Launch Slideshow

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TCP's 2010 Influencers: Heavenly Research

TCP's 2010 Influencers: Heavenly Research

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    As director of quality assurance, Godwin Amekuedi oversees the quality management system for all of Argos USA's concrete and cement businesses.

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    Canan D'Avela is about to give a presentation on energy conservation and masonry at the annual NCMA conference.

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    David Goodyear says concrete was the ideal material for the new bridge.

Building Bridges

David Goodyear designed the bridge over the Colorado River near Hoover Dam.

Good parents treat their children equally. It doesn't matter if the youngsters are popular, bright, and attractive, or if they are mediocre, average, and ordinary. The ideal parents shower all of their children with love and praise.

Take David Goodyear, for example. The senior vice president and chief bridge engineer for T.Y. Lin International refuses to buy into the hype of the just-opened bridge over the Colorado River, just 1500 feet downstream from the Hoover Dam. Every bridge is important to Goodyear, whether its image is shown around the world, or the span merely crosses a small stream.

“It's fabulous to be in the shadow of Hoover Dam, but when you build any bridge, you have to do a good job,” he says. “It was an honor to design a bridge at this site, but I would not say the dam was an overriding issue for me.”

Still, Goodyear, 59, knew this 20-year project would bring attention. He recalls a mentor's advice: A bridge designer should do no harm, physical or emotional. “If you design an ugly bridge, you're doing emotional harm,” he says.

No harm done here. The 1060-foot-long span is the continent's longest twin-rib concrete arch bridge. It has garnered international attention since last month, when many walked on the deck for the first time. It is a living, real-world promotion for the functionality, beauty, and promise of concrete. As chief engineer of record for the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, TCP names David Goodyear a 2010 Influencer.

Engineering destiny

Goodyear may have been destined for such work. Born in Passaic, N.J., and raised in Nebraska and Ohio, his father and grandfather were engineers. He worked in construction in high school and while in Cornell University, where he earned his master's degree in structural engineering with a minor in geotechnical engineering.

One of his first experiences with bridges was helping investigate the 1970 collapse of a steel box girder bridge while it was under construction in Australia. Thirty-five workers died.

Goodyear eventually started his own firm, DGES Consulting Engineers. It was acquired in 1995 by T.Y. Lin International, where he currently is senior vice president in Olympia, Wash.

When the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began the design process for the bridge over the Colorado River, the concrete arch and a suspension bridge were the two finalists. A design advisory panel was formed and five agencies had input: FHWA, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, and the states of Nevada and Arizona.

Goodyear recalls, “The executives said it had to be a concrete arch. It's right next to the Hoover Dam. What else would it be?”

“My real focus was using materials where they can work to their advantage,” Goodyear says. “An arch is fully in compression. There is no better application for concrete. Why would you use steel, which you have to stiffen and do all sorts of things to make it work, rather than concrete which wants to work this way?”

Goodyear was one of the officials at the bridge's grand opening on Oct. 16. “I've spent nine years of my life working on this bridge,” the designer explains. “You get so immersed in the work, it's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees. Bridges are public works, so it's quite gratifying to have the public appreciate your work.”


Read more about the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge in the January 2011 issue of TCP.