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  • Saving Lives & Money Wins Engineering Contest

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    February 08, 2019
    A Richmond engineering firm won the 2019 Pinnacle Award for Engineering Excellence presented by ACEC Virginia, for a project that will save lives and money. ACEC Virginia, the state’s largest association for engineering firms, awarded the Pinnacle to Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT) of Richmond at its annual awards gala at the Jefferson Hotel. The event capped a statewide contest among 16 Virginia engineering firms with 18 competing projects.

    “Each year amazing projects are entered in our annual contest. And this year was no exception,” said Nancy Israel, executive director of ACEC Virginia. “Many of the projects in this year’s contest cost more money and broke new ground. But the judges felt that there was no project that had the potential to save lives and money like JMT’s project making it possible for emergency response vehicles to travel safely over aging rural bridges.”


    JMT devised a method for safely extending maximum weight capacity on rural bridges so emergency vehicles could use them in route to an emergency. It is hoped that the same method can be applied nationwide so emergency responders can take the quickest route and localities don’t have to spend millions building new emergency response stations to ensure optimum response time. Weight restrictions vary per bridge but typically don’t allow anything larger than an ambulance to cross the bridge.
    Specifically, JMT realized that the superstructures or bridge spans were being tested, but there was no testing of the abutments at the end of the bridges and that the only way to lift weight restrictions would be to weight test the abutments. JMT evaluated weight restricted bridges in Chesterfield County, load testing each bridge so that all emergency response vehicles could pass over existing bridges. JMT developed load test criteria and test procedures from scratch and coordinated with the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and Virginia Transportation Research Council. Test vehicles included the heaviest emergency response vehicles that could be supported by the bridge superstructure.

    At the completion of the load tests and examination of test data, JMT submitted a crossing authorization for each bridge that passed the load tests and subsequently secured a permit for emergency vehicles to cross those bridges. JMT provided engineering analysis, load test criteria development and permit applications that can be used in other rural areas throughout the nation. Weight restricted bridges are a nationwide problem, especially in rural areas where emergency response vehicles may have to take a lengthy route around an aging bridge….losing precious minutes in reaching people in emergency situations.
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    Media Contact: Nancy Israel 804-477-657
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