Mead & Hunt Wins Six ACEC Awards
The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) annually recognizes significant achievement in engineering design. This year Mead & Hunt project teams were awarded four Engineering Excellence Awards from ACEC Wisconsin and two from ACEC National.
Dane County Regional Airport
Mead & Hunt received a National Recognition Award from ACEC national and a Best of State Finalist Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC Wisconsin for their work on the Dane County Regional Airport snow removal equipment facility. The new 58,800-square-foot structure better centralizes operations for the tandem snow plows that clear the way for aircraft arrivals and departures. It has earned a LEED Gold certification due to several sustainable design features outperforming expectations.
The airport wanted the new building to bring a variety of functions under one roof: an administrative area, equipment maintenance and vehicle storage. The internal budget limited what could be done in this initial phase of development.
To address these concerns, Mead & Hunt designed this phase to meet the current budget while also allowing for a future expansion of 45,000 square feet to the north. Even though it was rerouted several years ago, sediment deposits were left by a meandering creek bed that caused very poor soil conditions. Despite these soil conditions and tight site constraints, the building is solid with one thousand helical pilings supporting the structure and the floor slab. Precast sandwich panels also provide insulation and structural support for the roof.
The roof of this SRE houses the state's largest municipal solar array, which provides approximately half of its energy. This led to the unique opportunity for Mead & Hunt to assist with the FAA efforts to establish standards of design. Realizing the potential for the panels to reflect sunlight that would interfere with crew sight lines, the FAA required studies for safety. The FAA then used the study results from this project to develop the standards of design.
Dane County has always embraced green buildings, and the snow removal equipment building contains several features that led to its LEED Gold rating. The solar array, geothermal heating and cooling and efficient mechanical systems are just a few of many ways the facility is designed to minimize impact on the environment. Instead of demolishing the previous building, the airport repurposed it for dorms for the plow operators during snowstorms.
"Our team really enjoyed working with our long-time client Dane County Regional Airport on their extraordinary snow removal equipment building," said Andy Platz, President of Mead & Hunt. "Our work allowed the airport to capitalize on available funding and build a sustainable, updated facility ready for future expansion when the time comes."
Montello Dam Spillway and Embankment Reconstruction
For their design Mead & Hunt received a National Recognition Award from ACEC national and a Best of State Finalist Engineering Excellence Award. The Montello Dam, owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, was used to detour traffic during flooding in 2008, which led to the discovery of soft spots, sinkholes, erosion and general safety concerns. In its reconstruction, the vibrating beam slurry wall technique was used for the first time on a dam in Wisconsin. The reconstruction project not only stabilized the dam, improving public safety, but it also delivered environmental and recreational benefits.
The Montello Dam in central Wisconsin was originally constructed in 1855 as a 2,600-foot-long earth embankment to service the sawmill industry. The dam impounds the Fox River and creates Buffalo Lake, which is vital to local recreation. In 1933, a rock-filled timber crib spillway was added along with a lock to eventually connect Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River as part of the lock navigation system. The arrival of rail service to the region rendered the canal system obsolete, at which point the lock gates were replaced with slide gates for reservoir control and draining when necessary.
While the project initially was undertaken for the sole objective of improving safety by stabilizing the embankment, the WDNR saw this as an opportunity to meet other objectives. As a result, the project list grew to adding fish passage, recreational features, ADA accessibility, and the new slide gates for better winter pool control. The two most significant challenges were choosing the right solution for the cutoff wall to control seepage and incorporating fish passage into the overflow spillway while maintaining the historic appearance.
Mead & Hunt recommended the use of the VBSW technology for the cutoff wall to meet site constraints and reduce costs. Installing a VBSW consists of driving a wide flange beam to an underlying confining soil layer while injecting a bentonite-cement mixture. A trailing fin on the beam guides the beam along the previous insertion. The process is repeated, creating a continuous cutoff wall.
The reconstruction was initially budgeted at $9 million, but cost $5.9 million. Of that, the VBSW saved more than $2 million. The project effectively met its many objectives:
It cost-effectively addressed stability and replaced the existing spillway.
The new slide gates enhance the ability to adjust the winter pool elevation and to manage drawdown for control of aquatic invasive species.
New fish passage will create a more "open" system and Buffalo Lake may see added benefits by being reopened to the entire Fox River system, improving breeding, habitat and feeding grounds for walleye, sturgeon and flathead catfish.
A drawdown of the lake allowed the reconstruction to take place with minimal use of cofferdams, created an opportunity to control invasive species in the lake bed, and facilitated installation of the cutoff wall.
It was completed three months ahead of the deadline.
Updated recreational features include fishing piers, a boat launch near the midpoint of the embankment, a canoe portage, and an expanded boat and trailer parking lot. Where possible, these updates now allow for ADA access where previously they did not.
While the embankment dam footprint was increased, impacts to the downstream wetland were prevented. The improvements are expected to last in excess of 50 years. The granite masonry veneers used on the fish passage and abutment walls together with the stamped stone concrete maintain the historical look and feel. The economical VBSW used in the earth embankment is performing as intended, which increases stability and promotes public safety. The public recreational amenities including the new boat launch, canoe portage and fishing piers make the site accessible for all and very user friendly for future generations.
"In approaching the WDNR's Montello Dam reconstruction project, Mead & Hunt championed for an alternative technology that shortened the time of construction and limited adjacent environmental impacts," said Brent Binder, Natural Resources Engineer for the WDNR. "This project ended up costing nearly a third less than the $9 million budget. It is a high quality and cost-effective project that has yielded safety, environmental and recreational benefits for the community and the Fox River system."
General Mitchell International Airport
The airfield safety improvement projects at General Mitchell International Airport earned an Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC Wisconsin. Mead & Hunt provided design and project management and served as the owner's representative during construction. This was a complex, multi-phased project that included a feasibility study, an environmental assessment, and the design of multiple bid packages and construction administration services. Phasing the project over multiple years for construction resulted in minimal disruptions to air and ground traffic and made the best use of incremental Federal Aviation Administration funding, all resulting in enhanced safety at the airport.
GMIA, Wisconsin's largest targeted airport, had more than 3.2 million enplanements last year. Following a national directive to have runway safety areas meet federal standards by 2015, the FAA identified non-compliant safety areas for three of GMIA's runways because roads and a railroad encroached into them.
Ground transportation projects included the realignment of 6th Street, the College Avenue bypass road, the College Avenue tunnel construction, and completion of the airport perimeter road system that included bridge structures over both Howell and College Avenue. The improvements altered all four ends of GMIA's two longest runways. Challenges included reducing environmental impacts and construction effects to the airport users and local roadway users. Another significant challenge dealt with designing various project alternatives to allow for the greatest flexibility and most economical use of funding within schedule limitations.
Mead & Hunt worked with GMIA staff on public outreach efforts throughout the project. The meetings and mailings raised awareness among the community and other stakeholders. Engineering students and faculty from Marquette University toured the project several times to observe the unique challenges of airport design and construction.
University of Wisconsin Stormwater Project
Mead & Hunt accepted an Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC Wisconsin for their planning, design, construction administration and environmental services for the University of Wisconsin-Madison stormwater project. This unique project is the first time four new-engineered soil mixes are being used to reduce the amount of phosphorous entering nearby Lake Mendota and the Yahara watershed.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison initiated a project to treat stormwater runoff with a goal of reducing total suspended solids in stormwater runoff by 40 percent campus wide as part of a larger initiative to reduce pollutants in the Yahara watershed. For the selected site, traditional methods for stormwater runoff treatment pointed to a standard mix of soils to filter the water before it flowed into the local water bodies. Instead, the engineering team used new engineered soil mixes in new bioretention treatment areas and a naturalized wet detention pond to meet the challenges unique to this project location: high groundwater, contaminated soils, limited space, wetlands and a watershed with a lot of phosphorus. The characteristics of the selected site translated to making the most economical use of funding available to complete the project.
"The project's success included great effort from Mead & Hunt and their subconsultants in creating areas that would accomplish the lofty goal of as much total suspended solids removal as possible while not ponding water for more than 24 hours," said Rhonda James, PLA, ASLA, University of Wisconsin - Madison.
During project planning, UW-Madison collected public input from area residents and Eagle Heights Apartments staff. The final design accounted for the safety of small children living in the apartments by avoiding project installations in recreational fields or social gathering areas.
The project was designed so that monitoring could be accommodated in the future to measure the amount of phosphorus in the water leaving the treatment facilities. This new information can then be used by the WDNR to incorporate into their Technical Standards for others to use on future projects without going through the additional coordination, review and approvals that this project required.
The campus project is among the first biorentention facilities containing these unique engineered soil mixes to be installed in Wisconsin.