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Magazine » August 2010 » Features » RAI EXCLUSIVE

Best of America's infrastructure projects
Award-winning transportation projects highlight design and construction ingenuity.

Transportation infrastructure is fundamental to the health of a country’s economy. It enhances business, productivity, security, and public health and welfare for its citizens. With that in mind, the editors of Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure salute the ingenuity and foresight of project owners, engineers, contractors, subconsultants, software providers, and the many others that have contributed to the strength of America’s infrastructure by highlighting some of the projects that have earned top awards in our industry during the last few years. 

The new I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis was designed and built in just 339 days from notice to proceed.
Tim Davis/Courtesy of Flatiron

I-35W Bridge, Minneapolis
Following the tragic collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis in August 2007, the Flatiron-Manson joint venture design-build team mobilized quickly to begin work on the replacement structure over the Mississippi River. The replacement structure was designed for a 100-year life span and was constructed on an accelerated schedule. On Oct. 8, 2007, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) awarded the contract to build the replacement bridge for $234 million, and on Sept. 18, 2008, the new bridge was opened to the public, three months ahead of schedule.

The new bridge, a 1,216-foot-long, 10-lane concrete structure, has a 504-foot-long precast segmental main span. The three land-based supporting piers host four columns each and stand 70 feet tall. Segments were cast on the south bank of the river on an existing closed section of I-35. There are 120 precast segments ranging in weight from 170 to 210 tons each. High-performance concrete was used for superior durability. A state-of-the-art sensor and monitoring system was built into the bridge to allow for easier and more comprehensive monitoring and implementation of a comprehensive safety program for all aspects of the design and construction process.

Project team

  • Owner/Developer: Mn/DOT
  • Design-build contractor: Flatiron-Manson joint venture
  • Architect/engineer: Figg Bridge Engineers Inc.
  • Specialty contractors: Cemstone, Case/Anderson, Bolander, Precision Testing, Highway Solutions, J&L, Meyer, Highway Technology, Polyphase/Mesaba, Nordic, PCI Rainbow Inc., O’Malley Construction, D’Fence, H&R Construction, Bituminous Roadways and ECI


  • Portland Cement Association (PCA) Bridge Design Award of Excellence, 2010
  • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) — America’s Transportation Awards, Grand Prize, 2009
  • Associated General Contractors of America/Aon — Grand Award and Build America Award, 2009
  • American Segmental Bridge Institute — Bridge of Excellence Award, 2009
  • American Public Works Association (APWA) — Project of the Year, 2009
  • Deep Foundations Institute — Special Recognition Award, 2009
  • Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) — National DBIA Award and Best Overall Award, 2009
  • Engineering Society of Western Pennsylvania — Project of the Year, 2009
  • FIATECH — Celebration of Engineering and Technology Innovation Award, 2009
  • International Bridge Conference (IBC) — George S. Richardson Medal, 2009
  • National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) — Excellence in Structural Engineering Award, 2009
  • Northwestern University’s Infrastructure Technology Institute — David Schultz Award, 2009
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) — Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award of Merit and Outstanding Projects and Leaders Award (Finalist), 2009
  • American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC-Colorado) — Honor Award, Bridge Hydraulic Analysis, 2009
  • ACEC — Merit Award for Calming the Waters, 2009
  • American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) — Globe Award for Environmental Protection and Mitigation and Pride Award for Public-Media Relations/Education, 2009; Pride Award for Community Relations, 2008
  • Aggregate and Ready Mix Association of Minnesota — Project of the Year, Community Municipal category, 2008
  • ACEC-Minnesota — Grand Award for Engineering, 2008
  • Roads & Bridges— Top 10 Bridges, ranked No. 1, 2008

Major software used

  • Bentley Microstation V8 for layout and 3D integrated reinforcing and post-tensioning details
  • LARSA 4D to analyze time-dependent concrete bridge behavior
  • Primavera for scheduling, document control, and contract management
  • RISA 3D for construction engineering analysis
The 1,000-foot-long ribbon-thin David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge provides a more direct and safer route for hikers and bicyclists along the Coast to Crest Trail in San Diego.

David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge, San Diego
The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority was formed in 1989 to develop a park along the San Dieguito River Valley, which runs 55 miles between the Volcan Mountain foothills and the Pacific Ocean. The David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge in San Diego was one of the remaining components of the Coast to Crest Trail. The 1,000-foot-long ribbon-thin bridge holds the title as the world’s longest stress ribbon bridge. The structure exploits a 16-inch-thick concrete deck and extends more than 330 feet between supports for a depth-to-span ratio of 1:248. The stress ribbon design was selected to blend into its surroundings. It incorporates steel cables stretched end to end to support the structure. The exceptionally thin bridge requires only two piers, which resulted in minimal impact to the lake.

Project team

  • Owner: San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority
  • Engineer of record: T.Y. Lin International
  • Structural engineer: T.Y. Lin International
  • Local architect: Safdie Rabines Architects
  • Contractor: Flatiron Corporation
  • Construction manager: T.Y. Lin International
  • Independent check engineer: Jiri Strasky, Brno, Czech Republic


  • ARTBA — Globe Award, Bridge Category (under $100 million), 2010
  • ACEC — Honor Award, Engineering Excellence Awards, 2010
  • ACEC-California — Honor Award, Engineering Excellence Awards, 2010
  • Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI) — Bridge Design Award, 2010
  • National Engineer Week — Outstanding Civil Engineering Project Award, 2010
  • ASCE-San Diego — Outstanding Bridge Project Award, 2010
  • Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) — Best Non-Highway Bridge, 2009
  • Roads & Bridges— Top 10 Bridges, ranked No. 7, 2009
  • California Construction— Best Small Project, 2009
  • APWA-San Diego — Project of the Year, 2009

Major software used

  • Larsa 4D for global analysis and design of the bridge
  • Ensoft LPILE Plus for the lateral analysis of the large-diameter CIDH piles
  • Imbsen & Associates XTRACT for the sectional analysis of the CIDH piles and pier shafts
The Sound Transit Central Link Light Rail Beacon Hill Station & Tunnels in Seattle were built to withstand conditions at depths and dimensions far exceeding anything previously attempted in soft ground in the United States.

Sound Transit Central Link Light Rail Beacon Hill Station & Tunnels, Seattle
The Sound Transit Central Link Light Rail Beacon Hill Station & Tunnels provide a previously isolated urban neighborhood with fast, efficient access to downtown Seattle and SeaTac airport. An access shaft using an adaptation of slurry wall construction, below-ground tunnels using a dual side wall drift technique, and platform tunnels using a single side wall drift method were built to withstand conditions at depths and dimensions far exceeding anything previously attempted in soft ground in the United States. Twin mile-long transit tunnels were built to withstand unstable conditions 200 feet below the earth’s surface.

The engineering team designed the complete excavation including the initial and final support systems for the large-diameter shafts and deep tunnels, which were constructed using the sequential excavation method. A 3D finite element analysis of tunnel excavation and of the initial support required for it was completed to provide confidence in final decisions regarding shaft and tunnel design and construction methods.

Project team

  • Owner: Sound Transit District
  • Prime consultant: Hatch Mott MacDonald/Jacobs joint venture
  • Cost estimating: C3 Management Group
  • Station platform and concourse tunnels: Dr. G. Sauer Company
  • Community involvement: Enviroissues
  • Geotechnical design and monitoring: Golder Associates
  • Civil design, roadway design: Garry Struthers Associates
  • Civil design, utilities: Pace/Symonds Consulting Engineers
  • Civil design, trackwork: J.L. Patterson and Associates
  • Civil design, drainage and utilities: Rosewater Engineering
  • Structural design, portals: Bright Engineering
  • Structural design, ventilation shafts: Infrastructure Consulting Group
  • Test shaft construction and testing services: Shannon and Wilson


  • ASCE — Outstanding Civil Engineering Award, 2010
  • ACEC — Grand Award, 2010

Major software used

  • FLAC, FLAC3D, and ABAQUS for tunnel structural analysis
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Bentley MicroStation for 3D modeling
The Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge became an architectural icon, won immediate public approval, and is credited with drawing visitors to the two cities that it connects.

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, Omaha, Neb.
The $22 million Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which connects Omaha, Neb., to Council Bluffs, Iowa, was opened to the public in September 2008. The design-build project is a unique cable-stayed, steel superstructure that features two pylons rising 203 feet in the air.

The curvilinear shape symbolizes the flowing waters of the Missouri River below it. While the river is only 800 feet wide where the bridge crosses, the slithering structure stretches more than 2,300 feet, making it one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the country.

Project team

  • Owner: Omaha, Neb.
  • Contractor: APAC Kansas, Inc.
  • Designer: HNTB Corp.
  • Wind and vibration testing: Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin, Inc.
  • Lighting design: Schuler Shook
  • Geotechnical engineering and material sampling and testing: HWS Consulting Group
  • Public involvement and location coordination: Gregory A. Peterson Consulting, Inc.


  • APWA — Project of the Year, 2009
  • NCSEA — Excellence in Structural Engineering, 2009
  • ACEC — Grand Award, 2010
  • ARTBA — Globe Award, Honorable Mention, Bridge Division, 2009
  • National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) — Prize Bridge Award, 2009
  • American Society of Landscape Architects — Central State Regional Merit Award, 2009

Major software used

  • HNTB propriety software
The Marquette interchange was the largest and most complex transportation project ever undertaken in Wisconsin since construction of the original Marquette interchange began in the late 1960s.

Marquette Interchange Reconstruction, Milwaukee
The vintage 1960s Marquette interchange on average experienced three accidents per day, carried more than twice the traffic for which it was designed, and had functionally obsolete left-side ramps and short merge distances. In addition, having withstood four decades of Midwest winters, the old interchange was literally crumbling. A four-year, $810 million reconstruction replaced and modernized the existing four-level system downtown interchange with a five-level interchange at the junction of I-94, I-43, and I-794.

Two lanes of traffic in each direction remained open during the entire project. The design team saved millions of dollars on the west leg project by using a significant portion of the existing freeway alignment and by reconfiguring the 25th Street interchange. An aggressive outreach campaign was crucial in keeping the public aware of ramp closings and offering alternate routes.

Project team

  • HNTB and CH2M HILL joint venture


  • ACEC — Grand Award, 2010; Honor Award, 2007
  • ACEC-Wisconsin — Best in State Award, 2009 and 2006; Grand Award, 2006; Individual Project Award, 2005
  • NSBA — Merit Award (long span category), 2007
  • ARTBA — Pride Award (communications category), 2007
  • American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators — Regional PACE award (website and marketing/public relations campaign), 2005
  • Wisconsin Department of Transportation — Excellence in Highway Design (W. Clybourn St. Reconstruction), 2005
  • Roads & Bridges— Top Road Project, 2004

Major software used

  • Primavera for construction scheduling and tracking
  • Bentley InRoads for modeling and GEOPAK ReBar for modeling unique-shaped piers, steel reinforcement detailing, and quantity calculations
  • LARSA for modeling

Other notable, award-winning projects

  • Iway, I-195 Interchange & New Providence River Bridge, Rhode Island— ACEC Honor Award, 2010; AASHTO Northeast Regional Award Winner for Innovative Management, 2009
  • George Street Bridge, New Jersey— ASCE-New Jersey Project of the Year, 2010; IBC Eugene C. Figg, Jr. Medal for Signature Structures, 2010
  • State Highway Ramp A Flyover Bridge, Colorado— PCI Design Award and Harry H. Edwards Innovation Award, 2009; CRSI Design Awards, 2010
  • MD30 Hampstead Bypass, Maryland— ARTBA Globe Environmental Award, 2010; ACEC-Maryland Honor Award, 2010
  • Bergen County Bridge, New Jersey— American Galvanizers Association Excellence in Hot Dip Galvanizing, 2010
  • Corridor D/Route 50 Bridge over Ohio River, Ohio/West Virginia— NSBA Prize Bridge Awards, 2009
  • SR 408 Reconstruction, Florida— ARTBA Globe Award, 2010
  • U.S. Rt. 7 Bypass, Connecticut— ARTBA Globe Award, 2010
  • North Ave. Bridge Reconstruction, Illinois— ACEC Honor Award, 2010
  • I-95 Express, Miami— AASHTO America’s Transportation Awards, 2009
  • Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge, New Jersey/Pennsylvania— ARTBA Globe Award, 2010
  • Hamilton Ave. Bridge, New York— NSBA Prize Bridge Awards, 2009
  • Mount Si Bridge, Washington— NSBA Prize Bridge Awards, 2009
  • Roslyn Road Grade Crossing Elimination, New York— NSBA Prize Bridge Awards, 2009
  • Tempe Town Lake Light Rail Bridge, Arizona— NSBA Prize Bridge Awards, 2009
  • 106th Street & 126th Street Bridges, Indiana— PCA Concrete Bridge Awards, 2010
  • Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Bridge, Texas— PCA Concrete Bridge Awards, 2010
  • Pedestrian Bridge over I-5, Oregon— PCA Concrete Bridge Awards, 2010
  • Wilson St. Bridge, Illinois— PCA Concrete Bridge Awards, 2010
  • Angeles Crest Bridge No. 1, California— PCI Design Awards and Harry H. Edwards Innovation Award, 2009; PCI Best Bridge Co-winner Design Award, 2009
  • Big Chickies No. 2 Bridge, Pennsylvania— PCI Best Bridge Co-winner Design Award, 2009
  • Jakway Park Bridge, Iowa— PCI Best Bridge Co-winner Design Award, 2009
  • Rt. 70 Replacement Bridge, New Jersey— PCI Best Bridge Co-winner Design Award, 2009

Theresa M. Casey, FSMPS, CPSM, is founding principal of On Target Marketing & Communications, LLC, based in Columbia, Conn. The firm specializes in the engineering, architecture, construction, accounting, and legal industries. She can be contacted at or 860-228-0163.

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