One of America’s top engineers, an asphalt equipment manufacturing innovator, a 40-year New Jersey construction association executive and the founder of a leading engineering firm were inducted June 3 into the 2013 American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation’s “Transportation Development Hall of Fame.”
Launched in 2010, the Hall honors individuals or families from the public and private sectors who have made extraordinary contributions to U.S. transportation development during their careers. A committee of judges comprised of nine construction industry journalists reviewed the nominees in two categories:
Transportation Design & Construction Industry Innovators: Honors the men and women who discovered or created a “game changing” product or process that significantly advanced transportation design, construction and/or safety. It seeks to honor the original innovator.
• J. Don Brock, founder of Astec Industries in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Brock founded Astec Industries in 1972, creating a company that “builds the equipment that moves America and the world from rock-to-road and beneath.” The pioneering products and technologies he personally developed — he is the holder of more than 90 U.S. and foreign patents on construction machinery and drying equipment — have touch virtually every phase of road building and related construction activity. In the process, he helped make our roads and equipment safer and more efficient, durable, environment friendly and profitable.
Today, Astec Industries is a leading manufacturer of equipment for asphalt road building, aggregate processing, pipeline and utility trenching, oil, gas and water well drilling and wood processing, offering more than 200 products.
Brock serves as executive chairman of the Astec board of directors.
In 2012, the ARTBA Foundation’s TransOvation workshop and awards program were renamed in his honor. The event was created for the specific purposes of fostering innovative thinking within the transportation design and construction industry and publicly recognizing its proven innovators. The name plays off the meanings of three words — “transportation,” “innovation” and “ovation.” It includes an annual two-and-a-half day workshop led by world-renowned innovators from both within and outside our industry and an annual awards program.
• Othmar Hermann Ammann (posthumously), founder of Ammann & Whitney Consulting Engineers, now based in New York.
Believed to be the greatest bridge builder of the 20th century, Ammann’s innovative genius was his ability to anticipate future challenges. Born in Switzerland, Ammann came to New York in 1904, where his gift for long span bridge design and forward thinking matched perfectly with the city’s need to connect its five growing boroughs and the island of Manhattan to the mainland United States.
Over the course of his career, Ammann was commissioned in the design and construction of more than 16 major bridge projects, founded two public port agencies and launched two private engineering firms, the latter of which, Ammann & Whitney, still stands today, 50 years after his death.
His designs were the result of innovation upon innovation, culminating in record-breaking and aesthetically beautiful structures, including the iconic George Washington Bridge (GWB). Seeing the great potential of “motor-cars,” Ammann designed the GWB with future needs in mind. Originally constructed with six lanes and two sidewalks, Ammann left a 32-ft. wide unpaved strip in the center of the GWB and provided enough capacity to accommodate a second, lower roadway, which were both utilized, in 1946 and 1958 respectively. At the time of its completion, it was the longest bridge span in the world.
Until about the time of the GWB, bridge approaches were constructed such that traffic fed directly into local street networks. Recognizing that a distribution system of ramps and connecting roadways would be needed to disperse traffic, Ammann provided some of these more complex connections, and provided the capacity for even more, into his design of the GWB.
From the monolithic plate steel on the Bronx-Whitestone towers, to the innovative truss system of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which took into account the curvature of the earth and was the longest suspension bridge in the world for almost 20 years, Ammann pushed the limits of possibility to deliver functional, forward-thinking and awe inspiring structures that today define America’s landscape.
Transportation Design & Construction Industry Leaders (Individuals or Families): Recognizes men, women and families who have made significant contributions — beyond just having successful businesses or careers — that have notably helped advance the interests and image of the transportation design, construction and safety industry.
• Gene McCormick, a senior vice president of Parsons Brinckerhoff in Naples, Fla.
McCormick, a registered professional engineer, has nearly 50 years of varied transportation experience, encompassing planning, design, construction and operations in both the public and private sectors. He has been Parsons Brinckerhoff’s (PB) principal-in-charge or project manager on highway, bridge and airport projects across America and the world. He spent nearly seven years as project manager during the design and construction activities relating to the new 12-lane Woodrow Wilson Bridge near Washington, D.C. The $2.5 billion project was on time and on budget.
Prior to joining PB, McCormick had a distinguished career in public service. From 1989 to 1993, he was Federal Highway deputy administrator under President George H.W. Bush. He spearheaded development of the Bush Administration’s highway/transit reauthorization proposal, signed into law in 1991 and known as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. McCormick also spent 25 years with the Illinois Department of Transportation, serving as deputy transportation secretary and director of the office of planning and programming.
His ARTBA leadership positions put him in an elite class: 2005 chairman, senior vice chairman, first vice chairman, northeastern region vice chairman, chairman of the Highway Advisory Council, co-chair of the ARTBA-AASHTO-AGC Joint Committee, and current trustee on the ARTBA Foundation. He also was co-chairman of the ARTBA “TEA-21 Task Force,” which developed the association’s legislative blueprint for the surface transportation reauthorization bill — SAFETEA-LU — signed by President Bush in August 2005.
• Bob Briant Sr., (posthumously), the long-time CEO of the Utility & Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey, in Allenwood.
Briant was a New Jersey construction industry legend and tireless advocate. In 1972, he was named the first full-time executive director of the fledgling Utility Contractors Association of New Jersey. He was guided by a simple principle: his organization should be the home for “those who strive to be the best.”
In the early 1980s, as chief executive officer, he saw a major market development opportunity for his members, added the “T” to the association’s name and became the state chapter affiliate of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. Briant spearheaded the development of programs and services that made UTCA a full-service association. In the process, the organization grew to include more than 1,100 members.
He served as chairman and treasurer of the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT). Under his leadership, NJEIT began by issuing $50 million in low interest loans annually to local municipalities and sewer authorities to help them improve their systems. Today more than $500 million in annual loans are routinely available to the agencies. Briant helped start and served as chairman of the national Cleanwater Construction Coalition, a group that pushed for federal legislation to increase investment in water and wastewater infrastructure.
He retired in 2006 and passed away at the beginning of 2013.
The 2012 Hall of Fame class, announced last November, also was inducted during the June 3 dinner and included:
• Innovator: Harry Heltzer, former chairman and chief executive officer of 3M Company (posthumously); and
• Leader: James R. Madara, senior vice president of Gannett Fleming in Allentown, Pa.
For more information, visit www.artba.org.