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Dodge County Bridge Projects Receive Project of the Year Award

by Jessica Pairrett 2. June 2017 07:16

County Highway Bridge Replacements Win Top Honor by American Public Works Association

A pair of accelerated bridge construction projects in Dodge County, Wis., has received a 2016 Public Works Project of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA).

R.A. Smith National provided construction services for the replacement of Dodge County bridges on County KW and County S, which were at the ends of their useful lives. Dodge County implemented a new technology known as geosynthetic reinforced soil-integrated bridge system (GRS-IBS). This technology was chosen from the Every Day Counts initiative set forth by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). GRS-IBS is an efficient, cost-effective and safe method for constructing bridges. At the time of these bridge replacements, only one other bridge in Wisconsin had been constructed using this technology—and with great success.

County S after construction

Above: County S over Shaw Brook with GRS-IBS abutments and precast box beams.

Additional Information

The main appeal of the new GRS-IBS technology to the traveling public is that projects can be constructed in as little as weeks instead of several months with traditional construction methods. Another advantage of using this technology is cost savings, between 25 to 60 percent less than conventional methods. Saving taxpayer money is the number one goal in using this technology. GRS-IBS bridges also offer durable construction with low maintenance, the potential for lower lifecycle costs and minimized environmental impacts.

Both new County KW and County S bridges replaced existing bridges that were structurally deficient. Greater clear widths on each bridge will improve safety and reduce the likelihood of crashes, while increased shoulder widths better accommodate bicyclists. Beam guards and railings were updated to improve safety.

R.A. Smith National provided construction administration and inspection, while OMNNI Associates designed the two new bridges and Janke General Contractors constructed the bridges. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Structures provided technical assistance. These projects required the cooperation of many different entities working together to promote new technology and innovation in Wisconsin.

GRS-IBS Abutment Under Construction

Above: This photo captures several unique aspects of the GRS-IBS abutment under construction, including the reinforced soil foundation (RSF), different colored layers of blocks, fabric reinforcement and backfill. The crew is placing steel reinforcement and concrete in the top three layers of the wall per the manufacturer’s specifications. The abutment was approximately 80% complete when the above photo was taken.

Judging and Awards

A jury of professionals selected award recipients based on criteria such as: construction management techniques; demonstrated safety during construction; community relations; awareness of the need to protect the environment; unusual accomplishments under adverse conditions; additional conditions like construction innovations or money-saving techniques; and sustainable infrastructure.

The Wisconsin Chapter of the APWA presented the Public Works Project of the Year Award during their spring conference held May 10–12.

R.A. Smith National Named a 2017 Best Firm to Work For

by Jessica Pairrett 23. May 2017 08:29

Zweig Group Best Firms 2017

Firm Ranked Among Top Engineering Firms in the Nation by Zweig Group

R.A. Smith National, Inc. was selected as one of Zweig Group’s Best Civil Engineering Firms to Work For for the fifth consecutive year.

The firm is one of only a few from Wisconsin that ranked in the civil engineering category. This list recognizes the top civil engineering firms in the United States and Canada based on their workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates and more. R.A. Smith National has been recognized a total of nine times as a Best Firms to Work For by Zweig Group.

The Zweig Group honor follows the firm’s Top Workplaces 2017 award by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which lists the best places to work in southeastern Wisconsin. This is the fifth straight year the firm has been recognized as one of the Top Workplaces.

About R.A. Smith National
Employees at R.A. Smith National enjoy a collaborative, client-focused culture in a family atmosphere. The firm employs a staff of nearly 200 and is currently hiring for a variety of positions throughout its offices in Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

“We have an exceptional team at the firm and work hard to be an employer of choice,” said Wendy Wolfgram, human resources manager.

Additional Information
Zweig Group will announce this year’s winners at the 2017 Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference on September 21 and 22 at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle. For more information about the Best Firms to Work For award, please visit

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