James + Associates honored for I-24 bridge project

Friday, April 12, 2013, Vol. 37, No. 15
By Joe Morris

Most everyone in and around Nashville remembers, with a shudder, last year’s weekend closures of I-24 near downtown for overpass repair.

The massive project was no small inconvenience for motorists, and it wasn’t a picnic for design firm James + Associates, Engineers & Planners Inc., either. But the firm’s ability to complete the tricky project earned it some accolades in the Engineering Excellence competition sponsored by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Tennessee, where two other firms nabbed top honors in the competition, and a third took home overall top honors for its efforts.

The Korean Veterans Boulevard (KVB) extension project downtown picked up a Grand Award in the Transportation category for Parsons Brinckerhoff and its client, Metro Nashville Public Works. Top honors also went to AMEC Environment and Infrastructure Inc. for the Nashville Safe Program it designed for Metro Nashville Water Services.

And the Grand Iris Award, the competition’s top prize, went to EnSafe Inc., for its “Successful Low-Concentration TCE Remedy in Groundwater” environmental project, completed for the United States Navy installation in Millington.

The I-24 Bridge Deck Replacement Project at Main and Woodland Streets picked up the Grand Award in the Structural Systems category.

“We have a contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation for bridge repairs, so this was a part of that process,” says Darrell James, the firm’s president. “But this was pretty unique. Because the work could only be done from 8 p.m. on Friday night until 4 a.m. Monday morning, we had to run 24 hours a day on the weekends.

“We designed the new decks, prefabricated them in a manufacturing facility and then brought them out, so we had to determine how many sections could be cut out and replaced in a weekend, and then could bear traffic until we could come back and do the next phase.”

The KVB road project, which runs from 4th Avenue to 8th Avenue, required many steps prior to the first asphalt going down. There were environmental evaluations and usage issues as the surrounding area began to be developed, all of which made the project intricate, says Brian Reynolds, lead engineer for Parsons Brinckerhoff.

“Extensive coordination with the Music City Center project was a necessity to ensure that the new roadway would be open to serve the new convention center when it opened,” he says.

“The construction of the MCC required the relocation of an existing electrical substation and construction of underground electrical duct banks throughout KVB right-of-way.”

AMEC Environment and Infrastructure Inc.’s win in the Studies, Research and Consulting category was for a project that harkens back to May 2010, when large swaths of Nashville were under water.

The Nashville Safe Program, or Situational Awareness for Flooding Events, created emergency procedural documents, a training video, and other systems for Metro Water Services in order to set new benchmarks for flood response and relief coordination.

“Although the catastrophic property damage that occurred as a result of the May 2010 flood in Nashville was tragic, the fatalities are what really upset me the most,” says Bradley Heilwagen, project manager and team leader for AMEC.

“I believe that all flood-related deaths can be prevented, and saw this as an opportunity to help Metro Nashville prevent future flood-related deaths.”

A major challenge was identifying and filling gaps between the services performed by the various federal, state, and local agencies during a flood emergency, Heilwagen says.

EnSafe Inc.’s Grand Iris Award-winning project, “Successful Low-Concentration TCE Remedy in Groundwater,” meant going back to World War II, and tidying up some of the groundwater-related messes that era’s maintenance practices left behind.

“EnSafe conducted most of the work under a 10-year, Navy CLEAN (Comprehensive, Long-Term Environmental Action Navy) contract we had with the Navy,” says Ben Brantley, project manager, adding that the work fell under the umbrella of the government’s Base Realignment and Closure activities at military installations around the country.

Once EnSafe engineers came up with the proper substance that could be introduced into the aquifer to remove the contaminant, they had to find the source of the problem. In an aquifer measuring 700 feet wide by 4,500 feet long, as well as quite deep, this was no small task.

“Due to multiple small releases, probably from a cup here, a bucket there, over the course of many years, when there wasn’t emphasis on proper waste handling practices, there were small and numerous source areas,” Brantley says.