ACEC announces National Recognition Award winning projects

Washington, D.C. — The American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) recently announced National Recognition Awards as part of its 48th annual Engineering Excellence Awards program. ACEC recognized 143 engineering projects throughout the nation and the world as preeminent engineering achievements for 2013.

Judging for the Engineering Excellence Awards — known as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry” — took place in February, conducted by a panel of more than 25 engineers, architects, government officials, media members, and academics. Criteria for the awards include uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, complexity, and success in meeting goals.

Final top winners, including 16 Honor Awards, eight Grand Awards and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement, will be announced at the Engineering Excellence Awards Gala, a black-tie event to be held Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Following are summaries of 12 National Recognition Award winning projects:

· Cavanaugh & Associates, Asheville, N.C., for developing a statewide water audit training program for the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority in Atlanta — Water loss through system faults and inefficiencies is a challenge for all water utilities, and smaller communities often lack the resources to fully identify and analyze the problem — and to take remedial measures. Cavanaugh & Associates’ 10-month training program helped more than 100 Georgia small communities replace long-standing inefficient business practices with the knowledge and steps to create optimized management processes. The program will likely have a ripple effect, as communities can use this new “management mindset” to identify other ways to improve their operations.

· The New York City-based team of Hazen and Sawyer and CH2M HILL for developing a comprehensive wastewater resiliency plan for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) — With Superstorm Sandy’s winds, heavy rains, and unprecedented storm surge expected to become more frequent, DEP initiated the nation’s most comprehensive assessment of the risks of climate change to wastewater infrastructure. Tapping a wide range of engineering disciplines, the project team demonstrated that a $315 million investment in a strategic mix of robust protection measures could protect more than $1 billion in wastewater infrastructure, saving New York City taxpayers $2.5 billion in repair costs over the next 50 years.

· Ayres Associates, Inc., Tampa, Fla., for the Courtney Campbell Multiuse Trail Bridge in Tampa — Rising 45 feet above Old Tampa Bay, the 3,258-foot-long bridge provides walkers and cyclists with a relaxing, scenic, and — most importantly — safe route between Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Where pedestrians before had to share the parallel Campbell Causeway with fast-moving vehicles, the new trail bridge now offers easy access to four overlooks strategically placed to maximize the stunning views. Though elegant, the bridge is structurally solid, designed to withstand the same vessel collision forces required for a vehicular bridge. Construction was also completed with minimal disruption to the Bay’s sensitive marine environment.

· Merrick & Company, Greenwood, Colo., for gathering as-built data for high-voltage transmission lines in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming — To gather a wide range of geospatial data on 1,500 miles of Tri-State’s transmission lines owned by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Westminster, Colo., Merrick fitted a helicopter with sensors for six advanced imaging technologies. The aircraft swooped up and down the 300-foot-wide corridors, many of which are located in remote areas and are difficult to reach. The data was then processed using advanced modeling programs, which predict the sag and sway of the power lines under a variety of electrical and weather conditions and detect areas needing repair or modification.

· David Evans and Associates, Inc. (DEA), Ontario, Calif., for mapping the route used to relocate Space Shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles — Although Endeavour had logged thousands of miles of travel in space, the 15-mile trek through the streets of Los Angeles presented perhaps the most difficult journey for the 122-foot-long, 78-foot-wide vehicle. DEA had to use advanced 3D mobile laser scanning technology to identify more than 700 horizontal and vertical conflicts that needed to be avoided. Millions watched the two-day journey in person, via television, and over the Internet. Endeavour carefully navigated the obstacles in its final journey without incident, arriving at its new home where visitors will be able to experience this rare artifact of the U.S. manned space program.

· The Cambridge, Mass.-based team of Kleinfelder, MWH Americas, and the Bioengineering Group for the Alewife Stormwater Wetland in Cambridge — The 3.4-acre project is New England’s largest stormwater wetland and proves that pollution control infrastructure can enhance the community landscape. Designed to prevent overflows from combined storm and sanitary sewer systems during heavy rains, the project features 124,000 native plantings to filter pollutants and recreational amenities, such as walking trails, boardwalks, and scenic overlooks. The site also offers new habitat for fish, migrating birds, and other wildlife. The project serves as a model for other communities searching for cost-effective ways to improve the quality of their waterways and surrounding areas.

· The New York City-based team of Hazen and Sawyer, and Montgomery Watson Harza for assisting the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with its Advanced Wastewater Treatment Program — Faced with the staggering challenge of upgrading six wastewater treatment plants to meet strict nitrogen discharge standards for the East River and Jamaica Bay, DEP needed an effective technology that would be cost-effective to both integrate and operate. After determining that biological nutrient removal (BNR) was the most attractive option, the project team literally “wrote the book” on applying the technology at the treatment facilities. The team’s design guidance provided a unified program basis that created a healthier environment for all New York City residents, led to consistently achieving nitrogen discharge standards, and resulted in billions of dollars in savings.

· Freese and Nichols, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, for the Regional Groundwater Update Project, Houston-Galveston, Texas — The project delivered data that will guide development of water resources for decades. Regulatory decisions resulting from study findings will stimulate an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion of water projects during the next decade as the Houston-Galveston area addresses subsidence issues and develops surface water supplies to reduce dependency on groundwater.

· Freese and Nichols, Inc., Raleigh, N.C., for designing a series of dams and lakes at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Mount Hope, W.Va. — The site selected to be the permanent home of the National Scout Jamboree had no developed water features. Today it has lakes for swimming, fishing, rowing, and other aquatic activities thanks to the innovative design of four earthen embankment dams. Ranging from 35 to 80 feet tall and from 400 to 1,300 feet long, the dams were planned, designed, and constructed on an accelerated three-year schedule in order to be ready to host the Jamboree in July 2013. The two-part Goodrich Lake provides a scenic backdrop for an 80,000-person amphitheater. The dams also serve as key roadways and trailways connecting multiple campsites and activity centers.

· Dewberry, Bloomfield, N.J., for the Peter J. Biondi Bypass (U.S. Route 206), in Hillsborough, N.J. — Crashes, congestion, and traffic signal delays will soon be a thing of the past in downtown Hillsborough, thanks to the addition of this three-mile limited-access bypass. With through traffic diverted away from downtown, existing Route 206 will be transitioned into a boulevard, forming the centerpiece of a new multi-use Town Center for residents to enjoy. The project included numerous technical challenges, including integrating the travel lanes, bridges, retaining walls, and other structures into sensitive environmental areas. Two specially designed long-span bridges were required to prevent intrusions on streams and wetlands.

· AVCON, Inc., Orlando, Fla., for the State Route 600 Pavement Rehabilitation Project in Volusia County, Fla., for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) — The eight-mile section of concrete-paved Route 600 had suffered from decades of wear, and repair had become an expensive proposition. The project team proposed several promising new pavement technologies, including using prestressed precast post-tensioned concrete — a first for Florida — and mixing recycled concrete with new material. The application of these groundbreaking methods reduced the project’s costs by more than $4.2 million. More importantly, FDOT gained valuable insights into new, sustainable infrastructure repair strategies that can be used across the state’s expansive highway network.

· McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group, Denver, Colo., a division of Merrick & Company, for the Chattahoochee River Ecosystem Restoration project in Columbus, Ga. The economic redevelopment of the communities bordering a 2.3-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River received a major boost with the decommissioning and demolition of two hydroelectric dams. In their place, the historic fall line rapids have been augmented with an engineered, tunable hydraulic jump, creating an exciting recreational amenity for a new generation of river users. Capable of creating six-foot waves, the jump is designed to accommodate free-style international whitewater competitions, further enhancing the area’s attractiveness to visitors. The removal of the dams has also reopened the river to migrating fish and other species that rely on fall line rapids for habitat.


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