Contractors Massman, R.J. Corman claim project awards from NRC

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief

Each year the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association recognizes exemplary performance among member contractors, their employees and retirees by presenting a series of awards. The NRC is pleased to announce the winners of its 2019 annual awards competition.

“The nominations submitted for NRC awards this year were particularly impressive,” noted NRC President Ashley Wieland. “NRC members and their exemplary employees completed some extraordinary work over the past year with great expertise and dedication. Award winners can be assured they were in great company with the other nominees.”

The winners will be recognized at the upcoming NRC 2020 Conference during a Special Awards Presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 8, from 8:45-9:15 a.m.

The NRC Large Project of the Year Award recognizes the 2019 Midwest Floods BNSF Napier project.

In late March 2019, the BNSF Railway experienced a historic flood event impacting 20 of its subdivisions. BNSF recognized the recovery effort to resume service in a timely manner would require additional expertise and resources, so they engaged R.J. Corman.

Over the next 16 weeks, R.J. Corman crews worked on 77 miles of track from Pacific Junction, Iowa, to St. Joseph, Mo. The company mobilized to clear debris, armor the railroad with rip-rap, raise areas of rail bed by up to 2 ft, install drainage pipes, replace ties, realign the track, install track panels, and tamp the ballast. To address flooded terrain, R.J. Corman implemented an innovative pipe system to divert water away from the railroad, create workable conditions and to keep the water from rising over other sections of the track.

This project drew upon R. J. Corman’s vast resources and expertise to get the many miles of track back to working order in the face of persistent floodwaters. In total, 261 employees from 38 divisions of five different R.J. Corman companies worked a total of 131,362 hours, injury free, to repair the significantly damaged 77-mile stretch of track. The company operated 276 pieces of its own equipment as well as 70 pieces of subcontracted equipment.

David Hestermann, assistant vice president and chief engineer for BNSF’s Central Region, shared this assessment of R.J. Corman’s effort:

“R.J. Corman and numerous leadership personnel responded within hours of our urgent request. Together R.J. Corman leadership and BNSF Railway engineering leadership assessed the wide spread situation, (and) developed short-term and long-term recovery plans. R.J. Corman deployed employees and specialized equipment from across the U.S. and began the difficult task of restoring service for operating trains. Many facets of the project executed by Corman were handled in a very professional manner based on expectations from BNSF Railway engineering leadership.”

The NRC Small Project of the Year award recognizes the Norfolk Southern Grand River Bridge, submitted by Massman Construction Co.

Flooding and resulting debris in the fall of 2019 caused record run-off in the Missouri River Basin region, destroying Norfolk Southern track and adjoining track on the bridge that spanned the Grand River near Brunswick, Mo. NS engaged Massman Construction to assist in rebuilding the bridge to restore service to the line as soon as possible.

Despite stiff currents and an extraordinary amount of river-born debris, Massman mobilized the needed equipment to the site within three days, including two large floating cranes, multiple barges, a tugboat and pile-driving equipment. Meanwhile, Massman convened an experienced team and worked closely with NS personnel and its consulting engineer to design a repair using available materials. Massman’s innovative use of precast caps, along with NS’s existing surplus steel bridge spans, allowed Massman to restore service to the line rapidly and with no injuries.

NS Vice President of Engineering summed up Massman’s performance this way:

“The fact that we were able to restore service in 27 days was truly remarkable and could not have been accomplished without Massman Construction’s dedicated workforce, their ability to adapt and overcome obstacles on the fly and their understanding of the sense of urgency we had to run trains. This was a true team effort, and Massman Construction rose to every challenge and exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

The NRC Field Employee of the Year Award recognizes Shelby Conrad, track manager, with Skanska USA Civil West.

Skanska attests that for the past 35 years, Shelby Conrad has consistently exemplified a commitment to quality, safe work, exceptional leadership and customer service. His commitment to delivering quality work the first time enables Skanska to avoid impacts to sensitive schedules and budgets in complex urban communities.

Shelby had a tremendous impact on the Exposition LRT Phase II project. When Skanska’s subcontractors were struggling to keep to the schedule, Shelby came on board as trackwork manager. His impact was clear: Expo II finished on time, was the first transit project in the U.S. to be certified Envision Platinum and was recognized for reaching 1 million man-hours without a lost-time incident.

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