Photo courtesy Gannett Fleming
Photo courtesy Gannett Fleming

The Pennsylvania DOT, District 11, and Gannett Fleming are the proud recipients of a National Recognition Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).

Squirrel Hill Tunnel was a notorious headache.

As the gateway connecting Pittsburgh with its eastern suburbs, the 4,225-foot-long tunnel serves 102,000 vehicles daily. Numerous incidents involving over-height tractor trailers, plus aging structural, electrical, ventilation, control, and fire and life safety systems, indicated it was time for a major rehabilitation.

Reducing the number of delays caused by over‐height trucks was as simple as removing the tunnel's 18,000‐square‐foot ceiling. In addition to saving the $3 million it would have cost to repair the ceiling, the solution eliminates future maintenance costs.

The project also improved lighting to help drivers maintain highway speed throughout the tunnel. The project team delivered a full retrofit of multiple structural, electrical, ventilation, and control systems on time and $1 million under budget.

The modernization project brings the tunnel in line with American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials guidelines and National Fire Protection Association standards and added approximately 50 years to the asset's lifespan.

Since 1967, U.S. engineering firms have entered their most innovative projects and studies in ACEC's annual Engineering Excellence Awards program (EEA)—"the Academy Awards of the engineering industry"—which honors the year's most outstanding engineering accomplishments.