Two emergencies received an American Public Works Association Project of the Year award in the Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair category. Click here to learn how to improve your operation’s response to a tornado.

American Public Works Association
2013 Public Works Project of the Year
Award category:
Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair
Less than $5 million

Conventional material, unconventional application
Project: West Lake Sammamish Slide Repair
Managing agency: City of Bellevue, Wash.
Primary consultant: Tetra Tech
Primary contractor: Westwater Construction Inc.

In January 2012, a landslide slammed into a 35-by-60-foot roadway embankment that crossed a natural ravine draining into Washington State’s Lake Sammamish. Damage included a ruptured asbestos concrete water main that unleashed 1,000 cubic yards of mud and debris, a natural gas service line, and four waterfront residential properties.

The City of Bellevue immediately shut the major arterial road serving the area to address instability of the hillside, road, and surrounding area. The goals were to:

  • Quickly reopen West Lake Sammamish Parkway
  • Minimize cost
  • Create a permanent solution
  • Restore homeowners’ properties
  • Minimize environmental impacts and disruptions to the neighborhood

Through close collaboration with impacted homeowners, the project team developed several designs using 3D CAD and photographic renderings to quickly communicate repair alternatives, obtain fast buy-in on wall and slope configurations, and expedite project delivery.

The design that was selected rebuilt the roadway embankment with a modular, concrete block, gravity wall system. The system includes two walls, each built as gravity block structures. These massive blocks created walls that require no reinforcement — an unconventional application using a conventional material.

Click here for the rest of the award-winning projects.

Next year’s award deadline: March 4, 2014

The design also preserved the 24-inch culvert. The undisturbed culvert allowed for an accelerated design schedule, which was completed under a simplified permit process.

The speedy pace continued into the construction phase, with walls built in two short stages: five days for the lower wall and eight days for the upper wall.

Result: The team evaluated, surveyed, designed, and built a permanent solution in four months. The road reopened on April 10, 2012, one month after construction started.

The American Public Works Association presents Public Works Projects of the Year awards annually to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects, recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, contractor, consultant, and their cooperative achievements. APWA serves 28,500 members through education, advocacy, and knowledge exchange. It’s headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and has an office in Washington, D.C., as well as 63 chapters in North America.