Benham’s “I-235 Broadway Widening at 50th Street & BNSF Railroad” project received one of 20 Honor Awards as part of the 2020 ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards.
Benham’s “I-235 Broadway Widening at 50th Street & BNSF Railroad” project received one of 20 Honor Awards as part of the 2020 ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards.

December 1, 2020

Large and Innovative Transportation Project Honored in ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards

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From its very beginning, the partnership between Benham, a Haskell Company, and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to widen Interstate-235, rebuild a major interchange and replace and realign a BNSF Railway line and bridge was an attention-grabber.

Receiving a National Honor Award for Transportation during the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA), though, is a crowning accolade.

Benham’s “I-235 Broadway Widening at 50th Street & BNSF Railroad” project received one of 20 Honor Awards as part of the 2020 ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards.“It’s a big honor to receive the Grand Conceptor Award at the state level, and then to have the project actually catch the eye of the national committee, that's just really kind of humbling,” said Benham Project Manager Sue Tryon.

A panel of about 30 judges with expertise from across the consulting engineering environment bestowed 16 Grand Awards and 20 Honor Awards to projects that demonstrate an exceptional degree of innovation, complexity, achievement and value. Originally scheduled for announcement during the black-tie ACEC EEA Gala in April, the awards were announced December 1 during a virtual event because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Benham’s plans for the “I-235 Broadway Widening at 50th Street & BNSF Railroad” project was the largest construction package in ODOT history at a contract bid price of $81 million. Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) techniques minimized disruption to 115,000 daily commuters and BNSF rail traffic and also prevented the contractor from building the trusses over traffic or reducing the number of travel lanes during construction.

The contractor erected the trusses offsite and moved them into place using Self-Propelled Modular Transports, avoiding a reduction to one lane each way on I-235 for several months. Instead, highway closure required only a single three-day weekend and rail less than a day. Implementing ABC greatly improved safety for workers and the public.

In addition to satisfying the ACEC’s selection criteria, the project satisfied the traveling public in the busy multimodal corridor. The project’s main event – transportation and placement of two railroad truss spans, each measuring 275 yards long and 45 feet high and weighing 2 million pounds – drew spectators to a prearranged viewing area and streamed live online from three different angles.

“It was a huge success in our client's eyes,” Tryon said. “The public received it so well. ODOT set up a viewing area and had three live-stream cameras going the whole weekend including footage from a drone. They really played it up on local television news stories, Facebook, and Twitter. The public was so appreciative of how it was handled and that they were only inconvenienced for that one weekend instead of for months, so that really pleased ODOT.”

The project rebuilt I-235 entrance and exit ramps, extended a major drainage structure and bored a 96-inch storm sewer line to alleviate chronic flooding and road closures caused by heavy rains. Innovative techniques allowed 30-foot-tall retaining walls to be constructed adjacent to the interstate without disrupting utilities or requiring the relocation of adjoining businesses.

Ultimately, the project finished nearly a year ahead of schedule, allowing ODOT to proceed with the last phase of widening I-235 to six lanes through this vital corridor.

“It was one of those projects of a lifetime,” Tryon said. “The chief engineer for ODOT said this is one of his crowning achievements. To be a part of walking along side this 2-million-pound truss going down the highway – that's a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a lot of us in the department.”

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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