Omaha, Neb. — Three HDR projects have been recognized by American Council of Engineering Companies of Iowa (ACEC-Iowa) in its 2017 Engineering Excellence Awards competition. The Council Bluffs Interstate System – Railroad Relocation Project received the Grand Place Award in the Transportation Category. The Iowa Premium Wastewater Treatment Plant received the Grand Place Award in the Water and Wastewater Category. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) Crude and Biofuel Study received an Engineering Excellence Award. The Grand Place Award is the state’s top honor and the two Grand Place Award winners will move on to the ACEC’s national competition in April.
Grand Place Award Winner: Council Bluffs Interstate System – Railroad Relocation Project
Council Bluffs is one of seven principal Midwest railroad gateways, with one-fourth of all trains moving between the eastern and western United States passing through it. Nine main rail lines of five major railroads converge there. In 2004, the Iowa DOT and city of Council Bluffs began a $1.04 billion program to modernize and increase capacity and safety of Interstates 80, 29 and 480 in Council Bluffs. One of the goals was to reduce the number of rail crossings to improve rail flow and safety, and the affected railroads responded enthusiastically. HDR’s role was to develop a railroad consolidation plan and assist in obtaining necessary agreements and federal filings.
The consolidation project eliminated nine at-grade roadway/railroad crossings, improved tracking operation and provided for future expansion, among other improvements. It delivered the new track corridor two months ahead of schedule and nearly $2 million under the programmed amount.
Iowa Premium Wastewater Treatment Plant – Tama, Iowa
HDR partnered with Iowa Premium to reopen a beef packing plant that closed its doors more than 10 years ago by designing an accompanying wastewater treatment facility to meet current and future discharge requirements.
Iowa Premium’s state-of-the-art $7.2 million wastewater treatment facility quickly incorporated several design aspects that reduced cost, planned for future nutrient requirements, shortened construction and startup schedules and improved operational efficiency.
The facility handles a wastewater amount equivalent to a municipal facility serving 203,500 people — approximately the same population as Des Moines.
Bringing Iowa Premium’s plant to life is also making a big impact on a small community. In addition to 600 new jobs and partnerships with Iowa State University and the Tama-Toledo Food Pantry, the plant supports local family farms, providing a place to process Black Angus cattle.
Iowa DOT Crude and Biofuel Study – Ames, Iowa
An innovative, first-of-its-kind study commissioned by Iowa DOT provides solutions for safer transportation for bulk crude oil and biofuels (mainly ethanol) through Iowa. The study will assist Iowa’s state, local and tribal governments determine risks and vulnerabilities; prevention methods and programs; and preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities for crude oil and biofuels railroad transportation incidents in Iowa. HDR, Iowa DOT and HDR’s subconsultant Witt O’Brien collaborated on the study.
The study included interviews and meetings with stakeholders to assess geographic, administrative and operational areas for risks, vulnerabilities, programs and capabilities.
This study objectively measured the sensitivity to bulk crude oil and ethanol rail incidents by conducting a county-by-county risk and vulnerability assessment which included public safety and environmental risk factors; and potential impacts from those incidents. These quantities were then used to derive an aggregate value for risk and sensitivity should a bulk crude oil or ethanol rail transportation incident occur.
Counties were rated from low to high according to their sensitivity to incidents. The results were used to identify challenges and form recommendations to reduce risk and vulnerability through policy change, planning, training and education, communication, and other actions.
The study’s goal was to protect the environment and public, but also establish lines of communication between all stakeholder groups.