Two SEH projects received engineering excellence honors during the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota’s (ACEC-MN) 52nd Annual Engineering Excellence Awards Program on January 25.
SEH and partnering firm Parsons Corporation received the Grand Conceptor Award – the highest overall scoring project by the judging panel – for the St. Anthony Parkway Bridge over BNSF Northtown Yard within the City of Minneapolis. The Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail project – on behalf of Three Rivers Park District in Edina, Minnesota – received an Engineering Excellence Grand Award.
ACEC-MN’s Awards Program recognizes engineering achievements that “exhibit the highest degree of merit and ingenuity.” Entries were judged by an objective panel based on originality and innovation; future value to the engineering profession; social, economic and sustainable design considerations; complexity; and meeting the client’s needs.
“We greatly appreciate receiving the Grand Conceptor Award for the St. Anthony Parkway Bridge, but beyond that we’re thrilled the City of Minneapolis has a structure that preserves its legacy, protects the community and one that will stand the test of time,” said Mark Maves, SEH Structural Engineer and Project Manager.
SEH served as lead designer for the project, which runs over Northeast Minneapolis’ BNSF Railway. SEH also led planning and construction engineering, and coordinated all aspects of the new bridge and approach roadway with the City, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), BNSF Railway, MnDOT Cultural Resources Unit and the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office.
The new bridge replaces a historic 85-year-old, five-span Warren truss bridge and features a 305 foot steel truss span and two 125 foot steel girder spans that carry two 12 foot lanes, a sidewalk and a bicycle trail over the BNSF Railway. Due to the high volume of rail traffic, the truss span was erected along the west approach and incrementally launched over 12 tracks. The truss is a unique design that features a redundant post-tensioned bottom chord.
The project also required a high level of coordination due to the historical component of the in-place bridge. The SEH team closely collaborated with the City, community, historians as well as artisan and agency partners to preserve portions of the old trusses and integrate them into an interpretive plaza.
“Historic structures give an area their identity and, rightly so, residents want to preserve that integrity,” said Kristin Petersen, SEH Senior Planner and Public Involvement Specialist. “It was a result of gathering community input, along with coordinating the historic designation bodies that helped define how the new bridge looks as well as what we included in the historic plaza.”
Today, the bridge and overlook provide a stunning view of the Minneapolis skyline, the bustling railyard, sculptural elements from the old truss, and panels that illustrate the history and development of the surrounding area.
“We were faced with immense adversity throughout this project – it was challenging but brought to light the benefits of true collaboration and commitment,” said Toby Muse, SEH Project Manager. “We’re thrilled to receive this recognition from ACEC, but above all we’re excited to see TRPD rewarded for the investment they’ve made in the communities they serve.”
Between 2000 and 2014, TRPD constructed 9.2 miles of the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail through four Minnesota communities: Hopkins, Minnetonka, Richfield and Bloomington. Following this, TRPD was left with perhaps the most challenging portion, the middle; a 6.1 mile stretch that lay through the City of Edina. Situated immediately southwest of Minneapolis, Edina has a population of nearly 50,000 residents across 16 square miles. It is a first-ring suburb known for its quality of living, education system, shopping and dining, protected wetlands and beautiful parks.
Designing and constructing this 6.1 mile segment proved to be uniquely challenging due to the trail’s proximity to its namesake creek, private and commercial properties, wetlands, woodlands and floodplains; the need to pass over two major highways; under a heavily used City street via a tunnel; and through other developed infrastructure. In response, the SEH project team provided a number of solutions:
This project exemplifies TRPD’s commitment to creating regional facilities that inspire people to walk and bike as well as connect with each other and nature – while protecting the region’s water and natural resources. Thoughtful planning and design incorporated compliance with the American with Disabilities Act; ensuring users across all demographics and abilities can freely use the trail.
The trail was unveiled and opened to the public during summer 2018, with nearly 110,000 trail users expected annually along the Edina segment. Now connected across more than 16 miles, the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail as a whole is projected to serve nearly 500,000 users annually.