President’s Message
It is hard to believe it is already May. The month of May is
the unocial end of ASCE Minnesota program year so it is
almost as if we are back in school as we take the summer
o. It has been an honor to serve as the Minnesota Section
president this past year. It has been an eventful year and the
board and I are hopeful that you either attended or at least
considered attending one of the monthly section meetings
throughout the year. We are always looking for new topics
and speakers so if you have ideas please contact us at
I would like to thank AJ Schwidder for volunteering to be History and Heritage
committee chair. Look for more history and Heritage items in the coming year. If
you want to contact AJ his email is Reminder the History and
Heritage committee led the eort for the section’s 100-year anniversary in 2014.
Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that we are looking for
two new board members for 2019 / 2020. Additional details on the open positions
were included in an email sent out to all members earlier this week.
Have a wonderful summer and hope to see some new faces at events next fall.
Jason Staebell, P.E.
Minnesota Section President
Volume 53, No. 3
Spring 2019
n e w s
Upcoming Events
June/July TBD. YMG Hosts Friday After College (FAC) Networking Event with Students. Contact
for more info.
September, 2019. Monthly Section Meeting. Tour hosted by the Structural Committee. Watch for registration in August on the
website at
Minnesota Section ASCE
Board of Directors
Jason Staebell, PE
First Past President
Bruce Holdhusen, PE
President Elect
Dr. Jia-Liang Le, PE, PhD
Tim Lamkin, PE
Andrew Nordseth, PE
Director of Awards
Hannah Albertus Benham, PE
Director of Communications
Ariel Christenson, PE
Director of Events
Jeremy Walgrave, PE
Director of Outreach
Lisa Breu, PE
Jason Staebell
Ice Out Loon in Gala
The Report Card Committee received a Water Champion award from
the Freshwater Society at the Ice Out Loon In Gala. The award was for
work the report card did on Minnesota’s wastewater and drinking water
infrastructure. The Freshwater Society sited the following in presenting the
award. “Our economy operates on systems built by previous generations
with the expectation that we will build for the future and steward the
systems we inherited. This report card oers a glimpse at just how well
society is doing that. We’re excited about how the report highlights our
concerns over the state of water and wastewater systems and excited that
the Governor, commissioners, and media have seized on its messages this
legislative session.”
The History of the Gas Tax: Federal Funds, State Funds and the Color of Money
By: Bob Filipczak
The rst gas tax was passed in 1932. It was one cent per gallon, and it has progressed to its current rate of 18.4 cents per gallon as
per legislation in 1993. The federal gas tax has not increased since then.
If you factor in ination, says Brian Gage, Director of Program Development and Performance Measurement for MnDOT, the
federal gas tax should be about 18 cents, which is right where it currently is. One could argue that that’s as it should be, and the
federal fuel tax shouldn’t go any higher. One could also argue that it only works that way if we had exactly the same road system we
had back in the 1932. The truth is we have a lot more roads. The FHWA estimates that “since 1923 an additional 818,000 miles of
public roads have been constructed, an average of 9,500 new centerline miles every year.”
Federal Money
Gage is one of those rare birds who is both an engineer and a nancial manager for MnDOT. Wearing both hats allows him to see all
the facets of a project, he says, from the funding to the construction and all the factors in between. When he was a project engineer,
he didn’t care much what the color of the money was—federal or state. Now the color of the money is his main concern.
He sometimes has to go out of his comfort zone as an engineer when he is managing federal funds. The inclusion of performance
outcomes in recent legislation means he has targets he must live with sometimes tenuous assumptions. “We are making investment
decisions that we are required to do by federal law for 2023…but I don’t know what the money is going to look like after 2020,” he
says. “We are making commitments and doing work on projects and we don’t know if the money is actually going to be there.”
So working with federal funds and federal requirements can be a bit a rollercoaster for Gage and his team. One day the coers can
sound pretty hollow and the next week there can be hundreds of millions in funding there.
State Fuel Tax
In Minnesota, the current transportation package favored by the House and Governor Walz, is getting a lot of attention. Some
version of it has a better chance of passage than other proposals that have been put forth in recent years. While the gas tax portion of
this package gets most of the attention, there is a lot more to it.
The fuel tax proposed will be 20 cents phased in over two years. This will raise about $6.5 billion over 10 years.
An increase in registration fees (tabs) will raise another $4 billion over 10 years.
The proposal also seeks to authorize another $2 billion in bonds starting in 2020.
The projected shortfall in the state’s transportation funding to maintain our road system is a story that goes back quite a few years.
This proposed bill will do a great deal to help the state catch up on its infrastructure needs.
History of the Gas Tax
Year Minnesota* Federal**
1925 Begins at 2 cents
1929 Increased to 3 cents
1932 Begins at 1 cent
1933 Increased to 1.5 cents
1937 Increased to 4 cents
1951 Increased to 2 cents
1953 Increased to 5 cents
1956 Increased to 3 cents
1959 Increased to 4 cents
1963 Increased to 6 cents
1975 Increased to 9 cents
1980 Increased to 11 cents
1981 Increased to 13 cents
1983 Increased to 16 cents Increased to 9 cents
1984 Increased to 17 cents
1988 Increased to 20 cents
1993 Increased to 14.1 cents
1995 Increased to 18.4 cents
2008 Three increases to 25.5 cents
2009 Increased to 27.5 cents
2010 Increased to 28 cents
2012 Increased to 28.5 cents
* Source: MnDOT
** Source: Congressional Research Service
Committee Updates
Report Card Committee & Legislative Committee together with Transportation Committee
Our Story:
For two years a group of ASCE Minnesota members worked to produce the rst infrastructure report card for Minnesota
which was released to the public in October 2018. It is proving to be a powerful tool that coalitions of advocacy groups,
professional associations, rms, and our members are using to tell our story.
This session, ASCE is establishing our section as a deeply informed source of information about our systems. We, and other
existing coalitions, will use our report card to highlight the facts about infrastructure in a new way. Our intent is to get to the
point where someone hands a copy of the Report Card to a legislator and is told, “I’ve got ve of these already! I understand
the need.”
The report card is a dierent tool designed to produce dierent outcomes. It provides a credible source of information
and will be a key resource for policy makers to use when making decisions. We believe creating a legislative presence is
important to keeping the report card in front of lawmakers.
The Latest:
The Legislative Committee has been busy this spring keeping on top of the infrastructure discussion and debate at the State
Capitol. The committee has been meeting monthly with many impromptu meetings and phone calls as things move quickly at
the Capitol. The Minnesota Legislation has an end-of -session deadline midnight on May 20. And if you follow things at the
Capitol you know that it goes right to the last minute of the nal day.
ASCE and the ASCE Report Card have been a prominent xture at the Capitol this year. We accomplished our goal of having
a legislator tell us we could meet with them but please don’t bring anymore report cards. He had enough copies. MnDot
Commissioner Margret Anderson Kelliher even brought a report card with her on TPT’s Almanac and waved it in the air.
Legislators have been using the report cards in tweets and House Transportation Chair Hornstein said we can do better than a
D+ in remarks made in conference, a direct reference to the roads grade given in the report card.
As session comes to an end we have had an OP-ED published in the Duluth News Tribune.
Legislative committee member Katie Zadrozny was featured in an ABC 5 Eyewitness Spotlight story featuring dam
infrastructure in the state.
The legislative committee is also working on a Letter to the Editor campaign to local papers in the last few weeks of session,
supporting dedicated long-term investment in infrastructure.
As you may know the Report Card identied signicant funding gaps for roads, bridges, and transit among other categories
of infrastructure. We are working with many partners to have the legislators prioritize infrastructure investment. ASCE is
glad to see Governor Walz propose long-term, dedicated funding for transportation in Minnesota. This, along with a House
transportation nance bill, will provide investment in our infrastructure that is directly in line with ASCE’s recommendations
for raising the grades and closing funding gaps.
We will be back after session ends (maybe after a short hiatus). We will be gearing up for the 2020 Legislative Session
starting in just 8 short months! The 2020 session is a bonding year. Many parts of our infrastructure are funded through
bonding. We are always looking for people that want to get involved. Contact Seth Spychala ( of
the Legislative Committee if you are interested or would like to learn more.
The Transportation Committee meets for lunch on the second Friday of every other month (through the winter). We look
forward to seeing you there. If you would like to be added to the email list for Transportation Committee events, please
contact Darwin Yasis at You can also check out the calendar on our website (http://www.ascemn.
org/Transportation_Committee.html) for upcoming events.
Structural Committee/SEI Chapter
Please contact Karl Gaebler ( for more information or to be added to the Structural
Committee’s mailing list. The committee also has monthly breakfast meetings, and as always, practitioners as well as
students are welcome to attend.
Outreach Committee
Civil Engineering Day was a success! Thank you to all who volunteered. Contact Lisa Breu at for
upcoming outreach events.
Minnesota Geotechnical Society – a Geo-Institute Chapter
MGS holds monthly meetings from October through May. To nd out more or get involved, visit www. or contact Jimmy Bennett at
Environmental Engineering & Water Resources Committee
Anyone interested in being added to our email list can contact Brett Staeden at
History & Heritage Committee
Please contact AJ Schwidder at if you are interested in participating in the History & Heritage
2019 Legislative Fly-In, Washington D.C.
In March, the Minnesota and Duluth Sections of ASCE had eight attendees at the national Fly-In event, organized by the
ASCE – DC Oce. This was the largest Minnesota representation at the Fly-In in the history of the event, and largest
younger member presence! The group’s goal was to continue the message of the recently released ASCE-MN Infrastructure
Report Card to Minnesota legislators at our nation’s capitol.
The events leading up to the day on the hill helped each
individual craft their personal story on the impact of infrastructure
for their legislator or their staer to take back to congress. ASCE
sta conveyed the key issues of storytelling to be: meaningful
(the story makes you care), assessable in language (keep it
simple), well-articulated (feelings are emphasized), relevant to
policymaker and the district, and
well-paced (prepared for an elevator
speech and a longer ~15-minute
conversation). Attendees were also
given a breakdown of the issues
along with the associated “ask” including surface transportation infrastructure funding, FY2020
appropriations, and a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
In addition, the Minnesota delegation urged their legislators to consider ASCE’s principles for
infrastructure investment which include following fundamental criteria:
Investments must provide substantial, long-term benets to the public and the economy;
The cost of a project over its entire lifespan—including designing, building, operating, and
maintaining the infrastructure—must be taken into account;
Projects should be built sustainably and resiliently; and
Federal investment should leverage state, local, and private investment, not replace these other critical sources of
infrastructure funding.
2019 Multi-Region Leadership Conference (MRLC), Dallas, TX
Leadership from the ASCE-Minnesota Section Board, Younger Member
Group, and student chapters attended the Region 3, 6, and 7 Leadership
Conference in Dallas, Texas back
in February. The MRLC is a great
opportunity for leaders in all
levels of ASCE to idea-share and
bridge our section, branch, and
state boundaries. Some highlights
included Q & A with the society
President-Elect and President,
awards banquet at the Historic
Sixth Floor Museum overlooking
Dealey Plaza, presentations on How
to Embrace Change, Dealing with Dicult People, Leading and Learning
from Teams, ASCE Resources, and more. Breakout sessions included topics
such as: Starting an Infrastructure Report Card, legal Q & A, member
engagement, Project BUILD, and social media best practices. Your ASCE-
Minnesota leadership attends this conference on an annual basis in order to
better serve YOU on the section level. Feel free to reach out anytime to any
of the board members with questions or society-level issues that you’d like
addressed in this setting.
ASCE Minnesota 2019 Awards Banquet
The annual awards banquet was held at the Delta Hotels
Marriot in Minnepolis on April 18. The keynote speaker was
ASCE President-elect Kancheepuram Gunalan who spoke
about “Engineering the Future.” His message was to think
globally about sustainability and how it is important to engage
the youth. You can learn more about Dr. Gunalan’s vision
Lifetime ASCE MN members were honored with a social
hour prior to the event, as well as Life Member pins, which
were awarded to new Life Members in attendance.
Professor Dr. Bojan Guzina was recognized for being the newly announced
recipient of the 2019 SEI Nathan M. Newmark Medal, a national ASCE
award which was later presented to Dr. Guzina at the 2019 ASCE Structures
Congress, April 25-27 in Orlando, FL. Dr. Bojan was also the recent ASCE
MN recipient of the MFESTS Distinguished Engineer of the Year award.
ASCE MN Outstanding Engineer of the Year was awarded to Seth Spychala,
P.E. Seth was recognized due to his long-term commitment to the Section as
well as his recent contributions as Legislative Committee Chair, assisting in the
successful development and roll-out of ASCE’s rst Minnesota Infrastructure
Report Card.
As in the past, this event celebrates members of
the ASCE Minnesota Section and students at the
University of Minnesota, Minnesota State University
Mankato, and now the University of St. Thomas.
President-elect Kancheepuram Gunalan
ASCE MN President
Jason Staebell
Dr. Bojan Guzina
Seth Spychala receives
ASCE MN Outstanding
Engineer of the Year
University of St. Thomas Student award
recipients with section President Jason Staebell
and Society President-elect Kancheepuram
University of Minnesota Student award recipients with
section President Jason Staebell and Society President-elect
Kancheepuram Gunalan
ASCE MN SEI Chapter Scholarship
Recipient, Chloe Weber with SEI Chapter
Chair Karl Gaebler and section President
Jason Staebell
Featured Society Awards
Upcoming Deadlines
June 1
Charles Pankow Award for Innovation
Michel Award for Industry Advancement of
Research, Henry L.
Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement
(OCEA) Award
Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL)
Awards - Construction, Design, Education,
Government, and Management
Professional Practice Ethics and Leadership
Award, The
September 1
ASCE Presidents’ Award
October 1
ASCE Excellence in Journalism Award
EWRI Journal Awards
EWRI Lifetime Achievement Award
Julian Hinds Award
Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research
Margaret S. Petersen Award
ASCE State-of-the-Art of Civil Engineering
For the full list of ASCE award deadlines,
go to
Student Chapters
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
During the Spring semester, the club participates in many activities and plans a lot of events. We participated in playing
intramural Ultimate Frisbee where we did not make it into the playos, but had a lot of fun trying to do so. We also put
together a March Madness bracket challenge. Every bracket cost $5 and the club proposed to match the amount received and
donate it to St. Jude’s Children Hospital. We were able to donate $320! We also participated in a Feed My Starving Children
event where we bagged 34,128 meals for kids in Haiti. We had six students go to Dallas, Texas for the Workshop for Student
Chapter Leaders where they spoke with and learned from many other student chapter ocers from around the country. The
President-Elect of the National ASCE group, Guna, visited the Civil Engineering building and we hosted an ice cream social
where Guna could meet and speak with students. With the semester wrapping up, the student chapter held their annual Spring
Cookout with students and faculty in attendance. Students played bags and enjoyed hot dogs and burgers out in the Civil
Engineering courtyard. We also held our Spring Social event at local restaurant/bar Stub and Herbs, where ve professionals
and 20+ students were in attendance. We had about 16 students attend the ASCE awards banquet where multiple students
won awards for their outstanding work in and out of the classroom.
Unfortunately, the Steel Bridge team was disqualied from the regional
competition that was hosted in Sioux Falls, SD, due to failing the load test.
The captains are already planning and thinking about bridge designs for
next year.
Concrete Canoe Team Headed to Nationals!
We are proud to announce that for the rst time in more than a decade our
ASCE Student Chapter has just taken 1
place in the ASCE Regional Concrete Canoe Competition! This win qualies them
to participate in the ASCE National Competition to be held June 5-8 in Melbourne, Florida.
The competition is an important tradition in the University
of Minnesota Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-
Engineering. To quote one of our team captains, “[Concrete Canoe
is a] valuable experiential learning opportunity that challenges our
knowledge, creativity, and stamina. Building and racing a concrete
canoe together helps us apply engineering principles we learned in
the classroom while we build vital team and project management
The team is working on honing their paddling skills,
studying for nals, and raising funds to cover the estimated
$8000 cost to participate in the national competition.
The funds will go toward the registration fees, hotel, and
transportation costs for the 1,600-mile trek with their canoe
to the competition. We hope that you or your company
might consider helping to support the team. I know that
most of us have fond memories of our own participation in
the concrete canoe competition when we were students! If
you are able to contribute, please contact for a gift form or make an online donation at Support
Concrete Canoe. If you make your gift online through the CEGE Strategic Initiatives Fund, please be sure to note in the
“Special Instructions” section that this gift is for Concrete Canoe. They are hoping to secure the necessary funds by May 6.
Our co-captains, Joey Hynes and Samantha Prince would like to thank you in advance for your consideration.
University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas ASCE student chapter is wrapping up an exciting school year including hosting multiple guest
speakers, holding social and volunteer events, and being ocially recognized as a student chapter under the ASCE MN
Build ‘Em and Bust ‘Em, held on campus in March, was a success, with almost 100 middle
schoolers visiting the university to break their toothpick bridges, tour the engineering labs, and learn
more about what it means to be a civil engineer. Thank you to YMG for helping us put on the event!
Our nal guest speaker of the year taught the chapter about transportation and structures-related topics and project
management, and we are looking forward to bringing in more professionals next school year to learn about a variety of civil
engineering specialties.
Over the summer, many of our student members will be working as interns at various rms and agencies as well as
performing research on campus! We are eager to continue pursuing engineering even in our time o of school!
Message from the Board: On April 30, the University of St. Thomas was approved by the national leadership of ASCE to
become a student chapter of the ASCE-MN Section! The UST students have already been active in the MN Section activities
leading up to the approval via hosting the outreach event Build ‘Em & Bust ‘Em in 2019, engaging the Younger Member
Group in activities, and attending monthly board meetings. We are excited for them to be part of the organization! Feel free to
reach out to the student chapter directly at to congratulate them.
Minnesota State University - Mankato
Congratulations to the MSU Civil Engineering graduating class of 2019! The student chapter continues to stay busy with
professional and social events, and was happy to have award recipients attend the annual awards banquet hosted by the
section. Feel free to reach out anytime at
Civil Engineering Day at the Science Museum
Civil Engineering Day at the Science Museum was a massive success. Cold weather
and wind drove a large crowd to the Museum and 12 volunteer groups from dierent
engineering organizations and companies came out to lead interactive activities about civil
engineering. Special thanks to ASCE’s volunteers
Heidi Hamilton, Julia ZumBerge, Michelle Kahl,
and Lisa Breu for running the Windy City Tower
activity. We had dozens of future structural engineers
building wind-resistant towers and no two towers
were the same. Also hosting activities were MnDOT,
WSB, Isthmus, Bolton & Menk, SEH, NCITE,
SRF, ISG, the University of Minnesota Steel Bridge
Team, and APWA. Thanks to all who attended and
volunteered. Thank you to the Science Museum
of Minnesota for to continuing to partner with us.
Working together with the Science Museum and the
local civil engineering community has been a blast
and we hope to keep this event going strong in the
Recap of Recent ASCE Minnesota Section Meetings
January Section Meeting: Member Appreciation
The Annual ASCE Minnesota Section – Member Appreciation Event was held at CRAVE in St. Louis Park on January 17.
Over 50 ASCE members attended the event, including members from as far away as Austin, MN.
February Section Meeting: Joint Meeting with Minnesota Geotechnical Society
The joint meeting of ASCE MN and MGS took place on February 21 at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education
Center. Dr. T.D. O’Rourke from Cornell University presented Lessons Learned from Ground Movements and Soil
Stabilization from the Boston Central Artery. Dr. O’Rourke presented in-depth and cutting edge geotechnical methods and
analyses that were employed during the excavation of the Boston Central Artery Tunnel, while also providing a high-level
overview of the project and its positive impacts on the City of Boston.
March Section Meeting: Joint Meeting with Society of American Military Engineers
The ASCE MN / SAME annual joint meeting has been a long tradition and was held on March 27 at Rosevine Hall in
Roseville. Dale Gade from MnDOT presented on the Smith Avenue High Bridge Construction Project in St. Paul. The Smith
Avenue High Bridge is a major entryway into downtown St. Paul that crosses over the Mississippi River. The original bridge
at this location was opened in 1889. The bridge that is standing at this location today was constructed in 1987. In need of
a new deck, the bridge was closed in 2017 for a period of 15 months. Bridge repairs were completed and the bridge was
reopened this past December. Mr. Gade discussed several aspects of the project including the contracting methods, public
engagement, and environmental concerns.
Younger Member Group
Our objective is to develop young engineers in the civil engineering profession,
within ASCE, and within the community. We do this through networking and
social events, educational meetings, and community outreach. Whether you
are a student, young engineer or just young at heart we would love to have you
Watch your email for our upcoming summer event Friday After College (FAC),
which aims to bring students and recent graduates together with our younger
members in a fun and relaxed setting.
YMG Board
Cody Preisler
Alysa Johnson
Vice President
Rajan Jha
Je Prasch
Katie Zadrozny
Media Chair
Brandon Brever
Frank Forsberg
Networking Chairs
Matthew Hardegger & Tyler Reich
Education & Outreach Chair
Marie DesHarnais & Ben Albrecht
The Minnesota Section ASCEnews is published four times a year by the Minnesota
Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Ariel Christenson, Editor Teresa Kes, Assistant Editor
Special thanks to our section sponsors
Sponsor companies can now submit one feature article per sponsor year.
Please contact the Treasurer ( for more details.
become a sponsor by going to the following site