West River Self-Regulating Tide Gates

Upon completion of a significant construction project, it is prudent (and often, required) to hire a professional land surveyor to perform an as-built survey. In general, the purpose of an as-built is to document the post-construction conditions in a graphic format. In Connecticut, the State Standards for Surveys and Maps classify this type of survey as an Improvement Location Survey. Per the code, the intent of an Improvement Location Survey is to “enable a determination of compliance or non-compliance with applicable municipal and/or statutory requirements”.

Looking North from the  Route 1 Bridge
Looking North from the Route 1 Bridge

In southern New Haven County, the 13.5-mile-long West River is a (mostly) freshwater stream. In part, the West River is the boundary between the cities of West Haven and New Haven. Around the year 1920, New Haven’s government decided to build tide gates in the West River. The intent was to provide additional upland area for development, as well as to control flooding and mosquito issues. The West River Memorial Park, reflecting pool, and dozens of acres of open space were created as a result. Unfortunately, the installation of the tide gates had multiple adverse effects on the environment. By nature, the West River had been a tidal stream with flowing salt water to inland tidal marshes. The alteration to a fresh water system gave rise to conditions sympathetic to the growth of Phragmites and other invasive species. Further, the gates block the passage of diadromous (meaning, those that migrate between fresh and salt water) fish to upstream areas.

A close-up look at the gates from the West Haven side
A close-up look at the gates from the West Haven side

In 2009, the West River Habitat Restoration Project was initiated to restore the West River to pre-1920’s conditions. The project was managed by Save the Sound Connecticut, a nonprofit enterprise of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. One of the primary components of the project was to analyze the existing flapper gate system and engineer alterations that would simulate a migration back to natural stream flow. Upon completion of the design and construction, 3 of the 12 timber flap gates were replaced with Self Regulating Tide Gates. Self-regulating tide gates allow salt water to flow upstream with a system of floats and counterfloats that cause the gates to open and close based on specific hydraulic conditions. During normal operation, the gate is open so that water can either ebb or flow depending on the tide. But the float and counterfloat are set in sucha way as to cause the gate to close automatically at a predetermined high water level. During a flood event, this setting prevents too much tidal flow from coming up the river. Importantly though, it restores the tidal flushing of the wetlands and helps to eliminate invasive species from crowding out natural vegetation.

Working my way upstream at low tide
Working my way upstream at low tide

Franklin Surveys was engaged to provide the as-built, or Improvement Location Survey, for the West River Habitat Restoration Project. The pictures included are actual “live shots” from the survey work. We utilized global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs, commonly known as GPS), in addition to conventional optomechanical instruments (total stations). We also performed direct leveling, with graduated rod measurements from benchmarks. Upon completion of the survey work, Franklin Surveys reduced the field observations in accordance with standard survey protocols to determine the coordinates of all the points of interest. The survey project final deliverable was a complex multi-format mapping product, including plan and profile views, inset photos, and a series of descriptive notes and labels.
According to the local fishermen, the self-regulating tide gates are helping already! There are multiple (admittedly, anecdotal) reports of increased upstream spawning and the West River fish population is on the rise!

West River Restoration Project, New Haven, CT

Pond Lily Dam Removal on the West River

The Pond Lily Dam was built on the West River to serve a 1700’s-era mill at the site.  The West River Restoration Project, administered by Connecticut Fund for the Environment, was intended to re-open channels for migratory fish by removing the dam which is no longer serving a purpose.  Please see the before and after pictures as the project moved forward.  Note the modern-era fish ladder in the foreground of the dam.

 Franklin Surveys’ Role in the West River Restoration Project, New Haven, Conn.

West River

Pond Lily Ave Bridge

Franklin Surveys provided horizontal and vertical control points at multiple project areas to enable construction of improvements to be at designed lines and grades.  At the north end of the project along busy Whalley Avenue (Connecticut Route 69), we established semi-permanent marks in concrete sidewalks and bridge components in accordance utilizing traditional electronic distance measurement (EDM) total stations.  The south end controls required traversing through a broader reach of the pond and dam area.  During the construction process, a reinforcing cement wall was discovered after the water level had dropped four feet.  The eventual goal is for the West River to flow more naturally and to help River Herring and other Long Island Sound fish get to their freshwater spawning beds.Pond Lily Dam With Fish Ladder

Improvements to the West River WatershedNew Haven Land Trust #pondlily2

The improvements to the river included riffles with natural flat river stones and large boulders to create areas for fish to rest as they swim upstream. Franklin Surveys re-mobilized to the site to perform as-built surveys of key in-water and emergent marshland elevations as the project neared completion.  We utilized the latest in AutoCAD and Carlson Survey software and produced digital survey maps in 3-D, memorializing the constructed improvements and enabling a determination of compliance with project requirements.

During one of the final days on site, our crew happened to be on site the same day as a massive cleanup effort organized by Save the Sound Connecticut.  Some of the pictures show the emerging marsh area and the large amounts of debris that were removed from the river thanks to their volunteers.  What a rewarding sight to see and a great project to be a part of!

West River Restoration Project - Save the Sound river cleanup

West River Restoration Project - Save the Sound river cleanup

West River Restoration Project - Save the Sound river cleanup




Bathymetric Survey and Topography of Portions of the Quinnipiac River

Bathymetric Survey and Topography of Portions of the Quinnipiac River in Meriden and Southington

Bathymetric Survey of the Quinnipiac River in Meriden and Southington2

Project Spotlight – Franklin Surveys has recently completed comprehensive topographic and bathymetric survey for 2 planned restorations along the Quinnipiac River in Meriden and Southington. The removal of ancient stone impoundments will allow diadromous fish to migrate the remaining 16.6 miles of habitat in the headwaters of the river, and will also help to restore the downstream habitat. With the initial field work complete, design is expected to occur through the fall and the physical restoration will take place next summer.

Bathymetric Survey of the Quinnipiac River in Meriden and SouthingtonTo summarize, preparations for the bathymetric survey started off with research of utility records, land ownership, and CTDOT maps and plans. We mobilized to the site for a field survey, including Army Corps and Connecticut-definition wetland delineation, cross sections of the river bottom, and detailed structural surveys of existing dam features. Several thousand individual point locations were captured for 2 sites, including various bridges, river tributaries and a distributary, in addition to depicting the relief of sediment build-up, embankments, cross sections, and long profiles. Finally, Franklin Surveys produced digital mapping in three dimensions for the entirety of the project areas.

Kevin Franklin and Three Rivers Community College Students Assist the Lebanon Historical Society in GPS Grave Documentation – As Reported by the Norwich Bulletin

Kevin Franklin and Three Rivers Community College Students Assist the Lebanon Historical Society in GPS Grave Documentation - As Reported by the Norwich Bulletin


By The Bulletin
Posted Oct. 20, 2015 at 4:24 PM
LEBANON— The dead are getting newfound attention at cemeteries in Lebanon.
A team of surveyors and graveyard historians met Saturday and used the latest technology to digitally map the final resting place of those buried in the Center Cemetery, which opened in 1830 on land off of Exeter Road
The work was commissioned by the Lebanon Historical Society and was coordinated by its genealogist in residence, Lindy Olewine.

It’s been done before. In the early 1930s, researcher Charles Hale headed up a Works Progress Administration project that recorded headstones of more than 2,000 cemeteries in the state.

“We’re moving the Hale headstone records into modern technology with GPS,” Olewine said.
Professional surveyor Kevin Franklin, of Griswold, and his students from Three Rivers Community College in Norwich and Capital Community College in Hartford are doing the sometimes painstaking work of recording each burial spot.

Read more

Environmental Issues Seminar

GPS Surveying for Natural Resource Managers using Connecticut ACORN
Environmental Issues Seminar presented by Kevin Franklin, UCONN ACORN Administrator (Advanced Continuously Operating Reference Network)

April 27, 2016
6:00-7:45 PM

Three Rivers Community College
Spring 2016 Environmental Issues Seminars
Room C101

Classes run from approximately 6-7:45 PM and will be followed with Q&A. Seminars will be held in room C101 on the Three Rivers Campus. Students taking classes for credit should arrive by 5:30 PM; noncredit students by 6 PM. Members of the community are welcome and no advanced reservations are necessary.

What is ACORN?
ACORN (Advanced Continuously Operating Reference Network) is composed of several receivers (GPS) that stream data to on-campus computers. The computers distribute the information to surveyors and mappers to help them in their work. ACORN allows highly accurate positioning in real time.

The data available from ACORN is currently assisting researchers, land surveyors, road construction crews, agricultural workers, state inspectors and public safety officials. It saves time, money and fuel and lessens environmental impacts.

Environmental Issues Seminar - Spring 2016Environmental Issues Seminar - Kevin Franklin, University of Conneticut's Advanced Continuously Operating Reference Network Administrator - GPS Surveying for Natural Resource Managers using Connecticut ACORN


East Hartford Flood Control System

East Hartford Flood Control System (FEMA Flood Accreditation Program)

Kevin Franklin has been the Project Manager for land surveying services over the course of 2 years for the East Hartford Flood Control System. The services for the East Hartford Flood Control System have included construction verifications, as-built mapping, as well as comprehensive ROW surveys depicting boundary, topographic, and utility information for the levees. This project spans approximately 4 miles of earthen berms, soil-bentonite walls, sheet pile cutoff walls, and encompasses a series of street and railroad closure structures. The work for the project includes historical land record research and a ROW boundary determination based upon 1950’s era Army Corps taking plans, intended to allow for an analysis of existing encroachments onto Town property.

Hartford Flood Control System - To Avoid a repeat of the Hartford Flood of 1936
The Hartford Flood of 1936


Gas Station Geopier Layout

Gas Station Geopier Layout

Kevin Franklin was the Project Manager for construction stakeout and geopier layout at a new Stop & Shop fueling facility. The first task was the recovery and positional verification of the survey control points set by the firm which provided the existing conditions plan. A specialty drilling contractor provided layout specifications and instructions for the assembly of the geopier-specific markers. After installation, geopiers provide for increased footing stability and decreased risk of uneven soil compaction/settlement. This project employed traditional total station and differential leveling techniques to set 103 of these markers in accordance with the 1⁄2-inch positional tolerance, over the course of 2 field days. Additionally, this work called for layout of miscellaneous site features as well as setting bolt patterns to support the canopy columns.

Geopier Layout for Stop n Shop Gas Station

Water Main Interconnect Project

East Lyme / New London Water Main Interconnect Project

Project Manager for ongoing work in support of the design of an interconnection water main in East Lyme/New London, Connecticut. The services have included the establishment of a linear survey control network, coordinating with an aerial photogrammetrist, and developing comprehensive base mapping. This work initiated with GPS establishment of preliminary elevation data at specified locations as directed by the design team. Subsequently, this progressed to field locations for a series of photo target points and field verifications of aerial mapping provided by the photogrammetrist. The key survey goals are to supplement the aerials with ground locations of wetland flags and utility features, to compile assessor’s parcel data, and to depict all of the above on CAD drawings that will encompass several miles of roadway and terrain.

Water Main Interconnect Project

Land Survey for MD Fox Elementary School

Land Survey for MD Fox Elementary School, Hartford, CT

Kevin Franklin was the Project Surveyor for a boundary, topographic, and utility survey of an existing urban school to support site improvements. The record research on this project went considerably beyond a typical review of City Clerk’s records. This effort ultimately involved coordination with multiple City agencies, the MDC, and an exhaustive search for site plans in the Board of Education’s files. The fieldwork was kicked off with a state plane coordinate tie-in, using total stations for ground control as well as GPS. The land survey encompassed approximately 1⁄2 of a city block, and included a “first survey” boundary determination, as only rough sketches were found to depict property line locations.

You can read more about the project history by clicking here.

MD Fox School Before and After Land Survey and Site Improvements

Boundary and Topographic Survey

Boundary and Topographic Survey for Windham Magnet School, Windham, CT

Kevin Franklin was the Project Surveyor for a Class A-2 boundary and Class T-2 and T-3 topographic survey of approximately 40 acres of undeveloped land. The project included land record research and coordination with local utility services to obtain record data. The field work consisted of re-running an established survey traverse and performing a variety of procedures to verify existing boundary plans and aerial mapping. Additionally, the project involved proposing easements across neighboring properties to provide the school with water and sanitary lines.

Pre - Topographic Survey Rendering of Winham Magnet School