The 2024 B.C. Transportation Consulting Engineers Awards were handed out, honouring work to improve transportation in the province, from rehabilitating a 100-year-old bridge in Terrace to building back better a critical piece of Vancouver Island highway.

The winners were announced at the recently held B.C. Transportation Conference for the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC) –  British Columbia.

B.C.’s consulting engineers are responsible for the design of highway and transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges and transit infrastructure. Designs are complex and must consider many different structural, geotechnical, social and environmental variables. These include sub-surface structure and stability, community/traffic flow needs during each phase of construction, and building for future use, needs and technologies. The B.C. Transportation Consulting Engineers Awards recognizes technical excellence in consulting engineer services provided to improve B.C.’s transportation infrastructure.

The six category winners were:

(B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Design and contract preparation – structures

Project: Highway 1 – Malahat Tunnel Hill Washout Project
Location:
Highway 1, 1 km north of Finlayson Arm Road

Thurber Engineering Ltd. and McElhanney Ltd. are sharing the design and contract preparation award for structures for their contribution to fixing a wall that collapsed on Highway 1’s Malahat Tunnel Hill during the November 2021 floods. Temporary repairs led to the reopening of Highway 1 within 18 hours, with continuous two-way traffic four days later. To permanently re-establish a roadway on a steep, unstable slope, the companies designed a new 100-metre-long retaining wall to create better drainage for future extreme weather. Their work also kept traffic moving on this primary route for 35,000 daily commuters.

(B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Design and contract preparation – roads

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Project: West Fraser Road Flood Recovery Project
Location: Southern Interior Region Narcosli Creek Valley, approximately 20 kms South of Quesnel

For improving a road section with local, Indigenous help, R.F. Binnie & Associates won the design and contract preparation award for roads. In April 2018, high waters from Narcosli Creek washed away sections of West Fraser Road, 17 kilometres south of Quesnel. The spring freshet in 2020 caused further damage and reactivated historical slides, which severed five locations on the road, creating a 45-kilometre gravel detour. On time and budget, the contractors realigned a 5.5-kilometre stretch of road through challenging mountainous landscapes, including a 124-metre bridge that crossed the creek. Binnie worked with local Indigenous groups and contractors to create a safer, more climate-resilient road, with wider lanes and shoulders, and roadside barriers.

(B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Alternate transportation

Project: Expo Line Escalator Replacements
Location: Metro Vancouver

Designing a replacement for Skytrain station escalators dating back to 1986 led AECOM Canada Architects Ltd. to win the alternate transportation award. The 44 escalators in the Expo line’s original 17 stations were near the end of their service life, with the newest escalators installed in 1990. AECOM’s work aimed to prevent mechanical issues and long-term shutdowns and led to significantly enhanced safety and usability. During the upgrades, the firm created a system to maintain smooth pedestrian traffic flow for thousands of daily transit users.

(B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Construction management and supervision services

Project: Old Skeena Bridge no. 473 rehabilitation
Location: Junction of Highways 16 and 37, Terrace

The award for construction management and supervision services went to WSP Canada Inc. for the Old Skeena Bridge No. 473 rehabilitation. When the work giving new life to this 1925-built bridge became significantly more complex than expected, WSP worked with its partners to increase the project’s scope. The contractors were able to open the bridge three months ahead of schedule, allowing it to serve the community during peak summer traffic. WSP’s approach to sustainable practices also preserved the natural habitat and upheld the bridge’s status for traditional First Nations activities.

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(B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Specialized engineering services

Project: Highway 16 – Terrace Commercial Vehicle Inspection Station
Location: 
Highway 16, Terrace

Urban Systems Ltd. won the specialized engineering services award for the Highway 16 – Terrace Commercial Vehicle Inspection Station. Replacing a decommissioned facility in B.C.’s northwest region where vital trade corridors intersect, the new building features improved technology, a new weigh scale and a covered truck inspection station. Overnight parking and features for active transportation and pedestrians help make the new facility more people friendly, and contractors completed the project ahead of schedule.

(B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Project: Central Okanagan Integrated Transportation Strategy
Location: Highway 97 corridor Peachland to Kelowna

In 2020, Urban Systems Ltd. began development of the Central Okanagan Integrated Transportation Strategy (CO-ITS), a 20-year plan for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The plan responds to the anticipated 36% growth in Central Okanagan by 2040, which will make it British Columbia’s fourth-largest regional district. CO-ITS prioritizes sustainability and fosters collaboration, particularly along the crucial Highway 97 corridor. The plan fosters collaboration between Indigenous communities, local governments, and BC Transit. Urban Systems communicated extensively with diverse stakeholders, applying the Planning Together BC framework, and focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. CO-ITS tackles challenges through practical road and intersection improvements, transit enhancements, and active transportation initiatives. By strategically reimagining transit routes, promoting active transportation, and addressing climate change concerns, Urban Systems sets a standard for integrated planning excellence.

Featured image: WSP Canada won the 2024 B.C. Transportation Consulting Engineers award for Construction Management and Supervision Services. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

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