The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) issued a press release last month announcing Parsons Brinckerhoff of Seattle has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ 50th annual Engineering Excellence Awards, or the EEA, for the development of the Sound Transit Regional HCT System Plan (ST3) for Sound Transit of Seattle.

According to the release, Washington voters endorsed the the $54-billion, 25-year ST3 plan on November 8, 2016. The goal of the project is to reduce the number of annual auto vehicle miles traveled within the region by 362 million miles by 2040, then eliminating more than 130,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

The press release reports that ST3 is one of 162 engineering achievements from throughout the world being recognized in 2017 by the ACEC as an example of engineering excellence and is now eligible for additional top national honors. A national 30-member panel of built environment leaders, along with experts from government, the media, and academia judged the projects in February, awarding based on “uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession,” according to the press release.

Awards will be presented April 25, 2017, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. at the black tie EEA dinner and gala.
Floating Crane Breaks Away
A floating construction crane broke away following a burst of wind March 1 during the current phase of the $4.6-billion SR 520 Bridge Replacement Project in Seattle.

The Seattle Times reported that the barge holding the crane became when at least one of the pilings it was fastened to became dislodged. The crane reportedly came close to a residential dock around 4 a.m., but came to a stop in the shallow water, never reaching the shore, and was later retrieved.

"The contractor, Flatiron West Inc., is currently reevaluating their procedures to prevent future weather-related incidents...Washington State Department of Transportation staff will provide feedback as needed while the contractor works to implement these plan revisions with their staff and subcontractors," says a WSDOT press release.

In 2013, during an earlier phase of the project managed by Mowat-American, a similar crane floated away.

this is not the first time this job site has faced incident. In March of 2015, a pipe being transported hit a traffic sign, causing the pipe to fall into traffic and injure eight people on a bus. Flatiron West was hit with $5,500 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration because of the incident.

Additionally, the week before that, also in March of 2015, on another section of the project being managed by a joint venture of Kiewit-General-Manson, a worker was killed in a fall and the group was fined $14,400 by OSHA and the violations are listed as “under contest” on OSHA’s database.

The SR 520 Bridge Replacement Project has been in progress since 2011 and will continue until 2027. The most recent phase of the project is the replacement of the West Approach Bridge North which is set to reopen summer 2017. The new structure, as stated in the press release, will be safer in the event of an earthquake or other seismic activities. The replacement of one pontoon bridge structure across Lake Washington with another floating bridge, the biggest part of this particular job, was completed in 2016.

The bridge, which was originally slated to open late 2014, instead opened in April 2016 and The West Approach Bridge North is reported to open this summer. Three more phases of construction are left to go on the project: The Montlake Phase, Portage Bay Phase, and Montlake Cut Crossing Phase. The final phase of the project is expected to begin no earlier than 2024 and last a total of three years.

Washington State Budgets $1M for Ultra High-Speed Rail Study
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has allocated $1 million in the state’s 2017-2019 budget specifically for a Department of Transportation study of an ultra high-speed light rail system, according to Budget and Policy Highlights released by the state.

The study would look at the feasibility of creating a high speed rail system between Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C. It would also examine  potential stations, environmental impact, technology options, how in-demand the rail actually is, whether or not the line would work in conjunction with infrastructure already within the area, and the overall long-term success of a high speed rail line in the Pacific Northwest. The results of the study will be presented by December 2017 and spearheaded by Mark Hallenbeck, the director of the Washington State Transportation Center, a research partnership between the Washington Department of Transportation, the University of Washington, and the Washington State University as reported by CBC News.

Ultra high speed rail is defined as rail transportation that travels 250 mph or more.

The Washington budget is currently under review by the the state legislature and if passed would be effective as of July 1, 2017.

Alaska Moving Forward With Major Fairbanks Road Project
Fairbanks, Alaska could see construction begin on a $20 million road project as early as this summer thanks to federal funding.

Originally, Gov. Bill Walker had thrown out The University Avenue project as a cost-saving measure, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. However, the Alaska Department of Transportation  announced via press release in March that the project is moving forward with help from federal highway funds.

“In these tough fiscal times, it’s imperative we leverage federal funds on construction projects that will improve the safety and well-being of Alaskans,” Commissioner Marc Luiken says in the press release.

The federal funds will cover approximately 90% of the project costs. The main objectives of the project are to relieve congestion and improve safety on University Avenue, one of Alaska’s busiest thoroughfares.

The project is expected to be complete in 2019.