A tradition since 1960, the ASCE Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement awards honor projects worldwide that are the greatest examples of civil engineers’ work from the past year, displaying advances in the profession and their benefits to society.
Congratulations to the following 11 projects selected as OCEA Honor Award recipients for 2024. Each will be recognized at the OPAL Awards Gala Tuesday, Oct. 8 during the ASCE 2024 Convention in Tampa, Florida, where an overall winner will be revealed, as well as silver and bronze medalists. Here are the 2024 OCEA Honor Award recipients:
BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Bridge
Sandpoint, Idaho, is a significant transport point for the nation’s transcontinental freight rail traffic. But for years it was hobbled by the merging of two lines into one before crossing a span over Lake Pend Oreille, which often created congestion on the track and for vehicular traffic on surrounding roadways. The new Connector Bridge's second span is part of a 2.7-mile extension that includes a new Amtrak platform at the historic depot. The design prioritized the significant environmental risks construction posed to water, fish, and other wildlife. Budgeted at $100 million, the project was completed in November 2022, a year ahead of schedule.
Cross Bay Link
Hong Kong’s Cross Bay Link establishes a vital new multimodal connection between Tseung Kwan O, a rapidly growing city of 423,000 people, and urban Hong Kong. The 1.1-mile network of 12 spans, including a thematic double-arch central span, reduces peak commuting times by 20 minutes, and is the key section in a three-mile coastal walkable and cycling loop keenly sought by the community. Slated to cost $565 million, the project finished $32 million under budget.
Elk Grove, California
When overhauled wastewater facilities serving 1.6 million residents in metro Sacramento, California, opened in 2022, it was the culmination of a massive 12-year effort begun by the Regional San utility to bring itself into compliance with stringent new sewage treatment requirements. The EchoWater Project added 30,400 assets, and its greater efficiency decreased electricity costs by $2.5 million in 2022. Its purified discharge, including a 99% reduction in ammonia, is being filtered for recycled water to be used in agriculture.
Fern Hollow Bridge Emergency Replacement
The state of Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh were pressed into an emergency need to replace a bridge on a critical commuter route when the 447-foot-long Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed nearly 100 feet into a park ravine, taking a mass transit bus and four passenger vehicles with it. Miraculously, no lives were lost, but a new crossing was necessary on a tight timeframe. Successful coordination among state and local agencies and design and construction firms, and applying several innovative techniques, enabled the completion and opening of the bridge in just 10 months.
A public-private partnership came together in Honolulu to address multiple needs at once: providing affordable workforce housing in the city, an upgrade to the juvenile justice center, and parking for each, all while prioritizing sustainability and durability. The result is a 20-story, 201-unit affordable rental tower and justice center with a parking facility of all-reinforced concrete with a design life of at least 75 years, brought in under budget and ahead of schedule. The tunnel-form casting of the floor and walls simultaneously sped construction, and carbon capture was used in making the concrete.
I-4 Ultimate Improvements Project
The original Interstate 4 “Orlando Expressway” was built in the 1960s before the arrival of Walt Disney World, Sea World, and everything else since, with only periodic widenings to handle the traffic. The $2.87 billion Interstate 4 Ultimate project reconstructed 318 lane miles through the heart of Orlando, including 15 major interchanges rebuilt, 13 bridges widened, 74 bridges replaced, and 53 new bridges added. The complex project’s sustainability achievements such as relocating protected wildlife and restoring local plant life earned it Florida’s first-ever Envision Platinum designation and the first for an interstate reconstruction anywhere.
I-91 Rockingham Bridges
Interstate 91 is a critical north-south artery in New England, with the “High Bridges” just north of Rockingham, Vermont, a key component. Decades of heavy traffic and deck de-icings took their toll on the original spans, demanding a replacement. The twin 852-foot-long, 130-foot-high bridges that have taken their place are the first four-span spliced precast concrete girder structures in the state. Built to last a century, the $50 million haunched, spliced design proved the most efficient and cost-effective proposal.
Kansas City International Airport New Terminal
Kansas City, Missouri
The largest single infrastructure project in Kansas City, Missouri’s history, the state-of-the-art redevelopment of Kansas City International Airport comprises a new 1.1 million-square-foot terminal, a seven-story parking garage with over 6,200 spaces, several elevated and on-grade approach roadways, and about 1.65 million square feet of newly landscaped areas and 3.85 million square feet of new airfield pavement. The project’s design-build delivery model brought it in on time and its $1.5 billion budget.
Orlando International Airport Terminal C
The new $2.8 billion, 1.8 million-square-foot Terminal C constitutes a 25% expansion of Orlando International Airport, serving an additional 10-12 million passengers with 15 additional gates. The terminal was built in just four years using various alternate delivery methods. A strategy to bring all partners together physically on-site required enhanced communication and collaboration while overcoming pandemic challenges and major design changes with construction already in progress. The project achieved and received LEEDv4 certification for sustainability and environmental considerations, including vegetation native to central Florida such as cypress and palm trees.
Presidio Tunnel Tops
By being built over the Presidio Parkway, which opened in 2015, the Presidio Tunnel Tops has reconnected a San Francisco neighborhood with a waterfront it hadn’t had access to in about 100 years. The 14-acre, $114 million park has provided a novel way to restore the area’s natural landscape. To avoid the excess weight of soil on the parkway tunnels, a lightweight foam was used in strategic places. And as it’s in San Francisco, the park met stringent seismic requirements by tying into how the parkway was built with a series of 40-foot-deep gravel-filled holes.
Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement
It’s the largest, most complex bridge project in Los Angeles history. The new $588 million Sixth Street Viaduct replaces an iconic double-steel-arch structure, one seen in many movies and TV series, with a span featuring 10 pairs of sculptural arches. A new seismic design makes it so strong it is expected to still function safely after a 1-in-1,000-year earthquake. Designers believe it’s the world’s longest seismically isolated concrete arch bridge at nearly 3,100 feet long. The multimodal span, 40 feet wider than its predecessor, carries four vehicular lanes, two bike lanes and two pedestrian walkways.
Learn more about the 2024 OPAL Awards Gala and how you can attend, see the list of OCEA winners since 1960, and how to submit a nominee for 2025.