Archives for Summer 2013


New Rail Line Connects a Family of Agribusinesses

The newest expansion of the South Central Florida Express (SCFE) railroad in Hendry County will now connect the United States Sugar Corporation (USSC) Clewiston Sugar Factory with a new cane loading platform on C.R. 833 and to the Southern Gardens Citrus processing plant, making it easier to transport sugar and juices to Florida residents and beyond.

USSC moved forward with plans to connect their Southern Garden Citrus processing plant in Hendry County to the existing railroad system used for their sugar operations. The new railroad will reduce the large truck traffic currently transporting juice products to and from the citrus plant, while also providing a more efficient delivery of sugar cane to be processed and refined at the Clewiston Sugar Factory.

Johnson Engineering was chosen to provide the surveying and mapping, environmental, water resources and construction inspection for the 11.4 miles of proposed rail within a nearly nine mile long corridor through sugar cane and citrus groves.In the fall of 2011, equipped with the railway engineers’ preliminary alignment, our surveyors conducted the field locations and staking needed to assess if the proposed route would work as designed. Utilizing our state-of-the-art GPS software, our team acquired digital horizontal and vertical data and performed a detailed topographic survey along the entire route. They identified every roadway, canal, and ditch crossing the route, including gathering the precise height of several overhead electric transmission and service lines to verify the trains would clear them. Each week, the electronic survey data was sent to the railway engineer in order to produce the final construction plans.

Within two months, all survey field work concluded that portions of the alignment needed to be relocated so it would be more conducive to farming operations. Our survey team provided a topographical survey of the revised portions of the route, again quickly collecting and providing data for preparing the construction plans. After two route modifications, the final route and necessary data to produce the construction plans was completed in the spring of 2012.

In addition to survey, our water resources and environmental teams were tasked with helping to obtain the necessary permits to construct this large undertaking. This project required simultaneously permitting and modifying six separate permits for different entities, all owned by USSC. This allowed the railroad to be the accessory use and utilize the existing water management system in each permit. One area did not have a permit controlled by USSC, but had its own water detention designed specifically for the portion of the railroad passing through it. Our team assisted in acquiring a  water use permit to dewater this area in order to allow installation of culverts and to demuck small portions of the project area.

Our ecologists conducted wetland jurisdictional determinations and prepared protected species surveys in support of the permitting of the project. Formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the project’s effect on the Florida panther was required for the project, which typically takes well over a year to accomplish. Our environmental team implemented an approach to streamline the process and was able to secure the federal permit and biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only eight months after the Public Notice for the project was advertised, keeping the project ahead of schedule.

Construction of the railroad began in late 2012. Our construction engineering inspection (CEI) team worked closely with the contractor to provide on-site monitoring, inspection, testing, and reporting. Our inspectors took daily density tests of rock materials being used along the rail route to ensure permanent compaction. This work included pulling sample rock to be lab tested to verify they met certain specifications to allow proper drainage. Our team also produced weekly construction inspection reports for the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan as part of our National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) monitoring.

In May of 2013, our surveying team was called back in to perform the remainder of construction staking needed to keep the project on schedule. Within one week our field crew had the clearing limits staked for the remainder of the route and have begun working on final alignment stakes and grades.

Overall this has been a unique project that has allowed each of our market groups to work consecutively and simultaneously together to successfully see this project through from beginning to end.

For more information, contact [email protected].

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Les Bulson – Remembering a Man who Helped Weave our Company History

Mr. Lester L. Bulson, Sr., one of Johnson Engineering’s original stockholders and surveyors, passed away April 30, 2013 at the age of 87. Les’ infectious laughter will forever linger in the halls of Johnson Engineering, as will his survey seal found on thousands of plats in our archives.

Les was one of the few who had the pleasure of working directly with our company founder Carl Johnson. Without Les, Johnson Engineering would not be what it is today. Back in the late 1960’s, when the company was in transition from Carl Johnson to Archie Grant, Les was the only registered professional surveyor working for the company at that time, which kept us moving forward.

Les moved to Fort Myers from New York, and his friends remember that he would often make fun of the surveying methods used on these flatlands, since he was use to surveying up and down mountainous terrains. Known best for his practical jokes, which today would probably have him sitting in the HR office, Les was always up for a good laugh.

He was an avid fisherman, moving around the state just to get closer to his favorite fishing spots. During his time here, he gathered more topographic land knowledge of the barrier islands along the entire Southwest Florida coast than nearly anyone, yet ironically probably couldn’t find it on foot without his maps in hand. Les was also a pilot and would fly aerial reconnaissance for the company in the 1970’s and 80’s. He captured rare images of flooding that would later help our team develop water management master plans.

We owe Les a great deal of respect for getting Johnson Engineering to where we are today.

For more information, contact [email protected].

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New Office Opens in Pembroke Pines

We are excited to announce the expansion of our east coast operations, with the opening of our Pembroke Pines branch office. This new office located at 6941 SW 196th Avenue, Suite 32, Pembroke Pines, FL 33332, will allow us to easily serve our clients in Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, and along the eastern coast of the state while providing our complete host of services.

We have established a strong presence working on a variety of environmental projects in the Tri-County and surrounding areas. We felt this was the perfect time to expand in order to further establish our local presence and provide our high level of expertise and short response time to our clients.

For more information, contact [email protected].

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City of Fort Myers Downtown Basin Project Wins More Awards

When the City of Fort Myers downtown basin opened in late 2012, it was apparent it was an award winning space combining a unique mix of waterfront pathways, aesthetically appealing architecture and landscaping, while inconspicuously improving water quality before draining into the Caloosahatchee River.

Not only did this project win the Engineering Excellence award from the Florida Institute of Consulting Engineers last year, it was just announced that it won the Outstanding Redevelopment award from the Florida Planning and Zoning Association (FPZA), the Excellence Award for Stormwater Programs and Projects from the Florida Stormwater Association (FSA), and earned the title of Public Works Project of the Year from the American Public Works Association (APWA).

This is just the beginning of what’s to become an exciting downtown gathering space with Phase 2 of the Riverfront Development plan slated to include adding waterfront restaurants, shops and hotels. This project will bring a much needed economic boost to the City of Fort Myers while bringing its residents and visitors together. These awards recognize our teams’ exceptional efforts on this truly exceptional project.

For more information, contact [email protected].

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Florida Scientist Journal Publishes our Findings

Our water resources team’s project report findings were recently published in the spring 2013 issue of the Florida Scientist journal. Our article named “Using a Collaborative Partnership to Monitor Stormwater Best Management Practice Effectiveness: A Process and Project Summary” provided a summary of their public/private partnership monitoring the effectiveness of stormwater BMPs in Southwest Florida.

For the last eight years, Johnson Engineering has collaborated with FDEP, The Bonita Bay Group and, most recently, Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Inland Ecology Research Group, conducting various research projects to evaluate how effective these BMPs are in treating water quality. To date, we have performed multiple studies throughout Southwest Florida, including the Green Roof Study, Pervious/Impervious Pavement Study, Deep and Shallow Lake Aeration Study (Phase 1 and 2), and the Long Term Discharge Study, which included water quality and groundwater/surface water interaction components.

To view the Florida Scientist article, or other online water quality reports, visit our GIS website at

For more information, contact Mike Lohr, P.S.M. at 239.461.2404 or [email protected].

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