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The water-main breaks that have plagued motorists near San Diego International Airport should be a thing of the past when the Harbor Drive pipeline and Lindbergh Field 16-inch cast iron replacement projects are complete this year. And that gives a sense of accomplishment to Rick Rubin, executive vice president of RBF Consulting, the firm that planned the infrastructure to replace aging water lines along Harbor Drive.

"Those larger, older water lines were breaking frequently, causing a lot of traffic delays getting into and out of the airport," Rubin said. "We designed the water-line replacements and the traffic control plans, and most of the replacements were recently completed. A lot of the work was done during off-peak hours to make traffic flow easier."

Making things easier for clients is a specialty of RBF Consulting -- especially when it comes to projects that require dealing with multiple government agencies. That is the case at SAN, where environmental, traffic and other permits are required for Harbor Drive projects.

Harbor Drive pipeline and Lindbergh Field 16-inch cast iron replacement projects.

"We've been in San Diego since 1969, and have relationships and understand local government permitting," Rubin said. "That helps our clients navigate the approval process. When many jurisdictions are involved, it can be a schedule buster if you don't provide the right information in a timely manner to the permit issuers."

Because RBF Consulting is not a construction company, most of its work is in project design, surveying, construction management and infrastructure planning. Both RBF and its parent firm, Michael Baker Corp., have extensive experience with airport projects.

"Especially at airport expansions, a lot of efforts are being undertaken at the same time," Rubin said. "Coordination can be pretty extensive to make sure things don't fall between the cracks from one project to the next.

Rick Rubin, executive vice president.

"On the land side, traffic control is very important because you want to allow for continuous access. You need to understand user patterns to be able to put together a solid traffic plan. On the air side, you have to make sure that you're getting things done with the least impact to the air-traffic schedules.

"Depending on the location, there can be a lot of other challenges with work at many airports. For example, there may be wetlands surrounding the airport, which make environmental issues a challenge because you need to guard against bird strikes yet still have minimal impact to any habitat. And with a lot of impervious pavement area, you have to handle the runoff and treat it so no unclean water leaves the site."

And the less water the public sees around San Diego International, the happier that makes Rick Rubin.

9755 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Suite 100 | san Diego, CA 92124 | (858) 614-5000 | www.rbf.com

~ By Glenn Grant, The Daily Transcript

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