Turning disaster into progress

Tyndall Air Force Base in Bay County, Florida, is on the verge of rebuilding and rebirth after experiencing devastation at the hands of Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Bay County, Florida, is on the verge of rebuilding and rebirth after experiencing devastation at the hands of Hurricane Michael in 2018. The hurricane damaged nearly every facility and infrastructure at the base, including utilities, roads and pavement.

Situated 12 miles east of Panama City, Tyndall AFB serves as a home to the 325th Fighter Wing, the 1st Air Force, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group and the 601st Air Operations Center and hosts F-22 Raptor training.

An important part of the rebuilding effort required the design of new turn lanes and acceleration lanes for the limited-use, entry-controlled facilities along U.S. 98 through the base.

Hanson, as a subconsultant to David Taylor Construction Inc. for this design-build project, provided plans for roadway design, signing, pavement marking and signalization, as well as drainage design and permitting efforts. The turn-lane improvements along U.S. 98 into the base are designed to meet Florida Department of Transportation standards.

an image of a roadway at Tyndall Air Force Base
The rebuilding effort requires the support of new turn lanes and acceleration lanes.

For Tyndall AFB, recovering from Hurricane Michael is about more than replacing buildings and infrastructure. It’s about turning disaster into progress and transforming the base into a facility driven by sustainability, resilience and innovative technology. According to Tyndall AFB’s website, this effort will help the base “adapt and withstand the challenges of the future.”

an image of a guardrail at tyndell air force base
The base serves as a home to the 325th Fighter Wing, the 1st Air Force, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group and the 601st Air Operations Center and hosts F-22 Raptor training.

For more information about this project or how Hanson can help with your next roadway project, contact Travis Shannon at tshannon@hanson-inc.com.

Unconventional concept transforms problem intersection in St. Augustine


Most communities across the U.S. have at least one of these: problem intersections. You know the ones. They’re usually not hard to spot, and they are challenging to navigate if you’re driving or walking.

They’re often characterized by long lanes of backed-up traffic, temperamental traffic signals, unsafe or difficult left turns and traffic incidents.

The city of St. Augustine in northeastern Florida, the nation’s oldest city, had its own problem intersection, which caused headaches for drivers, as well as safety concerns for motorists and pedestrians.

The State Road A1A/San Marco intersection is a gateway entrance to St. Augustine’s historic downtown and an important connection to U.S. 1, SR A1A, as well as the area’s beaches, neighborhoods, businesses and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB). This intersection sees a high volume of traffic, including sightseeing trolleys, semitrucks and vehicles pulling boat trailers.

U.S. 1, San Carlos Avenue and May Street all converged at San Marco Avenue to form two adjacent signalized intersections. This area often became a bottleneck, with traffic backing up several hundred yards in all directions, including onto a nearby bridge. Besides the mounting traffic congestion and frustration caused by these intersections, the city of St. Augustine and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Two were focused on the safety of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists traveling through this busy, challenging juncture.

In a September 2018 article in First Coast News, Jessica Clark wrote, “After years of frustration, one of the busiest intersections in St. Augustine is finally getting a much-needed facelift.”

Indeed, it was. And Hanson was ready to help the city and FDOT transform the look of the intersection and improve its safety and functionality.

FDOT figures out feasible fix

During the initial planning process, which started with five alternatives, the public asked FDOT to explore more options. Discussions about how to improve the intersection had been ongoing, and community members were actively involved in the evolution of this improvement — calling for new alternatives to improve not only the traffic congestion but their community’s overall infrastructure.

FDOT District Two’s Urban Planning and Modal Administrator, Jim Knight, P.E., came up with an innovative approach. He shared his original concept sketch with Hanson, and we used microsimulation analysis tools to validate the concept. Our analysis proved his creative idea could reduce conflict points and traffic queue lengths and decrease traffic signal phasing from four signals to two, allowing traffic to flow more smoothly.

aerial of st. augustine intersection plans

The unique concept developed for the SR A1A/San Marco intersection improvements in St. Augustine, Florida, by Florida Department of Transportation District Two’s Urban Planning and Modal Administrator Jim Knight, P.E., was used as the basis for Hanson’s microsimulation analysis. The concept was overwhelmingly accepted by the city, stakeholders and public.

The design involved separating two adjacent signalized intersections to form a single quadrant/offset T-intersection. This included realigning the SR A1A (May Street) intersection at San Marco Avenue, dividing SR A1A into two legs, adding dual left-turn lanes along West San Carlos Avenue and extending a left-turn lane along U.S. 1.

This project also involved numerous design elements. These included lighting, which was brought up to new intersection standards, 10 new signal mast arms designed to meet hurricane-force winds, the first High-intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) crossing in northeast Florida, redundant traffic signals, visual and audible pedestrian signals and the signage and striping to address the unique lane configurations.

The addition of dedicated right and left turn lanes, median modifications, synchronized traffic signals, sidewalks, shared bicycle lanes and HAWK pedestrian signals improved traffic flow and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Collaboration with community leads to enhancements in safety, accessibility

Throughout this project, the project team worked closely with the FSDB, which is a public school for pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired or deafblind. The school serves more than 1,000 children on its 80-acre campus less than three blocks away on San Marco Avenue.

Construction is underway for the reconfiguration and relocation of the San Marco and May Street intersection, while motorists continue to travel using the original intersection.

This collaboration was important throughout the design process and led to the installation of two HAWK signals at a new pedestrian crossing. Designers incorporated a delicate balance of sound into the HAWK system and other pedestrian signals to accommodate FSDB students, neighbors and other pedestrians who use this crossing. As part of the HAWK system, pedestrians hear a prompt that announces the crossing street name. These prompts are designed to be loud enough for FSDB students to hear and allow for the audio level to be lowered at night to reduce disturbances to surrounding residential neighborhoods.

In addition to a challenging roadway design, utility conflict resolution and signing and marking, the highly visible project included the design of a new closed drainage collection system to help alleviate a chronic flooding problem, a stormwater management facility, new utilities, environmental permitting, cultural resources and significant public involvement.

“This project showcases the positive outcomes that can occur when engineering and transportation professionals listen to the needs of their clients and communities, engage with them and work together to create a solution that improves safety, travel and quality of life,” said Hanson’s project manager Chantal Bowen, P.E.

This intersection is an important connecting point for U.S. 1 and SR A1A, providing access to historic downtown St. Augustine, the area’s beaches, neighborhoods and businesses and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Today, the new intersection is able to accommodate a higher volume of traffic, safely and efficiently.

Innovative, unconventional design gives intersection a green light

The U.S. 1/SR A1A San Marco intersection was completed in September 2021 and accommodates a much higher volume of traffic than before.

“The project team met an accelerated design schedule for this dynamic and fluid project. As the scope expanded, so did the project team’s commitment to designing a solution that would exceed FDOT District Two’s goals, as well as the expectations of the city of St. Augustine, the public and stakeholders. We accomplished this through innovative design, collaboration, public meetings and a focus on multimodal transportation and safety,” Bowen added.

This concept improved the safety and usability of the SR A1A/San Marco intersection and changed the way FDOT’s District Two approaches intersection design projects by considering innovative, creative ways to improve intersections, traffic phasing and signalization.

“This unique design reflects how FDOT District Two is moving beyond standard intersection design to improve traffic flow and safety. The project is indicative of the types of positive transportation improvements FDOT District Two strives for in our communities, using partnerships with affected entities, providing the best value to stakeholders and our constituents,” said FDOT’s District Two Director of Transportation Robert L. Parks, P.E.

For more information about this project or how Hanson can help you with a project that is important to you and your community, contact Chantal Bowen, P.E., at cbowen@hanson-inc.com.

Revamping a rural Florida coastal highway

If you’ve ever driven across Florida’s Panhandle, there’s a good chance you’ve traveled on U.S. 98, which is Florida’s longest numbered route, an important east-west connector within the state and a designated hurricane evacuation route. Part of U.S. 98 includes State Road (SR) 30 in northwest Florida’s Wakulla County. SR 30 is a coastal highway that connects area residents, communities and visitors to the region’s businesses, parks, coastal areas and beaches.

Hanson worked with the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 3 to resurface, restore and rehabilitate a 6-mile section of U.S. 98 State Road (SR) 30 from the St. Marks River to the Jefferson County line in Wakulla County, Florida.

SR 30 sees a high percentage of truck traffic; over time, the heavy, consistent volume of trucks caused some severe ruts to occur on SR 30. The road was also settling in spots, developing potholes over deteriorating cross-drain pipes.

SR 30 is in the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) District 3. FDOT determined that a 6-mile section of SR 30 from the St. Marks River to the Jefferson County line needed repairs, including resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation. The project scope encompassed travel lanes, truck pull-offs, paved shoulders and drainage. FDOT needed a comprehensive solution, and Hanson approached the challenge from all angles.

Partnering with FDOT’s District 3, Hanson provided transportation engineering, including highway design, traffic operations and structural engineering, to rehabilitate and restore SR 30. To keep motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists safe, the team improved safety elements, such as upgrading guardrails, correcting cross slope and providing audible and vibratory treatments, such as standard thermoplastic markings with ground-in rumble strips to provide lane departure warnings.

Drains, detours and design

One of FDOT’s highest priorities included replacing the weakening cross drains at three locations where the large concrete pipes had separated at the joints and caused seepage, siltation and roadway failures.

Replacing large concrete cross drains at three locations along SR 30 was a high priority during this roadway rehabilitation project.

This wasn’t a small effort. It involved significant underground construction alongside and underneath the roadway. Construction crews replaced five 36-inch-diameter reinforced concrete pipes and three 48-inch-diameter reinforced concrete pipes. The team also checked all drainage structures for erosion, function, scour, sediment accumulation and structural integrity.

During construction, maintaining two-way traffic through the work zone at all times was a critical component. The project team produced a temporary traffic control plan that involved constructing special detours to shift both lanes of traffic in phases. The on-site detours included temporary sheet-pile walls and allowed the cross drains to be replaced and the existing roadway to be reconstructed.               

Hanson used a phased approach to maintain traffic in the work zone during construction.

Because the project was in a sensitive environmental area that included wetlands and karst regions, coordinating environmental aspects was critical to completing the project and protecting the natural area. Karst regions are often characterized by limestone or dissolving rock, which may include sinkholes, underground streams and caverns.

“Construction projects in this area must follow criteria to avoid impacting existing karst areas and prevent sinkholes from forming in the project area. Because we’ve worked in this area on similar projects, our familiarity and experience helped us collaborate with local permitting agencies to meet the environmental permitting requirements,” said Brian Lemieux, P.E., a vice president, senior project manager and regional manager who works at Hanson’s Bonifay, Florida, office. Brian served as the project manager, leading Hanson’s efforts on the project. 

Hanson also submitted permits for impacts to wetlands to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It was great to work on a project that was so important to the safety of people using this route. Working together with FDOT’s District 3, our efforts helped make SR 30 more durable and safer for those traveling through this corridor while protecting the beautiful, natural environment in Wakulla County,” Lemieux said.

For more information about this project or how Hanson can help you with your next roadway project, contact Brian Lemieux, P.E., at blemieux@hanson-inc.com.

Lwambagaza, Muñoz earn P.E. licenses

Lina Lwambagaza, P.E., a transportation/traffic engineer in Jacksonville, Florida, and Carlos Muñoz, P.E., a roadway engineer in Lisle, Illinois, have earned professional engineer licenses.

Lina, who joined the company in 2018, earned her license in Florida. She received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Ardhi University in Tanzania and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of North Florida. Carlos, who is licensed in Illinois, joined Hanson in 2014 and has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Underbrink named Engineer of the Year by TSPE

David Underbrink, P.E., a vice president and senior project manager in Corpus Christi, Texas, has been recognized by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) with its Engineer of the Year Award.

David has served as president of TSPE for the past year. He also is a director of TSPE’s Nueces Chapter, from which he received its Young Engineer of the Year Award in 1989, President’s Award in 2001 and Engineer of the Year Award in 2018.

The award is the highest honor given to a member of TSPE and is based on engineering achievements; professional and technical society activities; and civic, humanitarian and social activities. All TSPE award honorees were recognized June 17 during the organization’s conference and annual meeting in Frisco, Texas.

Hanson partnership helps clients plan, prioritize projects

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” — Theodore Levitt

In Hanson’s new overview video, Chairman and CEO Sergio “Satch” Pecori, P.E., talks about how important innovation is to the company, its culture and our clients.

“Hanson has made a major commitment to innovation, especially data analytics, and artificial intelligence and robotics,” Satch said.

Sergio “Satch” Pecori, P.E.

Hanson strives to be proactive and future-thinking, providing innovative and inspiring ideas for our clients, projects and communities. One way we are doing this is through a partnership with a Canadian software company — Infrastructure Solutions Inc. (ISI) — that has developed an asset management and capital planning software to help clients with their capital improvement plans now and for future years.

“With this partnership, we can help our clients with a data-driven approach so they can make the best possible infrastructure financial and socio-economic decisions,” Satch explained when Hanson announced the partnership. “Our initial focus will be to serve municipal, county and state agencies that maintain and manage roads, bridges, water, wastewater and stormwater systems and facilities.”

Better data, better decisions

The DOT™ (Decision Optimization Technology) software intuitively manages the complexity of creating strategic asset management plans. It can simultaneously incorporate variables to help clients develop plans based on fluctuating budgets, shifting strategic priorities, socio-economic expectations, risk and safety considerations and cross-departmental initiatives. This U.S.-based partnership, called Decision Optimization Technology–United States (DOT–US), will work directly with clients to meet their infrastructure capital planning needs and provide on-site consulting to expedite client success.

Hanson Assistant Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Kurt Bialobreski, P.E., PTOE, says the DOT™ software can help clients develop their short- and long-term capital planning projects and budgets and plan essential, cost-effective projects that will benefit their communities and stakeholders.

“With this partnership, we can help our clients with a data-driven approach so they can make the best possible infrastructure financial and socio-economic decisions.”

“This software can help clients prioritize their projects. As we give clients more data and feedback, they can analyze the information and choose what is important to them. Hanson is there to provide the engineering support to bring those projects to fruition,” Kurt said.

In discussing the new partnership, ISI’s president, Neil Roberts, said, “The big challenge in building strong partnerships is to find companies that are philosophically aligned. We are a great fit with Hanson, because we share a common objective to be a trusted partner to our clients, are fully committed to client success and capable of managing technically complex projects.”

To learn more about DOT™ or to request a demo, visit bettercapitalplanning.com or contact Kurt at kbialobreski@hanson-inc.com.

This article first appeared on Hanson’s Elements blog on June 25, 2021.

Living laboratory in central Illinois driving region’s transportation future

Evolving technology and social trends are changing how people and products move. In the automotive industry, both original equipment manufacturers and startups are driving the adoption of connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE) mobility trends at rapidly increasing rates. In the future, vehicles of many forms will be more accessible to more people, transportation will be cheaper and more efficient and commuting will be more convenient, with integrated options for multiple modes of transportation for a single trip.

To prepare for this future, Hanson has partnered with Peoria, Illinois-based Distillery Labs, one of 15 Illinois Innovation Network hubs, to create and manage the Central Illinois Living Laboratory. The living laboratory serves as a testing hub for CASE mobility solutions. The objective of the living laboratory is to create a smart technology network within the public right of way that will allow technology companies the opportunity to beta-test products and solutions that will eventually be brought to market.

The impact from CASE solutions will be generated from using a combination of technologies. But right now, mobility products are at different stages of development and need a testing environment. The goal is to build tools into the public infrastructure that create a mobility workshop for inventors to create new companies and currently unimagined jobs.

To align with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity initiative, the living laboratory will involve such focus areas as the movement of people, agriculture and goods and applications for agriculture, construction and logistics. As the plan develops, increasing the footprint beyond the Peoria region will be explored based on market needs. The cities within central Illinois are well-connected, and the living laboratory will explore the transition from urban to suburban to rural. Some CASE technologies have the potential to have the biggest impact in rural settings.

In exchange for access to the living laboratory, the companies will provide the ecosystem host and sponsors with access to data and support of the ecosystem. Ultimately, the living laboratory should provide data that is necessary for research on transportation technologies, improve the transportation options to residents and create technology jobs in central Illinois.

Connectivity, in terms of mobility, will revolutionize how we move and pay for services. With project experience like the Central Illinois Living Laboratory, Hanson’s goal is to help our customers embrace the changes to the built environment that are needed to inform travelers in real time and seamlessly integrate the multimodal user experience into one journey.

To learn more about the Central Illinois Living Laboratory, contact Kurt Bialobreski at kbialobreski@hanson-inc.com or Philip Lockwood at plockwood@hanson-inc.com.

This article first appeared on Hanson’s Forming the Future blog on May 13, 2021.

Moved to design: Meet Hanson’s Isaiah Cano

As a high school student, Isaiah Cano took an introduction to engineering class that set him on a path to pursue engineering as a career. He chose civil engineering as his major in college and graduated from Texas A&M University – Kingsville in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering.

Before graduating, Isaiah completed an internship at Hanson, working for the infrastructure market at the company’s Corpus Christi, Texas, office. This was another step on his path to becoming an engineer. When asked what he hoped to achieve during his internship, Isaiah said, “I hope to gain knowledge in the field and get some hands-on experience working with professional engineers.”

His internship yielded valuable work experience and a full-time employment offer from Hanson. Today, he works as a roadway designer at the Corpus Christi office, assisting with a variety of design work for roadways and drainage systems.

Here, Isaiah talks more about his career and what drives him at work and in life.

What led me to pursue this career?

I took an introduction to engineering class in high school, and that’s what really piqued my interest in the field of engineering. And it made me want to pursue it even further.

What I do on a typical day on the job:

Most of the time, I am in the office doing geometric design for roads. I also help with drafting on roadway projects. I also have done a few drainage analyses for some projects, with the help of others.

My favorite part of my job:

By far, the favorite part about my job is being able to work with others in the same field. And even better is getting the opportunity to learn from others and using that to grow in my career path.

Isaiah Cano

Notable projects I have worked on:

The South Staples Street reconstruction from Baldwin Boulevard to Kostoryz Road in Corpus Christi. Hanson was the prime consultant on this roadway reconstruction project for the city of Corpus Christi. The project involved drainage, public development and environment study documentation, public involvement, roadway support and utility coordination.

What I like to do when I’m not working:

I love to collect sports trading cards, whether it’s football, basketball or baseball.

Saenz, Stranahan join Hanson

Welcome to two engineers who recently joined Hanson.

Edward Saenz, P.E., a civil engineer, works at Hanson’s Corpus Christi, Texas, office. He focuses on the civil site sector, including site development, roadway rehabilitation and drainage studies and design.

Before joining Hanson, Edward was a transportation engineer for an international, multidiscipline firm in Corpus Christi. He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University – Kingsville and is a licensed professional engineer in Texas.

“I am excited to be able to have an opportunity to grow within a different industry and to build my relationships locally. Being part of a team that is working toward the growth of Corpus Christi and the surrounding area is exciting to me, because this is the area where I grew up and plan to live,” Edward said.

Edward may be reached at esaenz@hanson-inc.com.

Carey Stranahan, P.E., a project manager, joined Hanson’s Indianapolis office. He manages local and state infrastructure projects in Indiana.

Prior to joining Hanson, Carey was the civil engineer for the city of Kokomo, Indiana, and performed other duties in the engineering department, for 20 years. He was a combat engineer for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve for six years; he worked on construction projects in the United States, Korea, El Salvador and Jamaica and received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue University and is a licensed professional engineer in Indiana. In 2015, Carey received the Ivan H. Brinegar Municipal Management Award from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.

Carey may be reached at cstranahan@hanson-inc.com.

Forward thinking: How transportation research, advancements and insights will impact our roads

Hanson employees present at the 2021 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

By David McDonald Jr., P.E., PTOE, Ph.D.

I have attended the TRB’s annual meetings since I was a graduate student in 1998, but this year marked the first virtual annual meeting for TRB and me.

The pandemic has not slowed down the advancement of technology. Transportation research has continued. Thousands of researchers, engineers, scientists, planners and designers participated in the 2021 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in January. Hanson employees contributed to this important conference through sessions, workshops, committee meetings and by leading subcommittees. Hanson staff presented several papers in multiple sessions during the virtual conference.

Senior transportation engineers Bikram Wadhawan, P.E., PTOE, and Kavita Parikh, P.E., PTOE, who work at Hanson’s Jacksonville, Florida, office, presented “Analysis of Complex Weaves in Managed Lanes” during a poster session Jan. 25. They were joined during the presentation by Amy Causseaux from the Florida Department of Transportation and Maria Overton, P.E., CPM, from CTS Engineering Inc.

Session focuses on design and performance

Since 2016, I have been evaluating the impacts highly automated vehicles (AV) will have on our roads, including how these vehicles could influence road design. My paper and presentation for this conference focused on how the AVs may perceive and react faster than a human driver and how they may be able to establish precise vehicle operational characteristics, such as speed or acceleration and deceleration rates. Using these vehicle advancements, several important design parameters were examined that depend on these abilities. If we were to design for a fully automated vehicle, the following impacts were described:

  • Ramp terminals with acceleration lanes and ramp deceleration lanes could be much shorter in length, saving on pavement and land-related costs.
  • Crest vertical curves may switch from sight line control to passenger comfort control. However, if sight lines were still to be a controlling feature, sharper curves would be a possibility, because stopping sight-distance requirements would be much less for an AV over a human-driven vehicle.
  • At-grade rail crossing design with AVs would impact sight triangle requirements and eliminate much of the current corner clear area requirements. The crossing road guidance to cross perpendicular to the tracks would not be as critical.

From this research, intersection sight distances are likely to be affected by AVs as well, because of the similarity of sight triangle requirements explored with at-grade rail design.

During my second presentation and poster session, “How Autonomous Vehicles May Influence Vertical Curves, At-Grade Railroad Crossings and Ramp Terminals,” I shared my ongoing research on how automated vehicles (AV) might perform better than human drivers and how roadway designs will need to change to accommodate these AVs.

Exploring lessons learned in roadway design

The spotlight theme for TRB’s 100th annual meeting was “Launching a New Century of Mobility and Quality of Life.” TRB also found ways to explore some of the important findings from its first 100 years.

That theme fit well with the second paper I presented on lessons learned over my 30 years of working in the transportation industry. During a lectern and poster session, I highlighted some of these lessons learned, with the hope that the next generation of roadway engineers and designers will benefit and pick up a nugget of knowledge or two they can use. Highlights included understanding the design assignment, maintaining clear communications, providing the expected deliverable, thinking ahead, preparing documentation (design and review) and exploring lessons learned related to roadway plans, profiles, sections and earthwork.



I presented my technical paper, “Lessons Learned in Roadway Design: A Few Nuggets of Knowledge,” at the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) virtual 2021 Annual Meeting Jan. 29. The full presentation is available on Hanson’s YouTube channel.

Both papers and presentations have been selected for presentation to the European engineering community in summer 2022 as part of the 6th International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design, featuring the 6th Urban Street Symposium, in Amsterdam.

David McDonald Jr., P.E., PTOE, Ph.D., is a vice president, roadway discipline manager and chief roadway engineer at Hanson. He has been with the company since 2002. Contact him at dmcdonald@hanson-inc.com.