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Arik Quam Bridging the Gap in Changing Infrastructure Landscape

February 25, 2016

DT Bridges 110515 778

Bridge Builder: Arik Quam, a 1996 civil engineering alumnus, is senior project manager for Walsh Construction Company. His latest project was the $892-million bridge-building and interstate improvement project in Louisville, Kentucky.

Arik Quam has joined fellow civil engineers in bringing technical expertise to manage several large-scale projects that are strengthening America’s aging transportation infrastructure system.

As senior project manager for bridge industry leader Walsh Construction Company, the 1996 alumnus is leading the development of a $892-million bridge-building and interstate improvement project in Louisville, Kentucky; is actively involved in a $899-million project to replace hundreds of bridges throughout Pennsylvania; and has completed three new bridges utilizing steel tied arch, cable stay, and cast-in-place segmental building techniques.

“The infrastructure industry continues to have a tremendous need from all levels of civil engineers in the design and construction sectors of the industry,” Quam says.

And, each project presents its share of design and technical challenges.

For instance, the mighty Ohio River showed who was in control as Quam’s team (nearly 100 management staff) assembled the many aspects of constructing a new three-tower cable-stay bridge and significantly rehabilitating the truss-based John F. Kennedy (JFK) Bridge–both vital links between southeastern Indiana and Louisville. Seasonal flooding and swift currents caused numerous safety concerns, with employees sometimes working within 50 feet upstream of the existing JFK Bridge, providing little room for error.

Arik Quam

Arik Quam

Aspects of that same project, including reconstructing a large complex urban interstate interchange system (three highways carrying 200,000 cars daily), have put an enormous strain on the region’s construction resources, requiring an intricate network of skills trade workers, subcontractors, and suppliers. The four-year-long project is on schedule to be completed this December.

Another Quam-led project, the Blennerhassett Bridge at Parkersburg, West Virginia, was an 898-foot-long steel tied arch bridge, with inclined hangers, that spans the Ohio River and Blennerhassett Island. A temporary support system involved bents in the river and huge adjustable struts between the bridge’s supporting tie girder and arch rib.

“Different challenges certainly lead to things never getting stale and new projects certainly keep the scenery changing,” he says. “It is the innovative technical solutions to support the bridge that provide opportunity for some creative solutions.”

The evolution of Public Private Partnership projects is a major change in the infrastructure marketplace. Walsh Construction is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, other contractors, and private investors for the design and complete reconstruction of 558 structural deficient bridges throughout Pennsylvania during the next two years.

“Bridge-building materials also continue to evolve and get stronger,” says Quam from Walsh Construction’s offices in Pittsburgh. “Fiber, galvanized, and even stainless reinforcing are being used to eliminate corrosion, allowing the infrastructure of today’s bridges to have a 100-year useful life and beyond.”