Field Trip to the Boulder City Bypass

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We recently took our Engineering Interns on a field trip to the Boulder City Bypass, on which GCW was a subconsultant, and asked them to share their thoughts on the visit. GCW provided program management for this Design-Build, consisting of 12 miles of 4-lane limited access freeway around the southern perimeter of Boulder City. The project includes interchanges at US 95 and Nevada Way (SR 172). GCW developed innovative alternative layouts for the Nevada Way interchange to avoid closely spaced intersections at the NB ramp terminus. This included preliminary geometric design of a partial roundabout interchange within tight right-of-way constraints and challenging grades. GCW provided 30% design drawings for the two interchanges and drainage facilities. GCW also provided topographic mapping of the Boulder Bypass route, and right-of-way services including legal descriptions and exhibits for all required utility easements.

What was your favorite part about the field trip to the Boulder City Bypass?

Dillon H.: My favorite part about the field trip was being able to walk on the I-11 interstate before it opened and getting to learn all the nuances and lessons learned from the project manager, Jared Wagstaff, during the design/construction process.
Frankie M.: My favorite part of the field trip was learning about the construction process and management to this massive project. It is astounding to me how many hindrances and setbacks that may occur in the construction process of a project this size, and how they’ve come up with noble solutions to resolve these issues that they encountered. Also, I thought it was really cool to be able to walk on the Interstate before its opening, now I can tell my future grandkids that I walked on the Interstate way back in 2018 while it was being constructed.
Joseph R.: The drainage facilities around the project site.
Nick K.: I most liked the stepped bridge over the channel, it was an interesting solution to a complicated problem and it also just looked really cool.

What did you learn from going on the trip? 

Dillon H.: I learned that having an absurdly low bid on a design-build project isn’t necessarily a bad thing because each contractor is bidding their own specific design, instead of all bidding the same design. The naturally occurring asbestos that made the news related to this project was really quite minimal and they only detected high levels in one test area I believe it was. Aggressively steep slopes on the rock cuts through the mountainous terrain helped Las Vegas Paving win the job.
Frankie M.: I learned a lot through this field trip. It was very informative and great to see everything off of paper and explained how it was done. My main takeaway from this trip was that designing on paper is way different than designing it in the field. It is very important for an engineer to be able to understand what is being designed on paper, and if it plausible in the field as well. When designing on paper, it is essential to take field trips and observe possible site issues, and then comeback to design with those issues in mind, to make it easier for the construction process.
Joseph R.: I learned that it can be challenging deciding where a road can tie into a freeway.
Nick K.: It was good to learn about the construction side of the industry and I think it will help me be a better engineer the more I know how things are actually built.