The highly celebrated Allen Creek Railroad Berm project has been awarded a National Recognition Award by the national chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) at the 2021 Engineering Excellence Awards. Designed by national architecture, engineering and planning firm Bergmann, the project was previously honored with the 2021 Honorable Conceptor Award by ACEC, Michigan, and the 2021 Project of the Year in the category of Quality of Life $5M to $25M by the American Public Works Association, Michigan Chapter.
In the past, the railroad berm, located just north of downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan and parallel to the Huron River, was the location of frequent flooding events. The railroad was also a barrier to a would-be trail for users looking to enjoy the pathways that run along the Huron River. As part of an $8M improvement project, the City of Ann Arbor hired Bergmann as the Lead Design Firm responsible for overall project management, public outreach, stakeholder coordination; rail, structural, and site design; and design assistance during construction to address both problems with a new flood relief tunnel and pedestrian underpass through the railroad berm. Residents and visitors alike can now safely access the regional trail system – part of the Iron-Belle trail which extends from Belle Isle (Detroit) to Iron Mountain, Michigan (Upper Peninsula).
Additionally, some local businesses and residents will see flood insurance rates decreased or eliminated as a result of the project which reduced flood levels by as much as 7-feet in areas.
City officials and the Bergmann design team collaborated extensively to coordinate the design of the project. “One significant item to note is the speed at which the Bergmann team was able to obtain railroad owner approvals for the planned work,” said City Engineer, Nicholas Hutchinson, PE. Bergmann worked with the City, Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Office of Rail, and Amtrak to reduce the typical railroad agreement timeline from 18 months down to seven months.
“This project is the perfect example of our team’s ability to solve big challenges while operating under tight timelines and collaborating with multiple stakeholders,” said Jeremy Hedden, PE, Bergmann’s project manager and Vice President. “It shows the power of resilient design and the real value we bring to communities. I’m proud of everyone involved, and while awards like this are not why we do the work we do, it is nice to see the team and project recognized nationally.”
The new pathway opened in the fall of 2020 and the flood relief tunnel was operational in July 2020. Ann Arbor continues to plan and construct additional trails within the city, one of which may also utilize the new pedestrian underpass.
For more than four decades, Bergmann architects, engineers and planners have been delivering results to clients across the United States and Canada. This team of more than 450 professionals spans the Northeast, Midwest and Atlantic regions. Bergmann develops connections with partners and communities to create dynamic, creative solutions that will stand the test of time, while promoting environmental and functional sustainability. Projects in the Bergmann portfolio range from signature buildings and commercial developments to critical transportation infrastructure and community planning. For more information, visit www.bergmannpc.com.