The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recently presented awards to highway and bridge improvement projects across the country that have contributed to environmental protection and mitigation. Projects and participants were recognized during the ARTBA Transportation Development Foundation’s 10th annual Globe Awards event, held in Washington, D.C., as part of the association’s Federal Issues Program.

The Globe Awards recognize:

  • private-sector firms and public-sector transportation agencies that do an outstanding job in protecting and/or enhancing the natural environment in the planning, design, and construction of U.S. transportation infrastructure projects; and
  • transportation construction-related product manufacturers and material suppliers that use exemplary environmental processes to protect and enhance the natural environment.

An independent panel of industry professionals reviewed all of the nominations and selected the following 2009 Globe Award winners:

Road Category
Kiewit Pacific Company; PND Engineers, Inc.; Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities
Gravina Island Access—Phase I

Completed in September 2008, the Gravina Island Access—Phase I project included 3.2 miles of new road through a sensitive wetlands area providing access for local residents, businesses, travelers, and recreation users. Working in a heavy rain environment, the design-build team scaled the overall project footprint to minimize impacts, reduced peat excavation requirements, and used significant resources—including a full-time, on-site project manager—to manage stormwater runoff, address erosion, and ensure compliance in excess of regulatory guidelines. Team members also conducted extensive engineering analysis and alignment reviews to generate fill material onsite, thereby eliminating a significant number of truck trips.

Highway Category
EADS Group, Inc.
Lewistown Narrows

Dubbed by Readers Digest magazine as one of the "most dangerous highways," the Lewistown Narrows project in central Pennsylvania (U.S. Route 22/322) provided a safe and important replacement transportation link in central Pennsylvania that employed effective environmental mitigation techniques and protected historic resources. It was also completed a year ahead of schedule.

The highway runs adjacent to the Juniata River along a steep hillside, forcing designers to use new pin pile technology to protect aquatic resources and elements of the historic Pennsylvania Canal System. Project leaders transplanted plants and used a fish passage program to protect endangered species and a turtle protection team to monitor species during causeway construction. The project also created new habitat and wetlands, as well as a park to promote historic resources along the corridor.

Railroad Category
Ames Construction, Inc.
BNSF Cajon Pass—Third Main Track/Keenbrook to Summit

The Cajon Pass in Southern California is one of the nation’s steepest and busiest rail corridors. Increased international cargo traffic has pushed the pass to near-capacity levels, slowing traffic and creating a bottleneck. To address this congestion for rail owner BNSF, the Arizona office of Ames Construction, Inc., developed and completed a successful and environmentally sensitive third rail installation for the 15.9-mile route through the pass, increasing available capacity by 33 percent. The Ames team successfully managed runoff, re-used or recycled and processed materials onsite, and installed 60,000 feet of fencing to protect sensitive frog populations. Team members timed project work to respect endangered species along the corridor and aggressively managed on-site dust in the arid and windy desert environment.

Bridge Category
First Place: FIGG; Flatiron Construction Corp.; Manson Construction Company;
Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)
The New I-35W Bridge

Following the August 2007 Minneapolis, Minn., bridge collapse, MnDOT worked aggressively to redesign and replace the vital Mississippi River crossing along I-35. Completed by the FIGG-Flatiron-MnDOT team in just 11 months, the new 10-lane interstate bridge incorporates sustainable design elements to protect the adjacent river while facilitating current—and future—transportation needs through a busy metropolitan corridor. The new bridge includes additional lanes to reduce congestion and related emissions, incorporated a design that spans the river without piers to minimize river impacts, and makes extensive use of high-efficiency LED highway lighting—used for the first time in the United States. The structure also includes the first major use of a new cement type that cleans the air via photo-catalytic reaction. Team members also employed extensive recycling and repurposing of construction waste and project materials.

Second Place: Maryland State Highway Administration; Potomac Crossing Consultants
Woodrow Wilson Bridge—Anacostia East Wetland Mitigation Site

The Anacostia East Wetland Mitigation is one of the largest and most complicated environmental mitigation sites ever built by the Maryland State Highway Administration. Completed as part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement project, the program restored aquatic habitat in the mid-Potomac River watershed by rehabilitating a 20-acre tidal wetland area along the Anacostia River near the bridge crossing site. Currently, more than 90 percent of the tidal wetlands along the Anacostia River have been lost, but with this replacement the river has seen a rebound to the 20-percent level. Project team members created new wetlands areas, built interpretive public access trails and parklands, and eliminated invasive non-native species. Site work also included reclamation of a defunct landfill site and establishment of native plants.

Honorable Mention: HNTB Corp.; APAC-Kansas, Inc.; City of Omaha, Neb.
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

To cap a 15-year downtown revitalization project, the city of Omaha contracted with HTNB and APAC-Kansas to construct an architecturally unique pedestrian bridge—the longest such bridge in the United States—linking that city and Council Bluffs, Iowa. The bridge provides a seamless link to more than 150 miles of pedestrian, cycle, and hiking trails, as well as public open and green spaces, while serving as a visual icon for residents and visitors. The project LED lighting, cost-effective design, and construction were completed using environmentally sensitive techniques and included special provisions to protect a subsurface environmental cap 6 feet below grade level. This cap was originally put in place to cover soils and materials in a former industrialized area and protect water and sewer lines as well as plant and animal life in the river corridor. The bridge was completed ahead of schedule and within budget.

Source: ARTBA