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Terra-Petra Spotlight. . . John Conaway

September 1, 2017


As Terra-Petra’s Principal Engineer, John Conaway provides all professional engineering services, support and counseling. No set of finalized plans leaves the office without his approval, signature, and professional engineering stamp.

John earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Utah State University.  Since 1968 he’s earned Civil Engineering licenses in 7 states across the U.S. including California, New York, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan. His licenses for North Carolina and Nevada have run dormant. Needless to say, this is an impressive career achievement and brings invaluable experience to Terra-Petra’s team.

A typical day on the job for John includes meeting with clients, collaborating with the design division, and reviewing environmental reports. He’s also actively involved in researching new products to keep the company current in an evolving industry. John gets a great deal of satisfaction from the engineering aspect of his position. Like any true engineer he enjoys seeing projects come to life and being put to practical use.

Prior to working with Terra-Petra John found employment primarily in the governmental sector. As Terra-Petra is within the private sector he’s noted some major differences. However, throughout his career he’s learned important lessons that can be applied in any sector of Civil Engineering. One of these is to always present a good-looking set of plans – this is something which Terra-Petra takes great pride in. Another lesson John’s learned over these last 45+years is that communication is paramount; good communication between a client and the design team ensures a facilitated and thorough design process.

John hopes to continue active involvement with Terra-Petra in the coming years as the company expands. As it expands, he believes Terra-Petra can benefit from developing a higher level of organization. This includes not losing sight of quality services and the constant necessity of implementing quality assurance/control procedures when reviewing plans. John also thinks that at some point it may be necessary to put one person in place for the single purpose of quality control.

In lieu of all the positive aspects of an engineering career, John has found the occasional deposition and litigation duties to be almost unbearable. As the process can drag on for months, he’s discovered that being called upon as an “expert witness” for testimony is not as captivating as it sounds. Furthermore, he wishes more people outside the industry valued the effort spent on engineering projects and that there was more widespread appreciation for engineering in general.

Away from work, John enjoys frequent traveling to his favorite locations of the mountainous West, Europe, and the Caribbean. He prefers road trips and cruises, and not flying, thanks in part to new policies of the TSA. As a man with an enormous family, John is never alone on his excursions. He’s been married to his wife Judy for nearly 47 years and, together, they have 11 kids, 22 grandchildren as well as many great-grandchildren. John Conaway hopes that he can continue to spread his admiration of Civil Engineering to the younger generations of his family.


Complexities of conducting a methane soil gas investigation in Downtown LA

October 12, 2016

complexities-of-conducting-a-methane-soil-gas-investigationA City of Los Angeles Methane Soil Gas Investigation in and of itself is not very difficult to complete. As a licensed City of Los Angeles Methane Testing Agency #10224, Terra-Petra routinely completes anywhere from 2 to 8 of per month. However, many times the site conditions can really determine the difficulty of the investigation. A particular project involving an historical Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) building has proven to be one of the more challenging for Terra-Petra’s team due to the type of soil conditions and accessibility issues for the drill rig.

Upon completing a site walk of the property on September 2, 2016,  we determined that the only accessible area for conducting drilling activities was in the alley along the south side of the property. Given that the alley is considered to be in the “Right-of-Way,” the work required a City of Los Angeles Permit for Excavation in or Adjacent to Public Streets Under chapter 6, article 2 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code prior to commencing drilling activities.complexities-of-conducting-a-methane-soil-gas-investigation2

The process of getting the Permit for Excavation took a total of about 3 weeks from start to finish. The applicant is obligated to generate a site plan identifying all proposed boring locations, as well as all known underground utility lines. The utility line information can be gathered from the Bureau of Engineering maps, but it also gets field verified using ground penetrating radar and other similar technologies. Once submitted, fees are paid, refundable bonds are posted and the process starts. The permit outlines work hours (9:00 am to 3:30), notification requirements to the City, signage and traffic control requirements as well as resurfacing requirements.

These are just some of the things that keep a methane consultant‘s job interesting!


Terra-Petra to attend the 25th Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite®

September 21, 2016

Meet the Terra-Petra Team at the Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite® 
Thursday-Sunday, October 20-23, 2016

picture of Yosemite

Tenaya Lodge – 1122 Highway 41
Fish Camp, California (“The Gateway to Yosemite”)

Earn 11.25 hours participatory MCLE credit!

Essential Info | Program Schedule | Sponsors

Join Kevin Buchanan, President and Justin Conaway, General Manager/Vice President of Terra-Petra Environmental Engineering for the 25th annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite®!  Kevin and Justin will be at the Terra-Petra table in the expo hall ready to discuss your latest environmental engineering projects or possible future need. This conference is the largest and most prestigious gathering in California of leaders in environmental, land use, and natural resources law. We hope you will join us and many of our nation’s top environmental officials, lawyers, and other professionals in the spectacular setting of Yosemite.

justingreengalaawards kevinbuchananchinameeting1Photo of the Half Dome. Photo by Nicole Gordon. — at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. 2016env-yosemitelodge

See photos from the 2015 Conference here.
REGISTER ONLINE Through October 13th.

If you have further questions or would like to prearrange a meeting time prior to the conference please call Justin Conaway at: 213.458.0494 or email

Terra-Petra deputy inspector on Blossom Plaza project, Chinatown Los Angeles

September 14, 2016



Johnson Fain completes BLOSSOM PLAZA in Chinatown (Los Angeles). Designed by Johnson Fain for FOREST CITY REALTY TRUST, the new transit-oriented, mixed-use development links a highly accessible and pedestrian-friendly network of public open spaces to the Metro Gold Line Chinatown station.

The plaza ignites a vibrant and culturally rich urban experience with 237 apartments, 20,000 square feet of ground level retail and restaurant space, and 19,000 square feet of public space which accommodates neighborhood events.

Associate Architect: Togawa Smith Martin

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