Geotechnical Consulting Board Threadlines of Geotechnical and Engineering Geology firms in the Greater Los Angeles Metro-Southern California Area

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ASCE Building & Safety [Advisory] Task Committee (1978-86)

In October 1978 a Task Committee was set up by consultant Dennis Evans to establish a mechanism for technical interchange beween geotechnical consulatnts appointed by ASCE with representatives of the building inspection departmemts of the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. This body sought to update and/or revise their codes to accommodate geotechnical provisions for slope setbacks, soil classification, esoil expansion tests, allowable design values for slope stability analyses, soil liquefaction, shear tests, rock mass characterization for stability analyses, and buttress fill requirements that would reflect the best practices of the geotechnical professions, referred to as “Rules of General Application,” or R.G.A.’s.

The original committee members were: Jack W. Rolston of Foundation Engineering Co. (who succeeded Evans as Chairman), Ullrich A. “Rick” Foth (City of LA), Bernard K. Kent (LA Co structural engineer), UCLA Professor Paul Lade, and John O. Robb (City of LA). During the first meeting it was decided to appoint 2 to 3 representatives from the City of Los Angeles; 2 to 3 from Los Angeles County, and four from geotechnical consulting firms, appointed by the Los Angeles Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The LA Section’s Geotechnical Engineering Group had been supplying these agencies with periodic “Building Code Commentaries,”sinvce 1973. In mid-November 1978 the committee was joined by Brian Hooper (LA City), Jim Bell (LA Co), and Al Richardson (of Pacific Soils).

In 1979 the committee was joined by consultants Gerry Kovacs and Doug Moran (appointed by ASCE), while Gordon Marion replaced Bart Patton. In 1980 consultant Robert D. “Bob” Cousineau and Dr. Awtar Singh (of Lockwood-Singh & Assoc) were appointed by ASCE. In January 1981 Tom Lake replaced Jim Bell, while John Colvin (City of LA) replaced Jack Robb in March 1982. The Structural Engineeres Association of Southern California was aksed to comment on all proposed changes for retaining walls in April 1981. George Brodt of LADWP joined the committee as a representative of LA Section ASCE’s Land Development Committtee in Feb 1982, while Steve Peckovitch, Mort Lieberman, Jim Emerson, and Tin Htway joined in 1982-83. Larry Westphal and Arnold Opemheim joined in 1984-85. The committee’s last meeting was convened in July 1986, with Jack Rolston the only member who served continuously for almost 8 years.

Geotechnical Consulting Board - Los Angeles County Metro [Light Rail and Subway] (1978-1985)

In 1978 L.A. Metro Chief Engineer Richard Gallagher hired six principals and associates from Lindvall-Richter & Associates: Stanford Dean of Earth Sciences Richard Jahns, Caltech Seismologist Charles Richter, former MWD Chief Geologist Richard J. Proctor, geologist Eric Lindvall, Caltech Professor Ronald Scott, and geotechnical engineer Jack Yaghoubian. To this group was added consulting tunnel engineers Ron E. Heuer and P.E. “Joe” Sperry. The Board was active until 1985, and was responsible for all preliminary borings, soils and hazardous gas testing, seismicity, geology, and route alignments. The board solicited proposals, and hired the venture of Converse Consultants (Pasadena), Geotechnical Consultants (Glendale), and Earth Science Associates (Palo Alto) to perform the necessary field and lab work to prepare a geotechnical baseline report (1982, two volumes). Of note is the Appendix on tunnel seismic design, prepared by LRA and Caltech Professor George Housner, which became a benchmark document for tunnel design and construction in seismically active areas. In 1983 the L.A. Metro design consultants were hired, and Richard Gallagher took early retirement because of in-house politics, and by 1985 the new chief engineer replaced the entire board!

MWD Geotechnical Consulting Board (1990s)

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California established a geotechnical consulting board for tunnels and dam projects undertaken in the 1990s, which included the Second Bore of the San Jacinto Tunnel. The board consisted of Tor Brekke, Gregg Korbin, Ron Scott, and Richard Proctor.     

Engineering Geology Advisory Committee to the City of Los Angeles (1990)

In 1958 the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles established an Engineering Geology Qualifications Board, which was absorbed into the Engineering Geology Advisory Committee after the adoption of statewide certification of engineering geologists in 1969. The members are appointed by the Board of Building & Safety Commissioners, based on input from the Department of Building & Safety. In July 1990 that board was comprised of: Glenn Brown (Leroy Crandall & Assoc), George Larson (GeoSoils), David T. Leeds (consulting seismologist), Richard Lung (Leighton & Associates), Gary Rasmussen (Rasmussen & Associates), James E. Slosson (Slosson & Associates), William Waisgerber (Waisgerber & Associates), Larry Cann (Leighton & Associates), John Byer (Kovacs-Byer & Associates), and J. David Rogers (Rogers/Pacific).

MWD Eastside Reservoir/Diamond Valley Reservoir Board of Consultants (mid-1990s)

                MWD established a separate group of consultants for their East Side Reservoir/Diamond Valley Lake project near Hemet in the 1990s.  With 800,000 acre-feet of storage, this reservoir is larger than all the reservoirs in southern California combined.  The reservoir is contained by two earthen embankments a mile wide, spaced three miles apart, with essentially no watershed.  This board included Alan O'Neill as the chairman and geologist, Caltech seismologist Clarence R. Allen, geotechnical engineer Rich Kramer (ret USBR), geotechnical earthquake engineer Ed Idriss from UC Davis, geotechnical engineer Tom Leps, and electrical engineer Bill Wallace.   

8-mile North Outfall Replacement Sewer (NORS) Tunnel (1990s)

Panel convened to provide third party peer-professional review of the North Outfall Replacement Sewer (NORS) for the City of Los Angeles in the 1990s. This included review of geotechnical investigations, wherein during construction, the contractor’s TBM caused sinkholes in the taxiways at the Los Angeles International Airport (see R.J. Proctor, 1998, A Chronicle of Tunnel Incidents: Environmental & Engineering Geoscience). Consulting Board members: Ralph B. Peck (1912-2008), Clarence R. Allen, G. Wayne Clough, and Richard J. Proctor.

Board of Consultants - LA METRO Purple Line Extension (2011-)

Board convened in 2011 to advise the LA County Metro Rail on geotechnical issues associated with the proposed extension of the purple line extending to Santa Monica. The board is comprised on Ed Cording (formerly of the University of Illinois), Harvey Parker (formerly of Shannon & Wilson), and Geoff Martin (formerly of ERTEC and USC faculty).

The author is indebted to interviews he made with the following individuals, from 1974 to the present, including: Dave Adams, Clarence Allen, Fred Allen, Azzam Alwash, Don Asquith, Greg Axten, Paul Baumann, Linda Bell, Joe Birman, Kim Bishop, George Brodt, Glenn Brown, John Byer, Larry Cann, Bill Carlisle, Roy Carlson, Bruce Clark, Tom Clements, Joe Cobarrubias, Don Coduto, Fred Converse, Joe Cota, Bill Cotton, Leroy Crandall, J. Robert “Bob” Davis, Craig Davis, Frank Denison, Tom Dibblee, Schaefer Dixon, Roy Dokka, Keith Ehlert, Perry Ehlig, Bill Elliott, Leonard “Tom” Evans, Jeff Ferrier, Claude Fetzer, Al Franks, John Franklin, Eldon Gath, William Godwin, Larry Gurrola, Don Harrington, Allen Hatheway, Gerald V. Henderson, Larry Herber, Chris Hill, Bob Hollingsworth, Jeff Holt, Mike Hoover, R. Forrest Hopson, George W. Housner, Dave Hsu, Roger Isley, L.A. Jackson, Dick Jahns, Mike Johnson, Jeff Keaton, Art Keene, Hank Klehn, Frank Kresse, Jim Krohn, Poul Lade, Rob Larson, Hubert Law, Harry Lawrence, Beach Leighton, Steve Lipshie, Leval Lund, Rich Lung, Bob Lynn, Ed Lyon, Gary Masterman, Dan Martinez, A.A. Matthews, Martin McIlroy, Floyd G. McLellan, Bob McNeill, Dick Meehan, Martha Merriam, James K. Mitchell, Bill Moore, Doug Moran, G. Neel Neelakantan, Charles Nestle, Mark Oborne, Rob Olshansky, Len Palmer, Ralph Peck, Ron Pike, Barney Pipkin, Dave Poppler, Daniel Pradel, Dick Proctor, Jerry Raphael, Jack Rolston, Jay Roberts, Irv Sherman, Barney Pipkin, Gary Rasmussen, Kathleen Ehlig Riedel, Hugh Robertson, Rory “Tony” Robinson, Robert Rogers, Jack Rolston, Lew Rosenberg, Joe Sciandrone, Mike Scullin, Chris Sexton, John Shelton, Roy Shlemon, Ron Shreve, Jim Shuttleworth, Greg Silver, Jim and Nancy Slosson, Thom and Lynn Alessi-Slosson, Jay Smith, Buzz Spellman, Clay Stevens, Dick Stone, Marty and Dorothy Stout, Bob Sydnor, Bob Stull, Bill Swiger, Gary Wallace, Don Weaver, Francis West, and Allen Yourman.

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