Building the world’s largest anything is always tricky enough, but doing it on water adds a wrinkle that is always bobbing in the current.
Dave Becher, Washington State Dept. of Transportation floating-bridge and landings project director, is overseeing construction of the world’s longest floating bridge—on Lake Washington, in Seattle—and managing all the logistical challenges that marine construction offers.
Requiring the coordination of a half-dozen stakeholder agencies and scheduled to open this spring as part of a $4.56-billion undertaking, the project is replacing the world’s current longest floating bridge with one slightly longer, at 7,710 ft. Becher is managing equipment movements through locks and across the lake as well as the construction of the new floating concrete-pontoon base, with a 20-ft elevated roadway intended to provide traffic safety and maintenance benefits.
“When three-fourths of your project is on the water, it gets a lot of people’s attention,” Becher says. “A project on a lake in Washington state is environmentally sensitive.”
Adam Geyer, Kiewit-General-Manson superintendent, credits Becher for his ability to manage the logistical needs of agencies, from the city of Seattle to the Army Corp of Engineers to the state’s Dept. of Ecology. “Every day, you are getting curveballs,” Geyer says. “You just have to stay on your toes.”
Early in the project, Becher helped to lead a team that oversaw an emergency in-lake fix of a leaking pontoon (an inherited issue from a separate contract), renegotiated the contract after the delay and developed new schedules to regain lost time as well as minimize disruptions to fish migration patterns.