Delivering Resilient Design, One Project at a Time

A Snapshot of the Year’s Top Engineering Projects and the

Georgia Firms Who Made Them Happen

By Kasie Bolling

(Please See Full Feature In This issue’s Digital Issue:

Awarding innovation and ingenuity on an annual basis, the Engineering Excellence Awards pay tribute to exceptional design by Georgia engineers. Presented by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia (ACEC Georgia) and determined by a panel of judges, each award-winning project and firm must demonstrate engineering excellence based upon a number of factors, including: uniqueness and innovative applications; future value to the engineering profession; perception by the public; social, economic and sustainable development considerations; complexity; and successful fulfillment of client/owners’ needs.

From overcoming complex challenges with unique solutions, to engaging community members and incorporating public input, the project awards recognize the work and dedication of not only the lead engineering firm, but also the clients, community leaders and teaming partners who each play an integral role in its success.

Grand Award Winner


Porsche Cars North America Headquarters/Aerotropolis Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia

Environmental Category Winner

While the City of Atlanta is often associated with the symbol of the phoenix for its rise in the years following the Civil War to its place on the world stage as host to the Centennial Olympics, this year’s Grand Prize winner is a reflection of that transformation.

Poised at a highly visible, publicly accessible area of Hapeville, Ga. on approximately 130 acres between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Interstate 75, the former site of the Atlanta Assembly Plant for Ford Motor Company needed to be redeveloped and reimagined. Envisioned as a multi-use development called Aerotropolis Atlanta, the developer – Jacoby Development, Inc. – originally retained Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure for zoning, civil engineering, environmental strategy and due diligence at the 70-year-old site. The firm’s services soon expanded to include the provision of environmental consulting, engineering and construction support for abatement, demolition, soil remediation and redevelopment.

In order to provide the appropriate foundation for Jacoby’s vision of Aerotropolis Atlanta, Amec Foster Wheeler had some major environmental obstacles to overcome. With the closure and decommission of the original Ford Motor plant in 2006, the facility had become a brownfield site with environmental contamination and liability issues. To protect human health and the environment, the firm employed an innovative risk‐based technical corrective action approach to remediation by focusing on the removal of soil where appropriate. During remediation, 57,000 tons of impacted soil was excavated and shipped off‐site for disposal. At one point, due to high concentrations of lead in a specific area, on‐site stabilization of the waste was required before off‐site disposal. In addition to the environmental challenges, the site had public relations issues due to the loss of thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes when the plant closed. With Amec Foster Wheeler’s help, Jacoby transformed the site into a productive, lasting and accessible local, regional and state asset.

In 2011, Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) announced it would develop its $100 million North America headquarters on the site. Amec Foster Wheeler was once again called upon and served as PCNA’s geotechnical and environmental consultant for the new facility, which comprises a Technical Training Center and Customer and Porsche Experience Center. During the construction phase, Amec Foster Wheeler’s scope expanded to include special inspections and construction materials testing. “This project is exemplary for its creative and visionary engineering, which resulted in the property’s return to economic and environmental productivity, and was the clear choice to win this year’s Grand Prize,” says Faye DiMassimo, General Manager for Renew Atlanta and a 2017 judge.

The new headquarters opened in early 2015 and achieved Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Gold certification – in part for Amec Foster Wheeler’s efforts on the environmental, economic development and social sustainability fronts. Moreover, the facility, which boasts approximately 450 PCNA employees and an increased tax base for the community, serves as a catalyst for further development at Aerotropolis Atlanta.

State Award Winners


Five-Points Intersection Improvement Project

Newnan, Georgia

Small Projects Category Winner

With the primary goal of improving safety and reducing accidents at two problematic intersections in Coweta County’s City of Newnan, American Engineers, Inc. (AEI) served as the prime consultant on the Five-Points Intersection Improvement Project. The firm provided management services, land surveying, roadway design, drainage design and utility coordination in the transformation of the project corridor into a single-lane, urban, four-legged roundabout.

In addition to eliminating multiple conflict points and increasing capacity to accommodate projected traffic of an estimated 15,000 vehicles per day generated by the future opening of an Interstate 85 Interchange, the project was joint-funded by Coweta County and the City of Newnan using 100 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding for the capital outlay. The design included the realignment of Turkey Creek Road by 2,100 linear feet, the reimaging of East Newnan Road and Old Turkey Creek Road as cul-de-sacs and the provision of access management by redirecting two commercial driveways away from the roundabout. Despite all this work, the project boasted no road closures during construction.

Because roundabouts are not a common technique used for locally funded intersection improvements, AEI viewed this as an opportunity to utilize a proven, yet innovative, concept over a conventional signalized intersection. In fact, there were only 2,400 roundabouts in the United States that had been funded with 100 percent SPLOST capital at the time the project was designed and completed. AEI took the project one step further by optimizing function and incorporating aesthetically pleasing features to integrate the roundabout to its surrounding environment rather than forcing the surroundings to adapt to the roundabout. This Five-Points Intersection project serves as a reminder that transportation infrastructure can be designed to not only improve the safety and capacity of a roadway system, but also to limit construction and secondary property impacts with a minimal footprint when compared to traditional roadway widening and lane additions.


BAMS Command and Control Complex

Jacksonville, Florida

Building/Technology Systems Category Winner

The United States Navy hired Northrop Grumman to develop and build an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to provide real-time intelligence and surveillance. This UAV program, called MQ-4C Triton, required a state-of-the-art mission and control center based at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast hired Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company to provide comprehensive planning, architecture/engineering design and construction support services for developing this new facility, which also houses highly sensitive electronic equipment from Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and secures classified communications.

The resulting Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) Command and Control Complex is a two-story, 31,000-square-foot energy efficient facility that houses the P-8A Tactical Operations Center for intelligence analysis, planning and operations. The second floor houses the Main Operating Base Mission Control System for the MQ-4C Triton UAV, which is built inside of a shielded steel compartment to combat external EMI. Various EMI shielding techniques – such as steel panels welded at the seams, shielded entry/exit vestibules, bonding of all penetrations and filtering of all electrical circuits entering the shielded compartment – were detailed and installed to create the shielded compartment.

The BAMS facility is designed to remain operable during catastrophic events such as earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, floods and militaristic-type threats. Therefore, all building systems must operate 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week with complete redundancy. This unique facility also features several classified spaces, redundant HVAC and primary power connections, a remote antenna farm located three miles away from the facility and exterior light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. It is currently seeking LEED Silver certification. Throughout the project, the Burns & McDonnell team overcame square-footage challenges, an accelerated design schedule and evolving program requirements in order to deliver an award-worthy project.


Geospatial Asset Inventory Program

Peachtree Corners, Georgia

Studies, Research and Consulting Engineering Services Category Winner

Established in 2011, the City of Peachtree Corners marks one of Georgia’s newest incorporated cities. The young city began formulating ambitious plans for repairs and improvements to its infrastructure assets, but the only data available was from a visual asset inventory Gwinnett County had performed in the early 1990s. With the need for an accurate record and inventory of thousands of signs, utility poles, sidewalks, communication networks and other assets along 122 miles of streets and rights-of-way within its city limits, Peachtree Corners collaborated with CH2M to gather the data through groundbreaking means.

Through a new and innovative application of established technology, CH2M located and documented city assets using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), a surveying technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser light. Although LiDAR has been used for years in aerial surveying, the Peachtree Corners Geospatial Asset Inventory project served as a new application of the technology for ground-level surveys.

Beginning in mid-2015, survey crews identified, documented and mapped more than 35,000 assets along Peachtree Corners’ roadways. The result is a comprehensive database to aid the City in various planning and improvement endeavors. The most immediate improvement comes from a careful analysis of street lighting around Peachtree Corners, but other planned uses for the geospatial data and maps include road and sidewalk improvements, park and public-access upgrades and data support for emergency response. This project demonstrates a new use of established technology to help engineers and city planners achieve greater efficiency and citizen service for community development, revenue, public works, safety and environmental management.


Skip Spann Connector

Kennesaw, Georgia

Transportation Category Winner

Named after the first Chairman of the Town Center Community Improvement District (Town Center CID), the Skip Spann Connector was designed to alleviate congestion at and around the busy Interstate 75 and Chastain Road interchange in Cobb County. With the help of Croy Engineering as the lead firm, the project provides an additional east-west route north of Chastain Road, allowing an alternate path for Kennesaw State University (KSU) students and faculty to cross the interstate while affording access to the numerous regional activity centers in the area. Croy Engineering’s responsibilities included concept development, public involvement, roadway design components and final plan preparation – although collaboration was the key to the project’s success. To that end, Croy Engineering led coordination activities for the various parties and agencies that contributed to and participated in the project, including Cobb County Department of Transportation, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), KSU and Town Center CID.

To address the existing congestion challenges, Croy Engineering designed a new four-lane divided roadway just north of the existing Chastain Road Interchange over Interstate 75 that connects Frey Road to Townpark Lane. The project also included slip ramps and a multi-lane roundabout. To accommodate pedestrians, a 10-foot multiuse sidewalk along both sides of the roadway, bicycle lanes and enhanced crossings were constructed, as well as sculptural shade structures, lighting, landscape planters and designated pedestrian zones.

The resulting 415-foot-long, four-span concrete structure is more than just a bridge – it’s a focal point that embraces the “community identity and the youth of its future.” The signature rope lighted railing design, inspired by the winning design from a competition between students from Chattahoochee Technical College, KSU and Southern Polytechnic State University, makes this the first ever lighted bridge in Cobb County with its twin peaks visible for several miles along Interstate 75. The project – which was completed on schedule and under budget in April 2016 – provides a vital link between the eastern and western sides of Interstate 75 for both vehicular traffic and pedestrians.


Full Speed No Load Gas Turbine Test Stand 6

Greenville, South Carolina

Industrial and Manufacturing Processes and Facilities Category Winner

Increasing environmental regulations are pushing the power generation industry to find better ways of generating power. General Electric (NYSE: GE) – an American multinational conglomerate corporation – manufactures technology-leading, power generation gas turbines at its plant in Greenville, S.C. Because these machines are complex, expensive and require a great deal of effort to install in a power plant, they must be free of defects when they ship. To that end, GE requires all new turbines to be operationally tested prior to shipment. The company tasked Emprise Corporation with the creation of a new, world-class custom test facility (TS-6) to accommodate a new generation of state-of-the-art H-class turbines.

This new test facility would be required to enable the testing of two new turbine models by the time each rolled out of manufacturing. To support the production schedule, construction of the new test facility had to begin before drawings of the turbines themselves were available. Accomplishing this meant that the project had to be divided into three main phases: demolition and site development, base building and turbine support systems. Through the close collaboration of Emprise Corporation, GE and a team of subcontractors, the custom facility was completed on time and under budget. Setting new standards of excellence in function, efficiency and appearance, GE considers its TS-6 a world-class facility and has made it a regular stop for visiting clients and corporate management.


Sterling Creek 4.0 MGD Water Reclamation Facility

Richmond Hill, Georgia

Waste and Storm Water Category Winner

The City of Richmond Hill in coastal Georgia entered into a consent order with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to design and construct a new wastewater treatment facility to replace the original plant at Sterling Creek, which had been built in the 1990s. The city contracted with Hussey Gay Bell – the original Engineer of Record for the existing wastewater treatment plant – to provide overall planning, design, permitting and construction oversight services for the new plant. Over the course of its nearly 60-year history, Hussey Gay Bell has designed more than 50 wastewater treatment plant projects throughout the southeast and internationally.

The Hussey Gay Bell team faced several complex challenges to complete the new plant, including designing a facility permitted to discharge to a sensitive coastal watershed, constructing the facility on poor soils and adhering to a tight timeframe to meet the requirements of the EPD consent order agreement. The resulting Sterling Creek Water Reclamation Facility is a new 4.0 million gallons per day (MGD), five-stage biological nutrient removal and membrane bioreactor plant.

This new facility – the first of its kind in coastal Georgia – more than doubles the treatment capacity of the original plant. It also represents the most current design for membrane facilities and marks the largest single expenditure in the city’s history. To assist, Hussey Gay Bell secured $500,000 of direct loan forgiveness from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) via green credit by embracing energy efficiency through the project’s design. The result is progressive design for wastewater treatment, as well as energy optimization.


Seismic Rehabilitation of the Airport Traffic Control Tower at Charleston International Airport

Charleston, South Carolina

Structural Systems Category Winner

Following a thorough evaluation of the more than 30-year-old, 170-foot-tall Airport Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) and Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility at Charleston International Airport, certain steps were required to correct areas of concern and meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety codes through seismic upgrades. Pond not only provided this evaluation, but also offered an innovative solution to correct the issues found through design and construction of a new exoskeleton to transfer load from the existing occupied cab level down to a rehabbed foundation.

This required the expansion of the existing auger cast pile foundation system and pile cap to include seventy new 16-inch diameter by 70 feet deep auger cast piles. A new exterior truss system was also designed to include the necessary seismic upgrades and ultimately was aesthetically compatible with the existing tower design – conveying a perfectly blended appearance. To add to the project’s complexity, this new exterior truss system impacted portions of the tower, which were carefully disassembled and rebuilt with higher levels of resistance. All of these challenges were compounded by the fact that the airport and ATCT remained in operation around the clock throughout construction, mandating continuous communication with air traffic controllers.

Pond’s seismic solution to the ATCT proved to be a unique approach that can be duplicated for other towers and structures to meet current structural codes without sacrificing aesthetics. Sustainability was achieved by extending the life of the tower and creating a safer environment for its occupants for years to come, while also assuring strict adherence to FAA structural codes, seismic criteria and safety and security requirements.

Honor Award Winners


City of Smyrna Security Upgrade

Smyrna, Georgia

With a growing need to monitor a vast number of City properties, Smyrna contracted Croy Engineering to identify strategic areas that could be overseen from a central location. The City also required a robust data storage system to retain captured imagery for a period of at least 30 days. Croy Engineering partnered with Knine All Systems to find the ideal solution, which would require several components of the system to be custom designed and produced. Once a complete system that achieved the City’s objectives was ascertained, Croy Engineering placed the project out for public bid, which was eventually awarded to LMI Systems. Croy Engineering continues to provide project and construction management services to the City, as the project continues to expand with the inclusion of additional City property and the new SunTrust Stadium.


Fort Gillem Vapor Intrusion Investigation

Forest Park, Georgia

Representing one of the most complex and high-profile vapor intrusion (VI) assessment projects in the southeast, the Fort Gillem VI Investigation comprised of more than 300 off-site properties near the former United States Army Post located in Forest Park, Georgia. Geosyntec Consultants provided technical support for the investigation of Fort Gillem, which had been closed under the Base Realignment and Closure Act in 2011. Some historical activities resulted in the contamination of soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater. Within three months – through desktop and field methods – Geosyntec Consultants assembled a significant amount of analytical data (1,750 samples with more than 200,000 results) and developed comprehensive conceptual site models (CSMs) to help the United States Environmental Protection Agency conclude that no further action regarding the VI pathway at Fort Gillem was necessary.


Houlihan Bridge Emergency Maintenance and Rehab

Savannah, Georgia

The Houlihan Bridge is part of a six-bridge causeway over the Savannah River delta tidal complex – representing vital access to the Port of Savannah and the Weyerhaeuser pulp mill. Due to heavy and continuous truck traffic, GDOT’s Bridge Maintenance Unit retained Heath & Lineback Engineers, Inc. to prepare bridge maintenance rehabilitation plans to address some minor defects identified through routine inspection in 2015. However, Heath & Lineback Engineers’ inspectors found that there was significant damage to the main (load carrying) chords of the truss members. An emergency repair was bid, and the work was completed within a 19-day road closure

window. The Heath & Lineback staff teamed with GDOT inspectors to review the shop details and provide on-site supervision of construction to ensure compliance with the structural and environmental requirements of the project. The bridge was re-opened in July 2016 with its capacity fully restored.


Union Grove Road at Interstate 75 Interchange

Calhoun, Georgia

With a great deal of existing and predicted traffic in an area fueled by the carpet trade and related industries, as well as the Calhoun-Gordon County/Tom B. David Field Regional Airport, the City of Calhoun was at the heart of a GDOT project that would not only relieve traffic congestion along State Route 53, but would also stimulate further economic development in Gordon County. GDOT’s Office of Planning had determined that a southwest bypass between State Route 53 and Interstate 75 would serve as the best solution, which depended on the design and construction of a new grade-separated interchange with Interstate 75. Heath & Lineback Engineers, Inc. was tasked with delivering construction plans to build the interchange near an existing bridge crossing of Union Grove Road over Interstate 75. Broken into two contracts, the project involved construction of the interchange and associated work on Union Grove Road, as well as the bypass roadway itself.


C-130J Simulator Facility

Marietta, Georgia

Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga. required the transport of a one-of-a-kind, highly specialized 23,000-pound classified aircraft simulator 2 ½ miles across the active military base. A new structure then needed to be engineered and constructed to house the simulator. Pond was instrumental in the design and construction of this independent, self-contained enclosure that conformed to the floor space parameters of an existing aircraft assembly operations building, as well as the logistical management and relocation of the simulator from its original location. In addition, the Pond team provided design and installation services for a raceway cable management system to connect existing computer cabling to the simulator, along with a pedestrian bridge to provide access and support for these components. First mapped using 3D Building Information Modeling (BIM) capabilities, the simulator was transported along a strategically planned route. The entire move was successfully completed within a narrow 36-hour timeline to ensure base operations were not impacted.


Tampa International Airport Fuel Farm Renovations

Tampa, Florida

The Tampa Fuel Committee enlisted the aid of Prime Engineering, Inc. to replace its antiquated facility at Tampa International Airport. Originally constructed in the 1970s, the system had lost nearly all functionality. Once replacement was determined to be the best option, Prime Engineering designed and constructed a new $9 million pumping and filter facility featuring new controls and hydrant pumping systems. The project also involved renovation of an existing control building and the repurposing of the remaining pumping facility. During construction, old fuel farms with buried, abandoned fuel lines were discovered and addressed by the project team. Another challenging element of the project involved the need to maintain function of the existing system while installing the new system on a busy, crowded, cramped site. The project exceeded all operational benchmarks and came in under budget.


State Route 15A/State Route 82 over Curry Creek

Jefferson, Georgia

Built around the junction of five major state routes, the City of Jefferson, Ga. is a highly-developed area of Jackson County with many historic resources and community amenities. Plagued by high traffic, capacity and accident rates, it became clear that changes were needed to relieve these issues along State Routes 15A and 84, while preserving the historic integrity of Curry Creek Bridge and providing continued access to Curry Creek

Park. TranSystems determined that the best solution was to design and construct a 310-foot, three-span bridge to cross Big Curry Creek, along with a 105-foot, single-span bridge to allow traffic from the south to loop around and go westbound. It also involved the realignment of State Route 84 at State Route 15A. The design was adjusted to preserve many of the park’s trees, including the Heritage Tree, a city-designated historic tree.


Delta Air Lines Waste Treatment Plant Upgrade

Atlanta, Georgia

Representing Delta Air Lines’ main maintenance hub, the 65-acre Technical Operations Center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport consists of aircraft maintenance and repair hangars, as well as shops. The site also features four Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment Facilities to pretreat wastewater generated from aviation-related equipment repair, washing and maintenance for discharge to the City of Atlanta sewer collection system. One of these facilities is the Oily Water Treatment Plant, which treats 300,000 gallons of wastewater per day. Having operated and managed Delta’s wastewater treatment facilities since 1999, Woodward & Curran identified that the biological treatment and secondary clarification operations lacked redundancy during a regular assessment. If one of these processes failed, Delta would have to transport wastewater off-site for treatment. By repurposing one of three existing equalization tanks to an aeration tank employing diffused aeration, Woodward & Curran restored biological treatment redundancy and provided a more efficient and maintainable biological process than the site’s former oxidation ditch. A new secondary clarifier was also built above grade in an area occupied by an out of service, in-ground oxidation ditch. The project was successfully completed in compliance with Delta’s safety and sustainability standards, under budget and ahead of schedule.