A Lake in the Middle of a Desert

•May 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

What happens when you need a lake in the middle of a desert? You call the professionals.  W.J.Castle P.E. & Associates and Portadam design and implement innovative solutions to real world problems for our clients worldwide. Recently, Castle and Porta-Dam teamed up to deliver an artificial lake to the 2013 International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in the United Arab Emirates. The IDEX Organization needed a lake in the middle of a desert large enough to display the abilities of several ships at once, as well as entertain their visitors. The temporary lake installed by Portadam was over 700’ long and accommodated everything the IDEX required.

The last place you'd expect a lake.

The last place you’d expect a lake.


The Castle Group: Innovation in Action

•March 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

A short video introduction to The Castle Group.

Mantoloking Bridge Emergency Inspection

•February 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hammered the East Coast, causing an estimated $50 billion in damages, leaving much of the local infrastructure devastated. In the wake of the storm, The Castle Group was asked by several Government agencies and private homeowners to perform immediate emergency inspections of their underwater structures, including the Mantoloking Bridge in Ocean County, New Jersey. Our inspection teams, made up of structural engineers and commercial divers, responded quickly to those who needed assistance.

The Mantoloking Bridge gained some noteworthy fame during the recent storm, in that it was struck by several homes. The storm surge that hit this area carved a new inlet though the barrier islands on the east end of the bridge. Utilizing high tech sonar equipment, as well as standard surface supplied diving equipment, our inspection team quickly assessed the condition of the underwater portions of the bridge and reported to the County Engineer.

To learn more about The Castle Group’s response to Hurricane Sandy, or to see what other services we can offer you, visit our website or our LinkedIn page.

overall damage
before and after
water surge damage
diver in action


History of the Ben Franklin Bridge

•January 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment


Philadelphia is a history buff’s dream, and a great destination for anyone interested in bridge design, The Benjamin Franklin Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in Philadelphia. It connects Philadelphia to New Jersey over the Delaware River. Though many commute daily over the Ben Franklin Bridge, not many people know the dramatic story behind the commission, design, and construction of this landmark Philadelphia bridge.

The initial desire to bridge the Delaware River came from New Jersey farmers. They wanted an easier way to bring their produce to sell to the bustling city of Philadelphia. The plan came and went without fruition for a hundred years. It only became a serious plan when the automobile was invented and took over American life. 3 neighboring counties in New Jersey petitioned to get it made, and raised the money to fund a study for the proposed bridge.

It was decided the suspension bridge could be built, and the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission was born. They hired a design and engineering team. The chief engineer was Ralph Modjeski, a polish born immigrant. Leon Moisseif was the design engineer, and Paul Phillip Cret was the supervising architect. Modjeski was world famous for his suspension bridge designs, and over 40 bridges of his design were constructed across North America. Leon Moissef was one of the designers of the Manhattan Bridge over the East River, though his reputation was later bruised when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a bridge he worked on, collapsed (there were no fatalities). And Paul Phillip Cret designed the famous Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, and taught at the University of Pennsylvania.

For a few years, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge on the planet. Almost immediately, 35,000 vehicles used it per day, when the toll was only a nickel. Some things never change – that toll almost stopped the bridge from happening! New Jersey and Pennsylvania battled over whether or not the bridge should be paid for by tolls, or taxes. Pennsylvania wanted taxes to pay for the bridge. New Jersey wanted a toll for the Ben Franklin Bridge, the same way that the Holland Tunnel, under construction at the same time, had a toll to get into New York.

The fight got so bad that there was talk of tearing down the nearly-completed bridge. Incredibly, they never came to a compromise. The bridge was only saved by, of all things, a political corruption scandal in Philadelphia City Hall. The powerful Vare Political Organization had been taking state money set aside for the bridge and giving contracts to their friends and family. Once this bit of information was leaked and made public, the Vare Organization was removed from the contracts, and the city made a compromise to have tolls over the bridge. Soon after the compromise, the bridge was completed.

The bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. Over 100,000 cars pass over the bridge daily, and the beautiful design of the towers and suspension cables makes it one of the high points of every commuter’s trip.

Will There be Work in 2011?

•January 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Read our latest E-News Digest to find out more about how to win work in 2011.

30 Lessons

•December 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat…Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow…”

This evening the sun will set in West; and it will rise again at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning in the East. It has done this for as long as I can remember.  However, we are now on the precipice of an event.

In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate the New Year. This is the date given to symbolize the Earth’s completion of one full revolution around the Sun, which serves as a scale for our own existence. And as we approach both the new decade and the 1st anniversary of my friend’s 29th birthday, I am reminded of the many things that I have learned over the years.

  1. You have to learn to walk before you can run, but Darwin would agree that these are best learned in quick succession.
  2. Mickey Mouse, to a three year old, is a six-foot (tall) rat.
  3. Your mother makes the best birthday cake in the world.
  4. Your mother makes the worst asparagus in the world.
  5. Admit when you’re wrong.
  6. Practice random acts of kindness.
  7. You learn something from everyone you meet, so talk with strangers.
  8. Don’t be too concerned about what other people think. Often, you’ll find, they don’t.
  9. Wishes come true, not free.
  10. A friend will tell you that life is hard and things will get better.
    A good friend will tell you to stop whining, move one, and to not screw up again….repeatedly.
  11. Never sit too close at the theater. It takes away all the magic.
  12. Check your rearview mirrors on a regular basis.
  13. The sea is as violent as she is beautiful. So remember this…there’s a recovery diver, but there’s no such thing as a rescue diver.
    Diving wreckage
  14. It’s not nice to fool mother nature.
  15. “Computers are stupid. They can’t even do calculus. All they do is synthetic division.”
  16. Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare.
  17. The apple typically doesn’t fall far from the tree.
  18. “You’ll go on to do bigger and better things. You’ll work with highly educated people…Just remember that they’re highly educated and not necessarily smart.”
  19. Just because you can build something doesn’t mean you should.
  20. Measure twice, cut once.
  21. A morning without coffee is like sleep.Coffee
  22. “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”
  23. “Always drink gin with a mark, Kid. He can’t tell if you cut it.”
  24. A good, long walk will clear your head better than any drink.
  25. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This is particularly true of monetary transactions.
  26. Women are crazy. Men are stupid.
  27. Patience is a virtue. Prudence is a skill.
  28. “While you sit and whistle dixie with your money and your power, I can hear the flowers a’growin’ through the rublle of the tower.”
  29. Never stop learning.
  30. There are no hard and fast rules and lessons in life…it’s best to think of them more as guidelines.

So, “Here’s to the New Year. May she be a sight better than the old one…” And may we all be a little wiser before she’s over.

Unexplained Footnotes

How Can Design/Build Help Lower Bridge Tolls?

•December 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Read our latest E-News Digest to find out how!