A GeoEngineers street improvement project in Silverton, Oregon, recently won a People’s Choice Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Oregon (ACEC Oregon) at this year’s Engineering Excellence Awards. This is the second notable award for the McClaine Street Improvements Project, which also earned a Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association (APWA) Oregon in the under $5 million category.
The project created an urgently needed transportation corridor through the City of Silverton—complete with new sidewalks, streetlights, bike lanes, sewer and stormwater systems, and improved access to businesses. A GeoEngineers team led by Principal Geotechnical Engineer Julio Vela and Geotechnical Engineer Ethan Donahue provided geotechnical services for the project as a subconsultant to Keller Associates.
Excavation along the road alignment was complicated by variable and rocky conditions. Depending on the location, the contractor could expect to hit shallow rock anywhere from 2-15 feet below the surface—sometimes large boulders that would be difficult to blast or remove. The team carefully analyzed each region of the site and prepared specific recommendations for the contractor to follow.
“Ethan did a really good job making sure the excavation requirements were well spelled out,” Julio says. “Communication with the contractor was critical, and in the end K&E was selected in part because of our trust and long working relationship.”
It’s a good thing, because the project encountered a lot of unexpected challenges during construction—in the form of ice and fire. A historic ice storm hit Oregon over the winter, knocking out the power for as long as two weeks and slowing down excavation. During the summer, nearby wildfires threatened the project and caused several temporary shutdowns. Through it all, GeoEngineers and the whole project team cooperated to solve each new challenge.
““There were lots of potential complications, but we finished it on time and under budget,” Julio says. “It speaks well to being on a team that trusts each other and works well together.”