The Governing Body You’ve Never Heard Of

Forget the NSA.  Disregard what you have heard about the FBI.  The CIA, too.  Congratulate your region’s MPO for accomplishing the most without a single news headline.  Impressive considering topics like “funding” and “infrastructure” can be easy media targets.

Cities and counties are well defined with political scenes just as hot as in D.C.  Regions, however, are more conceptual.  Adding “greater” to a metropolitan area forms a hazy boundary around a dense population.  Enter the metropolitan planning organization.  MPO’s to give definition and organization to the urban haze.  They are federally mandated and funded transportation policy-making organizations.  Regional cooperation in transportation planning is the end game.   Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962 created the concept.  Current criteria stipulate a population greater than 50,000 people is eligible for an MPO.

The MPO hosts open forums for municipal representatives to nominate and prioritize transportation infrastructure improvements.  Transportation and planning professionals administer metrics and structure, so all the efforts culminate into tangible improvement.  The best part is that much of this happens without a single news mention.  This is pretty freakin’ amazing.  Dozens of humans actually gathering and agreeing on something to benefit thousands.  Right on.  Keep it up, MPO.  We could use more governmental organizations like you.

HUGE Milestone for Small Business

The hard-working team at Pfefferkorn Engineering & Environmental is taking a moment to CELEBRATE.  We crossed a huge threshold as a small company.  For TWO years now our signature compass and pencil hallmark has represented top notch engineering and environmental service for the Kansas City region and beyond.

“To look back and see how far we’ve come is incredible.  We continually see new growth opportunities and are fired up to pursue them.”  – Kate Pfefferkorn-Mansker, PE

Our portfolio is now packed with specialty structural design, custom stormwater management solutions, traffic design improvements among other fine services.   It goes beyond deliverables.  The peace of mind from solid technical support is what our clients expect and appreciate most.  The team is poised for growth and ready to meet the needs and challenges of current and future clients.

Contact PE2 today to set up a consultation.

Not So Plane & Simple

Roasterie Coffee Company’s Douglas DC-3 airplane in front of the downtown Kansas City MO skyline at dusk, summer 2013.

Builders and designers shape communities.  With this great privilege comes great… ETHICS debate.  This is currently playing out in Kansas City.  The Kansas City International (KCI) airport infrastructure is ready for an upgrade to business class.  Interested parties submitted Design-Build-Finance proposals in hopes of being selected.


Project delivery is how prospective builders or designers are to accomplish the goal.  Project delivery typically adheres to one of two methods: Design-Bid-Build or Design-Build.  There are a host of metrics to follow so that the project proposals are compared methodically.  When another facet is added for comparison, like financing, anything can happen.  Equitable proposal comparison can be challenging even without comparing finance options.  Committees attempt to compare apples to oranges to pork chops.

Finding the Right Fit

The top two characteristics of ethical proposal selection are transparency and fairness.  However, selection rests on a landscape of competition, exclusivity and even prominence.  It is enough to make even the most level playing field riddled with fierce juggernauts.  The system can be built to appeal to logic and ethics.  Yet the appeal triangle of Ethos-Pathos-Logos does not exist without emotion.   Mayor Sly James has indicated that “who” builds the airport is not as imperative as getting the actual airport infrastructure piece fitted into the Kansas City puzzle.  Kansas City voters will have the opportunity to cast his or her own opinion of the city council’s selection in November 2017.  This is where the rubber meets the tarmac.  Standby.

Restore the Roar

Sustaining a culture means protecting its artistry, customs, and treasured monuments.  The 2014 film The Monuments Men demonstrated the great lengths taken to preserve a culture.  Many civilizations have come and gone.  Cultures have evolved, been created and destroyed.  At Pfefferkorn Engineering and Environmental, we engineer restoration solutions for aging infrastructure.  Furthermore, we polish the cherished cornerstones that represent a culture. Hallmarks of a community.  Physical works of craftsmanship and skill are often adorned with symbolic art.  That space, that piece represents the technical achievement of a society for as long as it stands.

Pfefferkorn has served on several projects with special considerations for historically significant structures.  These can be buildings, bridges, schools, landmarks, banks, outposts, trails and burial grounds.  It takes a special approach to restore historical structures.  It is crucial to understand and appreciate the materials and techniques used at the time of the original construction.  On one such opportunity, Pfefferkorn engineered the restoration of a historic archway bridge servicing a major railroad in Jefferson City, Missouri.  The bridge not only has a substantial load, but creek which is spans is a consistent force acting upon the bridge footing.

It was quite an honor to serve on that particular design.  This archway bridge has been part of the community for decades.  And now it will continue serve the needs of the railway without compromising any of the rustic appeal.  – Gabe Pfefferkorn, P.E.

Pictured above is an archway stone bridge with temporary falsework supporting bridge restoration.  Contact PE2 to partner with a team who will preserve the hallmarks of your community.

Creating Flow

Intuition.  Following your gut.  Particularly when mere seconds matter.  This goes for our primal encounters and also driving.  When designing for roadway safety, engineers overwhelmingly look to make the driving experience intuitive. Is there flow?  What does the motorist expect?  What information do they need about upcoming conditions? When do they need that information?  What is the best medium to convey that information?  Multiple scenarios are envisioned.  Wet pavement.  Nighttime.  Large vehicles.  Centripetal force.  Local traffic norms.

Data is dissected, poured over. Equations and computations are performed.  But with every turn and curve, a human brain looks at each scenario.  The question is asked, “Is this intuitive?”  Does it create flow?  A flow that feels natural, aligns with motorist expectations.  THAT approach makes roadway travel safe.

Smooth Move

Traffic impact studies and curve analysis are works for science.  Well-documented science with multitudes of data. Put it all together in way that makes the motorist not only feel safe, but a part of a fluid vehicular orchestra.  Flow that comes natural.  In driving, seconds matter.  Design for intuition.  Not constraint.  Contact PE2 today for traffic impact studies or roadway safety improvements.

Mound Discussions


The tension is building.  The pressure is on.  The ball team gathers at the pitcher’s mound to discuss clutch strategy.  If you find yourself upon a mound, take a note from the ball diamond defense.  If you do not know what is under the mound, find out.  Stop the operations.  Huddle the team.  Get a plan.

Mountain out of Mole Hill

Mounds are artificial hills, seemingly random against the landscape.  Mounds can be harmless piles of dirt, compiled from an offsite development.  They can also be historically sensitive burial grounds.  Do not proceed with purchase or operations involving the mound until further review.  This activity now requires a permit and approval.  See your local or state historical society for information.  And if you are really unlucky, mounds can be covered piles of waste from a bygone factory, read: hazardous material.  We simply cannot make this up.  So who has the liability of said mound?  The material generator?  Nope.  The prior owner?  Wrong.  If you guessed the owner, you are correct.  Owner as in the current owner.  At best this waste is a pollutant or contamination.  At worst, it is leaching toxic compounds into the groundwater and onto the neighbor’s property or waterway.

Let’s Huddle

Do not proceed with purchase or operations involving a mound unless you are confident of what (or who) is buried there.  Hopefully nothing but dirt.  Though if you do not know, ask a city official with access to historical records or knowledge.  Try the state agencies if necessary.  If all else fails, try an environmental engineer who can decipher historical occupancy records.  Up until modern regulations, guess where waste went?  In. the. GROUND.  Yup.  Quite commonly, too.   Want to know another red flag?  Beware of any property whose value is SIGNIFICANTLY lower than other comparable properties.  Contact PEto huddle up with you on the mound.