S. Gordon Marsh, a California civil engineer with more than 40 years of experience planning and designing tunnels, dams, bridges, and other local transportation infrastructure, has died. He was 84.
Much like today, during his era federal infrastructure investment provided many outstanding civil engineering opportunities, along with income and family security, to hard-working, ambitious young engineers.
Marsh, P.E., M.ASCE, was most noted for his projects spanning the western United States – extending the life of or repurposing dams, tunnels, and roads as well as building new infrastructure with future-oriented features and innovations that helped them serve a long, useful life. A life member of ASCE, Marsh was also president of the Society’s Santa Barbara–Ventura Counties Branch.
His career began in the 1960s with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Denver and Federal Power Commission in Washington, D.C. Moving to Southern California, he worked on public projects in Ventura County, then in Northern California with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in San Francisco, and finally to private consulting firms Tudor Engineering Company, Woodward Clyde Consultants, and lastly HNTB Corporation in California, where he retired in 2000.
With Woodward Clyde in the 1990s, Marsh was a project manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Hood River and Mosier Connection project, which restored and reopened a Historic Register highway and tunnels as a hiking and bicycling transportation facility, providing breathtaking views from high above the Columbia River Gorge. Merging stone masonry with state-of-the art practices, the road and the rock-filled Mosier Twin tunnels were reused and preserved for public enjoyment. In 1997 the project received the Federal Highway Administration’s Environmental Excellence Awards for Excellence in Historic and Archeological Preservation.
In 1977 Marsh received the County of Ventura Board of Supervisors Engineer of the Year award on behalf of its roads administration division for his work upgrading Victoria Avenue to meet the needs of a fast-growing county. He capped his career as project manager on a feasibility study of a pair of tunnels between the California coastal cities of Pacifica and Half Moon Bay to bypass the notorious Devil’s Slide, a cliffside stretch of the state’s scenic and iconic Pacific Coast Highway that had a long history of closure due to recurring rockslides which isolated the cities for long periods.Marsh earned his civil engineering bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan, Lansing in 1960, and his master’s in structural
engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1966. He enjoyed traveling with his wife of 61 years, Irma, and instilled in his children an appreciation for how things “work and get built.”