Innovative Structure Improves Rail Capacity, Protects Wildlife 

WASHINGTON, DC (March 9, 2020) – Modjeski and Masters, Inc., of Mechanicsburg, Pa., has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 53rd annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for designing the Portageville Bridge Replacement Project in Portageville, N.Y.

Originally built in 1875, the historic Portageville Bridge in Letchworth State Park was no longer able to handle the demands of large freight rail traffic. Modjeski and Masters led the structural design for the new 483-ft arch and flanking girder spans, which were erected using a cantilevered construction method to prevent disturbing sensitive environmental features such as nearby bald eagle nests.

No longer limited by the old structure’s capacity issues, Norfolk Southern can now run industry-standard 143-ton cars at 30 miles per hour through the park. Along with being less costly to maintain, the bridge offers a new walkway to improve safety for track workers.

Golder Associates, Inc., of Newark, N.J., served as the project’s geotechnical engineer; Shumaker Consulting Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C., provided survey services.

The project is eligible for additional honors as part of a record 203 entries this year representing engineering excellence from throughout the nation and the world. Judging for the awards program—known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry”– took place in February and was conducted by a national 35-member panel of built environment leaders, along with experts from government, the media and academia. Award criteria focused on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top winners—20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement—will take place at the annual EEA Dinner and Gala, a black-tie event to be held Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is the business association of America’s engineering industry, representing more than 5,200 independent engineering firms and more than 600,000 professionals throughout the United States engaged in the development of America’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, along with environmental, industrial and other public and private facilities. Founded in 1906 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 52 state and regional organizations.

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