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New Orleans Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier Wins 2014 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award

The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier (IHNC) located in New Orleans, Louisiana, and which Ben C. Gerwick, Inc. designed major portions of, has been awarded the 2014 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The project is the centerpiece of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System and part of Gerwick’s comprehensive portfolio of solutions to protect cities against the effects of climate change.

The OCEA award recognizes, “a project that makes a significant contribution to both the civil engineering profession and society as a whole.” It is the highest and most prestigious honor ASCE can bestow on an infrastructure project.

Gerwick came to work on the Surge Barrier due to its successful record in and specialized knowledge in working with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Gerwick and joint-venture partner Inca have a successful history designing other Corps projects and Shaw Environmental brought construction management capability that included awareness of local Louisiana construction practices.

“Engineering the surge barrier was complex, but very rewarding,” said Dr. Dale Berner, Gerwick Vice President, Technical Director and Engineer of Record for the following elements of the project:

  • The main barrier, including the flood wall and the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MRGO) closure;
  • The Gulf Intercoastal Waterway (GIWW) sector gate monolith walls and foundation;
  • The GIWW bypass concrete barge swing gate;
  • Approach walls at the GIWW sector gate; and
  • Scour stone protection for the barrier and gates.

“It is personally gratifying to see this project built and to reflect on the impact it has on the entire region and on resiliency efforts in the United States. We consider the award to be a recognition of Gerwick’s expertise in this area as well,” said Berner.

As Designer-of-Record, Gerwick leveraged its experience with precast components and marine construction to produce creative, but practical solutions that reduced construction costs without compromising structural integrity and performance. Specifics include; using a simple design; minimizing piece types; minimizing number of details; building simple construction sequences into design details; providing generous field tolerances in design details; and allowing simultaneous off-site fabrication of components

At the Forefront of Resiliency Planning

Gerwick, along with sister company Ocean and Coastal Consultants (OCC) are at the forefront of resiliency planning in the United States. In addition to Gerwick’s work, OCC is taking the lead on many climate change projects in New York following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. OCC is also among the finalists in HUD’s Rebuild by Design Competition.

“This prestigious recognition speaks to the dedication and commitment of Ben C. Gerwick, Inc. to protect the people and City of New Orleans and overall expertise in building more resilient communities. The construction of this centerpiece structure is to help prevent a repeat of the disaster and devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused for the entire area,” said Winston Stewart, President of Ben C. Gerwick, Inc. “As more and more areas in the US are affected by climate change, it is our goal prevent and protect our communities with practical and sustainable engineering solutions.”

About Ben C. Gerwick

Ben C. Gerwick, Inc. is an internationally-known civil and structural consulting firm that has specialized in the design of major marine structures for over 80 years. Our highly qualified staff of structural, geotechnical, and coastal engineers has worldwide experience with wharves and piers, bridges, inland waterways, offshore terminals, offshore platforms, dry docks, harbor facilities, and deep foundations.

Ben C. Gerwick, Inc. is a COWI North America Company. COWI North America (COWI NA) comprises four engineering Companies -- Ben C. Gerwick, Inc., Buckland & Taylor, Jenny Engineering, and Ocean and Coastal Consultants.

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