Planned, ongoing, or recently completed projects and research

A goal of the Boynton Harbor Marina Redevelopment Project was preservation and revitalization of the "working waterfront."

VHB project wins 2013 IDA Downtown Achievement Award
The International Downtown Association (IDA) presented a VHB project – Boynton Harbor Marina Redevelopment Project Public Space – with the 2013 IDA Downtown Achievement Merit Award. The award recognizes outstanding revitalization projects that are judged by their innovation, sustainability, execution, and outcomes. VHB created the redevelopment master plan for the Boynton Harbor Marina and worked in partnership with Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (BBCRA) to study the working marina along with its relationship to the adjacent business and residential uses to produce a more holistic redevelopment approach when dealing with an already vibrant but congested area. The goal was the preservation and revitalization of the "working waterfront" and ensuring public access to the Boynton Harbor Marina waterfront.

Both conceptual-level engineering and the strategic blend of the future land and transportation uses of the marina were included as key components of the project. Part of this analysis involved vehicle, boat, and pedestrian circulation; building massing; utilities and stormwater infrastructure; bus/mass transit routes; building spatial arrangements and functions; open space and buffering opportunities; and surface and structure parking. Following an extensive public involvement process that included 3D visualization modeling and backed by real market analysis findings, a redevelopment master plan was presented and agreed to that addressed important public viewpoints and future needs.

The Boynton Harbor Marina is the eastern anchor to Boynton Beach’s downtown core and the continued marine activity provides added economic benefit to the two long standing waterfront restaurants and retail businesses within the marina area. The Boynton Harbor Marina is one of the few publicly owned commercial marinas left in Florida, with 19, water-activity related businesses and thriving waterfront restaurants.

Information provided by VHB (


Atkins streetscape plan helps revitalize community
The Southeast Community of the City of Newport News, Va., is currently benefiting from a dynamic streetscape revitalization, for which Atkins is providing design, engineering, landscape architecture, and construction management services as part of the city’s Jefferson Avenue Streetscape and Utilities Undergrounding project. The project consists of aesthetic enhancements and infrastructure improvements designed to attract businesses and residents to the Southeast Community area of Newport News.

The Atkins-designed Jefferson Avenue Project is "undergrounding" utilities and bringing wide sidewalks with attractive landscaping to the retail areas of Jefferson Avenue in Newport News, Va.
Photo: City of Newport News; used by permission

In September 2009, the Newport News city council approved and adopted a study of its Jefferson Avenue Corridor, which once served as the city’s classic main street. The objective of the study – part of the city’s comprehensive "Framework for the Future" plan – was to discover ways to restore the vibrance of Jefferson Avenue, the historical gateway to Newport News’ southeastern district. The council wanted to create an active, inviting, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use urban area with aesthetic enhancements such as ornamental street furnishings, improved on-street parking, more spacious pedestrian pathways, business-entrance enhancements, and other upgrades that will bring the area into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Atkins was selected to design an attractive and functional streetscape plan that incorporates sustainable hardscaping and landscaping elements.

"It was important that the visual elements of the streetscaping recapture the former livelihood and success of the corridor," said Atkins Senior Project Manager Kevin Siegel, P.E. The Atkins-developed streetscape plan also called for functional infrastructure improvements, including in-depth coordination with private utility stakeholders (for "undergrounding" formerly overhead utilities), rehabilitating the city’s existing sanitary sewer system, enhancing the existing storm sewer system, replacing and upgrading the aging water distribution system, and replacing traffic signals and communications systems.

Atkins’ landscape planning group developed designs using 3D modeling technology, which proved to be instrumental in communicating project concepts to city departments, city council members, and other stakeholders. "3D modeling enabled us to effectively demonstrate how our design was the perfect fit for the city’s aspirations," said Atkins’ Senior Program Manager John Boudreau, RLA. "With 3D modeling, stakeholders and designers were able to make crucial project decisions in real time, during monthly ‘strike team’ meetings."

As a result of its initial design work, Atkins has also been awarded a contract for the Jefferson Avenue Streetscape Phase II project, a slightly longer phase that extends the project another 12 blocks.

Information provided by Atkins (


Arup leads creation of dynamic waterfront park
Arup completed its work at Hunter’s Point South, a 30-acre parcel located along the eastern shore of the East River in Long Island City, N.Y. As the prime consultant to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), Arup provided civil engineering and utility infrastructure services, among others, for redevelopment of a post-industrial site into a vibrant waterfront park featuring pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streetscapes that tie together this new urban community. The park opened to the public in August.

Arup provided civil engineering and utility infrastructure services, among others, for redevelopment of a post-industrial site into a vibrant waterfront park in New York.

Arup worked in collaboration with Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi for the open space and park design with Arup as the prime consultant and infrastructure designer. The team developed strategies to enhance the urban experience, creating an environment that is sustainable and transformative.

In addition to a new street infrastructure, Hunter’s Point South features stormwater bioswales and porous pavement to naturally limit the amount of water runoff being sent into storm sewers. These features were incorporated as part of the sustainable design features of the infrastructure and park design.

"With the completion of this waterfront park, as well as extensive additions and improvements to the site’s infrastructure, Hunter’s Point South is poised to become a vibrant middle-class neighborhood and a destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike," said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. "This park, which highlights the waterfront’s natural beauty and engages visitors actively with the natural world, also incorporates infrastructure designed to help prevent the area from flooding, making this site a model for sustainable and resilient waterfront development."

Additional features of the park include a playground, basketball court, dog run, train track "rail garden," and large "oval" green space that will serve as a place for active recreation as well as passive uses. The park comfort station, maintenance, and office building will be LEED Silver-certified and include photovoltaic power systems. The project won a Merit Award in Urban Design from the AIA New York Chapter.

"The waterfront park at Hunter’s Point South was an incredibly complex project that spanned four years and required coordination with 70 independent parties, including numerous city agencies," said James DeMarco, P.E., LEED AP, senior engineer at Arup. "We are proud to have led the infrastructure team that created one of the most ambitious waterfront parks in New York City’s history. The creation of a sustainable community infrastructure will benefit the residents of this new neighborhood for years to come."

This is Arup’s fourth project for the NYCEDC. Previous work includes Coney Island Steeplechase Plaza, the East River Waterfront, and Green Infrastructure Design for Newtown Creek.

Additional project team members include subconsultants YU and Associates, VJ Associates, Naik Consulting Group, B-A Engineering, AG Consulting, AKRF, 212 Harakawa Inc, Halcrow Engineers PC (now CH2M HILL), and KM Associates of NY.

Information provided by Arup (


Modjeski and Masters to rehab world’s heaviest double-deck lift bridge
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) selected Modjeski and Masters for the rehabilitation design of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. The bridge, which connects the cities of Houghton and Hancock, is the heaviest and widest double-deck bridge in the world and the only one of its kind in the state of Michigan.

As part of the agreement, Modjeski and Masters will lead the structural, electrical, and mechanical design of the 269-foot-long, 54-foot-wide lift span. The lift span, which can be raised as high as 100 feet, features an upper and lower deck capable of carrying a total of eight lanes of US Highway 41 and M-26.

The project will focus primarily on replacement of the wire ropes, a critical hoisting mechanism. To successfully accomplish this, Modjeski and Masters engineers proposed that replacement take place during winter months when the bridge can be left in the fully lowered position, with traffic maintained on the upper deck. This would also help accommodate snowmobile traffic, which commonly uses the lower deck during the same season. The engineering team will also implement homeland security recommendations, provide structural repairs to the operator’s house, and design upgrades to the barrier gates.

Preservation of this historic structure is a high priority. The Portage Lake Lift Bridge was completed in 1959 and is the fourth bridge crossing to be built at the site. The bridge replaces two steel swing bridges before it, and supercedes the original 1875 wooden swing bridge.

The Portage Lake Lift Bridge, completed in 1959, is the heaviest and widest double-deck bridge in the world and the only one of its kind in the state of Michigan.

"The Portage Lake Lift is no doubt an iconic structure due to its sheer size, but also its history of connecting the two communities," said Kevin Johns, P.E., project manager and Movable Bridge Business Unit leader with Modjeski and Masters. "We’re very grateful to continue our long-term relationship with MDOT, and are thrilled to help with the rehabilitation of this monumental bridge."

Information provided by Modjeski and Masters (


GIS-centric solution assists in sustaining safe, livable communities
The recent financial crisis impacted cities across the country in many ways, but the City of Coon Rapids, Minn., was prepared, using Cityworks to track and manage vacant properties created by the onslaught of foreclosures. With accurate information, staff was able to organize timely inspections, maintain properties, and share information to effectively maintain the overall quality and sustainability of the community.

Coon Rapids experienced more than 600 property foreclosures per year since 2008. This rate in vacant properties presented difficult challenges, from frozen and ruptured water pipes to overgrown yards. Spreadsheets were no longer an option for tracking vacant properties.

"We use the (GIS) map as our go-to source for anything that’s going on," said Cindy Hintze, administrative specialist for Coon Rapids. "When we’d get a phone call about a property, the first thing we would do was pull up our map and see if we might have other things going on there." Hintze saw that Cityworks could be used to manage foreclosed properties, maintaining them as assets, rather than allowing them to become liabilities.

Work orders provided valuable data on the history of each property – when issues occurred, how they were fixed, what was observed during inspections, and much more. The solution also helped the city track and fix problems with rental properties.

These issues affect property values and the quality of life for neighborhoods everywhere. Coon Rapids found that the inherent GIS-centric nature of Cityworks helped paint a clear picture of which properties were problematic, where they were, and what issues related to each. Work orders for vacant, rental, long grass, and other code enforcement issues were attached to the property, while tasks within the work order tracked resolution activities. For example, a vacant property might be scheduled for water shut off, which would include tasks for shutting off water service, communicating with the owner/agent, any necessary abatement, property status, etc.

"Landlords need to run a good business," said Hintze. "If not, we need to respond to that so the neighborhood doesn’t deteriorate. Rental properties need to be licensed each year, which may or may not include a visual inspection by our housing inspector. The inspection process is based on how well the property is managed and whether issues have been found at the rental property. Cityworks work orders help track the history of rental properties, licensing, inspections, communications – including whether the Police Department has responded to issues at rental properties.

"We can easily show city council what’s going on in neighborhoods because all this information is tied to the address point," said Hintze. "Together, Cityworks and ArcGIS (Esri) have sustained Coon Rapids through the foreclosure crisis and we look forward to how these programs will continue to benefit us in the future."

Information provided by Azteca Systems, Inc. (


Submit news and photos of planned, ongoing, or recently completed projects and research to Bob Drake at In January, "Project Notes" will highlight use of retaining walls and green infrastructure; in February, GIS and transportation are the focus.

Posted in Uncategorized | January 29th, 2014 by

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