December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria firm helps survey Public Square

Richard Costello, survey crew chief for KS Associates in Elyria, uses a Leica C10 high-definition laser scanner Friday at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on Public Square in Cleveland. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Richard Costello, survey crew chief for KS Associates in Elyria, uses a Leica C10 high-definition laser scanner Friday at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on Public Square in Cleveland. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — KS Associates is no stranger to working amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Cleveland.

The Elyria-based civil engineering and surveying firm has a number of Cleveland projects to its credit, including the $200 million Euclid Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Corridor and electronic survey work for the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on Public Square.

It was the latter project that brought KS to the attention of those planning for the coming $30 million transformation of Public Square into a people-oriented green space devoted to gardens, footpaths, a sloped area for concerts, an outdoor cafe and skating during winter months.

“We had already gone down there and scanned the monument to use for a marketing piece,” said Lynn S. Miggins, president of KS, which has its offices on Burns Road near Lorain County Community College.

“We knew there was going to be upcoming work at the square, and we scanned the monument to show other companies how this scanning works and what it can do,” Miggins said.

Miggins was referring to the approximately $200,000 Leica high-definition, 3-D laser scanning equipment the company uses to conduct state-of-the-art surveying of everything from roads and buildings to road signs and underground utilities at razor-sharp resolution.

Josh Matejin, an intern with KS Associates from University of Akron, sets up the reference line with a high definition targeting range pole.

Josh Matejin, an intern with KS Associates from University of Akron, sets up the reference line with a high definition targeting range pole.

The finished scans are similar to the three-dimensional drawings TV viewers see on programs such as “CSI” when investigators re-create crime scenes for police and juries.

The already-completed surveys of the 1894 monument honoring Cuyahoga County residents who served in the Civil War acted as a positive inducement that led New York City-based James Corner Field Operations to hire KS.

“They solicited proposals from several firms but we came highly recommended by another engineering firm,” Miggins said.

Another job that likely helped the firm land the Public Square job was the firm’s work on the $200 million Euclid Avenue RTA Bus Rapid Transit Corridor, which opened in 2008 as the Euclid HealthLine, that links Cleveland’s central downtown business district with the University Circle area.

“We’ve done a lot of work in downtown Cleveland, and RTA is a big client of ours,” Miggins said.

And while the RTA Euclid Avenue work was a much larger project, the Public Square work KS has been involved in this year is a more high-profile job, according to Miggins.

“This resonates more with people who know Public Square,” Miggins said.

Miggins and Mark Yeager, KS director of surveying, joined Richard A. Costello, survey crew chief, and Josh Matejin, a University of Akron surveying intern, to demonstrate and talk about the detailed survey work done some months ago of all four quadrants of Public Square and the streets surrounding them.

Performed using the 3-D surveying equipment, the scans will be transformed into a detailed basemap to be used by JCFO and the Group Plan Commission to achieve the reimagining of the city’s signature downtown public space.

“The basemaps contain all data on buildings, walkways and utilities, and gives engineers and architects the basics for what things look like” as they begin the process of remaking the square in detail, Yeager said.

The KS survey team took two to three days to map out each of the square’s four quadrants, according to Costello.

“If we were doing all of this with conventional surveying equipment, it would probably take about 30 days,” Costello said. “This is an enormous savings in costs and time.”

About 25 to 30 set-ups were made in different locations around the quadrant containing the monument, while slightly fewer scans were done in the other three, more open quadrants of Public Square.

High definition 3-D images taken of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

High definition 3-D images taken of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Able to collect precise measurements between objects while capturing measurements for angles of the monument as well as planters and walls at a dense rate of 50,000 points per second, the scans are later assembled to create a virtual 360-degree, 3-D computer model of Public Square.

Costello termed the virtual model a “fly-through” that gives anyone viewing it the feeling they are walking or hovering above a landscape as they move through it.
Red, yellow and orange colors are layered onto the 3-D scans to give them a feeling of depth.

Some of the biggest challenges to working on Public Square were the obstacles that forced numerous stops in the 3-D scanning.

“Trucks and buses, people walking by and other things (like overhanging trees) produce shadows on the scans so you have to pause and scan again as a bus passes or other objects move, to make sure you have all the images you need,” Costello said. “This is done so you see everything in real time.”

The equipment makes for precision that used to be impossible.

“You are essentially a one-man gang,” Costello said of the capabilities provided by 3-D laser scanners. “I started 25 years ago and we were using chains and four-man crews. This is a lot more precise.”

By combining high-tech laser scanning with conventional field surveying methods, KS looks to accelerate the project’s schedule to help meet a goal of having the remade square ready for the Republican National Convention the city will host in 2016.

“They’re making a big push for ground to be broken this fall,” Yeager said.

The Cleveland Foundation last week announced an $8 million grant that is the first significant money pledged for the project.

The $8 million includes a $7 million cash grant plus an additional $1 million to be made available if the city’s Group Plan Commission — a nonprofit board of civic and corporate leaders formed in 2010 to oversee the makeover of public spaces downtown — can generate another $7 million by Oct. 31.

“Funding sources like this are very important,” Miggins said. “Without them, this is just a bunch of dreams.”

Other major parts of the redesign call for the closing of Ontario Street for the two blocks it bisects Public Square, and shrinking Superior Avenue in width to become a bus-only thoroughfare.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.