OLYMPIA – Thurston County’s Public Works Department won a Project of the Year award from the American Public Works Association’s Washington State Chapter for the August 2017 Beaver Creek Dr. bridge installation. It was selected in the “Environmental Projects Under $5 Million” category.
In 2017, the project drew national attention as a test case for construction activities within endangered species habitat. Locally, the project served as a pilot in the use of pre-fabricated bridges as a cost-effective means of replacing many aging culverts around the county.
The project had more than a few logistical issues—including construction timing limitations of in-water activities due to coho salmon and other native fish breeding seasons, and the presence of the endangered and federally-protected Oregon Spotted Frog.
Through strategic planning and coordination with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, county crews minimized construction impacts to sensitive species and the residents who use the narrow two-lane roadway located near Maytown off Interstate 5 exit 95.
Despite the logistical challenges, the project was successfully completed in less than one month, with minimal residential and traffic disruptions.
“We worked hard to make sure that every part of this project was tightly-organized and highly-coordinated,” said Matt Unzelman, Project Manager and Senior Civil Engineer for Thurston County Public Works.
“This project not only shows that construction activities can be successfully accomplished in highly-sensitive habitat areas, but that these pre-fabricated bridges can reduce construction time and project costs. We are extremely grateful for this award and immensely proud of our accomplishment.”
The new bridge installed over Beaver Creek was pre-fabricated – meaning the bridge was constructed off-site then delivered in-tact and installed using a crane. This new method of bridge installation can reduce bridge construction costs by nearly one-half. This could save the County $200,000 to $400,000 per project for similar bridge replacements in the future.
“As our roads, bridges and culverts age, they require more and more maintenance each year just to keep them in a safe condition. But, eventually, they need to be replaced,” says Scott Lindblom, County Engineer. “The culvert on Beaver Creek Road had rusted completely through and was beyond repair. In this case, a pre-fabricated bridge proved to be a great way for us to save time and money, while minimizing impacts on the community.”
County staff who worked on the project received their award at the American Public Works Association’s Washington State Chapter annual conference closing banquet on April 19 in Vancouver, WA.