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HDR Earns 2022 ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards for Project in Louisiana

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — An HDR project in Louisiana received a 2022 Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). The state-winning projects advanced to the national ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards competition, which culminates with the announcement of national award winners at the Engineering Excellence Awards Gala on May 24. The gala, which recognizes the year’s most remarkable engineering achievements, is part of the 2022 ACEC Annual Conference.

The Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Gulf Shoreline Stabilization Project won the Grand Award. The Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge experiences an average rate of 50 feet of erosion per year, and the state of Louisiana has been aggressively combating the 25 to 35 square miles of coastal habitat loss that occurs annually in Louisiana. Since 2002, HDR has been working with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service on the Rockefeller Refuge Gulf Shoreline Stabilization Project to help preserve and restore the area’s coastline.

Project challenges included extremely soft soils exposed to an open Gulf high-wave energy environment. Therefore, before the project could move forward, experimental breakwater alternatives had to be tested. HDR's initial alternatives analysis included over 50 shoreline protection options that were reduced to three demonstration projects built in 2009.

Monitoring data and lessons learned during the demonstration project construction were used to design a three-mile portion of the overall project. The final design features a series of breakwaters with a core of encapsulated lightweight aggregate to reduce the overall weight of the breakwaters while providing shoreline protection from waves and erosion. Construction of the project was funded through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act, a program that provides federal funding for coastal restoration projects in Louisiana. Due to the low price of the construction bid, an additional mile of the breakwater was added to the project for a total of four miles of shoreline stabilization. Construction of the project was completed in early 2020.

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