APWA proudly announces the 2007 Public Works Projects of the Year

The APWA Public Works Projects of the Year awards are presented annually to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects, recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, contractor, consultant and their cooperative achievements. The award winners are recognized during APWA's International Public Works Congress and Exposition.

The 2007 Projects of the Year Awards Committee consists of Committee Co-Chair Kevin L. Hill, General Services Manager, City of Henderson, Nev.; Co-Chair William Edward Rhinehart, Public Works Director, Dekalb County, Ga.; Donald K. Cannon, Director of Public Works, Township of Lower Merion, Ardmore, Pa.; David D. Griscom, Retired, Flowery Branch, Ga.; John J. Mercurio, Management Analyst, Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, Concord, Calif.; James Nichols, P.E., Deputy City Manager, City of Goodyear, Ariz.; Kevin P. O'Brien, Commissioner of Public Works, Niagara County, N.Y.; Carl L. Quiram, P.E., Director of Public Works, Town of Goffstown, N.H.; Win S. Westfall, Principal, Willdan Associates, Sacramento, Calif.; and David S. Zelenok, P.E., Infrastructure Division, Merrick & Company, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Winners of the 2007 Public Works Projects of the Year Award are:

Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair

  • <$2 million: Town of Moraga, California, Sinkhole Repair
  • >$100 million: DWR Emergency Levee Erosion Repair Projects

Environment

  • <$2 million: Willow Lake Restoration Project
  • $2-$10 million: Greater Bayfield Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • $10-$100 million: Columbia Heights Membrane Filtration Plant
  • >$100 million: Nancy Creek Tunnel Sewer Relief Project

Historical Restoration/Preservation

  • <$2 million: Station Street Bridge over the Kankakee River
  • $2-$10 million: Restoration of Historic Chicago Avenue Pumping Station
  • $10-$100 million: York County Administrative Center

Structures

  • <$2 million: RiverPlay Discovery Village Playground
  • $2-$10 million: Renovation of Concourse D Stem
  • $10-$100 million: William M. Thomas Terminal
  • >$100 million: Virginia Beach Convention Center

Transportation

  • <$2 million: Paradise Bay Road Improvement Project
  • $2-$10 million: Puget Park Drive Extension
  • $10-$100 million: US 93 Burro Creek Bridge and Roadway Project
  • $10-$100 million: St. John's Sideroad/McKenzie Wetland Improvements
  • >$100 million: Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor (ReTRAC)


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: DISASTER OR EMERGENCY CONSTRUCTION/REPAIR LESS THAN $2 MILLION

Town of Moraga, California, Sinkhole Repair

Managing Agency: Town of Moraga, California
Primary Contractor: East Bay Municipal Utility District
Primary Consultant: Town of Moraga, California
Nominated By: APWA Northern California Chapter

Serving 16,400 residents and a private university, the Town of Moraga, located in the San Francisco Bay area, has a total staff of 35 employees, 17 of whom work in the Police Department. The remaining 18 fill all other roles of Planning, Finance, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works. The minimal staff is a result of the perceived needs from residents and mandate from the Town's Mission Statement that states, "Honoring our tradition of minimal service government."

Over the New Year's weekend of 2005-06, the Bay area was deluged with what was classified as nearly a 50-year storm event. Over that weekend, the Town suffered from a number of landslides, fallen trees, flooding and bridge abutment damage. All six maintenance workers were called in to deal with the holiday weekend emergencies. For three days staff sandbagged, shoveled, bulldozed, and cut and chipped. Many local on-call contractors made themselves and their equipment available to assist in any way possible.

One of the more significant and potentially costly damages was a dip developing in the pavement at the intersection of Rheem Boulevard and Center Street. Rheem Boulevard is one of the Town's major arterials. Televising the storm drain indicated that there was some significant pipe degradation, and the pipe had been undermined. Staff believed this was the cause of the sinkhole developing in the roadway. The challenge was that it was a 96-inch diameter storm drain with an invert elevation of 25 feet below grade. Two trench plates were placed on the roadway to distribute the vehicle loading away from the developing dip. Daily measurements were taken of the pavement depression, and it continued to sink.

The water utility for the Moraga area, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), brought crews and equipment in to repair the sinkhole. Providing a properly compacted backfill in the soupy excavation and around all of the pipes would prove to be a challenge. Additionally, because there was so much storm damage in northern California, finding adequate backfill material was challenging, as well as expensive. Luckily for the Town of Moraga, EBMUD is one of the largest water and sewer utilities in northern California, and had access to suppliers that the Town did not. EBMUD started to backfill with the hope of bridging across some of the unstable soils. A large amount of backfill was dumped into the excavation, and allowed to settle before the crews began shallow lifts with compaction.

The backfill operation was completed on January 14, 2006, and repaving and striping were completed on January 18 and 20, 2006, respectively. The Town responded to an unanticipated situation of major proportions (by small-town Moraga standards) with competency, composure and ease.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: DISASTER OR EMERGENCY CONSTRUCTION/REPAIR MORE THAN $100 MILLION

DWR Emergency Levee Erosion Repair Projects

Managing Agency: State of California, Department of Water Resources
Primary Contractors: Steelhead Constructors, Inc.; San Rafael Rock Quarry, Inc.; Nordic Industries, Inc.
Primary Consultant: URS Corporation
Nominated By: State of California, Department of Water Resources

As a result of the imminent threat of catastrophic levee failure, California implemented a program to identify critical levee erosion sites (CES) for repairs. On February 24, 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for the California levee system. In the Governor's proclamation he focused on the imminent threat of 29 CES located in the counties of Colusa, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yola and Yuba. The CES created conditions of extreme peril to the public and property protected by the levees, to the environment, and to the state's general economic well-being.

The 2006 California Emergency Levee Repairs Project initiated work on the emergency repairs of the 29 CES. An additional four CES were added later, bringing the total to 33. The State of California, Department of Water Resources (DWR) carried out 22 of the repairs, while the Corp of Engineers carried out 11. URS Corporation assisted DWR with repairs to 16 CES sites. After their successful completion, DWR expanded URS' contract to include 11 more sites. URS assisted the DWR in project management; initiating evaluation of the erosion sites; coordinating and obtaining environmental and access/encroachment permits; developing concept repair designs; preparing plans, specifications, construction cost estimates, and schedules; performing public information and outreach activities; and providing construction management services, including inspection and contractor oversight.

To prevent massive flooding and possible loss of life, the entire project team was under a strict deadline to complete the levee repairs by November 1, 2006, before the flood season. The project management team took extraordinary steps from the very start to meet this goal.

Securing access and/or property rights from landowners to allow for preconstruction surveys and access during construction activities was critical. In March 2006, DWR sent a letter to owners of properties near affected sites informing them of the project and asking for their help and cooperation. Public meetings were held to address community concerns. A project website also was developed to provide information on the project's progress.

Construction started immediately after contracts were awarded in June. Much of the repair work involved placing soil and rock on the water side of the levee to reestablish levee slope and supporting toe structure. Setback levees were required at several of the sites. Each repair also included environmental mitigation efforts to minimize damage to vegetation and wildlife habitat.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: ENVIRONMENT LESS THAN $2 MILLION

Willow Lake Restoration Project

Managing Agency: Village of Lake in the Hills, Illinois
Primary Contractor: V3 Companies of Illinois, Ltd.
Primary Consultant: SEC Group, Inc. - Smith Engineering
Nominated By: APWA Chicago Metro Chapter

The Willow Lake Restoration Project was completed in Lake in the Hills, Illinois. Lake in the Hills is a growing community in northern Illinois' McHenry County. Residents in this county value its natural resources including many parks and nearby lakes and take pride in the quality of life afforded by the many opportunities for outdoor activities and the open spaces. The restoration of Willow Lake is a testament to the commitment of residents and the managing agency in ensuring the protection of natural spaces.

Willow Lake was a silted-in, poor-quality lake surrounded by single-family residential units. The condition of the lake included overgrown trees and brush, excessive sedimentation and a very undesirable appearance. Dam #3 collapsed previously, essentially creating a large creek with no defined boundaries. Subsequent repairs restored its structural integrity but did not restore the previous water level of the lake. Basically, the lake became a creek again with an island between two branches. By working with area residents, the team uncovered old photographs and historical information and was able to convince the Army Corps of Engineers the property had once, in fact, been a lake.

The intent of the project was to reestablish the original elevation determined through historical investigation as part of the permitting process, by making structural modifications to Dam #3 and raising the spillway by 2.5 feet. A bypass pipe was also included in the design to replace a previous bypass which had been covered with armoring mats during past erosion control efforts. The bypass pipe also assists in eliminating flow over the spillway for any needed maintenance.

The contractor built a large diversion channel to dewater the lake. The diversion channel was stabilized with fabric, contained rock check dams for sediment control and provided a highly efficient means for excavating the project. The diversion channel terminated into a silt curtain to prevent further sedimentation into downstream ponds and also provided the site with sustainable work environment regardless of precipitation. The contractor worked with the designer to increase the size of the diversion channel to withstand sizable rain events and keep the work flow on schedule.

After the excavation was complete, the diversion channel was slowly removed, the surrounding area was seeded/stabilized with native grasses and the new lake quickly took form.

The new lake provides a sustainable habitat for various wildlife species and has become a beautiful addition to the surrounding area including the adjacent residential development and the community as a whole. The project is an example of environmental and historical restoration of a lake through meaningful communication with the public and sound construction practices.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: ENVIRONMENT $2-$10 MILLION

Greater Bayfield Wastewater Treatment Plant

Managing Agency: City of Bayfield, Wisconsin
Primary Contractor: KBK Services
Primary Consultant: Strand Associates, Inc.
Nominated By: City of Bayfield, Wisconsin

Prior to the Greater Bayfield Wastewater Treatment Plant project, the City of Bayfield, Wisconsin, and the Pikes Bay Sanitary District (PBSD) operated separate wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Both facilities operated with excellent effluent quality discharge to Lake Superior; however, flows and loadings to both treatment plants were elevating because of increasing tourism to the beautiful shores of Lake Superior. The City of Bayfield wastewater flows and loads often exceeded the design capacity, and there was very little room to expand at its WWTP site located in the city. All of PBSD's lagoon capacity had been allocated to nearby developments. Additionally, there were reports of failures of private onsite wastewater systems located between the City's and PBSD's service areas.

The City of Bayfield and PBSD teamed up to explore alternatives for a regional WWTP to serve both communities well into the future and would demonstrate good stewardship of Lake Superior. They applied for and received a $20,000 planning grant from the Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF).

Based on the facilities plan, the communities determined a new regional mechanical WWTP located between Bayfield and Pikes Bay to be the best alternative. The Greater Bayfield Wastewater Treatment Plant (GBWWTP) Commission then called for a study to determine the best way to achieve its goal of going "above and beyond" typical WWTP requirements to achieve a high-quality effluent in an environmentally friendly and affordable manner. This second study evaluated several treatment methods, each providing various levels of effluent quality. The Commission selected extended air-activated sludge treatment with biological nutrient removal followed by cloth disk filtration and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, to be located on a site between the existing WWTPs, with pumping stations and force mains to convey flow from Bayfield and PBSD.

The GBWWTP was designed to provide wastewater treatment for the long term, allowing for growth within the existing service areas and expansion of PBSD's service area. The capacity of the plant (0.30 mgd average) can be readily increased to 0.60 mgd and again to 0.90 mgd since site layout, piping and buildings were designed to accommodate the next expansion's new equipment and structure requirements.

The success of the project was a result of many factors: the desire to exceed current regulations for a very high-quality discharge to protect Lake Superior; the ability to obtain unique grant funding to finance the project; the combination of technologies to achieve a high-quality effluent; the ability to accept and treat hauled wastes from the surrounding area; and the capacity to expand for future connections and growth. These all came together for a project that surpasses regulatory requirements while being both efficient and environmentally sensitive.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: ENVIRONMENT $10-$100 MILLION

Columbia Heights Membrane Filtration Plant

Managing Agency: Minneapolis Water Works
Primary Contractor: Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Primary Consultant: Black & Veatch Corporation
Nominated By: Minneapolis Water Works

The original water filtration plant serving Minneapolis was constructed from 1913 through 1918. While still operational today, the facility is nearing the end of its useful life. Planning for a much-needed filtration facility began in the 1990s. Alternative water treatment processes were studied and evaluated to determine their ability to meet current and future water quality regulations.

In 1993, an outbreak involving the pathogen Cryptosporidium sickened hundreds of thousands of people in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city that consistently followed federal guidelines for water quality. This was a clear indicator that the City of Minneapolis would need to exceed national requirements to make the water safe for everyone.

The City of Minneapolis, through the Minneapolis Water Works department (MMW), conducted a feasibility study and engaged a team of experts including environmental engineers, public health officials and concerned citizens. The team concluded that a state-of-the-art ultrafiltration (UF) membrane system was the best option to meet the stringent and necessary treatment goals.

The new MWW facility uses UF technology that removes particles so small a standard microscope cannot detect them. In fact, the plant will remove impurities more effectively than required by emerging and increasingly stringent federal drinking water standards. The UF system removes waterborne pathogens and particulate contaminants including microorganisms, such as Cryptosporidium, which have proven difficult to remove or kill using conventional technology.

The UF system consists of a system of "tubes" called modules. Each module is filled with thousands of hollow fibers containing tiny microscopic holes. As the water flows through the modules, the tiny holes in the fiber walls act like a sieve, allowing water through to the portal water side of the system while leaving larger material behind.

In addition, the new treatment facility, which processes up to 70 million gallons of water per day, features high-tech and redundant security measures to protect the water supply in a new, post-9/11 environment.

Until the construction of the ultrafiltration plant, the City relied on an older water plant to clean Mississippi River water. For 90 years, this facility has been a dependable source for safe drinking water. It will be gradually phased out as the primary filtration facility as the new plant reaches optimum capacity, and will then be used as a backup source for water treatment.

The experience of the design team and intimate knowledge of existing facilities by the MWW operations and maintenance staff enabled the team to develop a design that complemented the needs of the existing and new facilities. New, complex treatment processes were integrated into the existing treatment scheme. Changeovers from old to new facilities were anticipated during design and executed smoothly during construction.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: ENVIRONMENT MORE THAN $100 MILLION

Nancy Creek Tunnel Sewer Relief Project

Managing Agency: Department of Watershed Management, Atlanta, Georgia
Primary Contractor: Obayashi/CJB Contracting, A Joint Venture
Primary Consultant: Jordan, Jones & Goulding, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA Georgia Chapter

Atlanta and its surrounding counties have been growing at a high rate for many years. The impact of the constant influx of people, construction of new homes and commercial development has increased the stress on the infrastructures that support everyday life. The increase in traffic is one of the most visible aspects of this growth and development. However, one of the least visible aspects is the aging underground infrastructure that carries sewage to our treatment facilities. That is, it's least visible until sewage backs up into backyards and basements or flows into our creeks.

The City of Atlanta, DeKalb County and Fulton County cooperated in construction of the Nancy Creek Tunnel to help an area that historically experienced recurring problems with sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). The Nancy Creek drainage basin includes the northern part of the City of Atlanta, parts of northeast Fulton County and a portion of DeKalb County. Sewage from these areas is treated at Atlanta's R.M. Clayton Water Reclamation Center (WRC) on Bolton Road in northwest Atlanta.

When heavy rainfall was experienced, the existing Nancy Creek Basin sewer system did not have enough wet weather capacity to carry both the raw sewage and the additional stormwater that entered the lines through manholes and cracks in pipes. Various options for increasing sewer capacity were investigated and the tunnel option was found to be the most environmentally sound and least disruptive solution.

The Nancy Creek Tunnel is approximately 8.3 miles long with a fully-lined, finished interior diameter of 16 feet and an average depth between 110 and 300 feet. The tunnel is designed to convey and store wastewater with a storage capacity of approximately 66 million gallons. It begins in DeKalb County and terminates at the R.M. Clayton WRC. Eight intakes were constructed to divert flow from shallow sewers down to the tunnel.

While the design of the Nancy Creek Tunnel included many interesting features, of particular note is the design of the eight intake shafts. To address the challenge of delivering sanitary sewage flows into a tunnel 200 hundred feet deep on average, vortex-type intake structures were selected. These structures allow the flow to enter the intake shaft tangentially and then spiral down the wall of the shafts. This flow pattern reduces flow velocity and minimizes the potential for erosion of the base of the shafts.

After one full year of operation, it is estimated that availability of the tunnel project has resulted in the avoidance of a probable 31 major SSOs with a total estimated volume of more than 600,000 gallons. Additionally, on at least eight occasions, the tunnel operated in the storage mode, helping to minimize negative impacts of wet weather flows that could threaten performance of the Clayton WRC and its ability to meet water quality discharge requirements.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: HISTORICAL RESTORATION/PRESERVATION LESS THAN $2 MILLION

Station Street Bridge over the Kankakee River

Managing Agency: City of Kankakee, Illinois
Primary Contractor: Kankakee Valley Construction
Primary Consultant: Clark Dietz, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA Chicago Metro Chapter

The Station Street Bridge, constructed in 1924, spans the Kankakee River and connects the east and west sides of the City of Kankakee, Illinois. This historically significant structure is on the Illinois Historic Bridge List and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It is 379 feet long and has five concrete, open spandrel arch spans. It was originally designed to carry 1920s-era vehicles and a streetcar track operated by the Kankakee Electric Railway Company, but now carries nearly 7,000 vehicles daily across the Kankakee River. The historic status of the deteriorating bridge limited the options for rehabilitation to replacement of the bridge in-kind or extensive repairs to the substructure and superstructure.

The bridge deck and spandrel columns were replaced in 1978, but the arches received little attention at that time. An additional twenty years of exposure severely deteriorated the arches. Conventional concrete repairs were made and then the arches were wrapped with a fiber-reinforced polymer composite. This innovative repair method maintains the structural integrity of the arches by confining the concrete, providing protection from the weather and preventing future spalling. Importantly, this repair method preserves the bridge's historical appearance and gives the City a virtually maintenance-free structure for the next 20 to 25 years.

The economic rehabilitation of the arches was a complex problem that had to be solved in the design phase so the project could proceed to construction. This problem was solved using an E-glass reinforcing fabric. After the selection of the repair method, detailed analysis of the arches had to be performed to determine the construction sequence. Before the arches could be wrapped, the deteriorated concrete had to be removed and repaired. If too much of the cross-section of the arch were removed, the arch could fail under the weight of the dead load of the superstructure. A detailed construction sequence was prepared in the design phase to facilitate the work on the arches.

Lighting and safety were important project issues. The existing lighting on the bridge was an IDOT standard pole placed on the bridge as part of the 1978 superstructure repairs. It was located on the sidewalk in the clear zone. As part of the restoration project, historical period lighting was designed. It was located on the back of the parapets, out of the clear zone. Special cantilever pedestals were designed for the new lighting to improve driver and pedestrian safety. This required portions of the existing parapet to be removed and new concrete to be cast. The lighting for this project ties into the City of Kankakee's master lighting plan and allows for future expansion of period lighting throughout the surrounding neighborhood.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: HISTORICAL RESTORATION/PRESERVATION $2-$10 MILLION

Restoration of Historic Chicago Avenue Pumping Station

Managing Agency: Department of Water Management, Chicago, Illinois
Primary Contractor: Kenny Construction Company
Primary Consultant: HDR Engineering, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA Chicago Metro Chapter

A comprehensive multi-year program was undertaken by the City of Chicago to renovate and improve the Historic Chicago Avenue Pumping Station facility and campus. This pumping station along with the adjacent water tower are the City's only buildings that survived the Chicago Fire of 1871. The pumping station functions as a key component of the City's water distribution system, but in addition, this landmark building serves a cultural side as well.

Some of the key objectives of the improvement program included restoring the building and grounds to bring back the full grandeur of the historic facility first enjoyed by Chicagoans during the last quarter of the 19th century. Various aspects of the improvements incorporated 21st century technology which enabled the use of unique construction methods, and greater appreciation for the facility. The various components of the renovation yielded improvements to the building infrastructure, and improved the character of the campus.

Infrastructure improvements were constructed from the roof level down to underground vaults, and ranged from visible public enhancements to the expansion of functional space. Some of the city's benefits included improvements to the West Pump Room with the addition of a sound maintenance-free roof and newly-incorporated natural light, and better access via an improved service entrance. Enhancements also include improved insulation and full building waterproofing. Primary public benefits included the development of new cultural facilities and significant aesthetic enhancements.

One aesthetic and functional component of the restoration project included the roof restoration, reconstruction and raising of three cupolas, which recreated the roof lines of the 1880s. The roof system of this era replaced the original timber roof that was lost in the fire. The reconstructed cupolas provide much-needed light to the interior of the West Pump Room space of this 24/7 fully-operational facility.

The multi-faceted project enhanced the visual features of the building for the public, the functional aspects of the facility for the city and expanded the use of the landmark structure by incorporating a culturally significant component with the addition of the Lookingglass Theater. In addition to theater space within the facility, the city also benefited from the construction of a machine shop mezzanine to create new functional space within the confines of a previously unused area.

The improvements achieved a culturally, architecturally and functionally sensitive historic restoration of premium public space that is critical to the community. Improvements to the site included new streetscape, the addition of a fountain, and lighting of the historic smokestack at the Pumping Station to match the illuminated historic water tower. The addition of the exterior lighting also illuminated the full north and south sides of the building and the entire smokestack for the first time in the 138-year history of the facility.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: HISTORICAL RESTORATION/PRESERVATION $10-$100 MILLION

York County Administrative Center


Managing Agency: County of York, Pennsylvania
Primary Contractor: Wohlsen Construction Co.
Primary Consultants: NuTec Design Associates, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA Central Pennsylvania Chapter

The goal behind the York County, Pennsylvania, Administrative Center renovation project was to take a more than 100-year-old courthouse, with 50-year-old wings, and transition the building from judicial functions to office/administrative functions. Driving the program was the need to provide space for eleven County departments being consolidated from two nearby buildings. The program also had to include retention of Court Room No. 1 as a ceremonial courtroom and conversion of Court Room No. 2 into the County Commissioners' Meeting Room. A new state-of-the-art training center was also required.

The York County Court House opened in 1898 and was designed by York's most prominent architect, John Augustus Dempwolf. Newspapers touted the building as a "triumph of modern architectural and mechanical ingenuity." Today the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and part of York's HARB district.

When design on the project began, it had been 45 years since the last major renovation—a project that added two wings to the 1898 building. The County Commissioners debated demolishing the building and constructing new at the same site. However, the building's prominent domes had defined the York skyline for more than a century, and the Commissioners wanted to set the standard for urban reuse. In fact, the rehabilitated building would be the largest historic urban reuse project within the City of York.

The design concept had two divergent goals: (1) create modern office space for eleven departments and 210 employees; and (2) maintain the historic integrity of the building, particularly the 1898 portion. Because the 1957 wings had no real interior historic value, they were essentially gutted and rebuilt. This allowed for the creation of a modern office environment while incorporating design elements from the original building. The majority of the 1898 building was slated to become public areas: one courtroom, meeting rooms, a training center, public restrooms, vertical transportation, etc. The challenge here was to modernize the space and create a design solution that would not appear to the public as a waste of tax dollars.

The end result is a project that pays homage to Dempwolf while providing a modern work environment. Further, it was designed to be environmentally-friendly. With LEED Certification pending, it will be York County's first "green" office building as well as York County's first "green" historic renovation.

On the surface, this project was about modern office space for county government. But it was also about restoring a community gem and providing leadership—proving that an environmentally-friendly building is not more expensive. The project is also an endorsement for the revitalization of downtown York. If the taxpaying citizens of York County are willing to reinvest their money in the urban core, then private business should, too.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: STRUCTURES LESS THAN $2 MILLION

RiverPlay Discovery Village Playground

Managing Agency: City of Eugene, Oregon, Parks and Open Space Division
Primary Contractor: 2G Construction
Primary Consultant: City of Eugene, Oregon, Parks and Open Space Division
Nominated By: APWA Oregon Chapter

RiverPlay Discovery Village is a unique regional playground in Eugene, Oregon, representing one of the largest and most creative public play environments in the state. Based on a theme of natural and cultural history in Skinner Butte Park—one of the city's oldest parks—this $1.4 million playground offers a rich variety of artist-created and custom play features, interpretive panels and other one-of-a-kind amenities.

Constructed in 2006, Discovery Village sets a new standard for seamlessly-integrated accessibility. Caregivers of children with a variety of disabilities report their children experiencing play in this environment unlike anywhere else.

Discovery Village is also a true community partnership, exceeding all previous fundraising efforts for parks in Eugene with eight private foundation grants and hundreds of donors and volunteers. The playground was designed and constructed using local talent, the advice of historians and other technical experts, and skilled artists who worked together with public works staff as a team, problem solving and striving for attention to detail.

Special challenges involved collaborating with manufacturers on custom-designed play equipment, developing methods to include the community in the construction process and adapting safety and accessibility guidelines to the community's vision for the project and the skills of local artists.

Auditory play devices and sound cues, such as water splashing from the "Rain Circle," the origin of the mini Willamette River that flows through the playground, offer orientation and interest for people with limited vision. Artist-created replicas of ancient life forms native to the southern Willamette Valley, from dragonflies to saber-tooth cats, are embedded in the "Ancient History" sand dig, providing an exciting tactile experience. The playground is represented in a tactile map—also created by a local artist—near the entrance, and high-contrast concrete "discs" with a rough texture enable wayfinding around the playground by marking path intersections.

RiverPlay Discovery Village represents a remarkable expansion of cooperation and complexity for a public works project. It is deeply tied to the community, aims at important and far-reaching community values, and fills a clearly-identified recreational and social need. Most importantly, it was carried out in the eyes of the public, with the resources of the community, despite the uncertainty and risks inherent in many aspects of the project. As a public works organization, it was a significant achievement to overcome the challenges and transform these risks into community service and benefit. During the grand opening celebration in July 2006, more than 1,500 people joined to dedicate the new playground. At every turn the pride, appreciation and satisfaction was abundantly evident. The project truly exceeded expectations for the community, project partners, and even the staff involved.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: STRUCTURES $2-$10 MILLION

Renovation of Concourse D Stem

Managing Agency: Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Department of Transportation and Public Works
Primary Contractor: Pieper Electric Company, Inc.
Primary Consultant: Plunkett Raysich Architects
Nominated By: Milwaukee County Department of Transportation and Public Works

The program requirements for Milwaukee County, Wisconsin's General Mitchell International Airport (GMIA) Concourse D "Stem" remodeling project were very straightforward. They included converting existing apron-level office space to airline gate seating areas and providing arrival and departure gates on the south side of the apron level to accommodate Midwest Airlines' ground-boarded aircraft. Also included were infilling three two-story terminal areas with new construction to create expanded airline gate seating areas and additional retail space, providing new, fully accessible restroom facilities for passengers, and updating all the interior finishes.

Beyond these requirements, the team also understood that GMIA must provide Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin with a competitive, high-quality, aesthetically-pleasing, comfortable, efficient and economically sound air travel option for business and recreational travelers. To meet this goal, the team designed two south-facing, two-story atriums that brought in natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows, and installed sculptures created by a local artist through Milwaukee County's "One-Percent-for-the-Arts" program. Comfortable seating and power outlets to charge passengers' electronic devices are featured in these atriums.

The design incorporates high-impact, large-volume, two-story spaces with comfortable lounge seating and large expanses of glass. Dramatic views of the airport from these vantage points allow travelers to re-engage with the romance of air travel in a way that has been lost in many modern airports. From the outside, travelers are greeted with clearly-marked, well-lit arrival gates, easy circulation and contemporary outreaching fa‡ades that convey a warm welcome to Milwaukee.

The building's long history of prior remodeling and construction projects posed some unforeseen issues. The majority of these issues involved the discovery of existing structural elements that were not documented on record drawings. One example includes the discovery that a majority of the apron level interior floor slab (understood to be a 5" concrete slab) was actually old exterior apron pavement up to 18" thick. This was a particular issue in that the top 4" of this slab needed to be removed to provide a new floor without steps or unworkable elevation changes. The team worked together to ascertain the exact makeup of the floor and was ultimately able to remove the upper portion of the slab to meet the design intent. This slab was then isolated from the remainder of the exterior paving to negate slab movement due to freeze/thaw action at the exterior slab.

Another such challenge included the discovery of parapet wall support beams above the second floor ceilings. As former exterior wall beams, they were set low as part of the building's structural frame lateral load resistance. To accommodate new construction, the beams had to be removed or raised. Since they were needed for lateral support of the building, the beams were raised and reattached to the supporting columns.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: STRUCTURES $10-$100 MILLION

William M. Thomas Terminal

Managing Agency: County of Kern, California, Construction Services
Primary Contractor: S.C. Anderson, Inc.
Primary Consultant: Odell Associates, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA Central California Chapter

Meadows Field, located in Kern County, California, is the fastest growing airport in the Western FAA Region. Faced with an inadequate terminal building constructed in the 1950s and the challenges of the post-9/11 airport-related construction regulations, the William M. Thomas Terminal was made open to the public in early 2006 and has been a very welcome addition to the traveling community.

The $36 million project includes construction of a new air carrier terminal building, parking lot and access road. The new state-of-the-art terminal facility is 64,800 gross square feet. The facility houses airport administration, four commercial airlines, four rental car companies, a gift shop, a restaurant and passenger facilities.

The terminal is constructed on a hill, so ticketing, jet boarding and baggage claim are on one level, with no steps or ramps between passenger parking and the jet boarding bridges. This provides easier access for disabled and elderly passengers. Limited ground-level boarding is also available and accessible by both elevators and escalators; this provides an alternative if a jet boarding bridge malfunctions or for boarding turboprop aircraft which do not use jet boarding bridges.

The building is designed to be fully expandable to meet the future demands for air service in Kern County. The building is equipped with three jet boarding bridges. The initial phase of the terminal building is designed to accommodate up to five jet-boarding bridges and can be expanded toward the runway to add four more, for a total of nine gates on the initial wing. Furthermore, the terminal has been designed so that another wing can be added to accommodate an additional nine jet-boarding bridges for a total of 18 gates.

The new air service terminal is equipped with the latest in security technology including monitoring systems, access control systems and cameras. In addition, Flight Information Displays and Baggage Information Displays located throughout the terminal present up-to-the-minute flight and baggage information and provide local public service information, advertising, individual messaging and emergency broadcast information. Passengers have access to the Internet via dial-up, high-speed or free wireless connections throughout the public areas.

The terminal site also contains an 875-space parking lot following the expansion of approximately 300 spaces added immediately after opening the terminal. The parking can be expanded an additional 200 spaces within the airport access loop road, and ultimately the loop can be expanded further. The extension of Wings Way serves the loop road from a signalized intersection at Wings Way and 7th Standard Road and will ultimately tie back into Airport Drive to allow access to property east of the airport as that area is developed. Included in the site is landscaping, irrigation, drainage and utility extensions and improvements to further compliment the terminal.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: STRUCTURES MORE THAN $100 MILLION

Virginia Beach Convention Center

Managing Agency: City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Public Works/Engineering
Primary Contractors: Turner Construction Company; Sussex Development Corporation; Techcon, Inc.
Primary Consultant: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP
Nominated By: APWA VA/DC/MD Chapter

The City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, identified the need for an enhancement or replacement of their convention center facility in the early to mid-1990s. Through the efforts and coordination by the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Development Department, the Convention Center Steering Committee was established to assist and guide the process towards programming for a new or improved convention center facility. The Steering Committee worked closely with City staff and has been a part of the process for this project since its inception and throughout the entire project activities.

In the latter part of 2000, the City issued a Request for Proposals for architectural and engineering firms to submit their proposals for this project. The guidance for City staff from City Council was to secure the services of an established and highly qualified architectural firm for the design of a "world-class" convention center facility. Through the City of Virginia Beach's Quality-Based Selection (QBS) process, they selected the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM) in association with the locally-based firm of Clark-Nexsen, Inc. By the spring of 2001 the concept for the total replacement of the old facility (the Pavilion Convention Center) with a newly-designed convention center facility on the same property was established and approved by City Council on May 25, 2001.

In addition to completely replacing the existing Pavilion Convention Center, this project scope also involved the purchase of additional properties on the south side of 19th Street for parking and also for areas of future expansion. The planning concepts developed by SOM established this visionary program for meeting the convention center needs with the proposed 500,000-square-foot project, as well as the available space for future expansions.

This project is one of the latest design concepts for a state-of-the-art convention center, with all of the positive attributes necessary for a successful facility. It has already received many favorable reviews from meeting planners and persons in the convention center industry. The Exhibit Hall has a space of just in excess of 150,000 square feet with a clear span area of 240 feet by 625 feet, which is larger than three football fields.

All of the design features combine to result in a truly unique facility that is a new icon for the City of Virginia Beach. The dynamic use of water, wood and natural light is integrated throughout the building. At the convention center's entrance, where guests walk across wooden boardwalks, a soaring, nautical glass-curtain wall appears to float in pools of water both inside and outside of the building. A 10-story observation deck in the tower structure also allows attendees to view the inviting skyline of the oceanfront, as well as other landmarks in Virginia Beach.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: TRANSPORTATION LESS THAN $2 MILLION

Paradise Bay Road Improvement Project

Managing Agency: Jefferson County, Washington, Public Works
Primary Contractor: Seton Construction, Inc.
Primary Consultant: BERGER/ABAM Engineers Inc.
Nominated By: APWA Washington Chapter

Paradise Bay Road is a rural, minor collector that meanders through the commercial and residential center of the community of Port Ludlow in East Jefferson County, Washington. Port Ludlow is one of three growing population centers in the county facing the challenge of an increase in traffic as commercial and residential development continues to grow.

As a vital rural collector road in Port Ludlow, Paradise Bay Road had been scheduled for improvements and rehabilitation for 10 years. The community was frustrated with the increased traffic and speed of vehicles using the road. There were no paved shoulders and no crosswalks on Paradise Bay Road to connect a growing residential community on the east side of the road with a small but developing commercial center to the west. This project was an opportunity to connect existing trails to the center of community activity without cutting it in two.

The project's two main challenges were (1) how to sensitively rehabilitate a road adjacent to a wetland, a designated tree buffer zone with many mature conifers, Ludlow Creek and Ludlow Bay; and (2) how to address the mobility and pedestrian safety issues on Paradise Bay Road, yet maintain the road's traffic volumes and preserve Port Ludlow's rural character.

The solution for the road rehabilitation was to incorporate urban sensitivity to the rural environment. The goal was to construct a road meeting safety and mobility standards as well as to preserve the rural feel, building the road and intersections friendly to pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles.

Features for the completed project include:

  • Replacement of four-foot-wide gravel shoulders with five-foot-wide paved shoulders;
  • New asphalt overlay and stormwater collection and treatment facilities;
  • Planted medians that provide rural character while introducing traffic calming;
  • Pedestrian refuge areas to address safety;
  • Crosswalks that are more visible and safe for business and residential areas and existing trails;
  • Construction of two bus pull-outs along the road for public transit; and
  • Installation of roadway and pedestrian lighting.

The Paradise Bay Road Improvement Project has become a model for what Jefferson County Public Works transportation projects will accomplish in the future as the County continues to grow.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: TRANSPORTATION $2-$10 MILLION

Puget Park Drive Extension

Managing Agency: Snohomish County, Washington, Public Works
Primary Contractor: GG Excavation Inc.
Primary Consultant: Snohomish County, Washington, Public Works
Nominated By: APWA Washington Chapter

Given the opportunity to develop access to a new community park, Snohomish County, Washington, Public Works elected to do more. More than a simple access road, the Puget Park Drive Extension project has created a welcome amenity for the community and a model of progressive engineering.

The project is located in one of the fastest growing areas of the county along the busy corridor between Interstate 5 and State Route 9. For a number of years, development has pushed eastward from I-5. The Puget Park Drive Extension connects to this east-west corridor at Cathcart Way, and links up several road stubs left by earlier residential developments to the south.

The Puget Park Drive Extension is a beautifully-landscaped boulevard that hugs the southern border of the County's new Willis Tucker Park, a separate project built simultaneously by the County's Parks Department.

The half-mile-long road project consists of two travel lanes with bicycle lanes, pedestrian paths and landscaped areas on both sides of the roadway. Center medians planted with trees and shrubs separate the travel lanes.

Instead of a conventional sidewalk, a paved pedestrian pathway that meanders up to 40 feet away from the road was constructed on the park side of the road. On the south side, a four-foot-tall berm, planted with native and ornamental species, provides a visual and distance buffer between the adjacent homes and traffic.

Raised crosswalks intersect medians at several locations along the new road. The medians provide refuge for people crossing the road, allowing them to cross one lane at a time. Drivers must slow down to traverse these crosswalks, which are similar to a wide, gradual speed hump.

Sidewalk "bump-outs" at intersections were used to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. These also tend to slow vehicles as the road narrows at the intersection. Planting strips were used to provide a buffer between sidewalks and traffic lanes.

Snohomish County's standard width for two-lane arterials is 40 feet; for this project the engineers reduced that to 30 feet to reduce vehicle speeds. The fifteen-foot-wide lane was subdivided by a paint stripe to provide a five-foot-wide bike lane and a ten-foot-wide lane for automobiles. The narrower look also reinforces the idea that the corridor is a local street and not intended as a thoroughfare.

Landscaped, raised medians were interspersed along the new corridor to visually narrow the roadway and remove vehicle passing zones. New signs establish the lower 25 mph speed limit.

Lighting was placed along the corridor to highlight features such as landscaped medians, crosswalks and intersections for driver awareness and pedestrian safety.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: TRANSPORTATION $10-$100 MILLION

US 93 Burro Creek Bridge and Roadway Project

Managing Agency: Arizona Department of Transportation
Primary Contractors: R.E. Monks Construction; Traylor Bros., Inc.
Primary Consultant: URS Corporation
Nominated By: APWA Arizona Chapter

The Burro Creek Bridge and Roadway Project is a vital component of the Arizona Department of Transportation's (ADOT) effort to create a continuous, four-lane divided highway from Wickenburg, Arizona, to the Nevada border. Burro Creek is located in Mohave County, approximately 15 miles south of Wikieup in an extremely remote and often treacherous desert habitat.

The project involved upgrading the 3.8-mile, two-lane divided highway into a safer, four-lane divided highway that included construction of a new steel arch bridge over the Burro Creek Canyon gorge to match the older existing Burro Creek Bridge. The new bridge, which opened in May 2006, is 985 feet long and towers 388 feet above Burro Creek.

The project team encountered significant challenges when a fissure was detected in one of the canyon walls after blasting had already begun. The discovery delayed the project for several months while additional geotechnical analysis was performed and extensive work was done to stabilize the rock wall. Naturally, this unavoidable delay caused major schedule impacts and cost increases that could have escalated into claims and litigation.

Fortunately, Burro Creek wasn't an ordinary project. A formal Partnering process was initiated early on to ensure the best possible process and outcome for all team members and stakeholders, especially the traveling public. Thanks to these strong Partnership relationships and a commitment to the Partnering Mission, the team reached mutually agreeable solutions under very trying circumstances.

In addition to the geotechnical considerations, there were challenges with working in solid rock for much of the job; high, hazardous conditions erecting the steel arch nearly 400 feet above the canyon floor; and working in very high temperatures during the summer months. With these challenges, the work was still completed with minimal impacts to the traveling public.

The construction of the skewbacks also came with significant challenges. In order to stabilize the existing canyon walls, substantial remediation efforts, including soil nails, high-strength wire mesh, shotcrete and neat grouting not part of the original scope of the contract were required. Construction of both skewbacks and stabilization of the existing canyon walls added approximately 180 calendar days to project completion. The coordination of the entire design team allowed this project to progress flawlessly from design to final construction.

Complex construction methods were needed to build a long span steel arch bridge over a difficult and steep canyon area. Challenging and innovative design was used to develop lightweight and streamlined steel framework for construction and operational efficiency.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: TRANSPORTATION $10-$100 MILLION

St. John's Sideroad/McKenzie Wetland Improvements

Managing Agency: The Regional Municipality of York, Ontario
Primary Contractor: Miwel Construction Limited
Primary Consultant: R.V. Anderson Associates Limited
Nominated By: APWA Ontario Chapter

St. John's Sideroad is a major east-west arterial under the jurisdiction of the Regional Municipality of York (York Region). It is located in the Town of Aurora, Ontario, and lies within the watershed of the East Holland River, under the management of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). This unique project was comprised of the widening and reconstruction of a two-kilometre section of St. John's Sideroad between Yonge Street and Bayview Avenue.

As a result of increased traffic volumes due to highly active residential development in the area, the existing two-lane rural road section could not meet the needs of the growing population. In response to the proposed development growth in the Town, the Class Environmental Assessment study undertaken for the project identified that additional roadway capacity was needed, and recommended that this section of roadway be widened to a four-lane urban cross-section.

This project was particularly challenging since St. John's Sideroad divides the McKenzie Wetland (also known as Aurora Wetland or McKenzie Marsh), a Provincially Significant Natural Area and an important environmental feature to the local community. The McKenzie Wetland is a permanent home to numerous animal species and fish. Recognizing an opportunity to enhance the wetland along with the roadway, York Region developed an innovative design to limit intrusion on the marsh as well as increase its overall functionality. This was achieved through discussions with the Town, local residents and environmental groups.

The project's unique features include:

  • Improvements to the McKenzie Wetland including sheet-pile retaining walls, timber boardwalk, unique landscaping and decorative lighting, wet culverts and dry culverts for wildlife passage.

  • Bike paths throughout the length of the project, which linked the Town's existing bicycle trail network to the McKenzie Wetland and its boardwalk.

  • Widening the roadway to a fully-illuminated four-lane urban cross-section with curb and gutter, storm sewers, sidewalks on both sides and traffic signals at major intersections.

  • Railway safety improvements that included profile revisions and new gates and signals at an existing at-grade commuter railway crossing.

  • Extension of the East Holland River Culvert, a triple-cell culvert, with construction being staged to maintain stream flows without using dam-and-pump or flow bypass methods.

  • Tunnel construction of the East Holland Sanitary Trunk Sewer using a tunnel boring machine with a connection to the Aurora Pumping Station.

As a result of this project, York Region was able to not only protect the sensitive natural environment but enhance it by designing and constructing the infrastructure to address natural and social environment problems and opportunities.


PROJECT OF THE YEAR: TRANSPORTATION MORE THAN $100 MILLION

Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor (ReTRAC)

Managing Agency: City of Reno, Nevada, Public Works
Primary Contractor: Granite Construction, Inc.
Primary Consultant: Jacobs Civil, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA Nevada Chapter

The City of Reno, Nevada, owes its very existence to the transcontinental railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad which was responsible for the San Francisco to Utah portion of the transcontinental tracks laid out 400 lots along the Truckee River in 1868. Typical of railroad towns, soon-to-be-named Reno had a depot, hotels, restaurants, boardinghouses and bars concentrated along the tracks. By the 1930s "The Biggest Little City in the World" had 18,000 permanent residences and was the gambling capital of the west. Beginning in the mid-1990s Reno's population exploded from an estimated 160,000 in 1995 to over 300,000 today. At the same time, the Union Pacific Railroad merged with the Southern Pacific Railroad, more than doubling rail traffic through downtown Reno. Road congestion and safety concerns demanded that tracks be relocated.

The Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor (ReTRAC) is the largest public works project ever undertaken in northern Nevada. It includes the design and construction of a 2.1-mile-long, 54-foot-wide, 33-foot-deep train trench running through downtown Reno that eliminates traffic congestion, improves safety and enhances downtown aesthetics. Its impact on the region will be felt for many years to come. The numbers alone are impressive:

  • Construction of two mainline tracks with a maximum design speed of 60 miles per hour and an access road adjacent to the tracks.

  • Construction of 11 street and one pedestrian bridge across the top of the trench.

  • Construction of a three-mile temporary (shoofly) rail bed and track system prior to removal of the existing mainline railroad. The shoofly was constructed along a route parallel to the trench while using existing Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way and city streets and alleys.

  • 9.2 miles of track.

  • Demolition of nine buildings and two bridges.

  • Soundproofing of 11 existing buildings.

  • Excavation of more than 700,000 cubic yards of soil.

  • Installed 70,000 cubic yards of structural concrete.

  • Installed 50,000 tons of AC.

  • Installed nine million pounds of reinforcing steel.

The downtown railroad corridor also includes resurfaced streets, enhanced landscaping, special lighting standards and stamped sidewalks/crosswalks consistent with the City of Reno's Master Landscape Planning Program. In addition, the trench incorporates many elements of public art including special fencing, bridge pilasters and artist-designed public seating.