The 2021 ACEC/Iowa Engineering Excellence Awards winning projects in the Transportation Category:

Transportation Grand Place Award (1st Place in Category)
Grand Conceptor Award (1st Place All Around)

Firm:  HDR 
Client/Owner: Iowa Department of Transportation
Project: Council Bluffs Interstate System Dual, Divided Freeway

The Council Bluffs Interstate System was constructed in the 1960s and, apart from routine maintenance, has remained virtually unchanged since. Packed with traffic and frequent crashes, the corridor no longer met current design standards, guidelines or operational criteria; lacked operational capacity; and could not accommodate expected growth.
The $1.5 billion, 14-mile Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program accommodates development, reduces congestion, improves mobility and increases traveler safety. It includes the state’s most innovative transportation solutions — the area’s first dual, divided freeway; Iowa’s largest construction project, first to use a tiered environmental permitting and first use of a robust critical path method (CPM) scheduling; and the Iowa DOT’s first project using a program manager.
Working as an extension of Iowa DOT staff, the HDR team developed a cadence of program updates and construction alerts through meetings, social media and email, monitored a construction hotline, created clear graphics and easy-to-understand annual reports, and briefed elected officials on program progress. They developed videos that explained the dual, divided freeway concept and operations since it was an unfamiliar concept to the region. These efforts positioned the DOT as the first, best source for program information and epitomized the program’s branded tagline of Getting You There.
Contributing to the local economy with more than 6,000 jobs thus far, the design accommodates not just current traffic, but future traffic and planned development in the rapidly growing area. At the same time, the dual, divided freeway is expected to reduce crashes by 21% with new, spaced out interchanges and separated through traffic from local traffic. When crashes happen, the new intelligent transportation system responds, using sensors, traffic monitoring cameras and the state’s first full-color dynamic message signs to monitor and manage traffic throughout the corridor.
The project team overcame significant hurdles including relocating multiple, Class I railroads, overcoming worldwide pandemic implications, managing through multiple flood events, designing complex bridge structures, traversing multiple waterways, moving an astronomical quantity of material, and maintaining traffic on one of America’s most vital corridors.
Completed under budget and ahead of schedule, the program provides a blueprint for large-scale interstate rehabilitation and overhaul efforts in a dense urban corridor, requiring coordination with dozens of agencies, and ongoing communication with the traveling public.
About HDR: For over a century, HDR has partnered with clients to shape communities and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Our expertise spans more than 10,000 employees in more than 200 locations around the world — and counting. Our engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services bring an impressive breadth of knowledge to every project. Our optimistic approach to finding innovative solutions defined our past and drives our future. For more information, please visit www.hdrinc.com.

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