ORB East End Crossing Named No. 1 Top Project Start in the Midwest


Engineering News-Record (ENR) Midwest has named the Ohio River Bridges East End Crossing the No. 1 project among its “Midwest Top Project Starts of 2012” annual list in its April 1, 2013 magazine, ranking the highest out of 50 total projects across the region.

Our firm, American Structurepoint, is serving as the subconsultant to the lead design firm, Jacobs, on this project, which is headed by prime contractor and developer team Walsh Construction and VINCI Concessions. East End Crossing was procured by the Indiana Finance Authority and the Indiana Department of Transportation as a best value design-build-finance-operate-maintain project. The $763 million project, which began in August 2012, has a scheduled completion date of October of 2016.

We are extremely proud of this accomplishment and opportunity to participate in one of the largest transportation projects on-going in the nation. From our Transportation Group’s standpoint, the Ohio River Bridges project is the largest opportunity we’ve ever pursued, and this is the first public-private partnership we’ve ever been involved with. We hope this will help us to create more future teaming opportunities.

Our heaviest involvement for the East End Crossing project is with the Indiana approach to the new East End Bridge. We’ll modify the interchange at IN 265 with IN 62 and Port Road and design a new interchange at IN 265 and Old Salem Road. Our team will also design a new 4-lane, 4-mile road from the existing IN 265 interchange at IN 62 all the way to the new cable-stayed bridge that will be constructed over the Ohio River, just north of Utica and eight miles upstream from the current bridge. In addition, the work will include a combination of new and widening rehabilitation work on 18 bridges.

Last year’s “Midwest Top Project Starts of 2011” winner was the US 31 Major Moves Upgrade in Hamilton County, Ind., a $600 million INDOT project also expected to reach completion in 2017. The Ohio River Bridges East End Crossing project cost tops last year’s No. 1 project by $163 million—a giant undertaking for a very important infrastructure improvement project.

Learn more about the Ohio River Bridges projects at http://kyinbridges.com.


The Need For Civil Engineering

I like to think of civil engineering as “people” engineering, because everything we do impacts people. And the need for engineers is greater today than ever before!

There are so many places in the world that—from an infrastructure standpoint—have nothing.

Global challenges include:

  • Energy independence—phasing out fossil fuels; developing safe alternatives, such as nuclear power; finding domestic alternatives to foreign oil, such as hydrofracking or the development of more efficient battery technology        .
  • Clean drinking water—one billion people today do not have access to clean drinking water. A child dies every 15 seconds as a direct result of an illness related to this problem. Civil engineers are the ones working to solve this problem every day.
  • Aging infrastructure—stories like the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, are growing all too common. Civil engineers will be the ones to drive infrastructure renewal, and we’ll do it in a way that enhances the environment.
  • Sustainability, renewable resources, and advanced technology for recycling and cleaning up our environment.
  • More people moving to large cities—Purdue and other universities are studying just how engineering improvements need be identified and completed when a large city like Chicago “doubles” in population into a “mega city.”
  • The development of new building materials that are stronger, lighter, and more ductile.
    • Today we are designing buildings not just to withstand gravity, wind, and seismic loads. We are designing some of them to remain standing even in a crippled state when one or more columns are destroyed by a blast. In Oklahoma City, only 10 percent of the 138 lives were lost due to the shock of the blast or flying glass. Ninety percent were killed by the structure itself.
    • Intermodal movement of freight and goods throughout the world.
    • Flood control and irrigation control.
      • Civil engineers will provide leadership as we study and respond to climate change and changes in sea level.

The list goes on and on, but all these are huge global problems, which will be solved by designers, CEOs, presidents, and vice presidents who are engineers—all “idea people.”

Organizations comprised of idea people, such as ASCE, and events like the Bridge Bust Competition, help ignite the careers of aspiring engineers at the high school level so that when students graduate, they will consider majoring in engineering. This next wave of engineers is already ahead of the game, learning hands-on what it takes to be a visionary, think outside the box, and solve infrastructure problems.

I am proud that American Structurepoint is considered among the leading engineering firms in our industry, including holding the rank of No. 1 Indianapolis engineering consultant firm by Indianapolis Business Journal, and holding the No. 160 spot on the national Engineering News-Record Top 500 US engineering firms list. I look forward to more opportunities to speak to young people about the importance of civil engineering, and what American Structurepoint is doing to solve the infrastructure challenges on the global scale.

ASCE 2013 Bridge Bust Competition Teaches Hoosier High School Students Valuable Engineering Skills on a Global Scale

Everyone on the planet today is so close, so connected. There’s no doubt we all play in a “global sandbox.”

Civil engineers solve global infrastructure problems. Their solutions have an enormous impact that affects generations. What better way to teach aspiring engineers about the real-world application of engineering concepts than by telling high school students about my own passion for engineering?

I was fortunate to be invited as the featured guest speaker by Purdue University and the Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers to present my thoughts on civil engineering to more than 100 students from 13 different high schools across Indiana. These students were participating in the 34th Annual ASCE Bridge Bust Competition, held on March 1 at the Armory on the Purdue University Campus in West Lafayette, Indiana.

I not only gave the students a pep talk for the balsa wood bridge building competition, but I encouraged them to consider engineering as a career path. Engineers are decision makers with unique problem-solving abilities and are grounded in a strong math and science background. We are creative thinkers who can use our analytical skills to develop amazing solutions. We are natural leaders who work well in teams and possess a strong work ethic. You put all this in a bowl and stir it up, and you get vision! And it takes vision to solve the world’s infrastructure problems on a global scale.

The Sky’s the Limit

Replicating the world’s infrastructure problems on a smaller scale, the Bridge Bust Competition gave students the opportunity to use balsa wood and glue to design and construct a “bridge” that was aesthetically pleasing, demonstrated sound structural concepts, and maximized the ratio of the load capacity to the bridge mass. They used advanced math, science, physics, and technology skills to solve their first civil engineering “problem,” similar to the bridge engineers working at American Structurepoint. Bridges were judged in two categories—structural strength and aesthetic qualities.

The valuable lessons students learned from the competition included how to:

  • Arrange the members and connections in a bridge for efficiency, strength and constructability to carry a load;
  • Select durable, renewable materials;
  • Meet all the geometric constraints of size, including width, length, and height;
  • Satisfy aesthetic standards;
  • Deliver the bridge project on time and ready for use; and
  • Build a bridge at a reasonable cost.

By using their best judgment and “hidden” engineering skills, the students successfully solved the bridge problem just like engineers did 150 years ago, and in many ways, like our engineers do today, using the same principals.

In the real world, their efficient designs would translate into saving time and money for a client. A successful bridge project would not only help connect two roads, bringing towns and people closer together, but it may also spur economic development and job growth. I personally believe these types of achievements by civil engineers on a global scale will help drive the world economy in a more positive direction.

Students from the Plymouth Community School Corporation won first and second place for structural strength, while students from Northwestern and Paxton won first and second place, respectively, for aesthetics. Coming in third for structural strength was Greenwood, and in third for aesthetics was Centerville. The first place team in each category was awarded a $100 cash scholarship. The second place team in each category was awarded a $50 cash scholarship. The third place team in each category was awarded Purdue University apparel.

After congratulating the winning students, I encouraged all the participants of the Bridge Bust Competition to major in engineering, because with an engineering education, the opportunities are endless. The sky’s the limit!