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Recognized authority on tunnel and bridge engineering dies at 83

NEW YORK — Thomas R. Kuesel, 83, a recognized authority on tunnel and bridge engineering and former partner at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), died Feb. 17 in Connecticut. During a 43-year career with PB, Kuesel contributed to the design of more than 130 bridges and more than 140 tunnels in 36 states and on six continents. “Tom Kuesel was one of the great PB engineers of the last half-century,” said George J. Pierson, PB’s chief executive officer. “He made significant contributions to bridges and tunnels that are well-known to millions.”

Projects in which Kuesel served as PB’s principal-in-charge, project manager or project engineer include the Newport/Pell Bridge in Newport, R.I.; original Talmadge Bridge in Savannah, Ga.; Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore; the second Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia; and Cumberland Gap Tunnel in Tennessee and Kentucky.

For the North American Air Defense Command Center (NORAD) outside Colorado Springs, Kuesel designed a unique structural support system for deep underground chambers that used intersecting spherical and cylindrical surfaces to mutually reinforce and support each other, and to transfer load-bearing from weak to solid rock.

For Atlanta’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system, Kuesel led the design of an innovative method of mining the Peachtree Center subway station from below ground, using the rock itself as a structural reinforcement.

From 1963 to 1967, Kuesel was the assistant manager of engineering for the joint venture of PB, Tudor and Bechtel that served as general engineering consultant to the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART). In that position, Kuesel directed the design of 20 miles of subways, 25 miles of aerial structures, two hard-rock tunnels, and a 3.6-mile immersed tube tunnel under San Francisco Bay linking San Francisco and Oakland.

Other bridge and tunnel projects to which Kuesel contributed include the Coleman Bridge at Yorktown, Va.; Admiral Clarey Bridge across Pearl Harbor in Hawaii; Rama IX Bridge in Bangkok; Mount Macdonald/Rogers Pass Tunnel in British Columbia; Lehigh Tunnel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike; Glenwood Canyon Tunnel in Colorado; Tetsuo Harano Tunnel in Oahu, Hawaii; and Bosphorus Tunnel in Istanbul. Kuesel was also involved in subway projects in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Caracas, Singapore and Taipei.

Kuesel was a graduate of Yale University, from which he received a BA and MA in civil engineering. He joined PB in 1947 as a junior bridge engineer. Kuesel was named partner in 1968 and in 1984 became chairman of the board of Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas Inc., and PB’s U.S. transportation engineering arm. Kuesel retired in 1990 but remained a consultant to PB.

Kuesel was co-editor of the Tunnel Engineering Handbook, first published in 1982. He published more than 60 technical articles on tunnels, structures and contracting practices, and was a registered professional engineer in 21 states.

Kuesel was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1977. He was an honorary member of the American Underground Construction Association, and received the Golden Beaver Award in Engineering in 1989 from The Beavers, the West Coast heavy construction honorary association.

For more information about Parsons Brinckerhoff, please visit www.pbworld.com.