"It was a huge milestone when a relatively small, regional firm went head-to-head with national firms and was able to win the project. From there, we haven't really looked back," McKenzie says.
Since 1999, Aztec has been a key player in the development of the Phoenix regional freeway system, having worked on at least one segment on each of the loops: 101, 202 and 303. Along the way, the firm built its reputation and was rewarded with additional projects, Lemke says.
In 2001 and 2002, the company established business practices for subsurface utility engineering and environmental services. This action allowed Aztec to become more of a "full-service" firm, he says.
"We became known as a firm that was very good at delivering final design for complex, multilevel freeway-to-freeway system interchanges," Lemke says. The firm's first interchange design connected Loop 101 and State Route 51. Next, the firm won the design contract for the Loop 202 and U.S. 60 interchange in the East Valley.
Most recently, the firm designed the first phase of the I-10 and Loop 303 interchange. Completed in 2014, the 90-ft-tall, five-tiered structure features the largest footprint, including frontage roads, of any interchange in Arizona.
Project components include 14 cast-in-place, post-tensioned box girder bridges and four freeway-to-freeway directional ramps, including the east-to-north and south-to-east connections and portions of the west-to-south and north-to-west flyover ramps.
The longest bridge, the east-to-north route, reaches more than 3,400 ft and consists of six frame columns more than 94 ft tall. The major structures include more than 16,700 linear ft of 48-in.-dia to 120-in.-dia drilled shafts, more than 13.8 million lb of reinforcing steel and 71,200 cu yd of structural concrete.
On the interchange, Aztec demonstrated its commitment to client Arizona Dept. of Transportation by reconfiguring the design when it was nearly 95% complete to add two flyover ramps as part of a $10-million owner-requested change order, says Eric Prosnier, ADOT project manager. The ramps were originally planned for the interchange's second phase.
Aztec is "fantastic, easy to work with and very responsive," Prosnier says. "On a five-star rating system, they would get six stars from me."