Mike Anderson’s American Iron

Better Roads Staff | September 7, 2011

In my judgment:

“Stunning, magnificent, inspiring …”

By Mike Anderson

A few months back, I wrote that what we need right now is a little more of that good ol’ American swash. You know, that “we can and will do this, and we’ll be damned good at it” attitude that, admittedly, drew some of us wayward children here in the first place.

The column drew some response – and, thankfully for me, none of it included invitations, requests or downright legal orders to drag my tail back across the Niagara River. The message about shaking off the rust, picking up on Chrysler’s poignant and brilliant Imported From Detroit campaign, seemed to resonate. And that, believe me, is so very much appreciated. Thank you.

And, on the topic of thanks, we owe a big one to our friends at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), who came right along and gave us yet another reason to beat this nation’s drum. Sincerely honored and likewise humbled are the best ways to describe being asked to join a jury of true industry leaders (with a couple of us ink-stained wretches thrown in) to judge the entries for the 2012 Outstanding Civil Engineering Award (OCEA), essentially a Project of the Year.

Stunning, magnificent, inspiring and just flat-out perfect were among the descriptions repeatedly jumping off the pages of my notes from some of the most enjoyable reading ever. Before the jury members put our heads together to drill down to the five finalists, we had individually worked our way through each of the entries and, for yours truly, the weekend spent privately huddled away with a stack of binders and booklets was the fastest, most satisfying, absolutely enjoyable one in a long, long time. Bottom line: The work people in this nation are doing, both at home and around the world, is awesome.

On Aug. 17, the OCEA finalists were announced by ASCE, in alphabetical order:

• Cherry Island Landfill Vertical Expansion Project, Wilmington, Del.

• Hoover Dam Bypass / Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, Boulder City, Nev.

• Nacimiento Water Project, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

• US-191 Colorado River Bridge, Moab, Utah.

• Willamette River CSO Tunnel Program, Portland, Ore.

Each will be recognized at the ASCE’s 2012 Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Gala next March in Washington and, among them, an overall winner will be announced at that time. They, and every single one of the entries, are all winners in our books.

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