Q&A: What were the unique engineering challenges for the Alameda Landing Redevelopment project?

Transforming the former U.S. Navy property into a mixed-use development encountered several challenges including complex subsurface conditions, former land uses and improvements, multiple stakeholders, and sensitivity of adjacent improvements.

The Alameda Landing Redevelopment project sits on approximately 80 acres of marshland and tidal flats that were reclaimed with hydraulic fill. Reclamation and development of the site began in the early 1900s. Over the last 100 years, the site has been used by the Tacoma Beer Company, Golden State Miners Iron Works, San Francisco Bay Airdrome, and, most recently, U.S. Navy Fleet Industrial Supply Center.

Alameda

Alameda Landing, Alameda, CA

The site is bound by settlement-sensitive improvements including buildings, tunnels, roadways, and utilities (above and below ground that could not be adversely impacted by the proposed development.) Redevelopment involved construction of residential office, and retail structures, and new public infrastructure (roadways and underground utilities). In addition, existing adjacent roadways were widened and rehabilitated as part of the project due to the increased traffic and condition of the roadways.

The complicated subsurface conditions, former land uses and improvements, and settlement sensitive adjacent improvements presented multiple challenges. The challenges included undocumented liquefiable hydraulic fill and compressible marine clay (Bay Mud) that varies in thickness. These challenges were further complicated by the necessity to raise the site grades by several feet to meet projected future sea-level rise. In addition, the presence of shallow groundwater and environmental impacted soil and groundwater were also present, which necessitated additional considerations and interaction with local, state, and federal regulators.    Along with these issues, the project involved a great deal of coordination and interaction with the project team and multiple stakeholders.  These stakeholders included local, state, and federal regulators, adjacent property owners, multiple contractors, architects, structural engineers, and multiple developers and tenants. The schedule, construction phasing, cost-constraints, and specific performance criteria of each developer and tenant required precision in phasing of the construction and ground improvement operations.

Langan evaluated and provided recommendations for multiple foundation types (shallow and deep foundations) and ground improvement techniques to meet the project goals. Ground improvement techniques included pre-consolidation using soil surcharges and pre-fabricated vertical drains, densification, reinforced earth pads, and lightweight fills.

Answer Provided by Haze M. Rodgers, PE, GE, Senior Project Engineer 
Haze has more than 12 years of experience providing geotechnical consulting services, including subsurface exploration, laboratory testing, and construction observation. During design, he provides soil structure interaction evaluations (static and dynamic), ground improvement evaluations, slope stability, and foundation designs. His projects include commercial and residential structures, deep excavations, infrastructure (roadways and utilities), marine and waterfront developments (piers, wharves, and harbors), seismic strengthening, and landslide stabilizations.

Q&A: What are some major traffic engineering design challenges in the Middle East?

The Middle East’s dependence on private automobiles as the major mode of transportation creates unique challenges for new development projects in the region. Not only does it require an efficient design of roadway infrastructure to process high traffic volumes, but also requires a smart design of space to provide on-site parking spaces. A majority of developments in the Middle East are mixed-use projects that have a wide array of users including residents, professionals, retail customers, restaurant patrons, and hotel guests. The traffic and parking demand generated by this diverse user base varies throughout the day creating challenges for traffic engineers. It is important to design a traffic circulation and parking system that will not consume a lot of space while at the same time is efficient in processing the project’s peak traffic and parking demand. This can be achieved by working closely with the master planners and architects early on in the design process to identify locations for siting connections with surrounding roadway networks and highway ramps, and developing an efficient parking layout and internal site circulation plan.

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Langan provided transportation and parking services for the design of the iconic Four Seasons Hotel in Bahrain. (Photo Credit: SOM | © Future Brand)

With the increase in transit infrastructure developments in the Middle East, specifically in Saudi Arabia, it is important to consider the changes in commuting patterns in the future. A shift in commuting from private automobiles to mass transit will result in decreased traffic and parking demand and should be accounted for in future traffic planning estimates. Given that land is at a premium, specifically in large cities like Jeddah and Riyadh, a lower parking demand will consequently require less parking, freeing up space for more financially viable uses. Therefore, as a first step, it is critical to conduct due-diligence to obtain information on infrastructure work as well as potential future development projects for the area.

Like most other urban regions of the world, there is a growing shift in the Middle East to create walkable neighborhoods that serve as cultural hubs — entertainment, dining, and leisure destinations. Many mixed-use projects in the Middle East are now incorporating designs emphasizing safe and efficient walkable environments for the community. Currently, we are working closely with master planners and landscape architects to design an inviting walkable public space for a large-scale confidential mixed-use project in Saudi Arabia. As part of this effort, Langan is assisting the design team in establishing unique pedestrian connections for retail, hospitality, entertainment, and residential uses within the site.  One important aspect of this design process is to strike the right balance between safety and functionality. This is achieved by applying design techniques such as removing excess width from traffic lanes, providing space for pedestrian refuge islands, and adding landscaping in a non-linear pattern to reduce opportunities for speeding and aggressive driving, while at the same time enhancing safety for all users.

About Adnan Pasha, PE
As Director of Transportation and Traffic Engineering at Langan International, Adnan has over 18 years of international experience with transportation, real estate development, site/civil engineering, Transit Oriented Development (TOD), project management, and finance.