Studies & Planning

Olsen Associates, Inc. offers a comprehensive range of site-specific engineering investigations and planning services necessary to solve problems and guide development in the coastal zone. Our global areas of expertise include shoreline erosion, beach and dune restoration, coastal structures, inlet management and navigation, marinas, resort and waterfront development, and coastal management/regulation. The firm’s services provide for

  • site assessments;
  • step-wise development of project design from concept to completion;
  • feasibility studies at private, local, state and federal levels;
  • alternatives analysis and economic (benefit/cost) evaluation;
  • scoping and coordination of environmental, survey, geotechnical and other studies;
  • peer review; and
  • consultation to private interests, government

in regard to the preservation and improvement of shorefront, navigation and related coastal resources.

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Engineering Design, Plans & Specifications

Olsen Associates, Inc. prepares engineering designs for projects in the coastal zone – ranging from initial concept, to design/development, to final Construction Plans and Specifications. The latter includes project manuals and bid documents as required. Formulation of the designs and plans includes budget cost estimates for construction, increasing in sophistication as project development is refined. The firm’s experience in project design and construction documents includes all levels of beach nourishment, dune restoration, groins, breakwaters, seawalls and revetments, inlet weirs and jetties, docks and piers, marinas, boat and seaplane ramps, navigation channels and maintenance dredging, reef restoration, and marine intakes and outfalls, among many other related projects.

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Acquisition of environmental permits is often among the most challenging aspects of successfully completing projects in the coastal environment. Olsen Associates, Inc. has an unparalleled track record of permitting complex and innovative projects along coastlines in the southeast U.S. This is principally attributed to (1) the firm’s commitment to developing and presenting only those project designs that best optimize protection of the public interest, environmental resources, and the client’s long-term objectives; (2) thorough engineering analyses; (3) responsive dialogue; and (4) respect for and by the regulatory agencies in regard to the firm’s approach in developing solutions for coastal engineering projects. Olsen Associates, Inc. provides permitting services for its projects on local, State and Federal levels: from initial scoping and application, to final negotiation and permit acquisition. The firm likewise prepares analysis, investigation and reports to support permit acquisition for its projects outside the U.S. when required.

In its approach to project design and permit acquisition, the firm embraces the "team" concept by which it engages the best and most highly-respected subconsultants to address complex specialty studies in biological, geotechnical, cultural resource, and related fields that may be pivotal to the permitting of a given project.

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Construction Review and Management

As projects proceed to completion, Olsen Associates, Inc. offers multiple levels of construction management and review, depending upon the needs and objectives of the client. These services range from limited construction examinations to full-time construction observation by dedicated, on-site inspectors. When requested, the firm additionally manages all aspects of bid solicitation, award, construction observation, payment, and contract administration. The firm's experience in construction review/management has routinely involved beach and dune restoration projects, including complex coastal structures, spanning many miles of shoreline and tens of millions of dollars in construction.

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Expert Witness Testimony

The professional staff at Olsen Associates, Inc. provides expert witness testimony in legal hearings involving coastal processes, regulation and permitting, easement acquisition, shorefront design and development, inlet impacts, and other issues closely related to physical/regulatory aspects of the coastal zone. In this regard, the firm's engineers have successfully testified on behalf of numerous local and State regulatory agencies, private property owners and developers, and in limited instances regarding criminal cases and federal litigation. In general, expert testimony by the firm's professionals is limited to those cases regarding the preservation or restoration of coastal resources, rational shorefront development, and appropriate engineering design of infrastructure in the coastal environment. As an expert witness or consultant, the firm's professionals prepare studies and reports, provide consultation/briefings to attorneys, and testify by affidavit, deposition, and/or as a court witness, depending upon the requirements of the case and client.

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Design Consultation & Peer Review

Olsen Associates, Inc. frequently participates as a team member among other design professionals, or as an expert consultant to others, to review and/or prepare those aspects of large, multi-disciplinary projects that require specialized coastal engineering expertise. For these assignments, the firm’s responsibility focuses upon those elements of the project that are within, or affected by, the coastal/marine environment. The firm's professional staff likewise serves on expert panels charged with the review or formulation of engineering designs, manuals, and regulatory policy in the coastal zone.

The firm frequently provides independent peer review of designs, studies, and construction plans prepared by others. These have included large-scale civil works projects developed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, among others, in addition to project designs prepared for private interests and municipalities.

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Engineering Analysis and Modeling

Olsen Associates, Inc. performs coastal engineering analyses at varying levels of sophistication depending upon the objectives and complexity of the project. The firm's approach is to fundamentally understand the relevant historical and prevailing physical processes associated with the project site through appropriate application of engineering analysis and/or modeling, guided by practical knowledge, experience and common sense.

The tools employed for analysis range from site assessment/observation to the most up-to-date numerical models of tides, storm surge, waves, currents, salinity, sediment transport, and seabed/shoreline evolution – including use of the Delft-3D morphological modeling platform. Intermediate analysis includes evaluation of beach profile and inlet/seabed bathymetric surveys, wave and current measurements, tide and storm surge levels, and related data. These analyses, conducted at the simplest to most complex levels, are used to describe and predict beach and dune erosion processes, channel shoaling, dredge practices, fate of dredge disposal, seabed changes, circulation and water quality, inlet impacts and sediment budget, wave transformation, wave forces on structures, and storm damage to upland infrastructure, among other related topics which can be of critical importance to the firm’s project assignments and final designs.

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Project Monitoring

Monitoring of coastal sites and projects is provided by Olsen Associates, Inc. to assess the performance of constructed projects and to inform management decisions for these projects and sites. The firm designs and executes monitoring programs to most efficiently address project objectives, permitting requirements, post-storm damage assessments, and the specific needs of the client. These activities principally focus upon the physical aspects of the project’s performance, although the firm also routinely manages the environmental (biological) monitoring requirements of the project. In its collection, analysis and reporting of monitoring data, the staff of Olsen Associates, Inc. is recognized for its ability to develop succinct and meaningful interpretation of site/project performance that provides useful guidance for future actions by the client. The monitoring documentation prepared by the firm is often of critical importance in acquiring cost-share funding from State and Federal agencies to construct emergency project reparations after storms and other disasters.

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