In this issue we profile AECOM, the engineering giant that just got bigger following the acquisition of URS Corp. last year. In the 2014 ENR Ranking of the Top 500 consulting firms, released before the acquisition, AECOM was ranked No. 1, with URS checking in at No. 3. The combined company now boasts nearly 100,000 employees and $19.5 billion in revenue.
It is interesting to note that in the late 1990s, URS was the company rolling up other consulting firms, picking up Greiner Engineering in 1996, Woodward Clyde in 1997 and Dames & Moore in 1999. At the time, that created an engineering behemoth with 15,000 employees worldwide. AECOM, meanwhile, expanded its footprint through affiliated companies like DMJM+Harris and Metcalf & Eddy.
The AECOM-URS merger reflects a trend toward integration in the tunneling market in North America and internationally too. Integrated project delivery including design-build and other public-private partnerships that include some finance or O&M component are increasingly being used here and abroad. “Our ability to provide fully integrated delivery services in the infrastructure markets around the world is what sets us apart,” said Tony Bouchard, executive vice president and leader of AECOM’s water business in the Americas.
The company’s project resume is impressive, notably including the design of the Second Avenue Subway (in a joint venture with Arup) and the TMCLK project in Hong Kong, the world’s largest undersea tunnel with the TBM diameter of 58 ft.
The merger also reflects an optimism in the tunneling market both domestically and internationally. In the United States, there does not appear to the a “new wave” of projects coming like we saw in San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York recently, but instead a steady amount of work across all sectors and all throughout the country.
Some large projects on the horizon include the massive Bay-Delta tunnel project in Northern California, a new Hudson River crossing in New York, and combined sewer overflow tunnels across the Midwest. High-speed rail and transit and water infrastructure improvement projects combine to give a strong market projection for the future.
For more on the merger, see the article beginning on page 14.
The Ground Improvement in Underground Construction and Mining Short Course is scheduled for May 18-20 at the Colorado School of Mines. This is the third annual course, and the first time in which an Achievement Award will be bestowed. Moretrench was announced as the winner of the Innovations in Ground Improvement Award, which will be formally awarded at the annual banquet on May 19.
According to Course Director Levent Ozdemir, Ph.D., P.E., the new award is given for the development of innovative solutions, products or design to ground improvement in underground construction or mining. Moretrench was selected for its work on the Northern Boulevard Crossing and Second Avenue projects in New York City, and the Port of Miami Tunnel project in Florida.
For more information on Moretrench and project details, see the story on page 38.