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Urban’s Experts Share Insights at APTA’s Annual Rail Conference
Publication Date
July 3rd 2013

 This year, the American Public Transportation Association held its annual rail conference in Philadelphia, PA.


Co-hosted by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the conference’s workshops and presentations covered timely issues of widespread interest in operations, technology, safety, security, planning, finance, capital projects, and the technical aspects of providing all modes of rail service: rural, commuter, high-speed, and intercity.


Urban Engineers was considerably involved in many conference activities. The firm was a Platinum Sponsor of SEPTA’s Welcome Reception held at the historic Philadelphia Art Museum and also sponsored a technical session titled “Sustainable Station Area and Partnership.” Additionally, Urban’s subject-matter experts shared their insights with technical presentations at the conference. Here is a recap of their involvement:


Margarita Gagliardi, VP, Transit Planning

Ms. Gagliardi was the moderator for the session titled “Planning for Optimal High Speed Rail City Pairs in the US.” The session examined approaches to determining which city pairs are best when considering population densities, optimal distances between city pairs, connectivity, economic benefits, and relieving traffic congestion. 


John Holak, Director – Transit and Passenger Rail

Mr. Holak presented on the Effectiveness of Risk Assessments for Capital Projects. During the session, he gave a brief overview of the successful risk assessment practices currently recommended by the Federal Transit Administration and used by many of its Program Management Oversight Consultants. Also, he provided guidance on the following risk assessment elements: timing; characterization of project scope, schedule, and cost estimates; technical capacity and capabilities review; probability and cost/schedule effects; developing cost and schedule ranges; contingencies; and mitigation/management measures.


Dave Sands, PE, FASCE, Deputy Practice Leader-Rail

Mr. Sands co-presented with SEPTA’s Robert Lund, PE, Assistant General Manager of Engineering and Maintenance, on the subject of the Ryers Station Capital Improvement Project in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

SEPTA partnered with Urban in December 2008 to complete the design and construction of the $7.9 million federally funded station renovation. The renovation work included making the station compliant and accessible with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), while providing additional passenger amenities, such as new platform seating and improvements in lighting, landscaping, signage, canopies, windscreens, and parking facilities. Cameras and emergency call boxes were installed in the platform and parking lot to enhance customer security. The station reopened in 2012.