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LHB’s Clients, Metro Transit and St. Louis County, Both Win National and State Engineering Awards

Minnesota & Wisconsin (March 5, 2024) — LHB and their clients, Metro Transit and St, Louis County, have each earned a National Recognition Award in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 2024 Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) competition — the “world’s greatest celebration of engineering excellence.”  The National Recognition Award is a prestigious national distinction honoring projects demonstrating exceptional engineering excellence at the national level. LHB, their clients, and the two projects will be recognized during the 2024 black-tie EEA Gala Dinner and Awards Program, to be held Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. The awards were given for the outstanding work on Metro Transit’s new North Loop Garage in Minneapolis, MN and St. Louis County’s French River Bridge Reconstruction on County State Aid Highway 61 (CSAH 61) near Duluth, MN. Representatives also accepted the state-level ACEC/MN Grand Awards at a gala held at A'BULAE in St. Paul on Friday, February 23.

The North Loop Garage sets a new benchmark for transit facilities. The tight site comfortably fits 575,000 SF of functionality, resilience, energy conservation, and social equity. With 220 buses, it is one of the nation’s largest transit facilities and includes multiple sustainability innovations. This pedestrian-scale treatment of a large-scale building offsets a recent shift in this neighborhood toward multifamily residential, creating hundreds of living wage jobs. A passive solar facade preheats fresh air intakes, while structural piles integrate a geothermal system within the concrete. Harvested rainwater washes the fleet, and the thermal envelope has just two sets of entry/exit doors for the entire fleet, minimizing heat loss through openings. A future 2 MW solar array with battery storage will fuel an expanding fleet of electric buses.

Robert Rimstad, Senior Project Manager at Metro Transit said, “The LHB design team solved several challenging conditions with unique and innovative ideas. As a result, the facility delivers optimal function and operational efficiencies that raise the bar for facility performance and design.”

The French River replacement bridge, a single-span pre-stressed concrete beam structure, pays homage to the original bridge with a single sleek arc, and an ADA-accessible interpretive installation showcases the history of local fisheries. Along with the bridge replacement, a 200-foot-long cast-in-place concrete retaining wall built along Lake Superior added decades back to the shore’s lifespan and allowed for improvements to the wayside facility. Sanitary and storm sewer upgrades maintain Lake Superior’s water quality, protecting the nearby fish sanctuary and former hatchery. Despite COVID-19 pandemic coordination challenges, the $5.1M, nearly 900-foot-long urban design bridge and grading project was completed on schedule at the end of 2022.

Rachel Gregg, PE, St. Louis County Bridge Engineer said, “St. Louis County is incredibly proud of the French River Bridge Reconstruction project and attribute much of this success to LHB’s ability to hear stakeholders’ needs, design to these needs, create flexibility in the design and construction schedule to accommodate these needs and unexpected challenges, and work with us throughout the process so as a client, we knew what to anticipate and were assured that items were being addressed.”

LHB previously received an ACEC National Recognition Award and an ACEC/MN Grand Award for the firm’s reconstruction of TH 61 in Grand Marais, MN.

About Metro Transit
Metro Transit is the transportation resource for the Twin Cities, offering an integrated network of buses, light rail, and commuter trains as well as resources for those who carpool, vanpool, walk, or bike. Metro Transit's service area of 900 square miles consists of 90 cities and 7 counties providing an average weekday ridership of 118,609 rides. Currently employing over 2700 people and maintaining over 30,270 facilities, Metro Transit continues to develop a network of enhanced transitways throughout the region.

About St. Louis County
St. Louis County is home to 200,000 people and an abundance of natural resources including lakes, forests, wetlands, and minerals. As the gateway to both the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and to Lake Superior, St. Louis County spans 7,000 square miles, and is the largest county east of the Mississippi River. The mission of the St. Louis County is to promote health and safety, ensure sound infrastructure, embrace our natural resources, and support an environment where communities prosper.

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota (ACEC/MN) is the leading business practice and policy advocate for consulting engineering firms in Minnesota. Formed in 1949, ACEC/MN represents 150 member firms and provides services to all segments of society, including federal, state, and local governments, private industry, and the public.

About LHB
Founded in Duluth in 1966, LHB is a multidisciplinary engineering, architecture, and planning firm that serves clients nationwide. The 240-person firm specializes in commercial, education, government, healthcare, housing, industrial, pipeline, and public works projects, and maintains four regional offices in Minnesota and Wisconsin. LHB is committed to providing clients with high-performance design solutions that can meet today’s challenges and create a better tomorrow.

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