WINCHESTER – The Mount Vernon Street bridge project was recognized in March by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts with a Silver Engineering Excellence Award.
This was one of three ACEC/MA awards presented to Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., the firm working with the town to engineer the Aberjona River Flood Mitigation Program. Their other award-winning projects were the Interstate-91 Viaduct in Springfield and the Cape Cod Rail Trail Extension in Dennis and Yarmouth.
“The Mount Vernon Street Bridge Improvements Project,” ACEC’s awards announcement stated, “is one of several critical flood control projects comprising the Aberjona River Flood Mitigation Program.
“The bridge location presented several challenges, including performing construction over the Aberjona River in a dense downtown location, maintaining traffic flow over the bridge during construction, and designing improvements that are cost-effective, but also enhance the historic character.
“Through innovative engineering design and solutions, including developing a phased approach to construction and traffic management and the creative use of mixed materials, the completed bridge has successfully achieved the desired flood mitigation goals, while also enhancing its historic charm.”
The need to increase the flow capacity under the bridge was recognized in the first recommendations to the town for a flood-mitigation program in 1999. It remained on the project list when the program was revised during review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.
“The Town of Winchester is very pleased with how the project came out,” Town Engineer Beth Rudolph stated, “not only for flood-mitigation benefits but also, from an aesthetic point of view, for enhancing the historical resources in the Town Center.”
Community interest in aesthetics and the historic character of the center were apparent from the first public meeting on the bridge project, held in April 2003. Opinion strongly favored adding a culvert to the 1872 bridge, rather than building a new bridge, and replacing the concrete parapet with a railing which would afford an improved view of the river. The final design reflects both these preferences.
Construction was completed in 2017.
“We are pleased with the work of VHB and the contractor, Northern Construction,” Rudolph said, “and happy the project was recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts.”
ACEC/MA, made up of engineering consulting firms whose mission aims to contribute to economic viability and quality in Massachusetts, has sponsored the Engineering Excellence Awards since 1988.
Its awards program recognizes “engineering projects which epitomize quality, innovation, value and client satisfaction.”
According to VHB, their award-winning projects “incorporated unique engineering designs and comprehensive public input programs, and represent VHB's robust integrated services.”
VHB credited the following with playing key roles in the project: Jake San Antonio, Ryan Lizewski, and Kris Kretch.