New East Span of Bay Bridge Selected As Finalist For National Civil Engineering Award

Recognizing the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s significant contribution to society and civil engineering, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently announced that the project has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award.

The New East Span is one of three California projects that will be considered for the award, a testament to the quality engineering not only on the New East Span, but also other amazing civil engineering projects across California. Finalists will be graded on originality and innovation, methods of tackling design and planning challenges, sustainability, and delivery.

This is not the Bay Bridge’s first major engineering honor. Earlier this year, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials selected the Bay Bridge as the winning regional project in the “Best Use of Innovation, Large” project category. The Bay Bridge is currently in competition for inclusion in the “Top Ten” projects nationwide, which will be announced in September. In 2010 and 2013 Region 9 of the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized the Bay Bridge with the “Outstanding Construction Project” award and the “Project of the Year” award respectively. The New East Span also received the “Golden State Award” by the American Council of Engineering Companies in 2011.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has, for over 50 years, given the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award to projects with “superior civil engineering skills and represent[ing] a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society.” By honoring an overall project, the award celebrates the contributions of many engineers.

Multiple projects in California have received this prestigious engineering award over the years including the San-Mateo-Hayward Bridge in 1968 and the Golden Gate Bridge Retrofit Phase II South Approach in 2007.

The Bay Bridge has tremendous seismic innovations, which will allow it to not only withstand the strongest earthquake expected to occur in the next 1,500 years, but also provide a life-line service for emergency vehicles after the incident. Innovations like the hinge pipe beams throughout the skyway, and the shear link beams between the four legs of the powerful tower, which both act like easily replaceable shock absorbers, isolate the inevitable damage that massive earthquakes are able to induce.

The beauty of isolating the damage in these replaceable parts is that it maintains the structural integrity of the structure and allows the bridge to open soon after the event, while enabling crews to replace these shock absorbers without disrupting service.  These innovations build on and back up one another, creating strong redundancies, adding to the strength and resiliency of the New East Span.

The winner of the 2015 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award will be announced in March 2015.

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