Transportation Projects Win National Finalist ACEC Awards

Two GeoEngineers projects were recognized as national finalists by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Washington Chapter, at its Engineering Excellence Awards on January 24. The South 224th Street Expansion/SR 167 Bridge won a National Finalist Gold Award in the transportation category, and the Little Pilchuck Creek Fish Passage Project won a National Finalist Silver Award, also in the transportation category.

These awards highlight GeoEngineers’ success in a Washington State transportation market that is becoming more interdisciplinary and fast-paced. The Little Pilchuck Creek Fish Passage Project is an excellent example of the firm’s growing body of fish-passage work for the Washington State Department of Transportation. Senior Environmental Engineer Ken Fellows led an effort to analyze geomorphic and habitat conditions in Little Pilchuck creek where it crossed SR-92 in Snohomish County. The project provided an early road map for similar fish-passage projects throughout the state as WSDOT works to improve fish species’ access to upstream habitat. GeoEngineers’ project team delivered recommendations for a 60-foot bridge to replace the undersized culvert that had restricted fish access, and designed fish friendly stream channels with habitat-enhancing features.

GeoEngineers is also demonstrating an ability to combine hydraulic, biologic and geotechnical services for transportation projects in Washington State that require multidisciplinary approaches. The South 224th Street Expansion/SR 167 Bridge is an example of how large geotechnical projects can also include stream-design and fish-passage components.

The S. 224th St. Extension was only one phase in a decades-long plan by the City of Kent to build a robust new transportation corridor through the city. In this phase, GeoEngineers helped the city extend S. 224th St. and construct a new bridge over SR 167, a highway that bisects the community. The project scope evolved as the project progressed, and GeoEngineers was ready and able to help with hydrology, biology and stream-design services when the city realized they would need to replace an undersized culvert at a nearby stream crossing and make habitat improvements to meet required standards.

The unexpected discovery of strong artesian conditions (pressurized groundwater caused by an aquifer) also significantly complicated site investigation and construction of the east SR 167 bridge approach. GeoEngineers recommended an alternative foundation design utilizing shorter shafts and developed a detailed strategy for effectively and safely drilling shafts in artesian conditions.

“The success of this project is directly related to the breadth of experience and expertise we have at GeoEngineers,” says Project Manager Lyle Stone. “When a project has access to people with a wide range of skills it lets us solve problems the right way, instead of simply using a method you have tools for, or a strategy you’ve used before. Having all these in-house experts at GeoEngineers means that our clients don’t need to decide if a project has an environmental component or a hydraulics component at the beginning. We can bring those people in as soon as the project needs them and keep everything moving.”

GeoEngineers kept things moving during the S. 224th St. Extension despite highly variable soil conditions, an artesian aquifer, unexpected environmental conditions at a stormwater detention site and a rapidly evolving project scope.

These innovative and important projects are just the latest recognized by ACEC in GeoEngineers’ 40-year history, and we look forward to continuing to bring this level of commitment and excellence to each of our projects.

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