APWA proudly announces the 2008 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 & Exposition.

The 2008 Projects of the Year Awards Committee consists of Committee Co-Chair David D. Griscom, Public Works Director (retired), City of Flowery Branch, Ga.; Co-Chair John J. Mercurio, Concord, Calif.; Richard J. Benevento, President, Land Strategies LLC, Boston, Mass.; `Donald K. Cannon, Director of Public Works, Township of Lower Merion, Ardmore, Pa.; David L. Lawry, General Services Director, City of Elgin, Ill.; 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.; Judith F. Wortkoetter, P.E., County Engineer, Greenville County, S.C.; and David S. Zelenok, P.E., Director of Public Works/Engineering, City of Centennial, Colo.

Winners of the 2008 Public Works Projects of the Year Award are:


Emergency South Dike Construction

Managing Agency: City of Richmond, British Columbia
Primary Contractor: Progressive Contracting (Richmond) Ltd.
Primary Consultant: City of Richmond, British Columbia
Nominated By: APWA British Columbia Chapter

A truly island city by nature, the City of Richmond, British Columbia, is surrounded entirely by water. Richmond's dike system represents one of the City's most important assets. Larger-than-normal predictions for the 2007 Spring Freshet resulted in significant concern surrounding the stability of portions of Richmond's dike system to withstand a significant increase in Fraser River flow. Through partnerships with the federal and provincial governments, the City was able to conduct a major dike upgrade along one kilometre of its shoreline within a highly compressed timeframe of 10 weeks.

Conventional dike design places structural material along the shoreline edge. This approach generally results in significant impact to the riparian and intertidal areas, resulting in long-term ecological impairment and reduced social value. The City of Richmond approached the dike upgrade works from a multi-objective sustainability basis. An interdisciplinary planning team with engineering and ecological expertise was assembled and an innovative design was developed to meet both the flood management and ecological needs of the site. Rather than incorporate the conventional straight-line dike, the alignment of the structural works for this project was designed to vary and avoid existing functional riparian and intertidal areas. To retain structural integrity for portions of the dike that were located further inland, the dike was constructed by shaping the existing bank material and placing dike structural materials and backfill with native soils to various depths. Foreshore benches were constructed to improve ecological conditions and the project incorporated foreshore planting to offset impacts for stretches of the dike constructed immediately adjacent to the shoreline.

Accordingly, key innovations included a customized dike design that considered and responded to actual site conditions; new construction techniques that enabled the retention of existing ecological functionality; and a "Net-Plus" approach where ecological health was the focus (rather than solely impact mitigation) and works were designed to result in an overall net improvement both from a flood management and ecological basis.

Dike raising was also completed in a manner incorporating consideration of potential sea level rise as a result of climate change. At present, provincial dike height guidelines do not consider climate change impacts. Rather than solely relying on provincial guidelines as has been the conventional practice, the City of Richmond adopted a proactive approach and set dike heights based on current provincial guidelines plus sea level rise over a 100-year period as projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

City Engineering and Public Works staff not only met the challenges of the dike upgrade project, but also delivered the project in a creative, innovative and sustainable manner leaving the City better protected from flooding and in an enhanced environmental state.


Electrical Distribution System Disaster Recovery

Managing Agency: City of Greensburg, Kansas
Primary Contractors: BBC Electrical Services, Inc.; PAR Electrical Contractors, Inc.
Primary Consultant: Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A.
Nominated By: APWA Kansas Chapter

The Electrical Distribution System Disaster Recovery project was essential to the residents of Greensburg, Kansas, who are rebuilding after a massive F5 tornado destroyed 95 percent of the city, including the power plant, electrical substation and most of the power lines, on May 4, 2007.

Greensburg needed electrical service up as quickly as possible after the disastrous tornado knocked out the entire system. The design team phased the project allowing construction to begin before the entire system was designed, allowing the contractors to start earlier in the process and complete it in record time. A contract delivery date was not established for the project, but a construction completion goal of Christmas was set by the City and served as the driving force for the project schedule.

The first phase of the project was constructed by mid-September, three weeks ahead of schedule, and provided the basic system structure along the highway, electricity to the temporary school and an electrical feed to the 21-acre Kiowa County State Lake.

Once phase one was complete, electricity was only a few city blocks from any location in the community. This provided flexibility to connect power to buildings as they were rebuilt and reduced the waiting time for individual homeowners to have electricity at their residences.

The second phase took 63 days to construct and was complete by late October. This phase concentrated on providing power to homes being constructed on the west side of Greensburg, south of U.S. Highway 54. Most of the new residential construction was taking place in this area including a number of new basements and modular homes set in place each week. This phase was critical in order for construction of the single phase lines through the existing alleys to keep pace with the rapid reconstruction efforts of the residents.

The third phase of the project brought electrical lines to the residents on the east side, as well as miscellaneous areas west of Main Street. Finishing phase three brought access to permanent electricity for all properties in the city.

Town Hall meetings, workshops and a master plan provided the incentive for improving the city's previous capacity. Greensburg's former power plant capacity was six megawatts; the new system capacity is 16 megawatts at 13,800 volts. The system voltage was increased from five kilovolts to 15 kilovolts and features a flexible, loop design around the city to accommodate system maintenance and future growth. More than 400 poles with 10.2 miles of new power lines and 200,000 feet of conductor were used during the construction. The distribution system reaches every piece of property in Greensburg.


Flow Augmentation in Yuma's East Wetlands

Managing Agency: City of Yuma, Arizona, Utilities Department
Primary Contractor: Desert Road Builders
Primary Consultant: Carollo Engineers
Nominated By: APWA Arizona Chapter

The City of Yuma, Arizona, reuses spent filter backwash water (SFBW) from its Main Street Water Treatment Plant (WTP) to support the Yuma East Wetlands project, which is restoring wetlands along the Colorado River. The City's discharge to the wetlands is unique because it occurs under modified chlorine and selenium surface water quality standards for the Colorado River at the wetlands. Water quality standards were modified under the net ecological benefit provisions of Arizona state law specifically to allow the City to reuse the SFBW from the Main Street WTP to benefit the Yuma East Wetlands project. The discharge from the Main Street WTP is the first successful application of net ecological benefit in Arizona.

The goals of the Yuma East Wetlands project include restoring and enhancing habitat for the benefit of fish and wildlife, including endangered species; creating low-impact recreational opportunities, such as wildlife viewing; enhancing the historical and cultural heritage of the wetlands for stakeholders, including the Quechan Indian Tribe and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area; providing opportunities for environmental education; and fostering economic development through ecotourism opportunities.

The SFBW discharged from the Main Street WTP serves as a consistent source of water, similar in quality to the mainstream Colorado River, to augment flow through the wetlands. An estimated 530,000 gallons per day of SFBW is pumped from the Main Street WTP and discharged to the Yuma East Wetlands. This water irrigates the restored and newly-created habitat of riparian trees, shrubs and grasses. The flow rate discharged is sufficient to maintain a riparian/wetlands habitat for desert species that is significant in size and diversity.

Agricultural irrigation return water and periodic flows from the main stem of the Colorado River through the excavated south channel are the only other sources of water for the Yuma East Wetlands. Agricultural return flows alone are not sufficient to sustain the wetlands habitat. The restored south channel of the Colorado River provides some flow through the wetlands; however, the flow in the mainstream Colorado River periodically drops so low that no water is conveyed through the south channel into the Yuma East Wetlands. For example, Colorado River flow was high enough to augment flow through the wetlands only three times in the period February to August 2006. The restoration of the Yuma East Wetlands was predicated on the availability of consistent, augmented flow from the Main Street WTP discharge, and the discharge is crucial for the long-term viability of the project.

The return of bird life to the area is the most significant ecological impact of the Yuma East Wetlands project. Since habitat restoration and flow augmentation began in the Yuma East Wetlands, bird density and diversity have dramatically increased.


Constructed Wetlands and Water Reclamation Facility Improvements

Managing Agency: City of El Dorado, Kansas
Primary Contractor: Utility Contractors, Inc.
Primary Consultant: Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A.
Nominated By: APWA Kansas Chapter

When you think about treatment plant improvements you usually don't think of economic development or cattail reeds swaying in the soggy breeze as frogs sound the bass beat through a chorus of multicolored insect harmonies. But that is exactly what the improvements at the Constructed Wetlands and Water Reclamation Facility bring to the community of El Dorado, Kansas.

Improvements at its wastewater treatment plant put El Dorado in the position for all types of community growth, whether industrial, commercial or residential. Improvements at the plant were made to accommodate changes in the NPDES permit issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, as well as the community's projected growth. The plant, at the cost of $10 million, improves the quality of its discharge, reduces the levels of ammonia to meet federal regulations, plans for anticipated regulation changes, and increases capacity and flexibility to accommodate population and economic growth.

The facility improvements include increased storage capacity to 28.5 million gallons (including 4.6-million-gallon extraneous flow basin and 23.9-million-gallon wetland cells); constructed effluent site pond; new pumps and force main located in existing influent pump station structure; new headworks building with fine screens and grit removal; new biological treatment structures including mixers, aeration, clarifiers, pumps and instrumentation; new disinfection and sludge structures including blowers, centrifuge and holding cells; new activated sludge process using an oxidation ditch; and new cascade, pump station, scum pump station, reuse pump system and irrigation system.

The new facilities were designed for an average daily flow of 3.0 mgd with a peak flow of 6.0 mgd. The facility can handle wet weather peaks of 12.0 mgd. Flow in excess of 6.0 mgd can either be held in an extraneous flow basin or sent to the wetlands. The plant is fully automated, includes automatic backup power and was constructed to easily expand to twice its current capacity.

The City chose to construct an activated sludge process due to the flexibility and efficiency of the system. After discovering substantial infiltration into its system, the City added constructed wetlands as a part of the treatment concept. The first system of its kind to be used in Kansas, the wetlands reduce the size of the activated sludge system saving El Dorado residents and businesses an estimated $2.8 million in construction dollars.

The El Dorado plant serves approximately 15,000 people including 4,800 connections in the City of El Dorado, Butler County Sewer Districts No. 5 and No. 15, and the El Dorado State Correctional Facility just east of El Dorado.

"The efficiency and operational capacities of the plant are a much needed improvement to our community infrastructure," said City Manager Herb Llewellyn.


Landfill Closure in Brookline, Massachusetts

Managing Agency: Town of Brookline, Massachusetts
Primary Contractor: ET&L Corporation
Primary Consultant: Camp Dresser & McKee Inc.
Nominated By: APWA New England Chapter

The Town of Brookline, Massachusetts' Landfill Closure project is an excellent example to municipalities throughout the United States under mandates to meet the regulatory requirements for capping inactive landfills while maintaining vital public works uses and developing active recreational facilities. The Town undertook an intensive public land-use planning process that involved three separate neighborhoods, several conservation groups that owned parts of the landfills or directly abutting land, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

In 1997, the Town of Brookline commenced a process to address the capping of two landfill sites located on Newton Street in Brookline, and to evaluate the highest and best use for the sites, post-closure. The Town recognized that the Front and Back landfills were incredible public assets and presented a rare opportunity to create new parkland. The project required significant public input through the Town's formal park facility approval process administered by the Park and Recreation Commission. The Town submitted and received an Urban Self Help Grant and worked with private donors to raise additional funding to construct a synthetic turf field on top of the landfill site.

The unique part of this project was the corrective action around 24 private homes located near the edge of one of the landfills. Most of the homes were owned by long-term senior residents of the community. This was a very sensitive and complex situation that facilitated a tremendous amount of personal communication from the DPW staff. Staff met with sons and daughters of some residents trying to help their parents make a clear decision as to how to proceed. Meetings took place at night and in their homes when necessary. This personal effort resulted in a winning situation for the abutters and the Town, resulting in successful agreements without legal action.

After 10 years, the Town was pleased to celebrate the grand opening of a new 15.15-acre community park on the former Front landfill site—the first park addition to the Town's open space inventory in over a quarter of a century. Skyline Park includes active and passive recreation amenities for all ages and abilities. The park provides the first Town athletic field suitable for high school soccer tournaments, playground structures for older children and tots, picnic areas, a comfort station, restored wetlands, scenic walking trails and connections to the once-isolated conservation areas owned by the Town of Brookline, City of Newton and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

As the project drew to completion, the new synthetic field was broken in by the Brookline High School Varsity Soccer Team. All involved were pleased with the outcome and the steps taken to develop a resolution for this environmental concern, relying strongly on public involvement.


Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant

Managing Agency: City of Mesa, Arizona
Primary Contractor: McCarthy/Sundt, a Joint Venture
Primary Consultant: Carollo Engineers
Nominated By: APWA Arizona Chapter

The Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant (GWRP) is one of the largest and newest "end-of-the-line" water reclamation plants in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The project's greatest success was the ability to meet the needs of three owners (City of Mesa, Town of Gilbert and Town of Queen Creek), collaborate with two design engineers and build with a joint venture general contractor. These entities were able to collaborate, communicate and act efficiently in order to bring the project online on time and within two percent of the original budget with no disputes.

With a liquids train capacity of 16 mgd annual average day flow (AADF), the Phase II Expansion was designed and built to reliably meet Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Class A+ reclaimed water quality standards. The reliability of the treatment facility is further challenged by the exceptionally high-peaking factors that resulted in design capacities of 24 mgd maximum per month, 32 mgd peak day, and 48 mgd peak hour. The GWRP is also a regional solids facility capable of handling 24 mgd equivalent of solids (16 mgd from the GWRP plus 8 mgd transferred from Mesa's Southeast WRP). The solids treatment system is designed to produce Class B dewatered sludge for land application. In addition to delivering water to the constituents, this facility was designed to be a good neighbor in terms of appearance, noise and odor, blending seamlessly into the community it serves.

A number of innovative techniques were used during the construction of the Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant. There were two existing aluminum domes that covered the primary clarifiers. These domes were removed in one piece, set on the ground, retrofitted with new catwalks, and then placed back on the clarifiers, resulting in the safest way to make modifications. Four new secondary clarifiers were also built on the ground and flown into place on the structure, allowing the highest level of both productivity and safety during installation.

The prefabrication and onsite fabrication of sheet steel for the digesters was very innovative. Sheets of 3/4-inch plate steel were rolled and formed in both directions to make the "egg" shape of the digesters, and then erected onsite and welded together. The aesthetics of the massive digesters were broken up by burying them one-third way into the ground and adding architectural features to play with the light and shadow.

In order to create a natural barrier from public view, excavated materials were used to make landscaped earthen berms. By planning excavations so as to minimize equipment and material transportation to offsite locations, fuel was conserved.


Four Bears Portal Plaza and Linear Library Truss Monument

Managing Agency: North Dakota Department of Transportation
Primary Contractor: Industrial Builders Inc.
Primary Consultant: Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA North Dakota Chapter

The Four Bears Portal Plaza and Linear Library Truss Monument was not an overnight job. The plaza and library had to be an extension of the Four Bears Bridge in New Town, North Dakota, the longest bridge in the state, spanning 4,500 feet across Lake Sakakawea and the surrounding area. More importantly, the bridge is a piece of standing history and the plaza and library were conceived to tell the story of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHAN), whose cultures have become entwined with the Four Bears Bridges, past and present.

Before construction or bidding began, the consultant worked with Tribal Elders of the MHAN as well as the general public to develop a context-sensitive design for a portal plaza and connecting trail system. Area residents supported the project and the portal plaza was conceived to present the history and stories behind the cultural icon symbols that were incorporated into the new Four Bears Bridge, and the historic Four Bears Bridges of 1934 and 1955.

The existing Four Bears Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and required extensive environmental studies before it could be replaced. After the studies were completed, the National Register of Historic Places required a Historic American Engineering Record and the preservation of the two entry portals of the 1934 bridge's steel-through-truss superstructure, which was incorporated into the frame of the 1955 Four Bears Bridge. The consultant took the requirements a step further and the Portal Plaza now exhibits the reconstruction of scaled replicas of the original 1934 bridge piers utilized at Elbowoods, North Dakota, and the 1955 bridge piers from the relocated Elbowoods Bridge at New Town, North Dakota. The salvaged bridge portals were then restored and placed on the new replica piers for display in the Portal Plaza.

The overall design of the Portal Plaza is the result of numerous meetings with Tribal Elders, culminating in many subtle and not-so-subtle design elements that represent the rich cultural heritage of the area and complement the new Four Bears Bridge and adjacent natural areas. For example, MHAN are represented symbolically with three interlocking circles in a triangular array, with each circle incorporating four cast-in-place concrete monuments. The monuments display interpretive panels, which state the significance of each cultural icon medallion featured on the Four Bears Bridge piers and walkway. Colored geometric patterns representing each Tribe were imprinted into the concrete walkways with custom-fabricated steel templates, followed by a hand-applied surface colorant. All monuments for the interpretive panels were constructed of custom-formed, cast-in-place concrete with special surface finishes and colors. The resulting product provides a vandal-resistant, low-maintenance product with visual appeal that harmonizes with the new concrete bridge design and adjacent natural land forms.


Wabash Station Renovation and Addition Project

Managing Agency: City of Columbia, Missouri
Primary Contractor: Sircal Contracting
Primary Consultant: 360 Architecture
Nominated By: City of Columbia, Missouri

The Wabash Station originally opened in 1910 as the Wabash Railroad Station and provided passenger service on the Wabash Railroad Company lines until 1964. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the building is a living reminder of the role of rail travel in bringing the world to a growing community. It was designed in a Tudor-Gothic style similar to many of the surrounding buildings and in keeping with the architecture of the University of Missouri-Columbia's campus. The City purchased the facility in 1982, which now serves as the central hub for its bus transportation system.

Later, the Wabash Station was utilized as office space for the City Parking Utility and Parking Enforcement sections. Since then, the City has added an entirely new transit function to the operation use of the facility—the Paratransit system, which complements the fixed route system. In the early 1990s, a complete and separate Paratransit fleet was purchased and workforce hired. It was initially natural for the City to operate the Paratransit system also out of the Wabash Station to reduce labor overhead. As the turn of the century approached, the Paratransit operation had grown to require its own separate dispatcher and scheduling facility. Even though it makes sense for both operations to continue to function out of the same facility, the same people could no longer efficiently dispatch and control both the fixed route and Paratransit systems simultaneously. This totally separate transportation capacity was not at all considered when the original station was purchased and workspace laid out in the early 1980s.

With a total renovation cost of approximately $3.5 million, the project was funded by a grant from the federal government and local transportation sales tax. The restoration and renovation expanded the facility to accommodate the City's growing bus and transportation system. Renovations included exterior repair, window replacement, roof repairs and interior restoration of the passenger waiting areas. The addition is sensitive to the form of the old structure while lightly touching the historic structure to minimize modifications. The site has been designed to optimize the circulation of bus, auto and pedestrian traffic on and off the site. The project has revived and preserved this historic place as a viable city facility for years to come. The Wabash Station is LEED certified.

A unique feature of the Wabash Station is site-specific public art. Placed as the result of Columbia's Percent for Art Program, an initiative that sets aside one percent of eligible capital improvement project budgets for art, the Wabash Station continues the city's growing tradition of enhancing public facilities with art.


Booth Park

Managing Agency: City of Birmingham, Michigan
Primary Contractor: Tom's Landscaping, Inc.
Primary Consultant: Wade Trim
Nominated By: APWA Michigan Chapter

Great things come in small packages, like the City of Birmingham's $1 million environmental and recreational renovation of Booth Park. The four-acre parcel was transformed by the community from a fallow property into a unique public space that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy. Located near downtown Birmingham, the park acts as the northern gateway to the community and is bordered by a commercial art district, the Rouge River and its associated forested floodplain, and the Mill pond neighborhood. Major project elements include a community-built playscape, a labyrinth and tunnel, turf hill/amphitheater, bioretention basin (rain garden), bioengineered stabilized stream banks, native riparian zone plantings, a pedestrian trail connecting to the Rouge River Trail and rolling open green space.

The City's passage of a $25 million bond issue for recreational improvements combined with a community group's desire to build a play structure helped jump-start improvements at Booth Park. The park concept began in 2000 with the City's adoption of a Recreation Master Plan that identified improvements at Booth Park as a high priority. The property historically contained a roundhouse for Detroit's interurban rail system and more recently served as a construction staging area for a major sewer system upgrade. Both uses left the park property in need of major aesthetic and environmental improvements.

Extremely tight site constraints required a design that balanced the park's function with its surroundings. The flat site was heavily contoured to create an interesting topography that would look natural and aid in site design. Extensive mounding and berming were undertaken to lower the play area to limit noise impacts on nearby residents. Heavy use areas of the park were clustered at one end to protect environmentally-sensitive areas from human activity while still allowing visitors to enjoy the site's natural resources. A low-voltage lighting system was incorporated to reduce light pollution, enhance safety and add a tasteful and dramatic effect during evening hours. The park offers a wide variety of active and passive play experiences within a tight site without feeling overdeveloped.

Park materials were carefully selected for their longevity and ability to blend with the natural environment. Life-cycle cost analyses were performed for the rock materials and playground structures to help select materials that would be highly durable, regionally available and, if appropriate, derived from sustainable or recycled sources. Native Great Lakes stone and granite boulders were used in the retaining walls and labyrinth garden. Earth tone colors used on the playscape were inspired by the natural surroundings. The native plants used throughout the bank stabilization and rain garden will require minimal maintenance and irrigation. In other landscaped areas of the park, maintenance needs were minimized by providing easy access.


Union Pacific Railroad Pedestrian Underpass

Managing Agency: Village of Arlington Heights, Illinois
Primary Contractor: Albin Carlson
Primary Consultant: TranSystems
Nominated By: APWA Chicago Metro Chapter

The residents of the Village of Arlington Heights, Illinois, appreciate the parks, walkways and bicycle paths that help make their community appealing and livable.  When the Union Pacific Railroad advised the Village it would be necessary to abandon and fill the 80-year-old bridge that had long served as a pedestrian and bicycle underpass under three heavily used tracks, Village leaders assembled a strong team of professionals to find a solution.

The underpass was in poor condition and clearly needed to be removed. However, it provided access under the railroad tracks to schools, parks and the Metra train station for the surrounding neighborhood. (Metra is the commuter train service that operates on Union Pacific Railroad tracks in northwestern Chicago and its suburbs.)

A solution was identified involving the construction of a reinforced concrete pedestrian underpass within the existing bridge span opening, but the solution came with two challenges. First, construction had to be performed under live railroad traffic; the design team addressed the issue in the construction plans. Second, in order for the approach walkways to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the headroom requirements of a pedestrian underpass, the existing railroad tracks at the project location had to be raised by approximately one foot. This challenge was overcome when the Union Pacific Railroad agreed to perform the grade modification with its own forces.

The new underpass was constructed within the existing bridge opening while maintaining rail traffic throughout construction. This involved construction of a heavily reinforced concrete structure under extremely confined conditions. The available work space was further reduced by the bracing required to maintain the stability of the existing limestone abutments during excavation for the bottom slab of the culvert. Additional challenges surfaced when the remains of a previous structure, predating the existing bridge, were encountered during excavation. The old foundations were dismantled with carbide-bladed saws while maintaining the required abutment bracing.

The wingwalls of the existing bridge were incorporated into the new structure, allowing the project to meet the aesthetic objectives of the Village. The desired appearance of the large limestone block walls was maintained. The existing walls were modified as required to accommodate revisions to existing grades for access to the underpass. Ornamental railings were added to meet the safety requirements of the railroads.

Though the antique underpass in Arlington Heights was in danger of being closed due to its deteriorated condition, the dedicated project team helped ensure that the convenience and quality of life it brought to the community would remain through its modern replacement.


Geothermal Ice Arenas New and Converted

Managing Agency: Olmsted County, Minnesota
Primary Contractor: Met-Con Construction, Inc.
Primary Consultant: HGA Architects
Nominated By: APWA Minnesota Chapter

Olmsted County, Minnesota, used state-of-the-art technology providing two new geothermal systems in the Graham Ice Arena Complex located on the fairgrounds in Rochester, Minnesota. The energy-efficient ice arenas use energy in the earth to reduce use of fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions and operation and maintenance costs. The Environmental Protection Agency states that geothermal heating and cooling is the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean and cost-effective space conditioning system available today.

Graham Arena I was built in 1967 and provided seating for about 2,500 spectators. Graham Arena II was built in 1993 primarily as a practice facility. Graham Arena III opened in 1997, also primarily as a practice facility. The planning process for Graham Arena IV involved a wide variety of stakeholders, including Youth Hockey Association, figure skating clubs, high school boys and girls hockey, Fair Board, various exhibit space users, Convention and Visitors Bureau, public and private high schools, Rochester City Council and Olmsted County Board. The result of the planning process determined a need for a fourth arena with spectator seating and a design concept to provide a lobby to tie all four arenas together in one building.

The City Building and Safety Department examined the existing machinery room in Graham Arena I as part of the building code review, and determined that the 40-year-old refrigeration equipment and heating systems were not in compliance with the 2003 Minnesota State Mechanical Code. The decision was made to replace the existing refrigeration and heating systems with the geothermal ice making system. The energy savings could be used to offset a portion of the capital costs debt service.

The new Graham Arena IV facility provides a superior ice surface and the skaters have been delighted with the in-floor heat in the spectators seating area and the heated building. The perimeter heating of the ice rink has prevented transmission of frost, eliminating the hazard of frost on the surface for those who stand along the boards. The in-floor heating in the locker rooms provides a very uniform heat and dries up any moisture on the floor. The use of snow melting pits for two arenas has eliminated the practice of ice surfacing equipment dumping snow outside and tracking in dirt on the ice.

The energy savings in the Geothermal Ice Arenas project were estimated to be 40 to 45 percent compared to a conventional rink. The comparison of the conventional system in Graham Arena I, operating under ideal conditions at the end of the season, compared to startup conditions and high-energy demands with the new geothermal systems, shows energy savings of 65 percent. The savings greatly exceeded project expectations.


Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center

Managing Agency: City of Norfolk, Virginia
Primary Contractor: S.B. Ballard Construction Company
Primary Consultant: Clark Nexsen, Architecture & Engineering
Nominated By: APWA VA/DC/MD Chapter

The City of Norfolk, Virginia, has truly arrived on the cruise scene with a 775 percent growth in passengers from 2001 to 2007. To accommodate the surge, the City planned, designed and constructed a $40 million state-of-the-art cruise terminal, or the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center. The terminal is within a short walking distance of downtown shops, restaurants and hotels. Due to Norfolk's central location on the Eastern seaboard, home-porting ships can sail to Bermuda (Celebrity Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises), the Bahamas (Carnival) and the Caribbean (Holland America Line).

City leaders envisioned the thousands of passengers and crew that each cruise brings as a good way to revitalize downtown by filling restaurants, stores and tourist attractions. They also believed the terminal could generate additional revenue for the city during the off-season, since the facility would be designed as a space for meetings and events. When the cruise ships are out at sea and during the shoulder seasons, the City uses the facility for meetings, corporate dinners, holiday parties and other gatherings, with an average of 600 people for a seated event and up to 3,500 for a social event. The glass-enclosed facility with spectacular views of the Elizabeth River and harbor becomes a "celebration center," offering more than 33,000 square feet for meetings and other events.

The Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center is the first cruise terminal constructed in the United States since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has been labeled by port officials as the "most security-focused customs and border protection area of any cruise terminal nationwide." The terminal has been adopted by the Department of Homeland Security as the prototype for future terminals. It incorporates the latest security standards integrating customs and immigration procedures in a spacious 10,000-square-foot area, complete with computerized kiosks.

Access to the terminal is by way of Town Point Park. Elevators carry people to the second level where they cross an elevated bridge into a grand rotunda. From there, passengers pass through security checkpoints and onto an elevated gangway for boarding. Passengers disembarking a ship will go to the lower level to collect luggage and pass through a customs and border protection area.

To date, the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center is the largest Capital Improvement Project ever undertaken by the City of Norfolk and the Norfolk Public Works Department. It differs from other terminals in that it is a city project, instead of a division within a port authority. This autonomy gives Norfolk more control on such issues as the on-time arrival and departure of ships, and on the overall experience of cruise passengers from the time they leave home until they step on a ship's gangway.


Pasadena City Hall Seismic Retrofit Project

Managing Agency: City of Pasadena, California
Primary Contractor: Clark Construction, California, LP
Primary Consultant: Architectural Resources Group
Nominated By: City of Pasadena, California

The seismic upgrade and rehabilitation of Pasadena City Hall, located in earthquake-prone southern California, was the largest capital undertaking in city history. The total project budget of $117 million included $80 million in construction costs and $8 million in project contingency.

Built in 1927, Pasadena City Hall is the city's most important civic icon, serves as the centerpiece of the Pasadena Civic Center and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1980). From afar, the building appeared to be aging gracefully, but closer inspection revealed that the structure was at risk due to a number of deep cracks and considerable earthquake damage to two stair towers and the lantern in the building's ornate dome. City Hall also suffered from extensive water damage and deferred maintenance, and a number of its historic architectural elements urgently needed repair. Upgrades were required to eliminate the building's architectural barriers and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, outdated mechanical, electrical, plumbing and life safety systems required replacement.

Construction was initiated in 2005 to repair earlier earthquake damage and to seismically strengthen and safeguard the city's most important building. Components of the project included a comprehensive program of state-of-the-art structural seismic upgrades, new building technology and replacement of outdated building systems; new fire-life safety systems; interior renovation; ADA upgrades; and restoration of historic interior/exterior building and landscape areas.

The project's primary focus was to seismically strengthen and protect the historic 80-year-old building during an earthquake by incorporating a system of structural upgrades. The program included removal of the original basement slab, installing a new foundation, placing a new floor transfer system, installing 240 double-concave, friction pendulum base isolators beneath the building, new shear walls and a surrounding "moat" to permit building movement during earthquakes.

Interior building rehabilitation provided new HVAC, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire-life safety systems, technology upgrades, new and upgraded elevators, and ADA-compliant building and courtyard ramps, signage and audible alarms. Renovations of non-historic spaces provided new offices, restrooms, conference areas, floor coverings, lighting and furnishings. Historic areas, including City Council chambers, original offices, restrooms and ceilings were restored to federal preservation standards.

Exterior restoration refurbished original cast stone building elements, fa‡ade plaster, copper roof cladding on the lanterns of the main dome and stair towers, exterior lighting and landscaping, including the historic courtyard fountain.

As part of this ambitious construction program and in concert with the City of Pasadena's policy for environmental stewardship, sustainable resources were incorporated into the project to comply with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and in February 2008 the project was awarded LEED Gold level certification.


Separatist Road Bikeway

Managing Agency: Town of Mansfield, Connecticut, Department of Public Works
Primary Contractor: Town of Mansfield, Connecticut, Department of Public Works
Primary Consultant: Weston & Sampson Engineers, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA New England Chapter

The Town of Mansfield, Connecticut, is committed to promoting safe non-motorized transportation for its residents. Development of the Town's walkway/bikeway facilities over the past 10-15 years has been central to this effort. The recently completed section of the Separatist Road Bikeway is a key part of the Town's walkway/bikeway system constructed by Town forces. The most unique aspect of this $600,000 project is that, except for one retaining wall and large tree cutting, it was built entirely by the employees of the Town's Department of Public Works.

The Separatist Road bikeway was a priority-listed bikeway/walkway project from the Town's walkway priority list developed and updated over the years by the Town's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). It was funded entirely by the budget appropriations in the Town's capital budget over several years. The TAC recognized this curvy two-lane road to be a fairly high-volume-traveled cut-through road. The lanes are generally twelve feet wide and it has a posted speed limit of 30 mph with much higher actual speeds. The area has a relatively high population density and is adjacent to the University of Connecticut. This section of road is also used by the neighboring high school as its primary cross-country training route and was signed as a "share-the-road" bike route. This project was elevated to the top of the walkway priority list after residents of the Separatist Road neighborhood petitioned the Town Council to make the road safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

In order to save money and offer the greatest flexibility to address neighborhood concerns during construction, it was decided to create a special capital project construction crew within the DPW for this project and assign four of the Department's regular operating division employees permanently to the project. In order to keep up with the other scheduled maintenance work of the 21-employee division, four new and temporary "project laborers" were hired and assigned to the regular work crews (two of the "project laborers" have since become permanent employees of the DPW). The "construction crew" concept has worked so well that the Department is planning to construct its next bikeway project to the north using the same employee assignment model.

Having the work performed by the Town's own employees allowed for many of the design features to be developed during construction based on particular needs, whether to address constructibility, safety, aesthetics or resident concerns. Features designed during construction of this project include a large underdrain system in an unforeseen groundwater problem area; additional safety fence around an open drop inlet; additional clearing at road intersections to improve site distance; and additional plantings, as requested, to provide property screening.


South Slough Bridge #91

Managing Agency: Snohomish County, Washington, Public Works
Primary Contractor: Snohomish County, Washington, Public Works
Primary Consultant: Parsons Brinckerhoff
Nominated By: Snohomish County, Washington

Snohomish County, Washington's Bridge #91, located 40 miles north of Seattle, carries Smokey Point Boulevard over South Slough. The two-span concrete arch structure is near Interstate 5 Exit 208 and 5,000 vehicles use the bridge daily.

When built in 1918 it was an elegant and sturdy concrete arch bridge, but an inspection in 2005 deemed it functionally obsolete and identified it for replacement with a wider structure to meet current safety and design standards.

Although the inspection revealed several major deficiencies of the bridge, the arch foundation was structurally sound. The possibility of keeping it and replacing the other portions of the bridge interested project engineers. In order to determine the feasibility of this option, engineers conducted an in-depth investigation of the existing structure and the loads it carries. Two essential requirements had to be met:

  • First, the new wider design had to maintain approximately the same dead load distribution on the original arches, which was necessary to keep them in compression.
  • Second, the load increase on the substructure and foundations had to be minimized to reduce the risk of excessive settlement.

Precast concrete slabs that would form the wider deck would also add a substantial amount of weight to the bridge. To counterbalance the additional dead load, engineers needed to find a way to reduce weight somewhere else. They studied several lightweight materials to replace the existing heavier soil fill in the arches, and lightweight cellular concrete was chosen. Lightweight cellular concrete had significantly less density than soil fill (approximately 30 pcf for lightweight concrete versus soil's 125 pcf). The concrete could also be formed in place to create an even contact on top of the existing structure.

To maintain the integrity of the arches and ensure safety during construction, the process of removing existing soil fill from the arches and replacing it with the lighter cellular concrete had to be conducted incrementally in two- to four-foot lifts, alternating between the arches.

An overview of the construction sequence includes removal of the existing concrete slab; partial removal of the existing parapet and using the remaining portion as a form for the new lightweight concrete fill; removal of the existing soil fill in uniform lifts, alternating from one arch to the other to maintain a balanced distribution of weight; filling arches with lightweight concrete in uniform lifts, again alternating from one arch to the other; adding a layer of crushed rock to serve as the base for the new precast concrete slabs; laying the 32 precast slabs on top of the crushed rock, working from the center outward; and adding a lift of asphalt and new galvanized steel bridge rail system.


Genesee Riverway Trail

Managing Agency: City of Rochester, New York
Primary Contractor: Crane-Hogan Structural Systems, Inc.
Primary Consultant: Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA New York Chapter

The City of Rochester, New York's vision for a 15-mile multi-use greenway trail along the banks of the Genesee River is becoming a reality. With its crashing waterfalls and meandering path from the State of Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, with a 2,500-mi watershed, served as a main attraction for the Native Americans (Seneca Nation) and early American settlers. In fact, the City of Rochester's existence in its present location is primarily the result of the Genesee River, which was the natural resource for mills during the early industrial revolution.

For the last 25 years, the City of Rochester has focused on developing various segments of the Genesee Riverway Trail adjacent to this wonderful natural resource in an effort to provide the Greater Rochester community, population 800,000+/-, with a facility that promotes recreation and other modes of transportation, including walking, running, bicycling, skating, skiing and hiking. In October 2006, the City successfully completed a challenging endeavor toward reaching their overall vision of the Genesee Riverway Trail system.

The project intersected with the existing trail just south of Turning Point Park and consisted of the following three distinct infrastructure elements as the trail heads northerly: (1) land-based trail, 2,968 feet in length, utilizing an old railroad bed to transition from the top of the bank to the river's edge; (2) bridge, 3,572 feet in length, over the Genesee River Turning Basin, commonly referred to as the "boardwalk"; and (3) all-new land-based trail, 3,406 feet in length, through Turning Point Park North and adjacent to the Genesee Marina.

The project section presented the design team with the challenge of creating an aesthetic, efficient and cost-effective trail system that would minimize impacts within a highly environmentally sensitive area, but would also be practical and constructible.

In order to place the trail adjacent to the Genesee River, the trail corridor required developing an alignment that would coexist within the native ecosystem as well as the surrounding riverside terrain, which was carved and shaped by glacial erosion of the area over 10,000 years ago.

This highly secluded two-mile corridor adjacent to the Genesee River has had limited access in the past. For example, Turning Point Park North (approximately 14 acres) was typically non-accessible due to barriers including the Genesee River to the south and east, CSX railroad corridor to the west and a parcel of private land to the north.

The new trail section now allows the community the ability to escape the fast-paced hustle and bustle of an urban lifestyle into a quiet and secluded area of peaceful tranquility. This gem of a natural resource, within only minutes of Downtown Rochester, is now easily accessible to the community.


Claude Allouez Bridge Replacement

Managing Agency: Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Primary Contractor: Lunda Construction Company
Primary Consultant: Graef, Anhalt, Schloemer & Associates, Inc.
Nominated By: APWA Wisconsin Chapter

The Claude Allouez Bridge Replacement Project was truly a complex and unique project. It involved replacement of a 75-year-old bridge over the Fox River, which was determined to be both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. Located in the Central Business District of the City of De Pere, Wisconsin, the Claude Allouez Bridge is the sole connection between the east and west sides of this growing community.

The project's complexity resulted from the associated public controversy surrounding the selection of the final preferred alternative, the number and extent of environmental, historical and Section 4(f) resources potentially impacted by the project, extent of project stakeholder coordination, the final aesthetics of the bridge and the construction timeframe. The project planning and environmental evaluation took almost seven years to complete and, even in the midst of the controversy and potential environmental impacts, the environmental evaluation resulted in an ultimate "Finding of No Significant Impact" review by the Federal Highway Administration.

The new 13-span structure is approximately 1,700 feet in length. The bridge has a modern look, is white in color, has distinctive 50-foot-high pylons on each end delineating both the end and beginning of the crossing, and is supported by knife-shaped rusticated piers.

The ultimate project involved construction of a new four-lane bridge; however, it was not the community's initial preferred choice. The initial preferred alternative was a pair of two-lane, one-way bridges. The project design team worked through the technical issues and found solutions, including the inclusion of the area's first two-lane roundabout on the east approach to the bridge, which ultimately garnered the community support for a four-lane bridge. The result was an immediate construction cost savings for the bridge of $3 million, while the long-term savings was in the maintenance of one bridge versus two.

Various factors created controversy including feared loss of community identity, increased traffic congestion, safety, parking, property access, construction impacts and a campaign to save the existing bridge. Recognizing the sensitivities, the consultant, working with WisDOT, took very proactive measures, including bringing a PR firm on the team, holding dozens of education meetings, producing newsletters, utilizing focus groups and providing project information through the local media over a seven-year period. This effort helped to defeat a binding referendum and ultimately created support for the project.

Construction staging was a critical element of the project and required a great deal of strategy to make it work. A very complex traffic staging scheme was ultimately developed and allowed construction to proceed without closing the existing crossing or impacting any of the multitude of environmental resources located in the project corridor.


Concourse Signal System Modernization and Enclosure

Managing Agency: MTA NYC Transit
Primary Contractor: Granite Construction Northeast, Inc.
Primary Consultant: NA
Nominated By: MTA NYC Transit

The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to New York City Transit, a subsidiary agency of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and also known as MTA New York City Transit. It is one of the most extensive public transportation systems in the world. The $165,520,877 Concourse line project, the largest transit conventional signaling project in the history of the NYC Subway System, consisted of replacing the existing electromechanical-based signal system (circa 1939) and building a new Master Signal Tower at Bedford Park Boulevard and the construction of five relay rooms, one central instrument room and one signal power room. The contract limits were from the north end of the 145th Street Station in Manhattan and ended at the 205th Street Station on the Grand Concourse. The contractor was also responsible for upgrading the 59th Street Tower and relay room and signaling improvements to increase the headways at Canal Street Station on the Eighth Avenue line.

The best way to describe signal modernization is to picture another city below ground within the subway system unseen by the riding public. This environment consists of a network of people, equipment rooms, cable, fiber optics, control towers, etc. which occupies all the limited free space available. The purpose of this extensive network is to maintain the safe movement of trains and the riding public. Train operators rely on the signal system to know the locations of other trains, safe speed fluctuations and the distance from the next train. The signals also interact with a communication system so that those in the various command centers or control rooms can monitor what's going on, make sure everything is running smoothly and take care of emergencies as quickly as possible.

The Concourse line project consisted of installing 86,000 feet of messenger cable to support the new signal cables (power, data and fiber optics). A total of 1,003,000 feet of signal and fiber cable was installed. There were 325 newly fabricated cases installed; these are the cabinets that control all signals, train stops and communications that are then transmitted back to the Master Tower and Command Center. These cases control 225 train stops, 267 signal heads and 46 switch machines manufactured by the project's subcontractors. Along with installing six miles of messenger cable and support brackets, chopping of walls as high as seven feet high and as thick as eighteen inches was required to accommodate the placement of the wayside signal equipment. There are 314 insulated joints placed on the roadbed at rail-cut sections requiring chopping for conduit and boxes for installing track wires. In the relay rooms 384 racks and cabinets were furnished and installed along with an additional 250,000 feet of cable between racks.

This project will complete the last leg of the Eighth Avenue line modernization. The new signal system includes new field equipment such as LED signals, automatic trip stops, track switches, communication subsystems and code systems.