Research & Innovation

Stevens Civil Engineering Students Design Bridges for Exit 11 of Garden State Parkway

Soon you might drive over the work of a team of Stevens undergraduate engineering students and not even know it.

For their senior design requirement, five Stevens seniors helped the engineering consulting firm The Louis Berger Group in independently replicating the design two highway bridges for Exit 11 of the Garden State Parkway, where the firm holds the contract to provide complete design and construction support.  

Civil Engineering majors Stefannye Barragan, Daniel Garcia, Freddys Hernandez, Esteban Roldan and Hui Zhang – working as “structural sub-consultants” for project sponsor The Louis Berger Group – independently designed the structural components of two parallel bridges situated 12 feet apart with identical structural designs and minor dimension differences using the Parkway’s design criteria. One bridge will carry the northbound Garden State Parkway and the other will carry the southbound side.

The bridges – which the team estimates will cost more than $2.6 million to build – consist of super-structures featuring steel plate girders and composite reinforced concrete deck slabs, and sub-structures featuring integral abutments supported by driven piles with mechanically stabilized earth walls.

The team is responsible for their independent structural design of the bridges, considering criteria like safety, serviceability, constructability, economy and aesthetics in finalizing their design.

Location poses one challenge.

“The soil doesn’t provide much support for the foundation, so skin friction from the driven piles were used to support the structure,” said Hernandez.

They also have to work within the dimensions outlined by The Louis Berger Group’s roadway engineers which set a height clearance under the highway of 15.5 feet.

“This limited the girder depth to 40 inches and drove all other dimensions of the super-structure,” said Hernandez.

Although the bridges have yet to be built, the team’s design has already been a success.

On April 7, competing against student engineering teams from dozens of other regional universities, the design won first prize in the Civil Engineering category of the Lower Hudson Valley Engineering EXPO, an annual event organized by the New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE) to introduce high school students to the field of engineering.

The students are thankful for the bridge and highway design knowledge and business skills they gained in the two semesters they worked on the project.

“This project provided a very realistic simulation of how a project would be executed in a design consulting firm and gave the team experience in project execution and delivery,” said Hernandez.

Some of the students will start working in the transportation design field after graduation, so the project also provided a great foundation for their early work.

“This is the kind of project a transportation design firm would want their new hires to have worked on before,” said Hernandez.

The team’s faculty advisors are X. Frank Xu and Leslie Brunell, Stevens professors in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering.

The Louis Berger Group – a Morristown, N.J.-based consulting firm that provides engineering, architecture, program and construction management, environmental planning and science, and economic development services – has sponsored Stevens senior design teams in the past, involving Civil Engineering students in an array complex, real-world design projects.

"The Stevens senior design projects are a great opportunity for the students to show all that they have learned during the time at Stevens,” said Stevens Class of 1987 alumnus John Tan, P.E., Director of Structural Design at The Louis Berger Group. “This year's group exhibited excellent problem solving skills in applying their Stevens engineering education, especially in structural and geotechnical engineering."