018, lawmakers adopted the state lottery and decided the first $80 million in annual lottery revenue would be earmarked for MDOT. The legislation would divert any lottery revenue in excess of $80 million to public education. The bill’s author says Mississippi’s state-funded highways rank eighth in the nation, but locally funded roads and bridges are among the worst in the country.


Mississippi Job Opportunities

Date: February 10, 2021

Postdoctoral Research- Machine Learning
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)- ORISE

Research Agricultural Engineer
USDA-ARS-Pollinator Health in Southern Crop Ecosystem Research Unit

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

Corps Approves Yazoo Pumps

Date: January 27, 2021

The US Army Corps of Engineers has put the final approval on the Yazoo Backwater Pumps Projects, reports the Vicksburg Post. The pumps were the final piece of the Yazoo Backwater Levee Project authorized by Congress in 1941, but the EPA vetoed the pumps project in 2008. After modifications to the pump plan, the EPA said that its original objections no longer applied.


Dam Poses Risk to Neighborhood

Date: January 27, 2021

A neighborhood lake formed by a dam that hasn’t had an owner in years is placing the public at risk, according to the Meridian Star. If a new owner doesn’t step forward and maintain the dam, the Mississippi DEQ will develop plans for a controlled breach to drain the lake. The dam, located in Meridian, is considered high-hazard. Modeling shows that 43 residences and 17 businesses would be flooded if the dam had an uncontrolled breach.

Bridge Project Makes History

Date: December 16, 2020

Engineering and construction history was made in Jackson on the I-20 replacement flyover bridge at I-55. On December 7, MDOT reported that crews were placing the bridge’s seventh and final 170-foot concrete beam—the largest pre-stressed simple spans in MDOT history. The 200,000-pound beams were set in place using a self-propelled modular transport lifting frame, the first time the department has used such a device. Watch the video.

The $42.2 million project was awarded to Key LLC, of Madison. The existing bridge will be demolished once the new span is complete.


Member Spotlight: Wayne Black, P.E.

Date: December 16, 2020

Check out the Mississippi licensing board’s excellent December Engineer Spotlight of accomplished member Wayne Black of Garver LLC.


Lottery Dollars Mean New Pavement

Date: December 16, 2020

In its first year, Mississippi’s lottery brought in around $500 million, and the state collected $70 million to help fix roads and infrastructure, reports WAPT. “We took those $70 million and for the most part, used it for pavement projects, projects that hadn’t been done in over 20 years,” said Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons.

Oil Spill Restoration Work Moves Slowly

Date: November 18, 2020

An analysis of BP spending by Mississippi Today on damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill shows that the bulk of the restoration work remains undone. Mississippi had spent $134 million of an obligated $576 million total, as of last December, leaving more than $700 million left for future projects. So far, about a dozen restoration projects have been completed, with nearly 80% of funds going toward nonenvironmental projects like $14 million for the Gulfport Aquarium, $10 million for the INFINITY Science Center in Pearlington, and $4 million for the Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park in Biloxi.

The article says, “some environmental stakeholders are skeptical that the state is prioritizing its top restoration goals with its spending, while others are concerned that Mississippi is missing a cohesive approach to restoration.”

The UK-based BP reached a more than $20 billion settlement for environmental damages and was hit with over $2 billion in criminal penalties. The money, combined with smaller settlements, will be used through several federal funding programs and the five Gulf states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. April marked the 10-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.


Model Developed at Vicksburg Center Tracks COVID Spread

Date: November 18, 2020

Researchers at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg have developed a model that predicts the spread of the coronavirus and is being used as a planning tool for building alternate care facilities, reports Business Facilities. “The model takes the reported number of active cases in a county’s or state’s geographic area, then uses a parameter optimization process, similar to the way models for weather forecasting are parameterized,” said Brandon Lafferty, a researcher from the ERDC Environmental Laboratory. “That data is fed into ordinary differential equations to provide predictions for active COVID-19 infections for the future.” The model has been featured on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website—“the first time a model developed and maintained by the Department of Defense has been included in the CDC ensemble,” the article says.

A New Energy Exchange Market for the Southeast?

Date: October 28, 2020

Utilities in the Southeast are pushing to create “a new electricity market that could boost renewable energy in a region still dominated by fossil fuels,” reports E&E News. The Southeast Energy Exchange Market would allow the area’s utilities to buy and sell excess electricity as a way to meet net-zero carbon targets. “The utilities hope to file a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by the end of the year. If approved, it would be the first regional wholesale market of any kind in the Southeast,” the article says.


USACE Report Backs Proposed Delta Pump Project

Date: October 28, 2020

The US Army Corps of Engineers’ draft of a new environmental impact statement supports a proposal for massive pumps to drain floodwaters from parts of the rural Mississippi Delta — a reversal of a previous federal report that said the project would hurt wetlands, according to Claims Journal. The project involves building huge pumps at the confluence of the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers to protect an area that has experienced significant flooding during nine of the past 10 years, according to the Corps, which will conduct online public hearings and accept public comments until November 30.


We Want to Hear from You!

Date: October 28, 2020

Do you know of engineering news in Mississippi that would be great for this newsletter? Maybe it’s a project you or your firm is working on, or perhaps you read some interesting engineering news in your local newspaper. Or maybe you know of a fellow PE or student who deserves a little recognition. If so, we want to hear from you. Email your ideas to pemagazine@nspe.org.

NTSB Report and NSPE's Action on this Issue

Date: October 5, 2018

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent letters to the governors of 31 states named in its final report on the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, including Mississippi. The letter requests an end to the engineering license exemption for gas pipeline operators in these states, and asks for governors to provide an update to the NTSB with in 90 days.

When the NTSB began its investigation of the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, investigative staff reached out to NSPE seeking information about licensing exemptions. Through a series of conversations and emails, NSPE shared report data, information on the licensing process and requirements, and its Position Statement on licensing exemptions. Consequently, NSPE was successful in getting the NTSB to adopt a policy of addressing and eliminating engineering license exemptions within the gas pipeline industry.

NSPE’s national staff continues to be in conversation with NTSB staff, and will continue to share updates as they happen. We are happy to support state efforts at eliminating this exemption.

Read the full report from NTSB.

NTSB Report and Recommendations

Pipeline explosionA BURNED-OUT MASSACHUSETTS HOME AFTER THE GAS EXPLOSIONS
CREDIT: NTSB

NTSB has released an abstract of its forthcoming final report on the fatal Merrimack Valley pipeline explosion from September of last year. Final revisions are being made to the report, but in the report’s synopsis/executive summary, NTSB states that “requiring a licensed professional engineer to stamp plans would illustrate that the plans had been approved by an accredited professional with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to provide a comprehensive review.” Acknowledging the importance of the role of the PE in preventing an event like this from occurring, NTSB recommends the elimination of the licensing exemption on natural gas pipeline projects in the 31 states that have the exemption in place, including the state of Mississippi.

Read the synopsis of the report.