Bohannan Huston signature projects include Very Large Array, Paseo flyover - Albuquerque Journal

Bohannan Huston signature projects include Very Large Array, Paseo flyover

Bohannan Huston counts the Very Large Array Radio Telescope Project done in the 1970s as part of its high-profile, signature projects. (Courtesy of BHI)

Sixty years of history speaks volumes for a company like Bohannan Huston Inc., which averages about 500 projects a year.

Past CEO Brian Burnett, who spent 34 years with the company before he retired and formed his own consulting company, has been collecting stories for many years. BHI hopes to publish the collection for their employees before the end of the year.

“I felt it was important for our staff to understand our history. I’ve gotten to do my job well because others were doing their job well and that’s a privilege,” Burnett said. “We always relish complex and demanding projects. We like that we’ve never shied away from those. We’ve been building our company on these projects one-by-one.”

Here are a few highlights from his collection.

Very Large Array Radio Telescope Project, 1970s

BHI helped astronomers listen to the stars when it began the design for the array, built on the San Augustine Plains, west of Magdalena. BHI designed 39 miles of double-track rails that transported 27 of the 90-feet high by 82-feet wide dish antennae. The $76 million project included roadway, an airstrip, drainage and water and sewer systems. The remote, arid location proved especially challenging for the sewer system, because the soil quality didn’t allow adequate percolation. So BHI solved the problem with a lift and force-main station to remove the waste.

About 100 high-stability foundations were required for the antennae, which weighed about 190 tons each. Their design consisted of cast in place concrete foundations in alluvial areas and pilings in lake-bed regions.

When the project was complete in 1981 scientists could use radio emissions from the universe and deep space to construct pictures of the phenomena originating the signals.

High Desert Community Master Plan – 1980s-1990s

During a 15-year span, BHI designed about 95 percent of High Desert, creating sustainable design before the concept became a priority in community building.

BHI built on its partnership with the Albuquerque Academy, who had acquired a 1,200-acre tract that adjoined Tramway from its benefactor Albert G. Simms.

BHI’s then president Mike Emery, until his death in 1997, had roamed the project getting to know it inch-by-inch. He could envision new ways of conveying rain runoff from hard surfaces through a natural arroyo that braided the property. This strategy helped preserve native landscape.

The vision was to maintain the natural terrain, preserve existing vegetation and protect views of the mountains.

BHI’s work included surveying, mapping, planning and engineering for water, waste water, utility, drainage, transportation and subdivision infrastructure. Construction inspection followed much of the design throughout the project. Challenges that became highlights of the work included a series of bridges over the arroyos, a trail system, a master reservoir and waterline, implementation of water harvesting and storm drain management.

San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project, completed 2008

The San Juan-Chama Drinking Water project is among BHI’s signature accomplishments. (Courtesy of BHI)

This project diverts river water from the Rio Grande, pipes it to a water treatment facility, treats it and distributes the treated water to customers in the City of Albuquerque service area.

BHI provided engineering, surveying and construction management for one of the transmission pipelines, the largest and most complicated of the project that pipes the water to the city’s existing water system. The project will ultimately supply 70 percent of the metro area.

The work consisted of two parallel 54-inch diameter welded steel lines, 32 feet apart, that were buried to a depth of 15 feet below the bed of the Rio Grande. The work required protection for the endangered Silvery Minnow, the cottonwood forest and maintaining habitat for Willow Flycatchers and bald eagles and a plan to restore vegetation in impacted areas. The work took two seasons, moving the river to one side and then the other.

I-25/Paseo del Norte Interchange Reconstruction

The I-25/Paseo del Norte Interchange Reconstruction was a Bohannan Huston job. (Courtesy of BHI)

In 2013 NM Department of Transportation selected BHI and Kiewit New Mexico to rebuild the interchange on Paseo del Norte and the I-25 north corridor, a $75 million project that included expanding capacity on those roads. The interchange bottleneck had left many motorists backed up from the interstate ramp west to Second Street.

The main scope of the project included:

  • A flyover bridge from northbound I-25 to westbound Paseo del Norte.
  • A free-flow connector ramp from eastbound Paseo del Norte to southbound I-25.
  • A graded overpass at Jefferson and Paseo del Norte.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
  • I-25 improvements between Alameda and Jefferson.
  • Roadway and bridge widening.
  • Ramp reconfigurations, including a braided ramp at San Mateo.


Bohannan Huston celebrates 60 years of engineering expertise

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