Burns & McDonnell is shifting its resources to help solve the nation's growing problem with aging and unreliable water and transportation systems.
While building its portfolio of experience in both areas, the firm recently restructured one of its 10 operating divisions. "The goal is to more effectively deliver the services Burns & McDonnell clients will need to make infrastructure investments better, faster and less expensive," says Jim Foil, senior vice president and general manager of the former Infrastructure Group.
The division now operates as two practices, one that solely handles water systems and the other dealing only with surface transportation infrastructure. The separation will allow Burns & McDonnell to sharply focus in both areas.
"We recognize the urgent, growing need for investment in our national infrastructure," Foil says. "Now we will be able to give each of these issues more attention and help our clients bring their systems up to 21st century standards."
Since its founding in 1898, Burns & McDonnell has advocated for clean water, safe roads and bridges. The company specializes in the management and construction of water infrastructure systems and has spent a quarter century providing a full scope of engineering design and construction management for highways, roads and bridges.
Among its many projects nationwide, Burns & McDonnell manages services for the $2.5 billion Kansas City, Mo., combined sewer overflow control program and a long-term project to replenish a major aquifer that supplies much of the drinking water for Wichita, Kan.
"Our engineers are acutely aware of the problems plaguing aging water systems that are estimated to cost anywhere from hundreds of billions to upgrade drinking water treatment facilities to upward of $1 trillion to replace aging and inadequate infrastructure from coast to coast," says Ron Coker, vice president and general manager of the newly formed Water Group.
The country's transportation systems have similar struggles.
The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that one in every eight bridges is structurally deficient and 85 percent of public transit systems are struggling to carry a rapidly growing number of riders nationwide.
"The need for more reliable and efficient transportation systems is staggering for our clients, who are being left with a lot of uncertainty without funding for many of their programs," says Ben Biller, vice president and general manager of the new Transportation Group.
Burns & McDonnell recently completed designs for the diverging diamond interchange planned at Interstate 35 and Homestead Lane in southern Johnson County, Kan. The innovative interchange will accommodate heavier traffic loads, especially trucks traveling to and from a planned intermodal facility nearby. The project is one of several successes that form the foundation for the firm's enhanced transportation portfolio.
In 2010, the firm acquired the assets of Harrington and Cortelyou (H&C), a Kansas City, Mo. company with a 100-year legacy in bridge, highway and roadway design. H&C has designed several high-profile bridges over the Missouri River and more than 800 bridges throughout the state of Missouri.
"This significantly bolsters our efforts and allows us to immediately have capabilities in our portfolio to deliver signature bridge design," Biller says. Burns & McDonnell now has the in-house ability to design cable stay bridges, river crossings, interchanges, segmental bridges and a wide variety
"We are signaling to our clients that our focus on transportation is of equal importance as our other standalone practices as we continue our investment and pursuit of a higher level of expertise delivered with the same high quality service."