Everglades restoration named best national engineering achievement of 2004

K.C.-based Burns & McDonnell constructs world's largest wetlands, protecting crucial watershed. Full list of award winners honored by American Council of Engineering Consultants includes groundwater, brownfield redevelopment, wastewater, desalination, etc., projects...

WASHINGTON, DC, April 13, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- A 26.5 square-mile wetlands designed to save the Florida Everglades ecosystem was named Monday as the most significant U.S. engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies' 39th annual Engineering Excellence Awards competition, sponsored by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).

Called one of the most promising advancements ever in restoring the Everglades, the project was chosen the year's best engineering achievement Monday, over such projects as the new Rion-Antirion Bridge in Greece, and Chicago's new Millennium Park.

Representatives from Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell, received the ACEC "Grand Conceptor Award" for producing the nation's top engineering effort, during ceremonies attended by more than 800 engineers and dignitaries from around the world in Washington D.C.

The Florida Everglades is the only natural habitat of its kind on the planet, but urban development and phosphorus-enriched stormwater runoff from agriculture and other sources was destroying the ecosystem's native population of plants and animals.

Burns & McDonnell designed the wetlands to improve the quality of water entering the Everglades from adjacent agricultural properties and other sources. Known officially as Stormwater Treatment Area No. 3/4 in Broward and West Palm Beach Counties, the treatment area is larger than the island of Manhattan, and the largest constructed wetlands in the world.

In the first five months after its completion, the new wetlands treated nearly a half-million acre feet of inflow, with an average phosphorous outflow of 12 parts per billion (ppb)--well below the target level of 50 ppb.

Founded in 1898, Burns & McDonnell is an international engineering, construction, environmental, and consulting firm.

The project was among 175 engineering projects by U.S. firms from across the nation and throughout the world that were recognized by ACEC as preeminent engineering achievements for 2005. Seven other national projects were presented with "Grand Awards" for excellence, and 16 projects received "Honor Awards."

Past ACEC "Grand Conceptor Award" winners include: the NASA Space Shuttle Launching Complex, Vandenberg AFB (1985), Baltimore's 1.7-mile Fort McHenry Tunnel (1986), Seattle's Key Arena (1996), and Honolulu's AEOS 3.67 Meter Space Tracking Telescope Facility (2000).

2005 ACEC Grand Award Winners
-- Renaissance of a Junction, Kansas City, Mo.: TranSystems Corporation - Kansas City, Mo. - Rail freight could no longer pass efficiently through the historic, but antiquated, Chicago Junction in Kansas City - the second largest rail hub in the nation. The project team applied a "highway overpass" concept to transform the congested rail yard into a three-level railroad junction, which includes the world's largest rail flyover.

-- Ode to Poseidon, Rion-Antirion Bridge, Rion, Gulf of Corinth, Greece: Langan Engineering and Environmental Services/Parsons Transportation Group - New York, N.Y. - For 100 years, Greece sought a way to bridge the Gulf of Corinth between Peloponnese and Northern Greece, but weak alluvial soils, a sea depth of 65 meters, and tectonic movements, made such a plan precarious. The completed bridge is the first multi-span, cable-stayed bridge with the longest fully suspended continuous deck in the world at 2,252 meters.

-- Seattle Central Library: Magnusson Klemencic Associates - Seattle, Wash. - The 12-story, 412-square foot, all-glass building appears to float without support. Other features include a nine-story atrium through the building's center, a meeting level with tomato-red curving walls, and a children's area with sloping columns. Inside and out, the new Seattle Central Library fulfills its goal as the library of the future.

-- Russia Wharf - Historic Office Building Support During Tunneling, Boston, Mass.: Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers - New York, N.Y. - A 400-foot long section of the new South Boston Silver Line Transitway Tunnel needed to be constructed beneath a complex of three 100-year-old historic and occupied commercial buildings at Russia Wharf. The process included intentionally freezing the subsurface layers to temporarily support the weight of the buildings and prevent groundwater from filtering into the construction area.

-- Millennium Park, Chicago, Ill.: McDonough Associates Inc. - Chicago, Ill. - A maze of commuter rail lines and parking lots along Michigan Avenue was transformed into a major Downtown Chicago cultural attraction and transit center with an underground busway and a new park featuring interactive public art, an ice skating rink, gardens, an indoor performance center, and a state-of-the art music pavilion.

-- Brownfield Redevelopment of a BP Former Refinery, Casper, Wyo.: The RETEC Group, Inc. - Casper, Wyo. - A former 300-acre AMOCO refinery site closed in 1991 with significant environmental liabilities, including 30 million gallons of oil that had leaked into a nearby aquifer. In 2001, BP, the current owner began a remediation program to prepare the site for beneficial use. The redevelopment included an 8,000-foot riverfront barrier, 20 horizontal venting and sparge wells, and nearly 100 wells that will recover groundwater and oil for the next 20 years.

-- M.I.T Ray and Maria Stata Center Site Design, Cambridge Mass.: Judith Nitsch Engineering, Inc. - Boston, Mass. - Architect Frank Gehry's vision for the M.I.T. Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences included an abstracted New England landscape. The project team viewed this as an opportunity to create something both visually interesting and utilizing a sustainable design solution, when it developed the center's innovative stormwater management system which collects and retains rainwater with a series of underground collection cells.

2005 ACEC Honor Award Winners
-- Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Program Master Plan for the Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq: Michael Baker Jr., Inc. - Moon Township, Pa., and Stanley Consultants, Inc. - Muscatine, Iowa
-- Biosolids Flow-Through Thermophilic Treatment Process, Columbus, Ga.: Brown and Caldwell - Atlanta, Ga.
-- Seattle Center Library (Communications System): Sparling - Seattle, Wash.
-- Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, N.Y.: Syska Hennessy Group - New York, N.Y.
-- Earthquake Building Instrumentation, San Francisco, Calif.: Degenkolb Engineers - San Francisco, Calif.
-- Kyrene Monte Vista Pedestrian Bridge, Phoenix, Ariz.: SVR, Inc. Consulting Engineers - Tempe, Ariz.
-- Bunker Hillsides Re-Vegetation Project, Kellogg, Idaho: CH2M Hill - Eaglewood, Col.
-- Geysers Recharge Project, Santa Rosa, Calif.: CH2M Hill - Santa Rosa, Calif.
-- Morris Forman Wastewater Treatment Plant, Louisville, Ky.: Black and Veatch Corporation - Kansas City, Mo.
-- Panhandle Road Constructed Wetlands Project, Morrow, Ga.: CH2M Hill - Atlanta, Ga.
-- Brackish Water Desalination Facility, Newark, Calif.: CDM Inc.- Walnut Creek, Calif.
-- Pier T Container Terminal Development, Long Beach, Calif.: KPFF Consulting Engineers - Seattle, Wash.
-- Route 29 South Riverwalk Park, Trenton, N.J.: Vollmer Associates, LLP - Rochelle Park, N.J.
-- Mustard Agent Decontamination System, Aberdeen, Md.: Merrick & Company - Aurora, Col.
-- I-75 Alligator Alley Barrier, Collier County Fla.: American Consulting Engineers of Fla. LLC - Land O' Lakes, Fla.
-- Reconstruction Group Temporary Compound, Kabul, Afghanistan: PAE Government Systems/Louis Berger Group - Washington, D.C.

The American Council of Engineering Companies (www.acec.org) is the business association of America's engineering industry, representing approximately 5,500 independent engineering companies throughout the United States engaged in the development of America's transportation, environmental, industrial, and other infrastructure. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 51 state and regional organizations.

For related news, see: "Everglades restoration conference to draw top experts".

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