Archives for Winter 2012


Michael G. Rippe Parkway Opens

Drivers now have a new route to take through south Fort Myers. The much anticipated opening of the Michael G. Rippe Parkway now connects Metro Parkway to Alico Road and U.S. 41.

Johnson Engineering designed this roadway for the Florida Department of Transportation as a means to alleviate north-south traffic congestion between Fort Myers and Estero. The State Road 739 Extension was recently and fittingly named after Florida Department of Transportation District Director Michael G. Rippe, who sadly lost his battle with cancer in 2008.

Mike was well known for his ability to bring people together and overcome challenges. This project was no different. He was instrumental in getting this project off the ground, working with the planning and design team to rise above the many design, permitting, and construction challenges. His efforts are reflected in the grand roadway facility we have today.

The geometry of the roadway was a challenge in itself. The southern terminus of the roadway fell at the confluence of three heavily traveled roadways; S.R. 739, Alico Road and U.S. 41. To improve traffic flow and maximize safety a complex intersection design was implemented that required relocating a portion of existing Alico Road, filling a portion of an existing 40’ deep lake and construction of an 880’ bridge spanning both Alico Road and the Seminole Gulf Railroad.

There were also several environmental challenges to overcome. This is the last permitted crossing of the Six Mile Cypress Slough, which naturally caused some environmental concerns. Our team was able to address these concerns with minimal impact to the environment through the use of dedicated wildlife crossings and protective fencing.

As the project was in the midst of permitting and was nearing final design, state wide water quality rules changed, requiring the treatment of phosphorus and nitrogen. The right-of-way (ROW) had already been acquired based on a dry detention water management system. Typically treatment for phosphorous and nitrogen means full wet detention ponds, for which there was no room. Our team was able to re-design the water management system, incorporating a sand wick system to utilize true dry retention, thereby providing the phosphorus and nitrogen treatment the SFWMD was looking for without having to spend additional time and tax dollars acquiring more ROW, further impacting the slough.

In true Mike Rippe fashion, the entire team was able to buckle down and come together, working through all of these obstacles…much like Mike did in his career. The Michael G. Rippe Parkway is one example of his many accomplishments, indicative of the initiative and the style Mike used to shape our community and our lives.

For more information, contact Ryan Bell, [email protected].

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For Forty Years – Our Go To Guy in Water Resources

Few can say they have worked for the same company for 40 years, but Johnson Engineering’s Stormwater Technician, Tim Bailey can. Throughout his four decades of work, Tim has been in the trenches, literally, at times crawling through mangroves to set up water quality monitoring equipment, taking samples, and testing the water.

Tim began working part-time for our company founder, Carl Johnson, back in 1966 while still in high school just before getting deployed to Vietnam. In 1972, he started working full-time as a survey rodman, however at the time Tim worked wherever he was needed. His willingness to learn new skills and desire to help out gave him the opportunity to learn a variety of services including land surveying, observing water flows after a heavy rain fall, and even spent time in the office drafting. During the early years, there were no computers so hand drafting was the standard method. This is such a far cry from the heavy reliance we have on computers and technology today. Tim remembers the challenges the company faced with the introduction of technology and computers….hand drafting soon became a thing of the past and he was forced to learn computer drafting in AutoCAD. Tim also recounts times when he used a cork and stick to measure water levels before electronic data loggers became available. With everything else, learning new technology can be a challenge, but it makes work faster and life easier as Tim can’t imagine doing work without a computer now.

Tim’s heart is happiest when working out in the field – out in the woods watching the water flow. Tim learned from one of the best, our company’s second president and water resource expert, Archie Grant. During a heavy rainfall event, Tim could expect to get a call from Archie, no matter what time of the night, to go out and observe where the water was flowing. This historical firsthand knowledge is priceless as Tim knows the lay of the land, knows where to go, and more importantly, where the water will go. Forty years later he still thrives by being in the field, working closely with our water resources, transportation, and utility engineers, as well as our ecologists who need information about the water levels, water flow, and water quality around their project areas.

No need to tell Tim what do, just tell him what you need and he’ll get it done. For more than 40 years Tim has dedicated himself to Johnson Engineering and we are honored to have him as a part of our team.

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Fort Myers Downtown Detention Basin Wins FICE Award

The City of Fort Myers and Johnson Engineering had more than one reason to celebrate at the recent ribbon cutting of the City of Fort Myers Riverfront Redevelopment Downtown Detention Basin. The project earned the Florida Institute of Consulting Engineers (FICE) Engineering Excellence Award, recognizing our innovative approach to this project. The Downtown Detention Basin, Phase I, was one of nine grand award winners throughout the State of Florida.

Johnson Engineering is the civil engineering consultant responsible for the project. This urban stormwater retrofit project features a 1.3-acre wet detention area on a site formerly used for surface parking. The primary purpose of the basin is to treat stormwater in the City’s historic downtown area before discharging to the Caloosahatchee River, ultimately flowing to the Gulf of Mexico. The water quality treatment program was designed to reduce pollutants entering the river, improving health, safety and welfare for the public.

Other benefits include creation of valuable waterfront property for private investment and development opportunities, resulting in an expected regional economic impact of up to $67 million and up to 870 local permanent jobs. The basin serves as a focal point for public gatherings and events which utilize the available public spaces. The basin’s pathways provide public access, offering connectivity to the waterfront, along with passive recreation and healthy living benefits. Educational components help make the community aware of the natural resources, impacts humans have on water quality, strategies to improve the existing conditions, and how this affects the environment.

The project redefines general engineering and land-planning thinking that intensely developed urban areas are too encumbered and land values too high to accommodate stormwater treatment retrofit projects. This project is proof that water quality improvement projects can be achieved in a downtown location and can offer urban design features that promote redevelopment and stimulate the economy.

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LeeSar Regional Service Center Grand Opening

This past October the new LeeSar regional service center opened its doors in Fort Myers. Johnson Engineering provided the surveying, planning, engineering, and landscape architecture for this 205,000 square foot facility. More than 500 health care professionals, local and state officials, business and community leaders attended the grand opening ceremony and toured the new facility.

This state-of-the-art facility is the new center of operations for LeeSar, which houses and manages the distribution of critical medical supplies, specialized surgical instruments, prepares surgical packs, packages pharmaceuticals and manages food preparation for several hospital systems including all Lee Memorial Health System hospitals throughout Southwest Florida. The new facility will not only provide needed support to the local health professionals, it will also provide an economic stimulus by providing 300 jobs.

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New Student Housing at FGCU

Florida Gulf Coast University is entering 2013 with additional new student housing. The newly constructed Osprey Hall recently opened in the South Housing Village, of which Johnson Engineering was the civil engineer of record. Our work included the surface water management design and permitting, utilities infrastructure and assistance with LEED certification.

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