Los Angeles — The International Right of Way Association (IRWA) announced that its 2015 Project of the Year was awarded to the Calistoga Setback Levee Project for bringing a new level of flood storm protection to the City of Orting, Wash. IRWA's Project of the Year Competition showcases the role of right of way professionals in bringing leadership proficiency and innovative best practices to the infrastructure projects they oversee.

Situated between the Carbon and Puyallup Rivers, Orting had suffered seven federally declared flooding disasters since 1990. Damages to Orting and the downstream cities far exceeded $725 million. Widening the Puyallup River channel for 1.6 miles and building a new levee was the only way to reduce the risk of future storm flooding, while reconnecting floodplains and restoring the valuable salmon habitat. To secure the $18.6 million needed, the city and its consultant,

Parametrix, proactively sought out grants and partnerships, while collaborating with stakeholders, tribes and agencies to ensure the project's success. Completed in November 2014, the new levee has already successfully withstood several major floods, keeping its residents and community protected.

According to Orting Mayor Joachim (Joe) Pestinger, SR/WA, "This has become a model project for other communities throughout the region who have older levees in need of replacement. We are eager to share our best practices and have already met with several local jurisdictions who are planning similar projects."

In recognizing the project winner, IRWA International President Wayne Goss, SR/WA, R/W-NAC said, "This project is a excellent example of how even a small city — working collaboratively with agencies and other stakeholders — can secure funding, approvals and buy-in from their community. I applaud the project team for their perseverance and bringing such an important project to fruition." IRWA Executive Vice President Mark Rieck added, "Professionals who are skilled in right of way best practices can really make a tangible difference in a project's success. I commend the City of Orting for their ability to tackle a variety of challenges throughout the seven years it took to complete the project."

Runners up, in ranking order, include:

  1. Calistoga Setback Levee — City of Orting and Parametrix (Washington State)
  2. I-70 East Denver, Colorado Project — Colorado Department of Transportation (Colorado)
  3. Phase 2 of the Exposition Light Rail Line — Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (California)
  4. MetroLinx Georgetown South/UPExpress Project — D.A. Sandy Grigg Consulting (Ontario)
  5. Houston Grand Parkway Segment F & G — Texas Department of Transportation and Atkins North America (Texas)
  6. Lansdowne Park Redevelopment — City of Ottawa (Ontario)
  7. Ottawa Light Rail Transit Project: Confederation Line — City of Ottawa (Ontario)