Blog
December 6, 2018

Nathan Dasler and Ryan Makie perform a final construction walkthrough with county project manager Steve Johnson and environmental coordinator Trevin Taylor before winter storms return flows to the stream.


The salmon returned to the Hunter Point Road culvert after 100 years away, thanks to the investment of Thurston County, Washington, in rehabilitating the culvert and the stream. See for yourself here!

The culvert was in a deep ravine and had a large drop at the downstream end, which blocked fish passage. Thurston County received state grants for culvert replacements, and Hunter Point Road was their highest-priority fish passage project. The project involved a new bridge and complete stream reconstruction, which was completed in fall 2018. Complications included high road embankments, a single access road (dead end), a stream confluence immediately upstream of the crossing, and the need to provide habitat function to the stream beneath the bridge structure. After consulting with the tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the team elected to include large woody debris in a variety of configurations along with specific stream bed geometries and materials.

During construction, the fish salvage team relocated approximately 500 fish from the downstream reach, indicating the high potential of future use upstream of the project. Otak structural engineers designed an 80-foot-span bridge to replace the existing 4-foot-diameter culvert. Shortly after construction was complete, in November 2018, videos captured the return of spawning salmon--after almost a century-long absence! This was truly a historic moment, and a tribute to the funding agencies and Thurston County for funding this project and hiring Otak to bring it to fruition! 

Otak’s team (Doug Sarkkinen--project manager; Elizabeth Sheehy—structural; and Nathan Dasler, Ryan Makie, Frank Sottosanto, and Mike Rafferty—water resources) is looking forward to seeing continued fish in the system, the new channel settling in, and the vegetation establish.

Engineering | Puget Sound | Sustainability | Transportation | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
December 5, 2018


David Knowles has joined Otak to direct our transportation business. David will help build on Otak’s strong reputation for integrating natural and built environments; designing roads and bridges, trail/bike/pedestrian amenities, transit, aviation, and ports; and advancing our transportation planning practice.

With a record of directing major transportation and land use planning projects, David has worked on iconic Northwest programs such as the West Seattle to Ballard Light Rail Extension, Tacoma Link Alternatives Analysis, Oregon Passenger Rail, Willamette River Light Rail Crossing and Portland Milwaukie Light Rail expansion, East Link Light Rail Transit preliminary engineering, Rose Quarter Plan, and Portland Mall Revitalization.

He brings a valuable combined perspective of both client and consultant, with leadership roles at Portland Metro, David Evans and Associates, Sheils Obletz Johnsen, Inc., and the City of Portland. In the last nine years, David led CH2M HILL’s transit business and managed the Portland office, the largest outside of corporate headquarters.

“We’re looking forward to having David expand our transportation business, broaden our technical capabilities, and serve our transportation clients by lifting our project delivery to a new level,” said Jim Hamann, CEO of Otak.

“I am excited to join a company that is small enough to be nimble and strategic, while also having a deep bench of talented planners, architects, and engineers,” said David. “I was attracted to Otak by its reputation for smart planning and design that makes a real difference in the places we live and work, and Otak’s culture and creativity convinced me it was the right place to work.” 

 

Corporate | Engineering | Oregon | Planning | Transportation | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 7, 2018

Otak, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Quincy Engineering, provided design and construction management for this $25 million roadway improvement in the heart of Tillamook. The project made significant improvements to both US101 and OR6 and the intersection between the two highways, and it included reconstruction of the US101 bridge over Hoquarton Slough.

Otak designed the one-way couplet through downtown Tillamook and provided stormwater treatment and landscape architecture services throughout the project. With construction starting in summer 2016, we provided construction management and inspection to oversee work progress. The project was substantially completed in October 2018, a success story for both ODOT and the City of Tillamook.

On October 31, 2018, the City and ODOT held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the 2nd Street plaza, a festival street that will be used for farmers markets and other outdoor festivities to bring the community together. Members of the local community shared stories, along with ODOT and state representatives such as Senator Betsy Johnson and Congressman Kurt Schrader.

This project provides great value to the Tillamook community through improved traffic flow, pedestrian connectivity, and safety improvements, and it continues downtown revitalization with the new streetscape and aesthetics.

The Otak team is excited for ODOT, the City of Tillamook and its citizens, and the road users who will experience this great project!

Construction management and inspection | Engineering | Oregon | Transportation | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 1, 2018

Paul Moreau, P.E., brings decades of experience and expertise to Otak's growing Transportation and Infrastructure team.

He joins Otak as the Transportation and Infrastructure technical manager, responsible for leading and growing the firm's transportation and infrastructure capabilities in the region. With 29 years of progressively complex design and management experience on many challenging transportation and traffic projects, Paul has served in leadership roles at Stantec, Matrix Design Group, and Drexel, Barrel & Co., among other firms.

With strong experience in civil engineering and project/program management, Paul has expertise in highway and intersection design; traffic engineering; signal design; signing and striping; plans, specifications, and estimates; and construction engineering. In addition to engaging and leading technical teams on complex transportation and traffic design projects, Paul enjoys mentoring staff and engaging with the public on projects.

“Paul provides well-rounded transportation design experience on a variety of small and large projects across the state. His experience and leadership will strengthen our ability to successfully deliver projects to existing and new clients. We are excited to have him on our team,” said Pete Loris, Otak’s Colorado region manager and senior vice president.

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September 19, 2018


Otak is honored to announce that two of our senior women have been named Women of Vision by the Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce: Li Alligood and Tammi Connolly.

Li Alligood, AICP, LEED Green AP, is a senior planner and project manager who has mentored young women through the American Planning Association’s mentoring program; elevated Otak’s Green Otak (GO) Committee, which focuses on sustainable practices, operations, and training; and enjoys working with a large team of positive, sharp, committed professionals to build vibrant community spaces. Recently, she has worked as a senior planner on “The Fields,” a 264-unit affordable multifamily development and 100,000-square-foot office development in Tigard.

Principal Don Hanson believes his decision to hire Li is one of the best contributions he’s made in his 32 years at Otak. “Li’s exceptionable performance has upped our game on complicated projects and given both our team and our clients confidence that projects will be successful,” Don said. “Before joining Otak, Li did excellent work in the public sector on community-based planning initiatives. Li provides much of the glue that unifies our team moving forward.”

Tammi Connolly, P.E., CWRE, ENV SP, is a water resources engineer with a true passion for helping others develop their technical and leadership skills. She’s a role model for young professionals through her commitment to diversity, sustainability, and community outreach. Tammi is on the board of Women Leading Water and chairs the annual Women in Leadership Symposium, a place for women to come together to talk about the challenges they face in the workplace, find ideas and support, and discuss how they can bring others along on the journey. She also co-chairs Otak’s GO Operations Subcommittee, coordinating sustainable operations at our offices, including composting, recycling, transit programs, and energy and water saving.

Tammi has been mentoring a young engineer, Jeremy Tamargo, P.E., for the past four years. “Tammi’s leadership manifests itself daily through her deeds, particularly her willingness and commitment to go above and beyond her job description to support team members. She always sets high standards, challenging team members to uncover latent abilities and talents which otherwise would remain untapped.” Jeremy concluded, “Tammi has made me feel like an appreciated and valued member of the team since my first day at Otak. Unsurprisingly, Tammi inspires a deep sense of loyalty and affection. I feel grateful to call her a mentor and a colleague.”

Otak is proud of Li and Tammi for what they have accomplished in their careers and for our communities. “Li and Tammi are with Otak not because they are women, but because they are leading professionals in our industry," said Jim Hamann, Otak’s CEO and president. "It’s our responsibility as a firm to ensure we continue to foster and increase our focus on establishing a culture of inclusion and equity for all. We look forward to the continued advancement of Li and Tammi, and all women in Otak, to make us a stronger and better firm in the future.” 

The Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce Women of Vision awards pay tribute to Oregon and Southwest Washington women who are shaping the built environment with their leadership, mentoring efforts, community involvement, and promotion of industry diversity. The awards ceremony will take place Oct. 18, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront hotel.

Congratulations to Tammi and Li!

Community | Engineering | Oregon | Planning | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
September 18, 2018


The first phase of construction is wrapping up this month on the salmon-safe clean water retrofit that Otak designed at Mt. Hood Community College. This project, led by the Sandy River Watershed Council, will improve water quality and salmon habitat in Gresham’s Beaver Creek by treating 1.9 million gallons of polluted runoff per year. Older parking lots like this college campus were built without the stormwater treatment that is typically required in new development today. 

Otak’s water and natural resources engineers designed the retrofit project to treat as much runoff as possible while keeping costs down, minimizing loss of parking spaces, and protecting the mature trees that shade the parking lots. Stormwater swales and planters fit into slivers of available space, with drywells added to increase infiltration. A large raingarden creates the focal point of the retrofit, providing a visible opportunity to educate campus visitors about stormwater and watershed health. New signs designed by students will help spread the word about the project’s environmental benefits, and the City of Gresham installed devices to monitor water quality and flow rates before and after construction.

The project is funded by East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Metro regional government, the City of Gresham, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. In 2016 the partners came together to identify retrofit projects on the college campus that would maximize environmental benefits and public education opportunities. These parking lots got top priority and are expected to be the first of many future improvements. Mt. Hood Community College is the first Salmon Safe certified community college in the country, and the stormwater retrofits will help the college maintain its certification.

On October 27, volunteers will plant the portions of the project that were built by the nonprofit group Depave. Contractors for the project are Britton Excavating and Grow Construction. The second phase of the project is expected to be built next summer, pending funding. 



*Photo credits: Mt. Hood Community College

Engineering | Oregon | Sustainability | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
August 24, 2018

Otak has joined a select group of leading firms on the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Sustainable Infrastructure Advisory Board (SIAB). SIAB works with the Zofnass program at Harvard University to identify approaches and metrics to measure and deliver sustainable infrastructure.

Founded in 2008 by Paul and Joan Zofnass, the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure develops and promote methods, processes, and tools that quantify sustainability for infrastructure. Its goal is to facilitate adoption of sustainable solutions for infrastructure projects and systems, and expand the body of knowledge for sustainable infrastructure. The program provides resources and tools and hosts events to facilitate sustainable project planning and design, as well as rate the sustainability of infrastructure projects.

Housed at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, the program is supported by the industry through the SIAB and by research foundations. The unique collaboration of academic experts and industry specialists led to the Zofnass Rating System, which has been integrated into the Envision™ system of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

“As charter members of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, this SIAB membership represents our ongoing commitment to sustainable infrastructure” said Jim Hamann, CEO and president of Otak. “We are recognized for the integrated expertise that crosses traditional barriers to create innovative solutions. We are proud of our successful track record of championing solutions that holistically encompass community livability and environmental sustainability.”

 

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July 16, 2018

(Photo courtesy of the City of Twin Falls)

The residents of Twin Falls, Idaho, gathered to celebrate the opening of their new Downtown Commons last week. Otak designed a major reconstruction of seven blocks of downtown streets and a new public plaza next to city hall.

A professional base jumper parachuted into the street to kick off the festivities, city leaders shared their excitement in these new amenities, and it was rumored that the mayor was one of many to partake of the new splash pad and fountains during the festivities. Children and adults frolicked and splashed in the plaza’s central feature to escape the 90-degree heat.

The Downtown Commons also includes artwork, a beautiful walkway with landscaping, a special events space, and a restroom and storage building. The Main Avenue streetscape, also designed by Otak, was completely rebuilt from building face to building face with new sidewalks, public gathering spaces (including stretches of curbless festival streets specifically designed for events and markets), on-street parking, furnishings, lighting, trees, landscaping, and other features.

Otak principal, Mandi Roberts, and an integrated design team made up of Otak civil engineers, landscape architects, and urban designers, has worked with the City since 2014 when the planning stage began. “Seeing the Downtown Commons come to life has been gratifying to me because Twin Falls is where generations of my family lived,” said Mandi.

Mandy Werbeck Flett, another member of Otak’s project team, grew up in Twin Falls and supported the robust community and stakeholder engagement program that helped shape the design. “We worked hard to help the community visualize how downtown could once again become the vibrant, active heart of the community like it once was decades ago. It was incredibly rewarding to work with residents to come up with a design that is helping transform their hometown and build a stronger community. Judging from the turn-out at the grand opening and feedback from many residents, the community is embracing and loving the new improvements, and we are really proud of that.”

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July 14, 2018

Congratulations to the City of Golden, Colorado, which received a Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association (APWA) for its Linking Lookout project. Otak worked as structural engineer-of-record to develop the design, construction phasing, and construction cost estimates for this $30 million project.

Linking Lookout is a beautiful and user-friendly path linking Golden and the communities at the base of Lookout Mountain, while helping bicyclists, pedestrians, and cars safely cross over US 6. The project is part of the City’s overall approach to transportation, designing highways that meet regional mobility needs and unite the community.

Otak worked with the City of Golden, Kraemer North America, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and Colorado School of Mines to design the two-span, 160-foot-long by 280-foot-wide structure, which serves as an urban park as well as a major multi-modal transportation conduit. When the design team learned that hundreds to thousands of bike riders crossed US 6 each day, the design team knew that no ordinary interchange would do. Because there would be no other chance in a hundred years to do it right, it was a “Designable Moment.”

The team took the opportunity to create an urban park setting, with up to 10 feet of fill and trees added on top of the bridge deck, along with picnic tables, park space, and a small amphitheater. In addition to reconnecting the community, providing recreational amenities, and enhancing pedestrian and bike safety, the environmentally friendly project also improves traffic flow and air quality and reduces noise.

The design not only improves service for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, but it also improves connectivity from the residential areas on the west side of US 6 to the Colorado School of Mines campus east of US 6. It also increased safety for what used to be Golden’s most accident-prone intersection: 19th Street and US 6. Now US 6 is an underpass and vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians cross safely over the busy highway on their way between downtown Golden and other local destinations, including the Colorado School of Mines and Lookout Mountain.

Peter J. Loris served as the project manager for the LORIS and Associates team. Senior LORIS project manager Dan Beltzer, PE, and former LORIS bridge engineer Sarah Navarro, PE, provided the structural design. The project previously won the 2017 Innovative Transportation Solution of the Year award from the Women’s Transportation Seminar.

Colorado | Engineering | Otak Denver | Transportation | Make a Comment | View Comments
June 21, 2018

We’re seeing huge uncertainty in the construction industry as the Trump administration announced steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum and is escalating concerns of an upcoming trade war with U.S. allies. The European Union, Canada, Japan, Mexico, China, and India are retaliating with their own higher tariffs on U.S. imports. Last week, Donald Trump left the G7 summit suggesting that the United States might end all trade with our closest allies if they don’t submit to his demands over reduced trade barriers. Around the same time, China announced tariffs on $50 billion worth of American beef, poultry, tobacco, cars, and other products.

The metal tariffs came about in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s finding that U.S. steel imports, which were nearly four times our exports, threatened to impair national security. The administration hoped to boost domestic steel production and lower imports, leveling the playing field for the steel industry. It didn’t seem to take into account the rising costs of construction.

So what does this mean for the industry?

Many construction firms and industry experts predict the steel tariffs could hit the industry hard. Prices for construction materials have already risen rapidly. (According to the Associated General Contractors of America, steel mill product costs rose 5 percent between February 2017 and early 2018.)

“We are experiencing unprecedented market conditions. Construction demand is outpacing the market’s ability to provide labor and materials, and when they are available, they are at a premium,” said Terry Shanley, director of operations and business development for DAY CPM, a division of Otak. “At this point, we are unsure of what to expect in the near future. We know the prices will continue to rise as demand continues, which unlike the previous boom, appears to be fueled by demand, not something artificial.”

Higher costs, along with the ongoing labor shortage, will drive prices higher and might prompt some developers to halt some of their projects.

What should we expect?

We could see a rise in steel prices of 25 to 28 percent because of the tariffs through 2022. An even bigger concern is that the tariffs and apparent trade war could undermine economies here and around the world from the rollback of free trade practices, according to Tim Duy, economist at the University of Oregon. A trade war could threaten many of Oregon’s biggest industries.

U.S. steel prices are rising already. “Some can be attributed to uncertainty of impending tariffs, but most are a result of demand as is the case with other commodities such as drywall and lumber,” Terry Shanley said. “We expect prices to increase, across the board, as much as 12 percent over the next year.”

“These new tariffs will cause significant harm to the nation's construction industry, put tens of thousands of high-paying construction jobs at risk, undermine the President's proposed infrastructure initiative, and potentially dampen demand for new construction projects for years to come,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of Associated General Contractors of America. “That is because the newly imposed tariffs will lead to increases in what construction firms are forced to pay for the many steel and aluminum products that go into a typical construction project.”

In combination with skilled labor shortages, the increased steel prices could slow down development, depending on product type and location. The price increases could affect the budget for a steel-framed, high-rise office more than a wood-framed apartment complex.

How can clients prepare for the increased prices?

Along with the tariffs on imported steel, the uncertainty in the market means that you should build your budgets with additional contingency reserves to anticipate increased costs resulting from the current economic climate and market volatility. Cost estimating and managing scopes of work become more important than ever.

If you’d like to discuss how the steel tariffs will affect your specific projects, contact your Otak or DAY CPM project manager or owner’s representative. Partnering closely on cost estimating and project management, we can prevent surprises and mitigate the impact of the rising prices.

Sources:

https://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2018/03/trumps_tariffs_could_have_mute.html 

http://www.concreteconstruction.net/business/management/the-cost-of-steel_o 

http://www.builderonline.com/money/prices/agc-of-america-tariffs-and-other-trade-measures-are-raising-construction-costs_o 

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June 7, 2018


Brian Murphy

With a passion for ecological justice and sustainability, Brian Murphy, P.E., began his career working in water education in South America. Now, after nearly 20 years in the water resources consulting field, Brian has joined Otak in Denver, Colorado. He will direct our water and natural resources business throughout Colorado, pursuing new business opportunities, advising staff on standards of practice and emerging trends, and managing large projects and programs.

Brian has managed and executed freshwater ecosystem restoration, watershed studies, and floodplain resiliency projects across the U.S. and internationally, leveraging his multidisciplinary experience and expertise. As a subject matter expert, he is skilled at conveying technical and policy information related to river engineering and floodplain management.

“I joined Otak because it is a unique consulting firm,” said Brian. “Otak values sustainability, social equity, and community involvement. Also, as a long-time Subaru owner, this analogy resonated with me: ‘if Otak were a car, it would most likely be a Subaru: adventurous and dependable, but also fun with a loyal and spirited following.’ I am excited to help lead Colorado Water and Natural Resources and collaborate with a team that is passionate about innovation and being thought leaders in the water resources field.

“We are delighted that Brian has joined Otak’s Colorado operations,” said Pete Loris, Otak vice president and leader of the Otak Colorado team. “His expertise in urban drainage and floodplain management perfectly complements the strong river and stream restoration capabilities of our Water and Natural Resources team. Brian also brings strong business management and team leadership abilities, which will help Otak Colorado grow through expanded service offerings for our clients.”

Pursuing a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering, Brian’s research is focused on the nexus among river restoration, water quality, and environmental regulations. Brian is a professional engineer in four states; a professional hydrologist; a Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer; a certified Project Management Professional; an EnvisionTM Sustainability Professional; and a certified floodplain manager. He holds an M.S. in environmental science and engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.

Otak, Inc. is an award-winning architecture, urban design, engineering, planning, and landscape architecture firm specializing in transit, residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed-use developments; regional planning; public works; and civic, institutional, and recreational projects. Otak has offices in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Arizona. 

Engineering | Otak Denver | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
May 2, 2018

Otak client Walter “Skip” Grodahl presented “Tigard, Where Collaboration Meets Goals” at the National Planning Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, with representatives from the City of Tigard, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn and Trammell Crow.

Grodahl and other panel members shared their story about “The Fields,” a 264-unit affordable multifamily development and 100,000-square-foot office development in Tigard, Oregon. The property is unique because it is an undeveloped infill site in a mostly built-out community.

Otak provided survey, civil engineering, architecture, land use planning, and landscape architecture services for the design of this ground-breaking project that makes housing affordable to those earning 60% of median family income. The site was challenging to develop because of its substantial slope, access constraints, and the desire to protect a substantial stand of trees on the site. The project team worked closely with city staff and nearby residents to design a project that met the city’s economic development goals and the neighbors’ desires, while providing attractive and well-located housing and office space.

“Affordable housing is important to me personally and to Otak as an organization,” said Li Alligood, senior planner on the project. “It has been rewarding to work with DBG, city staff, and the neighbors to create a project that is well integrated and attractive and serves people who earn 60% of median family income. This type of integrated affordable housing is what keeps our communities vital and accessible to people at all stages of life.”

This collaborative economic development success story unlocked a constrained site to create a mixed-use employment and housing development with infrastructure improvements that spurred economic activity and quality of life.

Skip Grodahl, doing business as DBG Properties LLC, is a visionary private developer who specializes in finding creative ways to fund and develop affordable housing for people who work hard for relatively low incomes. Grodahl’s connections with equity investors and people help him navigate public financing programs.

The Fields project won a Local Innovation and Fast Track Housing Award in 2016 from the State of Oregon Housing and Community Services.

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April 26, 2018

“The best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky,” said British educator Margaret McMillan in 1925. 

Science shows us that time spent outdoors improves short-term memory, restores mental energy, relieves stress, improves concentration, and enhances thinking and creativity. That’s why Otak believes in creating spaces to promote outdoor education for our children.

On Friday, April 20, Washington Elementary in Vancouver, Washington, opened its first community garden. Otak architects and engineers were on hand to celebrate with the school community after helping to design and construct the garden.

The fifth-grade students at Washington Elementary School expressed a desire to create a school community garden after reading an article on urban gardening. The students appealed to their visionary principal, Kirsten Copeland, who found a way to fund the project and move it to reality. 

Over the next five months, fourth-grade teacher Melissa Hendy led a planning committee, which fleshed out a vision for an outdoor learning environment. The school enlisted Melissa’s husband Allen, a civil engineer at Otak, to manage the project and direct construction. Landscape designer Maggie Daly laid out the garden and prepared the project estimate, and Tim Leavitt (director of Otak’s southwest operations) helped with construction. The Otak team also helped secure donations from local businesses and provided guidance to the principal on getting the project started and constructed.

“The Otak team, led by project manager Allen Hendy, helped lead the design of this project. The team took great care to provide student voice throughout the design process,” said Principal Copeland. “The Otak team listened to the key elements students wanted and embedded those elements into the final design layout. Their efficiency allowed us to take an idea from concept to reality in less than 8 weeks – just in time for planting. Washington Elementary couldn’t have done this project with this level of quality without them.”

On March 3, we joined students, staff, donors, neighborhood volunteers, and community partners to install 13 raised beds—one for each class and one for the onsite Boys & Girls Club, which will maintain the garden during the summer. The students plan to grow onions, leeks, peas, broccoli, tomatoes, and other vegetables and fruits. 

We joined the community again on April 20 for the official dedication and opening ceremony. Watch the time lapse video to see the garden grow from start to finish. 

“One of the reasons Vancouver is a great place to be is because of local corporate citizenship,” said Tim Leavitt, who is also the former mayor of Vancouver. “This community is a better place to live, work and play because companies like Otak support local initiatives and provide incentives for staff to get involved with personally meaningful and important local causes. It’s quite rewarding for both the community and our employees!”

Thanks to Melissa Hendy, the school now has a curriculum to use with the garden as an outdoor learning space. We look forward to seeing the garden come to life in the coming months.

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April 23, 2018

We were excited to have strong Otak representation at the 2018 Women in Leadership Symposium on April 19. Organized and hosted by Women Leading Water, a nonprofit that provides women in the water business with personal and professional development tools and opportunities, the symposium had record-breaking attendance.

Otak not only sponsored this annual event, but water resources engineer Tammi Connolly also led the symposium planning team. A Women Leading Water board member, Tammi has been on the symposium planning team for several years, finding the planning to be just as rewarding as the main event. Liz Gilliam, Morgan Clay, and Julie Jensen also attended this year’s symposium at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, Washington.

The symposium began with a keynote presentation by JaNell Cook, HDR’s west region director, who imparted her insights on how to lead with authenticity. Our HR director Julie Jensen shared her “Top 10 Things to Succeed in Business” and participated in the Organizational Transformation Panel, where panelists discussed how they are creating more diverse and inclusive organizations. Attendees also learned about engineering leadership and how to wing it when plans go awry.

During the interactive Cultural Competence Workshop, participants learned how communication styles can cause tension between coworkers or within a team. Being aware of others’ styles may keep information flowing and help individuals to feel supported by their teammates. During one breakout session, participants identified their communication styles and discussed the strengths and challenges of each style. 

Beyond learning leadership skills, participants had an excellent opportunity to network with other women from both public and private organizations at all stages of their careers. The symposium hosts work to provide an atmosphere that is open and nonjudgmental, allowing participants to speak freely about their experiences and goals. This open communication leads to shared stories, inspiration for solutions and alternatives, and a shared understanding that we are not alone in our career journeys. 

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February 15, 2018

Otak Portland has revived a beloved office tradition – Wine Down Wednesdays! At the end of a long mid-week work day, Otakians gather and enjoy wine, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres while hearing from some of Otak’s project managers and specialists on recent work they’ve done on a significant project.

This year’s inaugural session showcased Otak’s work with Newland Communities on the Reed’s Crossing Project in Hillsboro. Presenters and topics included Steve Dixon and Ben Bortolazzo, who presented on master planning; Adrian Esteban, infrastructure improvements; Kevin Timmins, stormwater/greenway; and Scott Banker, erosion control. Eric Peterson from Newland Communities also presented on Newland’s work on the subdivision.

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February 2, 2018

Congratulations to the City of Golden, Colorado, which received the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) 2017 Innovative Transportation Solution of the Year award for the “Linking Lookout” project.

As the structural engineer-of-record and a subconsultant to IMEG (formerly TTG Corp.), Loris and Associates (LORIS), a division of Otak, designed this bridge to serve as an urban park as well as a major multi-modal transportation conduit. The overall project was to provide a grade separated interchange at this high volume and dangerous intersection, while improving connectivity from the residential areas on the west side of US 6 to the Colorado School of Mines and the City located east of US 6.

The bridge is a two-span, 125-foot-long by 280-foot-wide, prestressed concrete box girder superstructure, with a cast-in-place concrete deck. The cap & column pier is supported by caissons while the integral abutments are supported by driven piles. To create an urban park setting, up to 10 feet of fill with a variety of plants and trees were added on top of the bridge deck, along with picnic tables, park space, and a small amphitheater. Innovative garden roof technologies were developed that included an engineered soil mix with a saturated unit weight of just 90 pounds per cubic foot in addition to expanded polystyrene geofoam to limit the weight of the fill. Special deck protection methods were also developed to combat the potential for deterioration caused by the fully irrigated park structure.

To facilitate the 25 feet of required excavation, LORIS also designed nearly 70,000 square feet of retaining walls. Soil nail walls with precast concrete panels were the predominant wall type, but MSE and gravity boulder walls are also present. Massive stone cairns and an arch-beam at the south abutments were also included to provide a signature landmark statement.

The design team worked with Edward Kraemer and Sons, the CMGC, to develop the design, construction phasing, and construction cost estimates for this $30 million project. One result of the project is increased safety for what used to be Golden’s most accident-prone intersection: 19th Street and US 6. Now US 6 is an underpass and vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians cross safely over the busy highway on their way between downtown Golden and other local destinations, including the Colorado School of Mines and Lookout Mountain.

Peter J. Loris served as the project manager for the LORIS and Associates team. Senior LORIS project manager Dan Beltzer, PE, and former LORIS bridge engineer Sarah Navarro, PE, provided the structural design.

For more information on the Linking Lookout project, visit https://www.cityofgolden.net/live/linking-lookout/

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November 27, 2017

November 15 was a day to remember. Otak advanced into the future, unveiling our new brand to the entire company. The rebrand, which includes Otak and its divisions Day CPM and Loris, involves a complete redesign of company logos, typefaces, and collateral material (resumes, financial sheets, etc.). The new logo will grace everything from letterheads to company trucks. 

The logo is designed to “represent Otak’s foundational benefit to our clients – a convergence of people, disciplines, services, and companies moving toward a common horizon.” 

Soon to follow the rebrand will be the unveiling of our new website.

Architecture | Corporate | Engineering | Landscape Architecture | Life @ Otak | Planning | Survey | Transportation | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
October 27, 2017

When entering or exiting the elevators at our Portland office, visitors and employees alike might find themselves caught off guard by a mysterious new guest. Prominently displayed near the front desk (at least for the time being, if we can find another place to put it), this odd-looking contraption has a name: Gizmo.

Just what is the Gizmo? In short, according to APWA, it’s “an award most people are willing to pay to not receive.” At the recent APWA Oregon Fall Conference, Otak’s own Ashley Cantlon was the “lucky” recipient of the “coveted” award, and became a part of this decades-old tradition. She had come close many times in the past, but it seems this was the year. However, over $7,000 was donated to the APWA Scholastic Foundation’s Kurt Corey Scholarship Fund in order for Ashley to earn Gizmo. 

This is Gizmo’s first appearance in our Portland office, but it has been with Otak before: the most recent Otakian to receive Gizmo was Gregg Weston at the 2004 Spring Conference. Gizmo will be a part of our office until the APWA Spring Conference, where, after being adorned with a new Otak-inspired embellishment, it will be awarded to another “honored” recipient.

Ashley is reluctantly honored to have received Gizmo, and she has already sensed some tension about it. As she puts it, “We have both Beavers and Ducks in our office. I think it’s already starting to stress out people who don’t like OSU...”

To read more about the Gizmo and see a list of past recipients, click here.

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September 27, 2017

On September 23, Otak’s Portland office held their company picnic at Willamette Park. Both the weather and the location were perfect, complete with food carts from Bunk and Koi Fusion, a covered picnic area, a playground, and space for the Otak Olympics. The Willamette River was smooth as glass, perfect for kayaking or canoeing. Many laughs were shared, and the Vantucky T-Wolves took home the gold.

 

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September 19, 2017

On September 16th, Vancouver Otakians held their first annual summer BBQ at Allen Hendy’s house. Allen’s garden provided a beautiful backdrop for the festivities, which included games of horseshoes, corn hole, and ladder ball. The group enjoyed dinner, provided by Hula Boys, a local restaurant, and provided some potluck items as well. Honorary four-legged Otakians, River (pictured) and Nala (not-pictured), joined in the fun. River even scored some points at corn hole, ironically for her owner’s opponent.


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August 15, 2017

Otak participated in the ninth annual Kickball Without Borders fundraiser on Saturday, August 12th. Shark Otak went only 1-2 on the field but won big in the raffle, with several team members winning prizes, including the grand prize!

The event was hosted by the Portland chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The funds generated by this event will be used for projects in Haiti, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Portland.

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July 26, 2017

Tuesday, July 18 marked the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Cascades Tissue converting plant in Scappoose, OR. The plant will convert 4,600-pound rolls of paper into various commercial and household paper products. Among the prominent Oregon dignitaries in attendance were Governor Kate Brown and Senate Representative Betsy Johnson. Prior to the ribbon-cutting, Governor Brown spoke about the importance of providing jobs in rural areas. The plant provided 200 jobs during construction and will provide 80 full-time jobs during operation. By providing local jobs, the facility will help reduce commuting, and improve participation and quality of life in the local community.

Otak provided planning, engineering and architectural services for the project. The offices and warehouse are an impressive 286,300 sq. ft. of space in the master-planned industrial area in Scappoose. The building design strives to fit within the local context and features local heavy timber and cross laminated timber at the entry and patio spaces.

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July 6, 2017

Earlier this week, our Vancouver office moved to Suite 300! Stop by and say hello next time you're in the area.

Of course things would not run smoothly without IT. Thanks Steve, Victor, Joe, and Drew!

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June 27, 2017

Teresa Huntsinger, Alex Morton, Melanie Klym, and Ashley Cantlon volunteering at a Depave event.

On Saturday, June 24th, while many Portlanders were finding ways to beat the 100-degree heat, a few Otakians laced up their work boots and took to the pavement. As part of a Depave community project, several of Otak’s WNR team members joined with volunteers to remove approximately 2,800 square feet of asphalt from the parking lot of Faithful Savior Lutheran Church in Northeast Portland. The “depaving” was an initial step in the construction of a rain garden, which will help to capture and treat stormwater originating from the church’s parking lot.

Depave is a Portland-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the transformation of over-paved places to overcome the social and environmental acts of pavement. They host volunteer “work parties” as well as provide education and training about the benefits of pavement removal. Since 2008, Depave has seen the removal of over 151,000 square feet of asphalt and the creation of over 50 community greenspaces in Portland. With the help of motivated individuals, Depave has already begun expanding to other cities across the US.

To learn more about Depave or to RSVP for future Depave events, visit depave.org 

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May 12, 2017

On April 24, EcoDistricts CEO Rob Bennett spoke to nearly four dozen Otakians in our Portland office, outlining innovative techniques that Otak’s planners and architects can use in reimagining how to build cities that will best serve humans around the world in the 21st Century.

In his presentation, Rob explained EcoDistricts Protocol, a framework for achieving people-centered, economically vibrant, planet-loving neighborhood sustainability. Application of EcoDistricts Protocol tools, guidance, and rigorous performance requirements results in projects achieving EcoDistricts Certified standing, a mark of global sustainability excellence. Otak joined EcoDistricts earlier this year to support their global mission of developing sustainable cities and neighborhoods.

Bennett remarked on how well Otak’s values and goals aligned with EcoDistricts Protocol. “There is clear alignment between our organizations,” Bennett said. “The Otak gang understands that the future of city building requires a new model of collaboration, performative design and measuring impact. I look forward to the ways that EcoDistricts can support Otak’s pursuit of our common vision and goals to build vibrant, thriving places where we all want to work and live.”

EcoDistricts currently offers services supporting 16 projects across North America, with several in locations where Otak has offices (e.g., Portland’s Lloyd District, Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood). EcoDistricts provides expertise in the areas of green building, green infrastructure, urban planning, and community development, and offers urban development professionals classes in sustainability best practices, leading to their Accredited Professional (AP) credential.

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April 19, 2017

Students on a site visit.

In March 2017, Jesse Reynolds, an environmental planner and GIS analyst in Otak’s Redmond office, teamed up with Professor Jairo Angel of Cali, Colombia, to help conduct an urban design workshop for an impoverished community on the outskirts of the City (Alto Jordan, Comuna 18, Cali). This effort was funded by a grant from the US State Department—a reverse exchange through the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, which had also brought Jairo to Otak’s Portland office in November 2016.

During the week-long workshop, an engineering and architecture team made up of students from Colombia worked with professors to help design open space areas, stormwater infrastructure, and public gathering spaces to enrich the community and surrounding areas. Jesse helped the team throughout the design process and also gave presentations on Low Impact Development and the use of GIS as a tool to aid in design.

Jesse presenting at the conference.

(left) Jairo and Jesse in the community's library. (right) Professor Orlando Cundumi and Jesse.

The community.

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April 13, 2017

Last week four Otak staff attended the 2017 Women in Leadership Symposium put on by Women Leading Water. The Keynote speaker was Jennifer Williamson, Oregon House Majority Leader. She said that overall, Oregon is doing well with female and minority political representation, but we could do better. Her message was to find issues you’re passionate about and get involved! Other sessions covered setting your path and how to overcome obstacles and rework your plan as needed, being decisive and taking charge of your life, standing up for yourself in the workplace, how to get involved in an organization you’re interested in, and practicing mindfulness.

It was a great opportunity for women from the Portland/Vancouver area to meet and learn from each other’s experiences.

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April 5, 2017

As part of the ACEC and ODOT Region 2 Brown Bag Lunch Series, Scott Banker, Melanie Klym, and Chad Maxwell gave a presentation on the US20: Pioneer Mountain-Eddyville (PME) Environmental Mitigation Measures. Environmental mitigation measures for stream and wetland impacts associated with the construction of the US20 PME project were constructed during 2016 and 2017, with additional habitat enhancement measures to be completed by the end of 2017. 

The contractor moved approximately 74,000 cubic yards of existing material, isolated creeks to perform channel grading and installed large wood structures. Mitigation efforts also included roughly 25 acres of planting and seeding. The presentation reviewed the unique aspects of the design and primarily focused on the challenges of constructing a large-scale mitigation project using traditional ODOT plans and specifications.

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February 23, 2017

“We are excited to see that the project is functioning as designed and reducing the frequency and severity of flooding on Foster Road. It is also gratifying to see the vegetation becoming established and providing additional wildlife habitat and refuge.” - Melanie Klym, PE

To view KOIN's article and video click here

For project details click here.

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February 14, 2017

 

Otak was proud to sponsor the 16th Annual Stream Restoration Symposium in Stevenson, WA last week. 

The annual symposium is a gathering of all the various river restoration practitioners in the Northwest to share knowledge and explore project opportunities. Gary Wolff, a Senior Hydraulic Engineer from the Portland office, facilitated a session on Stream Restoration in the Built Environment. Morgan Haines, an Engineering Designer from the Vancouver office, led the discussion during the Young Professionals luncheon. 

Other Otak attendees included Ashley Cantlon, Melanie Klym, Kathy Mai, and Michael Rafferty from Portland, Ryan Makie from Vancouver, and Dave Stewart from Redmond.

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January 21, 2017

ACEC Washington presented Otak with three Engineering Excellence awards on January 20.

In the category of Unique or Innovative Applications, Otak was given a Gold Award for our Willapa Hills Trail Bridge Replacement project in Willapa Hills State Park. 

Along the trail within Willapa Hills State Park are numerous stream and river crossings. In 2007, a devastating flood destroyed two trestles, sending the center steel truss spans downriver. 

The alternatives analysis started after the survey, geotechnical investigation, hydraulic analysis, and environmental reconnaissance were completed. Ten bridge options were studied for each site, and after review, it was determined that a clear span bridge was the preferred option. The solution was a bridge with side steel trusses with post-tensioning tendons inside a grouted duct, which was installed inside a HSS bottom chord.

Both bridges were a success!

Otak was also awarded two Bronze Awards. 

Dungeness River Railroad Trestle Replacement project in Sequim—This is a 750-foot long pedestrian bridge—designed, permitted, and constructed all within eight months. The river and resulting habitat enhancement are a success for the native salmon. The Tribe, the local community, and trail users were extremely pleased.

Bucklin Hill Bridge & Estuary Enhancement project for Kitsap County—This project included replacing roadway embankment and two 72-inch culverts with a 240-foot three-span bridge, widening the road to five lanes, traffic signals, roadway and pedestrian lighting, storm drainage improvements, and amenities for pedestrians and bicyclists. 

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January 20, 2017

 

Otak was well represented at the annual ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards banquet on Wednesday evening (January 18th) at the Multnomah Athletic Club in downtown Portland. In attendance were members of Otak’s staff, the City of Lake Oswego, and Clark Regional Wastewater District, all of whom were there to support two projects that had been submitted for awards.

 

The Rockinghorse Lane Drainage Improvements and Landslide Stabilization project was submitted by Otak’s Portland office as the prime consultant selected to work with the City of Lake Oswego to repair a highly degraded drainage outfall and adjacent landslide. ACEC honored us with the Small Project Award for our efforts. The project required a careful balance of environmental permitting, thoughtful civil and water resource engineering design, and geotechnical consultation. Ultimately, the project installed approximately 300 feet of fused HDPE pipe to convey stormwater through the steepest topography, created 250 feet of open channel, repaired the State Park’s trail crossing, and constructed a large shear key to buttress the slide that included 1,500 tons of stone embankment.

 

The Tenny Creek Slide Emergency Repair project was submitted by Otak’s Vancouver office, and included stabilizing and repairing the broken sewer line, moving the creek laterally and reconstructing the slide area, providing a streambed design that met fish passage requirements, and restoring the area with upland plantings as it is in a habitat buffer area.  We were given an Honor Award for our this project.

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October 28, 2016

Congratulations to Melanie Klym, PE, ENV SP, Otak Water Resources Engineer, for her 2016 Women of Vision award, which she received based on her commitment to the natural environment, water resources design work, and community involvement.

She has completed many stream and wetland projects that have won design awards, so it was no surprise to us that she would be selected for such a high honor. Recently, Melanie led a team of six Otak staff to relocate U.S. 20 from Pioneer Mountain to Eddyville. The project replaced a 10-mile segment of old U.S. 20 in Lincoln County with a 5.5-mile segment that will be straighter with wide shoulders and passing lanes.

Thanks for all your hard work, Melanie, and once again, congratulations.

Melanie with her Women of Vision award

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October 20, 2016

Ashley Cantlon, PE, LEED AP BD+C, ENV SP, a Senior Water Resources Engineer in Otak’s Portland office, was awarded the Young Leader Award from the Oregon chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA)!  An awards banquet was held on October 14 in Bend, Oregon.

This award recognizes and encourages young APWA members who have demonstrated an initial commitment to the profession and the Association, and show potential for future growth within the Association. The award promotes the concept that length of career does not necessarily indicate leadership abilities or potential for service. The Young Leader Award is sponsored by the Leadership and Management Committee.

Ashley was also a runner-up for the annual Gizmo Award. While not an achievement award in the traditional sense, the Gizmo (AKA Golden Knuckle) Award nonetheless is an important function of the chapter. First presented in 1987, the award has raised thousands of dollars for scholarships given by the chapter's Scholastic Foundation. Ashley narrowly lost out on the Gizmo award to Krey Younger.

Award nominations are submitted APWA peers. Here’s what the nominator had to say about Ashley and her great work:

“Ashley is a role model for young professionals at Otak and within the community through her design work at Otak, affiliation with APWA, and community outreach. Ashley has 12 years of experience as a water resources engineer. She is a Professional Engineer, a LEED Accredited Professional, and an Envision Sustainability Professional. Ashley has been an APWA member for five years; she is currently an APWA board director, previously chair of the Water Resources committee and the Young Professionals committee. She recognizes the importance of attracting new talent to the engineering field and through her connections with local academic institutions she regularly meets with students and academic groups. Each summer for the past 10 years, she has donated a week of her vacation time to serve as a counselor or administrator at the Satori Summer Camp for academically and intellectually talented middle school students. At Otak, she uses projects as teaching opportunities for younger staff by reviewing designs and reports with them. Ashley is also a member of Otak’s safety and CAD coordination committees. Ashley has prepared many sustainable stormwater designs for municipalities, and her project experience includes LID and “green street” approaches in urban environments. She is continually advancing her knowledge about LID techniques related to stormwater management, so that she can advise on a variety of projects.”

Congratulations to Ashley on winning this award! We are grateful to have her at Otak.

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October 18, 2016

From September 28 through October 1st, Otak staff members attended the ASCE National Convention held in Portland, Oregon. 

Otak’s Doug Sarkkinen, PE, SE presented his team’s 2015 fast-track design and construction of the Dungeness River Railroad Trestle Replacement project. Designed and constructed in seven months, this project resulted in restoration of the Discovery Trail over the Dungeness River near Sequim, Washington.  Otak was hired in May 2015 and the bridge was re-opened December 2015.  Otak’s team generated 10 design options with the final selection proving to be salmon friendly to the river’s several anadromous fish runs and “river worthy” by virtue of foundations capable of withstanding deep scour forces and seasonal debris buildup.   

The trail and bridge over the Dungeness River is owned by the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe.  A February 2015 flood damaged the adjoining railroad trestle and bridge and associated foundations.  Fast-track completion by Otak of this project restored use of the Discovery Trail to numerous hikers, bikers, pedestrians, and commuters who count on it as an important multi-modal transportation route.


ABOVE: Doug Sarkkinen, PE, SE, highlights Otak’s Dungeness River Railroad Trestle Replacement project at the ASCE 2016 National Convention

The event  was an excellent backdrop for connecting with partners and staying current with the latest advances in how to prepare our communities for the future. 

ABOVE: Jim Hamann, Otak President and CEO (left), and Brian Burby of Otak (right) meet with representatives from leading universities throughout the West. 

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October 14, 2016

Please congratulate Jesse Reynolds, in our Redmond office, who recently passed his Certified Floodplain Manager exam through the Association of State Floodplain Managers. This national program recognizes continuing education and professional development that enhances the knowledge and performance of local, state, federal, and private-sector floodplain management professionals. The role of a floodplain manager is expanding due to increases in disaster losses, the emphasis on mitigation to alleviate the cycle of damage-rebuild-damage, and a recognized need for professionals to adequately address these issues. 

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October 11, 2016

By Mandi Roberts

One of the best ways to enhance community livability and strengthen neighborhoods is to design certain core streets to serve multiple purposes—as complete streets for multi-modal transportation and as festival streets, designed as pedestrian and open air market shared space that can be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic during special celebrations and events. Otak was proud to co-host a “walkshop” of our Georgetown Festival Street Project at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) annual conference, held in Seattle in late September. The theme of the conference “Designing Cities” offered sessions and mobile workshops on a variety of innovative and interesting urban design and innovative street design topics. Otak partnered with Fehr & Peers and the City of Seattle Department of Transportation to host the walking tour of the vibrant Georgetown Neighborhood, focused on the recent festival street improvements. For the Georgetown Walkshop guide, click here

The Georgetown Festival Street Walkshop hosts highlighted neighborhood history and background, revitalization of the area, some of the unique challenges of designing a festival street, the importance of neighborhood engagement, the role the improvement area serves in hosting street parties, design references (including best practice built examples and the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide), and some of the innovative features and public art elements integrated into the design. Two Walkshops were offered on two separate days of the conference and each was well-attended. Each group made special stop at the World Famous Fran’s Chocolates factory and guest gallery, a sweet spot at the end of the tour! Special thanks to our Walkshop team: Art Brochet and Therese Casper with SDOT, Will Lisska with Fehr & Peers, and Lori McFarland and Mandi Roberts with Otak.

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October 4, 2016

Kevin Timmins rode the new US20: Pioneer Mountain to Eddyville alignment on Saturday as part of the Play on the Grade event. He checked out the drainage the Otak team designed and walked through the new elk culvert.

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September 27, 2016

The 40th Annual Washington State Public Transportation Conference was held last week in Wenatchee, Washington. Held since 1976, this year’s 40th annual conference was hosted by the Washington State Department of Transportation and focused on key areas of Community Engagement, Local Solutions, and Statewide Investments.

Otak sponsored the conference and hosted a session entitled “Active Transportation on the Rise, Integrated Design of Shared-Use Paths,” which featured speakers Doug Sarkkinen, Windi Shapley, and Mandi Roberts. The session highlighted some key challenges related to implementing shared-use paths and how these challenges can be addressed through integrated design. (click here to view the presentation)

Brian Burby and Allen Hendy also attended the conference, hosting Otak’s exhibitor booth and networking with existing and potential clients. The conference and our session were well attended, and we received very positive feedback from a variety of the session participants, as well as conference attendees who stopped by the booth.

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September 21, 2016

Several Colorado WNR staff attended the 2016 Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium held at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado this past weekend. The conference included field trip touring the North St. Vrain watershed, starting at the upper reaches at the beaver ponds in Rocky Mountain National Park and ending at a reservoir near Lyons, Colorado that was severely impacted by the flooding that occurred in 2013. The theme of the conference was Connectivity in Geomorphology, and included presentations by many well-respected names in the geomorphology community, including Matt Kondolf, Stuart Lane, Gordon Grant, Gary Brierley, and Joe Wheaton.

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September 19, 2016

Otak is proud to announce that Theo Malone has recently passed his Professional Engineering exam in water resources and is now officially a professional engineer! Theo has been working with Otak's water and natural resources group since 2013. He received his engineering license in Oregon. Congratulations Theo, on reaching this important career milestone!

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August 31, 2016

Otak hosted representatives of the Republic of Iraq earlier this month at our Portland, Oregon office. The Iraqi Delegation was visiting as part of the U.S. State Department International Leadership Program under the sponsorship of the World Affairs Council of Oregon. Republic of Iraq visitors were representatives of their country’s Ministry of Oil, Diwaniyan Governate, and Diyala Province.

Otak Director of Contracting Shawn Goodpaster and Vice President Brian Burby made a presentation to our Iraqi guests entitled American Professional Services Consulting and Construction Contracting: An Overview. A wide range and depth of questions were posed by our Iraqi guests posed and answered by Shawn and Brian benefitting all who participated.

Our thanks to World Affairs Council of Oregon Director Ms. Amy Barrs for the opportunity to engage with the Iraqi Delegation. We appreciate this and previous international visitor hosting opportunities (e.g., the Afghanistan and Pakistan Delegation visit to Otak in 2015) to exchange ideas with visitors from around the world!  

To find out more about the International Visitor Leadership Program, please click here.

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August 26, 2016

Thirteen Otakians came out to participate in the eighth annual Kickball Without Borders kickball tournament fundraiser on Saturday, August 20th at Glen Haven Park in Portland. Team “Shark Otak” had an undefeated morning but just missed the point spread for the final game. Otak joined 22 other local A&E firms for a sunny day of kickball, a great barbeque, and a raffle to raise money for the Portland Chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

The fundraiser was the organization’s largest yet, raising $20,500 for their projects in Haiti, Ecuador, Honduras, and Tanzania.

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August 4, 2016

The Discovery Corridor Wastewater Transmission System (DCWTS) is Clark Regional Wastewater District’s 20-year, multi-phase program to provide for the conveyance of wastewater from the Ridgefield Urban Growth Area to the Salmon Creek Wastewater Management System. This project increases Ridgefield’s wastewater capacity and supports future economic development and growth in our region.

Otak helped the City of Ridgefield study wastewater treatment and conveyance options for more than six years, including performing studies to determine the best route, projecting population and flow, and determining the best connection point in Ridgefield. We developed an engineering report that met Washington Department of Ecology standards, as well as 30 percent plans and a design report. Otak led the team that developed construction documents for Phase 1 of the DCWTS. This $25 million project includes upgrades to two pump stations, construction of two new pump stations, and construction of eight miles of a 14- to 16-inch force main. 

After more than a decade of planning and two years of construction, the first phase of this major project connecting Ridgefield junction to the Salmon Creek Treatment Plant held a grand opening on Wednesday! The event was well attended.

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July 29, 2016

On July 22nd, Bucklin Hill Road NW in Silverdale WA was opened after an almost 13-month closure to replace the old two-lane roadway embankment with a new four-lane bridge! 

The community turned out in large numbers to celebrate with local dignitaries and the residents of the adjacent Crista Shores Senior Living Community as they cut the ribbon and crossed the bridge.

The residents weren’t the only ones to benefit from this crossing – salmon and other estuary inhabitants now have free passage under the 240-foot, three-span bridge allowing the restoration of natural functions to the long-blocked passage of Clear Creek. Increased numbers of fish and macroinvertabrates have already been documented along with recent sightings of additional bird species.

Before

After

The project also improved vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic, with new lanes, better sidewalks, improved grades and accessible routes for all.

Before

After

Gray skies and threats of rain couldn’t dampen our fun. Having worked on the project since 2010, Otak’s team was almost as excited as this guy!

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July 11, 2016

Congratulations to Otak's newest Professional Engineer, Neil Schaner!

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June 7, 2016

 

Ben Bortolazzo | Director of Planning & Design, Portland

Ben Bortolazzo has been promoted to Director of Planning & Design in the Portland office. Ben’s unique talents and experience as an urban planner, urban designer in urban planning, design and architecture, provide him with the comprehensive skills to take on this leadership position and strengthen the connection between Planning and Design, Architecture and the TIS civil team. As part of this role, Ben will also be working closely with our landscape architecture team in Vancouver in association with the common clients shared between both teams.

As Ben takes on this role, Don Hanson will continue to provide mentorship and guidance with client relations and team management. Ben will help guide the Planning and Design group as a facilitator and incubator of the type of exciting projects that are often result in integration of all of Otak disciplines. Ben will continue to be active in managing clients and some discreet architecture projects to support continuity and growth within the architecture practice.

Mike Morrow | Survey Party Chief, Gearhart

Mike Morrow has been promoted from Survey Field Technician to Survey Party Chief in our Gearhart office. Mike has been a quick learner and is a great member of our team; this promotion is a reflection of the great work Mike has done and we’re looking forward to a strong future with the current opportunities to expand our work on the Oregon Coast.  

Paul Pellicani | Manager of Architecture, Tempe

Paul Pellicani will take on the role of Manager of Architecture in Arizona.  Paul has largely been filling this role since he joined Otak last August and has done an exemplary job with client service, staff leadership and management of projects to completion while maintaining profitability. Paul will be working closely with Brian Fleener and our architecture team in Portland to continue to build our architecture business in Arizona and deliver great design work for our clients.

Windi Shapley | Project Manager, Redmond

Windi Shapley has transitioned her role from lead Project Engineer to full-time Project Manager over this last year. Windi has played a key role in our work with Community Transit and is leading management of SWIFT II BRT, which involves a 13-mile transit route and 30 new transit stations in south Snohomish County. Windi is highly organized and very client focused and we are confident that she will continue to excel in her new role, moving forward.  

Sylwia Jaszczak-Follehr | Survey Party Chief, Redmond

Sylwia Jaszczak-Follehr has been promoted from Survey Field Technician to Survey Party Chief in our Redmond office. Sylwia has advanced quickly within our survey team and enthusiastically taken on increased field responsibilities this past year. Sylwia’s work ethic, eagerness to learn, and commitment to quality have been a great benefit to our team and projects.

Tyson Hounsel | Project Manager, Redmond

Tyson Hounsel has been promoted from Project Engineer to Project Manager. Tyson continues to be a key technical resource for WNR and for the Redmond/Everett offices and has been expanding his role to include various project management assignments. Tyson provides a broad background that includes both public sector and private development experience. Among his many duties, Tyson is currently managing work for Snohomish County and just beginning a newly won project for the City of Shoreline.


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May 19, 2016

On Saturday, May 14, several Otakians volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help construct homes at Allen Estates in Beaverton, Oregon.  The group assisted by hanging joists, adding decking, and putting up sheet rock.  

Several team members volunteered at this site before and enjoyed seeing how the project has progressed with recent completion of several of the homes.

Allen Estates is comprised of 2-3 story townhomes which are in various stages of construction.  It will be home to 24 families once completed.

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May 16, 2016

 

Otak’s Doug Sarkkinen and Greg Mines presented last week at the ODOT 2016 Bridge Design Conference in Salem.

Seismic design of bridges in Oregon currently uses state-of-the art probabilistic ground motion predictions. However, guidelines are based on horizontal ground movements under a seismic event and ignore the effects of vertical ground movement. Doug’s presentation provided a summary of expected vertical seismic ground movements and what types of bridges in Oregon would be vulnerable to these effects.

Greg’s discussion focused on the aging Fifth Plain Creek bridge that was replaced with a modern, precast concrete bridge. The stream channel was restored for improved fish habitat and to mitigate flood concerns.  The bridge construction used touch shoring to control concrete stresses and deflections in the slender structure during construction.

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May 11, 2016

Last week at the annual Daily Journal of Commerce Top Projects awards banquet, Otak and Hamilton Construction were presented with an award!

In the category of Infrastructure, Otak was awarded Second Place for our Colorado Dam Safe Passage (now called Bend Whitewater Park) in Bend, Oregon. This project is a great example of Otak’s integrated design using our in-house planning, civil engineering and bridge design, environmental and specialty services.

Otak and Hamilton reserved a table at the banquet and were joined by our client’s Michelle Healy and Brian Hudspeth from Bend Parks and Recreation District, and two project subconsultants: John van Staveren from Pacific Habitat Services and Mike Faha from Greenworks. 

“Everyone enjoyed getting to reconnect at the table. There was a lot of laughter, reminiscing, catching up, etc.” said Nichole Hayward, of Hamilton Construction.

Our team’s design process brought together a diverse group of river stewards and stakeholders to successfully create habitat solutions while also creating the West Coast’s first “adjustable standing wave” white water kayak/surfing run. The Park is open and Bend Parks and Recreation has a live camera feed of the whitewater run on their website.

 

For project information click here

 

 

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March 30, 2016

Last Tuesday evening, Lori McFarland, Eva Ho, Marina Howard, Matthew Scarsella, and Curtis LaPierre (past Otakian) attended the WTS Puget Sound Annual Scholarship & Awards Gala at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle. This event recognizes outstanding transportation projects, programs, and people in the Puget Sound area. Dinner was served, Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit’s CEO, spoke on his support of WTS’ mission and opportunities in our region’s transportation system, and then our team, including client, City of Seattle Department of Transportation, accepted an award for the Georgetown Festival Street project. A good time was had by all!

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February 8, 2016

Otak’s Tim Kraft and Trista Kobluskie introduced the Clark County Stormwater Manual 2015 to a full house of local engineers working in the Vancouver and Clark County, WA, area. The presentation covered policy highlights, organization of the manual, and selection and feasibility of mandatory low impact development practices. Otak was the lead consultant in developing the manual, which is the first standalone comprehensive stormwater manual published by the County. The manual is designed to be technically equivalent to the 2014 Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington while providing an easier-to-use format and organization.

To view the Stormwater Manual, click here.

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December 23, 2015

Otak responded to an emergency for long time client Clark Regional Wastewater District (CRWWD).
On Dec 8th, Clark County was inundated with a terrific rainstorm that caused flooding and damage. During the event a small landslide broke a sewer line pipe along Tenny Creek. On Dec. 9 Otak acted quickly to stabilize the situation and provided immediate support with survey crews, hydraulic analysis, stream design, slope stabilization design, restoration planting design. Design documents and permitting were completed by Dec. 15th and construction began on Dec. 16. Currently, the contractor has cleared the area, installed the temporary stream bypass, repaired the broken sewer line, and has begun excavation for the stabilization work. The project is expected to be complete before the end of the year.

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December 22, 2015

Congratulations to our newest Professional Engineers - Melanie McCandless, Megan Karner, and Kyle Ayers!

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December 10, 2015

images courtesy of Adam Simmons

The East Lents Floodplain Restoration Project (Foster Floodplain Natural Area) was designed to reduce nuisance flooding of Johnson Creek and construction finished in 2012. With recent record rainfalls, we wanted to see how the project was performing. On Monday night Johnson Creek exceeded the flood of record from 1996. The storage area filled and channel benches were activated reducing the amount of water on Foster Road. The system has proven to contain both the more frequent flood events and reduce the flooding for the less frequent larger flood events. Prior to project completion, this area would typically flood about once every two years.

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November 11, 2015

Otak joined in the community-wide celebration on November 7th to mark the grand opening of the new Bothell City Hall. Serving as a community gathering place at the center of the City of Bothell’s municipal campus, this project is part of the first phase of the City’s ambitious downtown revitalization plan. In fitting fashion, a live band kicked off the grand opening for the building last Saturday.

Otak served as the lead civil engineering consultant on the project, working closely with The Miller Hull Partnership, GLY Construction, Vulcan Real Estate, and the City of Bothell. Otak was responsible for demolition, TESC, site layout, site grading, storm drainage, water and sanitary sewer utilities, parking/pavement, and franchise utility coordination. Additional project elements included frontage improvements along the entire City block, off-site utility extensions, and preparation of an early site demolition/preparation package to facilitate the aggressive construction schedule.

The new City Hall includes a 53,000 square foot, four-story office building with Council Chambers and community meeting spaces; a large plaza; and a 254-car parking garage. The garage is designed for shared parking with future development and will be used for public parking during evenings and on weekends. To model sustainability in the built environment, the new structure is designed to LEED Gold specifications and features a solar array, a living wall, and additional LEED-designed components.

Otak is honored to be a part of the City of Bothell’s downtown revitalization efforts and looks forward to working with the City on future projects. More information on the project can be found by clicking here.

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