Contractor wins engineering award for bypass project

Anyone who has driven through the undulating mountains of southwest Virginia can understand the difficulty of planning and building the region’s roads. Sporadic wetlands and surrounding rural communities must be taken into consideration by engineers and contractors.

The Louis Berger Group, an engineering and contracting company based in East Orange, N.J., faced many of those challenges during the construction of Virginia’s Route 58 Danville Bypass project, which opened in May 2004 at a cost of $90 million.

The contractor did so well in fact, the company received the 2005 Engineering Excellence Awards Grand Award in the transportation category from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia.

Nancy Israel, executive director of the ACEC of Virginia, said the combination of challenges – three interchanges, 2.1 miles of frontage road and two truck stations, 13 bridges and the relocation of a half-mile railroad track and local roads – overcome by the Louis Berger Group made it an ideal candidate for the award.

Award recipients must meet five criteria during judging: innovative application of new or existing techniques, future value to the field of engineering, use of sustainable design characteristics, complexity and exceeding the client or owner’s needs.

Israel said Louis Berger’s ability work with the local community in addition to the North Carolina Department of Transportation – one section of the bypass dipped into the state – swayed the judges decision.

The contractor even stayed under the estimated budget by $7 million.

The 7.1-mile bypass, officially named “The Archer T. Gammon Highway” in honor of the World War II Medal of Honor recipient from Pittsylvania County, was created to increase the safety of travelers using the Route 58 corridor. It also let traffic bypass the city of Danville, Va., and is expected to expand the regional economy while maintaining the area’s rural character.

U.S. Route 58 is the longest roadway in the state of Virginia, extending from the Atlantic coast to the southwest tip of the state.

Patrick Beeson can be contacted at pbeeson@randallpub.com.