Cellular concrete was one innovation used in the Colton Crossing Flyover, a $93-million project to separate one of the nation's busiest railroad crossings.

I've been fortunate enough to help choose finalists for an American Society of Civil Engineers award program that's been held every year since 1960.

Winners of the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award include the International Ballistic Missile Program (1962), World Trade Center (1971), and Trans-Alaska Pipeline (1978).

I was involved in the 2008 (winner: Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project in Washington, D.C., which Public Works discusses here and here) and 2009 (winner: Orange County, Calif.'s Groundwater Replenishment System, which we covered here and here) awards.

Candidates are evaluated based on six criteria that are extremely difficult to quantify. Things like contribution to the well-being of people and communities and resourcefulness in planning and solving design challenges.

You should have heard us judges (a mixture of media professionals and civil engineers) deliberating the relative merits of, say, an inexpensive way to remove arsenic from drinking water supplies vs. public transit that connects impoverished neighborhoods with the rest of a community. Discussions were lively, to say the least.

Five projects have been selected to vie for the top honor in 2015:

  • Colton Crossing Flyover, Colton, Calif.
  • Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation Project, Los Angeles. One of a multitude of water-quality projects funded by Proposition O; click here to read about one related to stormwater control.
  • Halley VI Antarctic Research Station, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica
  • San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span, San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.
  • Ward County Water Supply Project, Monahans-Odessa, Texas

Congratulations to those of you who contributed in any way to these achievements. Click here to read more about them.