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Leading the Team To Restore A Crucial Crossing on I-5

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When a bridge collapses on the busy Interstate 5 artery in Washington state, fast-tracking seems an understatement.

"We've done some challenging projects but certainly never anything that had to be done that fast," says Max Kuney IV, owner of Spokane contractor Max J. Kuney Co., related to rebuilding the Skagit River bridge after it was damaged in a truck collision."We don't often get a design-build job done in three months, having built a bridge."

With time the primary factor, Kuney, 47, the fourth-generation owner of the 1930-founded company with 35 salaried employees and about 100 craft workers, both bid and executed with speed.

There were just two weeks between the Washington State Dept. of Transportation request for proposals and bid opening, and work started the day after the agency awarded the $8.5-million contract.

The new permanent span was open less than two months later.

Kuney's firm partnered with Parsons Brinckerhoff and Omega Morgan, co-locating in state DOT offices.

Acceleration meant lightning approvals; over-the-shoulder reviews; quick calculations, from procurement to materials; and, above all, cooperation.

"Parsons Brinckerhoff has worked with Max and his company and found them to be a nimble and creative contractor," says Jared Smith, the engineering firm's then-Northwest regional manager. "There was a tremendous sense of teamwork among the contractor, design team and [DOT], and that is what really set this project apart."

Kuney adds that "everybody threw their A-team at the project. We pulled guys from other projects, and our partners did the same."

Challenges and creative thinking were heightened in the emergency situation, forcing the team to scramble to place lightweight concrete girders and custom materials, as it prepped the slide of the  918-ton bridge into place in only one night.


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