Hoover Dam Bypass Becomes 2nd HDR Project to Win American Council of Engineering Companies' Highest Honor

ACEC Award Banquet

(April 1, 2011) - More than nine years in the making, the Hoover Dam Bypass – which improves security, driver and pedestrian safety and traffic mobility in the vicinity of the historic Hoover Dam – has won the American Council of Engineering Companies' Grand Conceptor Award, given to the nation's best overall engineering achievement.

The bypass is the second HDR-led project to receive the Grand Conceptor Award. In 2010, the Gills Onions Advanced Energy Recovery System in Oxnard, Calif., won the award for its ability to convert onion waste into energy. It was the first Grand Conceptor Award in HDR's 93-year history.

The new bypass is remarkable not only for the magnitude and complexity of building a 1,900-foot concrete arch bridge across a rugged canyon, 890 feet above the Colorado River. The project – which includes the iconic river bridge in addition to new roadway approaches and eight other bridges – also moves U.S. 93 traffic off the historical Hoover Dam, providing the following benefits: 

  • Reduced vulnerability to a terrorist attack or hazardous chemical spill
  • Improved driver/pedestrian safety
  • Significant reduction in travel time and fuel consumption for local drivers and the trucking industry

The new bridge is the highest and longest arched concrete bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It features the world's tallest precast concrete columns and is the first steel-concrete hybrid arch bridge in the United States. The spectacular setting of the Black Canyon proved to be the greatest challenge, requiring rock cuts and fills exceeding 100 feet in height, accounting for winds up to 70 miles per hour and setting concrete at night to avoid desert heat topping 120 degrees.

The project team exceeded the diverse priorities and needs of the six-agency consortium managing the project. This included environmental and cultural stewardship, such as building highway underpasses for endangered desert bighorn sheep, preserving native plants in the construction corridor, and protecting Native American cultural properties adjacent to the site. Delivered within budget, the Hoover Dam Bypass bridges greatness between the iconic marvel it protects and the brilliant problem solving of modern engineering.

The project dates back to 2001, when the Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division awarded a contract to HDR to provide design and construction support services for the Hoover Bypass Project. Under the management of CFLHD, HDR led an integrated team of professionals from HDR, T.Y. Lin International, and Jacobs Engineering (formerly Sverdrup) and several specialty subconsultants.

HDR is an employee-owned architecture, engineering and consulting firm with more than 7,700 professionals in 185 locations worldwide. All of them are committed to helping clients manage complex projects and make sound decisions. HDR is ranked No. 11 overall in the Engineering News-Record Top 500 Design Firms survey, No. 5 in bridges and No. 7 in highways.