OCEA-mazing: Five Projects, Five Brilliant Innovations

February 1, 2018

Each of the finalists ASCE’s 2018 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award ranks among the most impressive new engineering projects in the world.

They provide their resident communities with vital, efficient services.

But they also provide the engineering community with important lessons learned. Each OCEA finalist features innovative solutions that both help make the project a success and push the industry forward.

The winner, one of the among five finalists, will be revealed at ASCE’s OPAL Gala, March 15, in Arlington, VA.

In the meantime, here are five remarkable innovations found in the 2018 OCEA finalists:

ElizRiverTunnelsPrjct WEB VERTElizabeth River Tunnels Project

Norfolk and Portsmouth, VA

Project Owner: Virginia Department of Transportation

The new, 3,800-foot Midtown Tunnel is the first concrete, deep-water, immersed tube tunnel in North America. The rectangular reinforced concrete design allowed for increased durability at reduced cost. The team tested more than 100 different high-performance mix designs to optimize compressive strength, flowability, shrinkage, set time, and durability.

“While employing a number of ‘firsts’ on the project added technical complexity, it also fostered a project culture at all levels of attention to detail. Nothing was overlooked. The design-build contractor (SKW Constructors, a joint venture led by Skanska, and including partners Kiewit and Weeks Marine) developed detailed work plans down to the smallest items and executed them with precision, allowing the new tunnel to open six months ahead of schedule.” – Bradley Weidenhammer, P.E., project manager, Virginia DOT

Folsom Ph IV Aerial complete WEB HORIZFolsom Dam Auxiliary Spillway, Phase IV

Folsom, CA

Project Owner: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The spillway, a cooperative effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior, prevents overtopping of the Folsom Dam while providing downstream Sacramento protection against 200-year flood events. Kiewit and the USACE team used aerial drones to scan and map cleaned rock surfaces prior to the placement of the dental concrete. Conventional geologic mapping methods were impractical and ineffective due to difficult access in many areas. The use of drones made the operation much safer and produced a higher quality surface.

JaneAddamsMemTollway Fox River Bridge_WEB HORIZ

PHOTO: Illinois State Toll Highway Authority

I-90 Fox River Bridge

Elgin, IL

Project Owner: Illinois Tollway

The I-90 Fox River Bridge Project featured the removal of an aging six-lane twin bridge and the construction of a new eight-lane twin bridge on the same alignment, all while maintaining six lanes of open traffic throughout the process. How? Stanley Consultants designed a “bridge under a bridge” construction concept using a space-saving gantry system for beam erection.

“The innovative bridge-under-bridge construction allowed the Tollway to shorten construction time and reduce inconvenience to Tollway customers. This concept redefines the possibilities of bridge design and construction, much like accelerated bridge construction has, which has great potential for future Tollway projects.” – Paul Kovacs, Aff.M.ASCE, Chief Engineering Officer, Illinois Tollway


PHOTO: Robb Williamson

Second Avenue Subway – Phase 1

New York City, NY

Project Owner: MTA – Capital Construction Company

The first major expansion of New York City’s subway system in more than 50 years, the project included building some of the largest caverns in North America for two of the new stations. The tunnel liner was not the typical steel reinforcing bars, but instead only steel and polypropylene fibers. With such deep caverns, the team used 3D renderings to detail the proper arrangement of the rebar.

“Anyone who has worked on the project has had people come up to them and say we improved their lives by shortening their commutes, or made it easier to visit their grandmother or get to a doctor’s appointment. It is gratifying to have a direct impact on people’s lives. It’s why we got into this profession.” – Michael Trabold, P.E., M.ASCE, associate vice president, AECOM, project manager

floating bridge WEB HORIZ


SR-520 Floating Bridge and Landings Project

Seattle and Medina, WA

Project Owner: Washington State Department of Transportation

Kiewit/General/Manson delivered an integrated deck support superstructure for this, the world’s longest floating roadway deck. The design eliminated low-rise steel substructures, using instead precast roadway panels, which improved durability and minimized life-cycle costs.

“Eliminating exposed steel, combined with precast segmental construction, was the key to turning a marine job into a land job. Land-based construction provides a safer environment, mitigates potential negative environmental effects to the lake, simplifies access, improves quality, allows for standardization of equipment, shortens the project schedule, and greatly reduces costs.” – Don Oates, P.E., D.PE, DBIA, M.ASCE, KPFF Consulting Engineers, design manager

ASCE has recognized an exemplary civil engineering project with the OCEA award annually since 1960. The 2018 winner will be revealed at ASCE’s OPAL Gala, March 15, in Arlington, VA.

  • Impressive things!! Regards to my dear colleagues!!

  • Avatar D.J.Sassoon-Gubbay

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    I greatly appreciated the details of these exemplary constructions and thank you for focusing on same. The floating bridge concept needs further explanations as it has relevance on overseas opportunities and applications. Perhaps some drawings would explain the various functions.In particukar the : tidal (or flood )variations of the lake . Thank you in anticipation and again my appreciation of the technical diffusion of outstanding engineering.



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