September 27, 2012

The American Public Works Association, Washington Chapter, has named State Road 14 Cape Horn Pedestrian Undercrossing as Project of the Year in the Structures Less Than $5 Million category. Otak provided structural engineering on the project as a subconsultant to Wallis Engineering. The project consisted of two new pedestrian undercrossings along SR 14 within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Skamania County, Washington.

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   September 26, 2012

Otak, as subconsultant to Plan*ET, is developing an update to the Town of Gilbert’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan. Otak’s role is to provide GIS analysis of current park and recreation facilities through geoprocessing tools and develop an overall map for parks, trails and open space. Otak is also responsible for inventorying the 27 parks, approximately 70 miles of trails, and 3,200 acres of open space. Data collected ranges from general park features to detailed surfaces and site amenities along trails. Plan*ET team members will be utilizing the georeferenced data to help plan for and program new park and recreations facilities throughout this rapidly growing community of over 200,000 people in central Arizona. All data collected is stored in a geodatabase with relational tables that will help the Town make informed planning decisions as the community continues to grow and parks and recreations facilities become more integrated into the community.

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   September 26, 2012


The Winkelman Park project in Beaverton, Oregon, involves creating a level soccer field, pedestrian path, and a dog park on a steeply sloping site. With 30,000 cubic yards of earthwork required, balancing cut and fill volumes in order to control costs was of primary concern for the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District. The earthwork process included stripping and stockpiling site topsoil so the district would not need to import expensive material.

In order to help ensure the field could be used during wet weather, Otak designed a subgrade drainage system with drain pipes placed about 12 inches below the surface and 15 feet on center throughout the sport field area. The installation of the subgrade drainage system required specialty equipment using laser-guided trenching to ensure proper drainage was achieved over the relatively flat slopes of the field. Water intercepted by these pipes is directed to a collector pipe on each side of the field and channeled to a dispersion trench at the toe of the fill slope. The dispersion trench includes a level weir along its entire 200-foot length, so large volumes of storm water are evenly discharged into the adjacent sloping pasture land.

The project is currently under construction and is on schedule to be completed by the end of October.

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   September 26, 2012

Otak served as a Silver Sponsor of the 2012 Sustainable Stormwater Symposium held in Portland, Oregon, on September 19 and 20. The symposium was organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers – Environment and Water Resources Group at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland and was enjoyed by almost 150 attendees. Keynote speakers included Robert Pitt, PhD, PE, who summarized his research findings around design of green infrastructure; Scott Wells, PhD, PE, who shared cautions about interpreting and reporting modeling data; and Tracy Tackett, PE, who presented the history and future of Green Stormwater Infrastructure in the City of Seattle.

Other speakers covered topics including challenges in LID infrastructure design, best practices for facility maintenance, and innovative UIC retrofit projects. Unique presentations covered modeling of CSO geysers, partnering with school children to steward bioretention facilities, and the challenges of applying basic stormwater management techniques to an Engineers Without Borders project in Honduras.

Presentations will be available on the symposium website at:

The first day ended with a poster session happy hour. Ashley Cantlon, PE, LEED AP BD+C, presented a poster with a cost comparison between conventional stormwater treatment techniques and the constructed alternative using LIDA facilities at Burnham Green Street in Tigard, Oregon. The second day included a morning session of presentations and concluded with a “Bike-BMP-n-Brew” tour of local LID facilities in the downtown Portland area.

The symposium was a wonderful opportunity to share knowledge of the growing field of sustainable stormwater design. We are looking forward to participating in the next symposium!

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   September 25, 2012

We are pleased to announce that JR Goodman has joined Otak as an EIT working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. Prior to joining Otak, JR worked as an EIT at Myers Engineering, Consulting Engineers, Inc., in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Oklahoma.

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   September 21, 2012

At Otak, we have built a reputation based on creativity, integrity and skill. Speaking of skill, structural engineer Steve Wilson utilized his climbing skills while performing an inspection of the 120-foot-high Tokul Creek Trestle in Snoqualmie, Washington. Steve is an experienced climber and he used all the appropriate safety equipment to perform this inspection. Don’t try this at home!

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   September 18, 2012

Otak is pleased to announce that Xiao Wu is now a LEED Green Associate! Xiao is a structural engineer working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington, and she is our latest design professional to earn LEED Green Associate status. We are proud of Xiao and confident that her knowledge of sustainable design will benefit our clients, our company and our environment.

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   September 12, 2012

The Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge has recently received three more prestigious awards!

Valley Forward recognized the bridge for an Environmental Excellence Award in the Buildings and Structures – Industrial and Public Works category. This award is given to distinguished projects that demonstrate a high level of environmental commitment and contribute to Salt River Valley’s overall sustainability. 120 entries were received in six categories, and Otak’s Brad Bielenberg will attend the awards banquet held on September 29 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Engineering News Record (ENR) chose the bridge as one of the Southwest’s Best Projects of 2012. ENR received 138 entries for projects located in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, and an awards banquet will be held on November 27 at Renaissance Downtown Phoenix.

The National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) awarded the bridge a 2012 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award. One winner from each category will be chosen as an “Outstanding Project” at the Awards Ceremony on October 5 at the NCSEA 20th Annual Conference at the Hilton Frontenac in St. Louis, Missouri.

We feel fortunate that our hard work as part of the TY Lin team has resulted in a structure that has been well-received by both our peers and the general public.

To learn more about the Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge project and Otak's involvement, please click here.

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   September 4, 2012

On September 20, 2012, Otak’s Mandi Roberts and Brad Bielenberg will lead a session at the American Planning Association (APA) – Arizona Chapter Conference in Flagstaff, Arizona, titled “How Cool is Your Town? Smart Growth and Transportation Strategies from the Award-Winning Cool Planning Handbook.” The Cool Planning Handbook, which received APA’s National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice earlier this year, offers communities practical guidelines for reducing their carbon footprints through integrated land use and transportation planning practices. It describes low-tech, low-cost techniques that even the smallest of towns can implement.

The session will provide attendees with strategies for smart growth and transportation, and Otak will highlight a few regional projects where the guidelines, tools and strategies of the Cool Planning Handbook have been implemented. Session participants will learn how to audit their communities and about tools and strategies for cutting transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

To view the Cool Planning Handbook, please click here.

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