San Francisco — Two of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) most critical water infrastructure projects that are part of the $4.8 billion Hetch Hetchy Water System Improvement Program officially received top honor awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) San Francisco Section.

ASCE SF’s “Large Project of the Year” award was presented to the Bay Tunnel project (, which replaced aging pipeline infrastructure built in the 1920s and 1930s.  The new five-mile-long water transmission tunnel was constructed to ensure the SFPUC can continue to deliver water to 2.6 million customers in the Bay Area after a major earthquake. The tunnel is lined with a 9-foot-diameter steel pipeline, and is the first tunnel ever built under San Francisco Bay. At a cost of $288 million, the project was completed on schedule and under budget. The project has also recently won several other notable awards within the industry, both locally and nationally.

In addition, one of the most innovative projects in the entire program, the Seismic Upgrade of Bay Division Pipelines Nos. 3 & 4 project (BDPL3&4), won for “Outstanding Seismic Retrofit Project of the Year”.  To avoid major damage to these BDPL3&4 large-diameter regional pipelines crossing through the Hayward earthquake fault zone in Fremont, the project focused on replacing and seismically-upgrading these pipelines using innovative technology, including the largest ball joints ever made and a custom slip joint, enclosed within an articulated concrete vault, to allow the pipelines to rotate and shift to accommodate up to 6.5 feet of fault displacement during a major seismic event.

“These two projects are emblematic of San Francisco’s continuing effort and commitment to upgrade the seismic reliability of our Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System, and strengthen all our aging infrastructure to prepare for the next big earthquake. The engineering feats accomplished with the Bay Tunnel and Seismic Upgrade of BDPL3&4 projects are nothing short of amazing,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan Kelly. “The recognition we receive from the engineering industry continues to showcase the top-notch staff and consultants we are fortunate to have serving our agency.”

In addition, the BDPL3&4 project was recently recognized as one of six finalists for the ASCE 2016 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award (OCEA), which is part of the National ASCE Awards program. The OCEA award annually recognizes the project that best illustrates superior civil engineering skills and represents a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society. The winner of the OCEA award will be announced at the OPAL Gala on March 17, 2016 in Arlington, Va. Some past OCEA recipients include the JFK International Airport, World Trade Center and others.

“Both the Bay Tunnel and the Seismic Upgrades of BDPL Nos. 3 & 4 are two of our most challenging and interesting projects in the program, and both projects are critical to helping ensure the reliability of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System that serves 2.6 million people in the Bay Area.  The prestigious recognition within the engineering industry, both locally and nationally, is well deserved, and celebrates the contributions of the many outstanding individuals and teams who delivered these incredible projects,” said WSIP Director, Daniel Wade.

Both of these winning projects will be entered into the ASCE’s Regional 9 Chapter Awards Program that covers the entire state of California.

The $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) includes 83 projects to repair, replace, and seismically upgrade portions of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System in an environmentally sustainable manner. The overall program is 90 percent complete and will reach final construction completion in 2018, with final closeout in 2019.

To date, WSIP projects have received more than 40 industry awards, including honors from the International Partnering Institute, American Public Works Association, Construction Management Association of America, and Engineering News Record Magazine among others.