Niagara Falls State Park Transformation Initiative Takes Top Prize

RESTON, Va. – The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has announced the Niagara Falls State Park Transformation Initiative as the 2021 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award winner. The OCEA Award, which recognizes exemplary civil engineering projects around the country, honors projects which exemplify state-of-the-art engineering skill and provide considerable contributions to local and regional communities, in addition to advancements of the civil engineering profession. 

The Niagara Falls State Park Transformation Initiative restored a popular public space with new attractions and improved utilities. After years of disrepair, T.Y. Lin International (TYLI) and the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation coordinated more than 16 interconnected projects across more than 400 acres to enhance the park. The groups improved behind the scenes utility, mechanical, and stormwater infrastructure in addition to public-facing attractions, buildings, lighting and pedestrian/traffic routes. The park managed to stay open throughout the entire improvement process.

“State parks have a monumental impact on the economic stability, resilience, and health of our communities,” said Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., 2021 ASCE President. “Restoring a project of this magnitude is one of many ways that civil engineers can enhance the natural environment in addition to the built environment, all while creating a more attractive community for residents and tourists. These improvements will serve as a major draw for New Yorkers for years to come.” 

“Our work has already resulted in America’s oldest state park becoming the most attended park in the New York state system,” said Frank T. McCue, III, Niagara Falls State Park Transformation Initiative project manager. “Now our work has been recognized by our peers as exemplary, which serves to confirm that not only did we assemble the right team, but we did the right thing for one of America’s most iconic landmarks.” 

Nine OCEA Honor Awards were announced in January and the winner and two runners-up were announced Friday night, October 8, 2021 as part of ASCE’s virtual National Convention. 

Boulder City, Nevada’s Lake Mead Intake No. 3 Low Lake Level Pumping Station and Discharge Aqueducts Project was the OCEA Silver winner.  The decades-long drought in the Colorado River Basin has threatened Lake Mead, which now currently only holds 38 percent of its 26-million-acre-foot capacity. To avoid water service disruptions to the 2.2 million-person Southern Nevada community, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) completed the Low Lake Level Pumping Station to improve accessibility and long-term reliability.

The Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge in New York City was awarded Bronze winner. The new 3.1-mile twin span bridges crossing the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties replaces the old Tappan Zee Bridge. The new structure features extra-wide shoulders, emergency/bus lanes, and is prepared to support future commuter or light rail. The project is one of the largest single design-build transportation structures in the United States.

“These trophy winners demonstrate a level of ingenuity that inspires engineers to do their very best, while also providing essential services to their communities,” said Briaud. “Civil engineers have the power to solve problems, keep the public safe, and enhance livelihoods with their work. Congratulations to these three recipients for making their communities stronger.”

More information on OCEA.

About the American Society of Civil Engineers

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation's infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and improve engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit or and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel.