Second Avenue Subway Wins Top ASCE Honor

The Second Avenue Subway project in New York City, for which WSP USA provided construction management services, has been named the winner of the 2018 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award (OCEA) from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).


Tom Peyton served as WSP USA’s project manager on the Second Avenue Subway project, which won the ASCE 2018 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award.

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The award, one of the highest honors in the engineering community, was presented at ASCE’s annual gala held March 15 in Arlington, Virginia. Since 1960, the OCEA Award has honored a project that best illustrates superior civil engineering skills and represents a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society, celebrating the contributions of many engineers to one successful project.

The Second Avenue Subway was one of five finalists eligible for the OCEA, two of which were also projects involving WSP: the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and the State Route 520 Floating Bridge project (Evergreen Point Floating Bridge) in Seattle, Washington.

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The Second Avenue Subway is used by an estimated 213,000 passengers daily, and reduce overcrowding once experienced on the nearby Lexington Avenue line.

Second Avenue Subway

WSP was the $4.4 billion project’s consultant construction manager, responsible for overseeing the work of contractors on behalf of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Capital Construction Company. The firm’s scope of work included resident engineering and inspection, constructability reviews, contract management and administration, project controls, utility coordination, commissioning and startup, and project closeout. WSP had an average of 120 people on site managing as many as eight construction contracts simultaneously.

“I have been riding the Second Avenue Subway for over a year since its opening,” said Tom Peyton, WSP’s project manager. “I still get a great sense of pride in what WSP has helped to deliver to the people of New York. I get stopped in the street and strangers thank me and tell me what an amazing experience it is to see the stations and ride this quiet, efficient subway.”

Construction on the Second Avenue Subway initially started in 1972, but the project was soon abandoned because of a city fiscal crisis and was dormant until the 1990s, when the MTA announced plans to build an 8.5-mile subway along Second Avenue from Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan to 125th Street in Harlem.

Much of the two-track line was built using tunnel boring technology with cut-and-cover used at the 96th Street station locations. Mining was used on two station caverns at 86th and 72nd streets and portions that were too short to make tunnel boring cost-effective. The geology of the Upper East Side of Manhattan posed challenges for the team because of its hills and valleys, its mixture of unpredictable and variable sands and silts, and fault lines.

Renovations of the existing 63rd Street/Lexington Avenue station allowed the new subway to tie into the existing transit system. During construction, at least four lanes along Second Avenue remained open to traffic and efforts were made to maintain access to businesses and residences. Structural and ground improvement techniques were used to minimize ground settlement and to preserve the structural integrity of various facilities, including utility lines, buildings, tunnels, and ramps.

Currently the line is being extended north to 125th Street. Eventually it will be extended south to Lower Manhattan.

“We are proud to have supported MTA Capital Construction on this transformative project, a line extension that improves the mobility and values of properties on the east side of Manhattan,” said Bernie McNeilly, WSP chief operating officer, U.S. transportation & infrastructure. “Our team worked hard to help deliver this effort for use by MTA's customers.”


The U.S. 58 West Midtown Tunnel, an OCEA finalist, carries westbound traffic under the Elizabeth River, connecting Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Elizabeth River Tunnels

The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project, the largest public-private partnership in the Hampton Roads region of Southern Virginia, included the construction of the 4,000-foot-long, two-lane West Midtown Tunnel for U.S. Route 58. The project also included a one-mile extension of the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) freeway, an elevated four-lane expressway.

WSP was the lead designer for SKW Constructors, the design-builder for the project owner, Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC). ERC now manages tunnel operations for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The tunnel carries westbound traffic under the Elizabeth River between Norfolk and Portsmouth. It was built to relieve congestion and improve safety by eliminating the Midtown Tunnel’s bi-directional traffic. The original tunnel, which accommodated 8,400 vehicles a day when it opened in 1962, now supports 38,000 vehicles every day.

“The additional connectivity between the new tunnel and MLK freeway connection have greatly improved traffic in both cities,” said Fred Parkinson, WSP project manager.

The project was completed in June 2017, nearly one year ahead of schedule. It has received numerous awards, including the 2017 Excellence in Design award for Engineering from the Design-Build Institute of America, the 2017 Engineering News-Record (ENR) Mid-Atlantic Best Project Award in the highway/bridge category, and ENR Mid-Atlantic’s Excellence in Safety award.



The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge along State Route 520 near Seattle, another OCEA finalist, is the longest floating bridge in the world.

Evergreen Point Floating Bridge

The $1.5 billion Evergreen Point Floating Bridge along State Route 520 (SR520), which crosses Lake Washington to the east of downtown Seattle, has been certified as the longest floating bridge in the world by representatives from Guinness Book of World Records.

The previous SR20 floating bridge, which accommodated 74,000 vehicles every day, had passed its design life and after more than 50 years of service was showing its age. Constructed adjacent to the original floating bridge, the wider, sturdier bridge features 7,710 feet of floating span and is supported by 77 pontoons. Twenty-one of them are 75 feet wide and 360 feet long, each measuring longer than a football field.

Serving as a member of the general engineering consultant team led by HDR, Inc., WSP provided program and project management, tolling and financial analysis, environmental documentation, preliminary engineering, design-build procurement, design and construction oversight and quality management.

The bridge, which is owned and maintained by the Washington State Department of Transportation, also included the addition of a 14-foot-wide path on the north side of the bridge to provide safe access for bicycles and pedestrians not available on the original bridge.