Engineer Who Managed Hoover Dam Bypass Project Earns 2018 OPAL

January 31, 2018

F. Dave Zanetell Jr., P.E., M.ASCE, president of Kraemer North America, LLC, has been honored by ASCE as the 2018 Outstanding Projects And Leaders award-winner in construction.

The ASCE OPAL awards honor outstanding civil engineering leaders for their lifetime accomplishments. This year’s OPAL winners will be honored at the 2018 OPAL Gala, March 15, in Arlington, VA.

Zanetell has been executive project sponsor on alternative delivery and major infrastructure projects for Kraemer North America. As director of engineering for the Federal Highway Administration–Central Federal Lands Highway Division, he is noted for managing both the Hoover Dam Bypass project and the fast-track reconstruction of the main road to Yosemite National Park – California Highway 140 – after the 1997 floods. He was also special advisor on the Tappan Zee Bridge project, reporting directly to the Executive Council (NYDOT, New York State Thruway, and Office of Governor).



“On each project he has worked on, particularly on the Hoover Dam Bypass project, Dave has used initiative and strong team building skills to successfully overcome engineering challenges and complete quality infrastructure projects that incorporate engineering and construction firsts,” said ASCE President Kristina Swallow, P.E., ENV SP, F.ASCE.

His 25 years of project-specific and organizational leadership on technically demanding projects of national significance have been distinguished by a focus on engineering excellence working with industry to enable engineered construction and technical innovation. The particularly challenging nature of the Hoover Dam project spurred implementation of a structured vision of Zanetell’s which ultimately eliminated traditional bias and the frequent litigation-driven posturing between designer and contractor that often plagues such works. The project included many unprecedented engineering and construction firsts.

CA Highway 140 Design-Build saw him leading emergency efforts to reopen Yosemite following devastating flooding. What were then novel engineering solutions soon became recognized standard practice for flood-damaged roadways. Innovations included narrow corridor founding of tieback retaining walls, methods for temporary shoring, scour protection, aesthetic treatment for replacement of historic features, upslope rock anchoring, and design-build-quality best practices. From 1990 to 2000, Zanetell honed his practice with over 50 projects as construction manager from initiation to completion, on-budget endeavors that coalesced around collaboration toward quality.

Zanetell was responsible for operational and engineering development and construction of federal lands projects across 14 western states. He was Signatory Engineer of Record on more than 250 projects valued at over $1.5 billion, provided operational leadership to a management staff of 180, and oversaw an annual engineering and staff budget of $30-50 million. Among other organizational achievements, he transformed CFLHD into a private model, “for fee”-based cradle-to-grave engineering and construction management delivery organization.

Attesting to his commitment are such active best-practice sharing and industry-furthering efforts as involve DBIA, CMAA, ASCE, ARTBA, AASHTO, AGC, APWA, and many state DOTs. Along with the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, he has lent his expertise to notable projects like the Port of Anchorage, in Alaska, and Interstate 287 in New York State. He is the recipient of the FHWA Award of Engineering Excellence (1999 and 2010) and was recognized as Agency Outstanding Engineer by NSPE.

Zanetell is also a Distinguished Alumni Honoree of both the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Colorado’s College of Engineering. He earned a B.Sc (civil specialty) from the former and an MsCE (construction management) from the latter.

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