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2009 Steel Prize Bridge Winners Announced

September 23, 2009 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago) - Eight Prize winners and five Merit winners have been named in the National Steel Bridge Alliance’s (NSBA) eightieth Prize Bridge Awards Competition. The competition began in 1928 and was held every year until 1977. Following 1977 the competition has been held biennially. The program acknowledges outstanding steel bridge design.

This year's winning projects are:

      • Major Span - Tempe Town Lake Light Rail Bridge, Tempe, Ariz.
      • Long Span - Corridor D/Route 50 Bridge over the Ohio River and Blennerhassett Island, Wood County, W.Va., and Washington County, Ohio.
      • Medium Span - Mount Si Bridge Replacement, North Bend, Wash.
      • Short Span - Roslyn Road Grade Crossing Elimination, Mineola, N.Y.
      • Movable Span - Hamilton Avenue Bridge over the Gowanus Canal, Borough of Brooklyn, N.Y.
      • Special Purpose - Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, Omaha, Neb.
      • Reconstructed - Thurston Avenue Bridge over Fall Creek, Ithaca, N.Y
      • Special Award - Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, Washington, D.C.

The program also designated Merit Awards for the following bridges:

      • MacArthur Maze Ramp Reconstruction, Oakland, Calif.
      • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge, Roanoke, Va.
      • Route 151 over the Salmon River, East Haddam, Conn.
      • Sauk River Bridge, Darrington, Wash.
      • Three Springs Drive Bridge, Weirton, W.Va.

The 2009 program attracted entries from Canada and the United States, covering a variety of structure types and construction methods. All structures were opened to traffic between January 2007 and May 2009.

The designers for each of the Prize Bridge Awards will be honored in a ceremony during the 2009 World Steel Bridge Symposium in San Antonio on November 19, 2009. The owners for each of the Prize Bridge Awards will be honored during the 2010 AASHTO Bridge Subcommittee meeting.

Winning projects were selected based on cost effectiveness, initial cost, life-cycle cost, innovation, aesthetics, and design by a jury of four prominent bridge professionals:

      • Ralph Anderson, chief of bridges and structures, Illinois Department of Transportation;
      • John Elwell, senior supervising engineer and senior project manager, Parsons Brinckerhoff;
      • Nancy Kennedy, principal bridge engineer, Nevada Department of Transportation; and
      • Bill Wilson, editor, Roads & Bridges Magazine.

More about the winners…

Major Span - Tempe Town Lake Light Rail Bridge -- uniquely combines the past, present, and future by commemorating the history and culture of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Incorporating a public art component into the project, the structure has become a local landmark. Joining a family of three historic bridges spanning Tempe Town Lake, this unique bridge offers the community a two-fold reward: a high-capacity transit system and a contemporary landmark with an interesting aesthetic appeal. Detailed and strategic coordination among design and construction teams enabled the delivery of the project on time and on budget.

Project principals: Valley Metro Rail, owner; T.Y. Lin International, designer; PCL Civil Engineering, Inc., general contractor; Stinger Detailing, detailer; and Stinger Welding,   Inc., steel fabricator; Buster Simpson, architect; R.A. Alcala & Associates, Inc., electrical/lighting; A. Dye Design, landscape architecture; Michael Baker Jr., Inc., civil engineering.

Jury comments: Its innovative use of steel pipes creates a powerful and efficient structural system. It is “beauty over water” and the lighting makes it a piece of art.

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Long Span - Corridor D/Rte 50 Bridge over the Ohio River & Blennerhassett Island -- embodies the innovative and context-sensitive application of design technology. Engineers and planners departed from traditional design methodology by integrating truss elements in a tied-arch structure – post-tensioned steel cables, deck, and pier caps – and thereby developed a hybrid design that optimizes structural integrity, user safety, and cost efficiency. Leading-edge materials and techniques, utilized to achieve efficiencies, may have implications for future engineering applications. From conception to completion, the project emphasized environmental and cultural stewardship. Through stakeholder collaboration, the design team delivered a structure that meets mobility needs while preserving the area’s rich environmental and cultural heritage.

Project principals: West Virginia Department of Transportation, owner; Michael Baker, Jr., Inc., designer; Walsh Construction Company, general contractor; PDM Bridge, LLC, steel fabricator; Carolina Steel Group, LLC, steel fabricator; HNTB, consulting firm; E.L Robinson, consulting engineer.

Jury comments: Showcases complexity on a grand scale. The use of network cables was very innovative. This bridge should make a lasting impression over the Ohio River.          


Medium Span - Mount Si Bridge Replacement -- opened to traffic in April 2009, this $10 million structure replaced a deteriorating bridge that was more than 90 years old. The new bridge utilizes 406 tons of steel and is 240 ft long with an average width of 43 ft.

The Mount Si Bridge serves as a vital link across the Snoqualmie River for local residents and as a gateway to regional outdoor activities within the Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area. A steel Pratt truss design was chosen to meet the project goals of aesthetics, historical continuity, cost, ease of construction, and long-term maintenance requirements.

Project principals: King County Department of Transportation Engineering Services Section, owner; Andersen Bjornstad Kane Jacobs (ABK), designer; Mowat Construction Company, general contractor; MKE Detailing Service, detailer; Jesse Engineering Company, steel fabricator; and 3 Ring Services, consulting firm.

Jury comments: This bridge matches the beauty of its surroundings. The work that went into protecting the bridge from the elements was extraordinary and was incorporated into the aesthetic scheme of the bridge.  

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Short Span - Roslyn Road Grade Crossing Elimination -- Through the design team’s innovative staging solutions to challenges of constructing the Roslyn Road Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Bridge, the project vastly improved public safety, traffic operations, and the quality of life in the Village of Mineola. As a major element of the Roslyn Road Grade Crossing Elimination Project, the 73-ft steel girder bridge, carrying LIRR tracks over the depressed Roslyn Road, eliminated the most dangerous at-grade crossing in the village. This effort begun 50 years ago to assure that never again would loss of life occur due to drivers ignoring the crossing gate and proceeding onto the tracks.

Project principals: Long Island Railroad and the Village of Minneola, owners; Stantec Consulting Services, entrant.

Jury comments: The construction staging was impressive, working with busy railroad. Aesthetically, it fits into the neighborhood. It’s a unique solution to a unique situation. They made it safe with a sound solution.


Movable Span - Hamilton Avenue Bridge over the Gowanus Canal – its most unique aspects are the structure type and the highly constrained construction period. The skewed bascule spans are extremely rare in the movable bridge industry. These highly complex arrangements offer numerous challenges in the design, fabrication, and erection of the structure. The project team took a proactive approach to addressing these complexities and collaborated heavily during the fabrication phase to ensure the field erection proceeded without substantial delays. The collaborative approach led to project completion on or ahead of the two key milestones to ensure the bridges were functional for roadway and marine traffic.

Project principals: New York City Department of Transportation, owner; Hardesty & Hanover, LLP, designer; Kiewit Constructors, Inc., general contractors, Inc.; PDM Bridge, steel fabricator; Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., consulting firm; Urbitran, resident Engineering and Inspection.

Jury comments: The highly skewed elements separated this bridge from the competition. The fabrication process was intense, and in the end very rewarding.


Special Purpose - Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge -- combines engineering excellence and visual elegance unlike any pedestrian bridge in the country. Spanning the Missouri River and connecting Omaha, Neb., with Council Bluffs, IA, the structure is one of the longest pedestrian-only bridges in the nation at more than 2,300 ft. The steel structure’s curvilinear design is a visual icon that connects more than 150 miles of trails for walkers, runners, and bicyclists. Already exceeding usage projections by significant margins, the bridge is a signature landmark that has become more than a means to a destination – it is a destination in and of itself.

Project principals: City of Omaha, owner; HNTB Corporation, designer; APAC-Kansas, Inc., general contractor; Delong’s Inc., steel fabricator and detailer; HNTB Corporation, architect.

Jury comments: It’s a unique structure – the construction of a curved bridge with straight members added an interesting element. It’s also a graceful and attractive bridge created with a one-of-a-kind approach.

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Reconstructed - Thurston Avenue Bridge over Fall Creek – is a true team effort on the rehabilitation and widening of this National Register Eligible parabolic steel arch structure. The bridge is the gateway from the residential to the academic areas of the Cornell University campus, carrying over 2,000 pedestrians per day.

Project principals: City of Ithaca Department of Public Works, owner; LaBella Associates, PC, designer; Economy Paving, Inc., general contractor; BendTech, Inc., steel fabricator; Bereza Ironworks, Inc., bridge railing fabricator.

Jury comments: The great lengths that were taken to mesh a new structure with the historic one should be considered legendary. The bent tubular arches are a graceful element. It’s an innovative solution to fabricate arches. The color treatments were exceptional.


Special Award - Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge – this 6,000-ft steel bridge across the Potomac River includes a record-setting bascule span with an arch-like appearance, designed to function effectively for 75 years. The project overcame difficult soil conditions and navigational requirements to enhance the beauty of the Nation’s Capital; it was built in a natural environment inhabited by endangered fish species and bald eagles. It allowed 200,000 vehicles per day through the construction site and orchestrated four major traffic shifts with 24 prime contractors to get traffic on the new bridge. It was also delivered on time and within budget.

Project principals: Maryland State Highway Administration, co- owner; Virginia Department of Transportation, co-owner; Parsons, designer; American Bridge/Edward Kraemer & Sons JV (bascule), general contractor; Tensor Engineering (bascule contract), detailer; PDM Bridge, LLC (bascule), steel fabricator; Hardesty & Hanover LLP (bascule superstructure design), consulting firm; Cox Graae Spack Architects (operator house design), architect; Potomac Crossing Consultants, general engineering consultants.

Jury comments: It’s a monumental bridge. The engineering elements are amazing. It’s packed full of innovation and is a trailblazer in the land of leaders. This was a stimulus package before there was a need. The number of jobs created was incredible. It’s a visually stunning bridge that enhances D.C.’s architecture. It’s elegant with good lines.

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Merit Award - MacArthur Maze Ramp Reconstruction – this vital link in Oakland, Calif., collapsed in April, 2007, due to a fuel tanker truck fire. It has 80,000 ADT (Average Daily Traffic) and an estimated total economic impact to the Bay Area of $6 million per day. The innovative reconstruction design used simplified steel girders without transverse stiffeners to achieve rapid fabrication for the upper ramp and heat straightening for the lower ramp. The bridge opened to traffic on May 24, just 25 days after the accident. The bridge reconstruction was praised by all Bay Area media and was featured at the Accelerated Bridge Construction Conference.

Project principals: California Department of Transportation, owner and designer; C.C. Myers, Inc., general contractor; Stinger Welding Inc., steel fabricator.

Merit Award - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge - encompassed converting a 115 year old vehicular bridge spanning rail lines to pedestrian-only use, while preserving historic architectural elements. Bringing this vision to life demanded considerable research by the engineering team to resolve technical issues related to the removal, shipment, and restoration of the spans. This pedestrian crossing plays a critical role in linking a predominantly African-American neighborhood north of the tracks and the city’s downtown business district to the south. With the bridge’s approaches redesigned to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the finished project serves as a functional, fitting memorial and source of pride for the entire community.

Project principals: City of Roanoke, owner; AECOM, designer; Allegheny Construction Company, general contractor; Structural Steel Products Corporation, steel fabricator; Hill Studio, consulting firm.

Merit Award - Route 151 over the Salmon River – This challenging river crossing was a site of frequent ice jams. The original three-span steel bridge had served well, however, riverbed scour had undermined the footings. In order to eliminate the potential for future scour and ice jams, the new span was set at 250 ft with a 20-degree skew. The foundations were designed for 26 ft of anticipated scour. There were limits on the roadway profile that necessitated a structure with a total depth of 8.5 ft. With these constraints, high performance steel was the only material that could fit the bill.

Project principals: Connecticut Department of Transportation, owner; CME Associates, Inc., designer; Baier Construction Company, Inc., general contractor; National Eastern Corporation, detailer and steel fabricator.

Merit Award - Sauk River Bridge – was designed to be continuous for dead loads and live loads and allowed longer spans to be achieved, improving material efficiency. Advanced 3-D modeling was incorporated into the design and construction, allowing members to be optimized. An innovative launch technique allowed the bridge to be constructed on shore and cantilevered into place, which minimized environmental impacts. Hot-dip galvanizing and powder coating was used over the bridge, a first for the region. Temporary erosion control measures were used during construction. Longer pier spans accommodated river migration, and a QuikDeck work platform and protective system kept debris from entering the river. The design innovations incorporated into the launching scheme saved approximately $1 million in construction costs and about five months in construction time.

Project principals: Snohomish County Public Works, owner; Berger/ABAM, designer; Mowat Construction Company, general contractor; Pro Draft Inc., detailer; Ranier Welding Inc., steel fabricator.

Merit Award - Three Springs Drive Bridge – utilized Simple for Dead - Continuous for Live Load (SDCL) steel plate girder construction. Benefits included ease of construction, decreased traffic disruption, and minimal future maintenance. Due to simplified and expedited fabrication, erection, simplified traffic control, and cost effective design and detailing, both schedule and cost were minimized. The SDCL detailing combined with the pier continuity splice, weathering steel, and fully integral abutments will help minimize maintenance and extend the life over conventional fully-continuous steel plate girder structures of similar size.

Project principals: West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, owner; HDR Engineering, Inc., designer; Ohio-West Virginia Excavating Company, general contractor; Ohio Structures, Inc., detailer and steel fabricator; Alvarez, Inc., erector.

About the National Steel Bridge Alliance

The National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA), a division of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), is dedicated to advancing the state-of-the-art of steel bridge design and construction. This national, non-profit organization is a unified voice representing the entire steel bridge community. The NSBA seeks to facilitate/coordinate the industry efforts to enhance the deployment of steel bridge design and construction in the U.S. through technology confidence building, infrastructure strengthening, and market awareness. The NSBA maintains a committed focus on assisting its membership with their bridge design needs and technical information associated with steel bridge construction.



 For more information contact:
Tasha O'Berski
Communications Department
(312) 670-5439
[email protected]


American Institute of Steel Construction
The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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