Ayres’ Hydraulic Expertise Plays Big Role in ENR Project of the Year

  • By Ayres
  • April 3, 2019

John Hunt
William deRosset

Engineering News-Record magazine has awarded its Best of the Best and Project of the Year honors to the project that provided permanent repairs to the US 34 corridor along the Big Thompson River near Loveland, Colorado. The highway was damaged during devastating September 2013 flooding. Ayres Associates played a key role in the project.

The foremost periodical of engineering and construction news, ENR announces regional award winners each year in 20 categories and then chooses Best of the Best national award winners among those regional winners. Finally, from those 20 national winners, it picks a single Project of the Year.

The US 34 project was named Project of the Year, in part because it finished two years ahead of schedule while maintaining a safe construction record despite hazardous site conditions. The Colorado Department of Transportation project was designed by lead firm Jacobs Engineering and subconsultants Ayres Associates, Muller Engineering, RockSol Consulting Group, WSP, and Yeh and Associates. Kiewit Infrastructure Co. was the general contractor.

Ayres provided the hydraulic analysis and engineering that guided the early design steps in a project that had to reckon with the immense destructive forces of the Big Thompson River, whose fury after a 21-inch rain event over a few days in northern Colorado killed eight people and did $2.9 billion in damage, including 23 miles of destruction along U.S. 34, 12 miles of which was virtually erased from the landscape, according to ENR.

Design innovations noted by ENR included installing partially grouted riprap beneath the surface along a 2-mile stretch of US 34 to create a more solid foundation, protecting bridge approaches with rocks, moving the road away from the river where possible, and in some cases rerouting the river to make the roadway more resilient in future floods along this busy tourist route.

John Hunt, PE, managed Ayres Associates’ work on the project, with William deRosset, PE, CFM, taking a lead role in the hydraulic engineering.

ENR presented its 2018 awards during its Award of Excellence celebration in March in New York.