Check out our top 12 construction time-lapse videos

Today, we’re taking a step back (and up) to offer a unique perspective on some of our most complex projects. Building anything new often takes several years, but nothing accelerates the construction process like a time-lapse video to transform a project before your eyes. The videos below highlight the conversion of an empty space or hole in the ground into something meaningful and impressive.

The World Trade Center Transportation Hub and Oculus

In 2016, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub opened in downtown Manhattan, the culmination of our 15-year journey in restoring and enhancing transportation access to Lower Manhattan. Our team fabricated and erected the hub’s “Oculus” – a Santiago Calatrava-designed structure comprised of approximately 11,500 tons of structural steel consisting of portals, arches and rafters that combined give the structure a unique shape similar to a bird in flight. To erect the Oculus, we used two highly specialized tower cranes manufactured explicitly for this unique project. The Oculus is the centerpiece of the new hub and will serve more than 250,000 pedestrians per day as the primary link for access to New Jersey PATH trains and 11 New York City subway lines. More than a national symbol, the Oculus is a global icon that symbolizes the successful rebirth of Downtown Manhattan.

99M Street, SE

In Washington, D.C., our team is developing and building 99M Street, SE, an 11-story, 234,000-square-foot Class A office building in Washington’s Capitol Riverfront neighborhood just steps from the Washington Nationals Ballpark. Located at the corner of 1st and M Streets, this prime office space will include a green roof and rooftop terrace, a club-grade fitness facility, secure bicycle storage and four levels of underground parking. The complex excavation for 99M began in November 2015 and nearly 500 construction workers have dedicated approximately 51,200 work hours to complete the excavation and foundation work this month. As part of the excavation process 34,000 cubic yards of soil and rock were removed from the site, enough to fill more than 10 Olympic-size pools.

The New York Wheel

In Staten Island, we completed the foundation for the New York Wheel, a 630-foot observation wheel that will rise over the southern end of New York Harbor and provide unique views of the Manhattan skyline. Our team executed two massive concrete placements for the observation wheel pile caps. Each placement saw nearly 4,000 cubic yards of 10,000 psi, self-consolidating concrete that was placed continuously over 14 hours.

Fore River Bridge

In Quincy, Massachusetts, our team transported a custom-built span from a shipyard down the Weymouth Fore River on a custom-built barge to the Fore River Bridge. Then, the nearly three million pounds of steel was lifted approximately 60 feet and installed between the two existing towers as the outgoing tide lowered it into place. A crucial factor was timing the ride of the river, which moves up and down as much as eight feet. The moving tide was necessary for floating in and properly placing the new span.

Philadelphia International Airport

After six months of detailed planning and coordination, we erected a 91,000-pound, 100-foot-long pre-assembled baggage conveyor bridge over the main airport departure road in less than eight hours. The work took place in the middle of the night to minimize any potential disruption to airport operations.

Capitol Tower

In Houston, our 35-story Capitol Tower office project – which is currently under development – started with a 19-hour, 20-minute concrete pour to create a mat foundation that varies between seven and nine-and-a-half feet thick. Our planning and execution of this 9,020 cubic-yard continuous pour was so precise that the actual duration was within three minutes of what we originally planned.

Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

In Miami, we are building the state-of-the-art, 280,000-SF, multi-use science and technology museum, planetarium and aquarium being constructed in Museum Park in the Greater Miami Downtown area. The 500,000-gallon aquarium required a continuous concrete pour that took 24 hours and 49 minutes. This pour sets the foundation for the Gulf Stream Tank that will be home to a number of deep-sea species viewable from both top and bottom.

Recently, we installed a 31-foot, 13-inch thick, 60,000-pound viewing oculus in a complex crane operation that required five years of planning.

Second Avenue Subway

In New York City, our crews dug two-and-a-half miles of tunnels and caverns, set the tracks and installed the communications network for the Second Avenue Subway, which will move an estimated 200,000 people a day. The new line runs from East 63rd Street to East 96th Street connecting with midtown Manhattan and beyond. Excavations for the 86th Street station required the removal of 450,000 tons of material in order to create a subterranean “launch box” or starting point where the tunnel boring machine (TBM) could be assembled and begin its work.

MetLife Stadium

In East Rutherford, New Jersey, we built MetLife Stadium, one of the most sustainable and technologically advanced open-air stadiums with seats for close to 85,000 spectators. The stadium is home for the New York Giants and the New York Jets, which makes it the first facility built specifically to accommodate two U.S. National Football League (NFL) teams. Incorporating innovative methods both in the construction of the facility and in its design, our team worked in collaboration with both franchises to cater to the needs of two different teams.

Tampa International Airport (TIA)

In Tampa, Florida, our team is currently at work on our $130 million portion of the $1 billion Tampa International Airport (TIA) redevelopment plan, which includes the main terminal building expansion, construction of a new car rental facility and the new automated people mover. Last summer, our team unveiled the east side of the expansion, including two new restaurants, glass curtain walls and new, more modern finishes.

LaGuardia Airport

In New York, we are leading the design and construction of LaGuardia Airport through an innovative public-private partnership (PPP), which is the largest in the United States. With our partners, we will design, build, operate and maintain the Central Terminal B facility. Right now, multiple phases of work are being performed on site. The P-2 parking garage demolition has been completed, clearing the way for pile driving and foundation work on the new airport terminal building.

Have a cool project coming up that could make for an interesting time-lapse video? Contact us at USACommunications@Skanska.com.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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The ultimate sustainability award at I-4: Envision® Platinum

Our I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project has won the prestigious Envision® Platinum award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). I-4 Ultimate, the reconstruction of 21 miles of roadway in Central Florida, stands to be the largest project certified by Envision to date. I-4 Ultimate is one of Skanska’s three public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the United States in addition to LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal B in New York and the Elizabeth River Tunnels in Virginia. At Skanska, we are advocates for PPPs because they set the stage for successful sustainability planning by involving all parties – from the architects to the future operators – from day one.

“The entire I-4 Ultimate team is thrilled to receive this recognition for our efforts to protect the environment while creating a signature corridor for the entire region,” said Loreen Bobo, P.E. who is the I-4 Ultimate Construction Program Manager for the Florida Department of Transportation. “This award shows that sustainability goals are achievable alongside other primary missions of our agency to enhance the economic prosperity and preserve the quality of our environment and communities.”

Proposed rendering of the future SR 436 Interchange, which is currently one of the most congested intersections in Florida with more than 100,000 motorists traveling on it per day.

Our PPP team at I-4 Mobility Partners (I4MP) is doing more than building new infrastructure, it is also relocating protected wildlife such as tortoises and osprey, planting native trees such as elms and maples, and recycling 99 percent of the concrete and steel removed from roads and bridges.

Public spaces are being created to connect and engage the community through group sport activities, farmer’s markets, art fairs and parks. Residents will also be able to enjoy enhanced walkability, biking and public transportation options with connections to the SunRail commuter rail system and LYNX, Orlando’s local bus service. All in all, we are fully invested in improving the places where we work and live.

The proposed project design includes accent lighting, illuminated fountains, enhanced bridge architecture and architectural cladding.

“Since day one, our entire team has been committed to achieving the highest standards under Envision,” said Sal Taddeo, Chief Operating Officer East, Skanska USA Civil. “Our goal is to deliver one of the country’s most complex roadway projects while reaching a top level of sustainable infrastructure performance that can serve as a role model for other projects of its kind.”

The road to sustainable infrastructure

Created in 2012, Envision provides a framework for evaluating infrastructure projects similar to how the LEED® evaluation system works for building projects. The ranking consists of a broad range of criteria that address a project’s impact on the surrounding community and environment, technical considerations regarding materials and processes, and other critical choices spanning the project’s lifecycle. There are five categories measured: Quality of Life, Leadership, Natural World, Resource Allocation, and Climate and Risk.

I-4 Ultimate received high scores in three key categories:

Quality of Life: Central Florida’s local history and unique community character are being reflected in the design because there are hundreds of nearby buildings, districts and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of these places are within the project limits, including the town of Eatonville, Griffin Park and the Holden-Parramore Historic District.

Founded in 1887, the town of Eatonville was the first incorporated African-American town in the US. The main road — Kennedy Boulevard which passes under the new I-4 project — once served as a wagon trail. Key landscape and historic features will be integrated into the bridge design at Kennedy Boulevard to honor the city’s history.

Leadership: To meet FDOT’s sustainability goals, an agenda was created early in the program to provide the project’s foundation. This includes social priorities such as health and safety, community involvement and business ethics; environmental priorities, including energy, carbon, materials, water and local impacts; and economic priorities such as project selection criteria, supply chain management and value added to society.

Natural World: A comprehensive Contamination Management Plan and Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan was developed to prevent pollutants from contaminating soils, surface water and groundwater. Four underground storage tanks and 145 tons of petroleum that impacted soils and debris have been removed from the project site.

Invasive species are being controlled by removing existing Brazilian Pepper trees and Tropical Soda Apple shrubs along the project’s right-of-way while including non-invasive plants for landscaping and maintaining wetland functions.

The native landscaping proposed for this project includes up to 14,225 trees, 9,825 palms and 65,900 native shrubs and grasses.

Setting new sustainability records

In the fall of 2016, our Expo Line 2 Light Rail transit project in Los Angeles received Envision Platinum certification, making it the first transit project to receive the certification. Skanska has been involved in Envision since its inception and we are proud to see that momentum continues to grow. We are a charter member of ISI and we have supported more than 60 employees in achieving the Envision Sustainability Professional designation.

Moving forward, all of our PPPs in the U.S. must be either Envision or LEED certified, and by 2020 all of our U.S. civil infrastructure projects will seek Envision certification.

This marks the first time a Florida project has been honored by the ISI and the second time a Skanska project has been honored.

Thank you to our teammates at I-4 Mobility Partners

Our I-4 Mobility Partners team is designing, building, financing, and operating the project through a 40-year P3 concession agreement with a total design and construction cost of $2.323 billion dollars. We have two roles: one as an equity member through our Infrastructure Development group and a second as part of the SGL Constructors (SGL), which is the Skanska-led joint venture with Granite Construction Company and the Lane Construction Company.

Other members of the I4MP team include John Laing Invesments Limited; Design Joint Venture – HDR Engineering and Jacobs Engineering Group; and Infrastructure Corporation of America.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Moving Midtown Tunnel

Today’s the big day: our SKW Constructors team has begun the process of moving the first six of 11 concrete tunnel elements from the Baltimore location where they were cast to southeastern Virginia, where they will become part of the expanded Midtown Tunnel, the centerpiece of the $2.1 billion Elizabeth River Tunnels project. These giants – each 350 feet long and 16,000 tons – will be towed 220 miles down the Chesapeake Bay.

Early this morning, the process began by flooding the dry dock at the casting site. Once buoyant, the elements were moved out of the dry dock and temporarily moored in Baltimore harbor for final outfitting ahead of their journey.

FloatOutView_Sparrows_MTT_052714

Once the elements are ready to go, likely Tuesday morning, tugboats will tow them one at a time down the Chesapeake Bay, a slow-going process that we expect to take four- to seven-days per element, up to about seven weeks in total. Here is a map of that route:

MTT-Tow-Route_Map-6-6-14_R4

If you’re local to this project, a great vantage point to watch the elements is on Island One and the Sea Gull Fishing Pier of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, built in part by another Skanska consortium. Please share any photos you get of the elements in transit by tweeting them with the tag #MovingMidtown.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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This week, celebrate the infrastructure on which we all depend

May 12-16 is Infrastructure Week, celebrating the emerging solutions, innovative approaches and best practices in modernizing our nation’s infrastructure, on which the U.S. economy depends. Infrastructure is at the core of what Skanska does,  with projects ranging from public-private partnerships like Elizabeth River Tunnels in Hampton Roads, Va., to transit projects like the Expo Line Phase 2 in Los Angeles. Here’s a look at some of the key numbers associated with these and other infrastructure projects completed or underway by Skanska and our partners:

3CAT210G -Aerial-6 March 2011

The Catskill/Delaware Ultraviolet Light Disinfection Facility uses 56 massive UV units to neutralize waterborne pathogens in New York City’s drinking water supply.

2 billion gallons: Amount of water that can be treated daily at the Catskill/Delaware Ultraviolet Light Disinfection Facility in Mount Pleasant, N.Y. The facility, which was completed last year, is the largest of its kind in the world.

1.5 miles: Length of the 7 Line subway extension in New York City, between Times Square and the rapidly growing Hudson Yards section.

46 minutes: Time it will take to travel between Los Angeles and Santa Monica – even during rush hour – on the Expo Line Phase 2 light rail. When the full line opens, estimated ridership is expected to reach 64,000 daily riders by 2030.

14,600 tons: Amount of blacktop needed to repair 14 miles of Colorado’s Highway 7 after a 1,000-year flood destroyed portions of it in September 2013. Our team repaired the stretch of highway over six-and-a-half weeks, with crews working 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week to finish the road ahead of schedule.

442 feet: Length of the tunnel boring machine – nicknamed Lady Bird – that our team is using to bore a 13-mile tunnel 100 feet under Washington, D.C., to hold sewage awaiting processing at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.

21 miles: Length of the stretch of Interstate 4  in Orlando, Fla., for which the I-4 Mobility Partners team  – of which Skanska is a part – has been selected to design, build, finance, operate and maintain improvements through a P3 agreement. This P3 approach will enable the Florida Department of Transportation to deliver these essential highway improvements – including reconstruction of 15 major interchanges and replacement of more than 75 bridges – 20 years sooner.

For an inside look at some of Skanska’s infrastructure projects, check out these posts here.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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After the flood: restoring Colorado’s Highway 7

On Nov. 26, two days before Thanksgiving, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and other officials joined residents in a small town 45 miles northwest of Denver. They were there to give thanks to what a Skanska joint venture team had accomplished.

Colorado floodwaters

State Highway 7 was heavily damaged – and rendered impassable – in September after northern Colorado received as much rain in a few days as it normally gets all year. Some called it a 1,000-year flood. Water poured down the steep canyons of the Rocky Mountains’ Front Range, causing tremendous damage: boulders the size of school buses rolled down the mountain and rivers spilled over their banks, completely washing away some sections of road.

People living along these roads were either stranded at home or unable to get home from where they had taken refuge. The few fortunate enough to not suffer significant property damage found themselves cut off from the towns they depended on for food, medical care and employment.

When our team was awarded the Highway 7 project, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) asked for one passable lane – not necessarily paved – to be open by December 1. Instead, those officials gathered on two newly-paved lanes stretching for 14 miles nearly a week earlier than scheduled – a remarkable feat. What’s more remarkable is the story behind it all.

“Colorado needed this highway rebuilt and rebuilt quickly,” said Skanska’s Dan Howell, who led the project. “The issue, though, was where to even begin.”

Into the unknown

Our team started from a blank slate. Given the emergency nature of this project, CDOT was operating at a rapid-fire pace, advertising and awarding the work in less than one week. None of the normal plans and specifications associated with projects was available.

“We didn’t even know what the scope of the work was, other than to fix roads,” Howell said.

The first task faced by our team – including joint venture partner R.L. Wadsworth Construction of Utah – was assessing the damage. They focused on reconnaissance during the week between contract award and the start of reconstruction on September 30. They even brought in a helicopter for aerial views.

The results showed the immense work our team had before them. Of the 14 miles of highway our team had to repair, sections totaling about seven miles had been washed away by the St. Vrain River.

“We had no initial plan because no one knew what was going to be there,” Howell said. “After the helicopter, we could start to put together how we would attack the project.”

The solution: Skanska crews would start on one end of the 14-mile work area, while our partner Wadsworth would start on the opposite side. Each would send an excavator and a bulldozer ahead for “pioneering,” helping clear a stable path for even larger equipment.

Before any significant road work could take place in a given spot, crews had to literally put the river back where it belonged.

“The floods changed the flow of the river, with debris, pieces of highway and boulders sitting where the river should be,” said Jeff Smith, Skanska project manager. “The first thing we had to do was get in the water, move rocks and form a new embankment where we could build a road.”

To align the rebuilt road, GPS couldn’t be used, as satellite signals didn’t reach the ground in the steep and narrow canyon – having granite cliffs hundreds of feet tall and at some points just 100 feet wide – through which the highway and river passes. Our team had to be rather primitive in their survey work: at points, they just tried to match whatever pavement remained.

“There was no grade requirement,” Howell said. “The requirement was to get a road open.”

Logistical and safety challenges

ColoradoHighway7

As work began, quick repairs were made to sections of the road on either end, allowing some residents to access their homes. These “soft closure areas” were manned 24 hours a day by local authorities to prevent drivers from entering unsafe areas.

Even those efforts, though, didn’t solve a larger problem: getting work vehicle access to the site. Not only was Highway 7 impassable, but surrounding roads also could not be traversed. This meant a three- to four-hour, 160-mile one-way trip from one end of the job to the other. Further, physical and electronic access throughout the job was difficult, as the canyon walls rendered jobsite radios and mobile phones useless.

“There was no communication from one end of the job to the other end,” Howell said.

Our team also faced unique safety challenges. Rocks loosened by the rain continued to roll down the steep canyon walls. And constantly changing weather – from as low as minus 10 degrees to as high as 65 degrees – affected the stability of the slopes our team was working on and around.

The joint venture’s 80-person team worked more than 40,000 hours with no lost-time accidents, an accomplishment they attribute to ongoing communication. Safety hazards were shared not only before each day’s work began as part of pre-task planning, but also as conditions changed.

To overcome those challenges, work continued 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week for the six-and-a-half weeks it took to reopen the highway. Improved weather paired with a committed crew got the job done early.

The results speak for themselves. More open road than planned, ahead of schedule – and to the delight of nearby residents. And although it took a tremendous effort, the incredible sense of shared purpose and camaraderie between our team, CDOT and residents made the hard work enjoyable.

“We had a lot of fun,” Howell said.

Before and After

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Skanska’s bridges by the numbers

Bridges are some of our most eye-catching projects. We build and rehabilitate bridges of all types, from landmarks like the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Fla., to interstate thoroughfares like Interstate Highway 10 over Florida’s Escambia Bay. We’ve overseen the seismic retrofitting of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in California, construction of the Cooper River Bridge (also known as Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge) in South Carolina, as well as worked on the iconic East River bridges in New York: the Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge).

In celebration of these feats of engineering, here is a look at some of Skanska’s bridge projects, by the numbers.

155 miles per hour: The speed of Hurricane Ivan’s winds that ruined sections of the Interstate Highway 10 twin bridges between Florida’s Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in 2004. Skanska designed and constructed two replacement bridges to stand 25 feet above water, more than twice the height of the original bridges.

215 feet: The height of the Bayonne Bridge after a Skanska joint venture raises the roadway by 64 feet. The bridge’s current 151-foot clearance cannot accommodate the next generation of new Panamax container ships, which will begin service from Asia by about 2015, following the widening of the Panama Canal.

1883: Year the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, was completed. We’re currently reconstructing the approaches and ramps in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

35,000 tons: The amount of waste concrete and asphalt, together with 5,400 tons of recovered steel, that the Skanska team recycled at our 11th Street Bridge replacement project in Washington D.C. Our design-build team performed 70 percent of construction without affecting existing traffic flows.

78,000 vehicles: The number of cars, trucks and motorcycles that cross the Manhattan Bridge each day. The 5,800-foot-long bridge, which spans the East River between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan, was built in 1909. Years of use caused rapid deterioration to this historical and architectural monument, forcing the New York City Department of Transportation to initiate a massive reconstruction program. Skanska rehabilitated the bridge’s north spans.

2.5 miles: The length of the Cooper River Bridge. Skanska completed this design-build project in Charleston one year ahead of schedule. The 1,546-foot main span, which is 186 feet above the river, is one of the longest cable-stayed spans in North America.

17.6 miles of bridge/tunnel: The length of over-and-under water Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World. We built the bridge-tunnel over three-and-a-half years through a joint venture with four other contractors.

25 feet: The height of Los Angeles’ Gold Line Bridge’s basket-like concrete columns that pay tribute to the indigenous people of the San Gabriel Valley and the oversize iconic roadside traditions of nearby Route 66. Skanska completed the 600-foot-long bridge in 2013.

3.3 million lbs: The weight of the steel Skanska used to strengthen the 350-foot tall main towers of the Williamsburg Bridge, during its rehabilitation and seismic retrofitting. Intermediate towers were strengthened with 1.8 million pounds of steel.

31 million lbs: the weight of extensive structural steel retrofit added to the Richmond-San Rafael Seismic Retrofit Project in California, which included the strengthening of the four-mile long bridge’s truss components and tower legs, the installation of special moment resisting pier frames, installation of seismic isolation bearings, viscous dampers, and seismic restrainers.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Our latest report from abroad: Catching up with Brandon Quinlan now that he’s in Sweden

Skanska sent Project Engineer Brandon Quinlan to Sweden as part of Stretch, one of our global leadership development programs. Having left behind the soaring peaks of the Rocky Mountains for the islands and waterways of Stockholm, Brandon has joined Skanska’s Civil team in Sweden for one year to oversee the construction of the Landskapsbron “Landscape” Bridge. Here’s what Brandon had to say about his experience working and living in Skanska’s home city.

Brandon2

How is the Landscape Bridge similar or different to projects you worked on in the US? Are there any notable features that you find typically Swedish?

Even though this is not a typical project for me, working on the Landscape Bridge is not too dissimilar from the kinds of projects I may tackle when I go home. In Skanska’s Western operations, concrete work – especially bridges – are a big part of our business. So by coming to Sweden, I’m getting a chance to gain experience that will be directly applicable to my career in the U.S. Of course, bridges here have a very different design than what is commonly done in the U.S. In the U.S., government agencies have a specific set of designs and requirements that must be followed. In Sweden, all bridges are design-build. The Swedish government will have a rough plan and look in mind, but it is up to the contractor to design the actual aspects of the bridge. The government does regulate certain quality and design features, but on the whole the design is the contractor’s responsibility. This gives the contractor a lot more leeway– if they can come up with a more efficient design, a faster way to build, better resource allocation, or any other money-saving idea– they can do it! I’m excited to dig into this creative side of the construction process that wouldn’t be available in the States.

The Landscape Bridge project involves working on a contract with a Polish construction company, a first for Skanska in Sweden. This kind of contract is a product of the Eurozone. How is your work different in the Europe Union?

Obviously it is all new to me, but working with a Polish subcontractor is new for everyone involved with the project, so it is an opportunity we are all experiencing together. So far I have learned that the Polish work culture is more similar to American work culture than of Sweden’s. Poland, like the U.S., has a very busy work culture, whereas Sweden is very focused on the work-life balance. Here, when you need to work late for a day or during a certain week, the time is always made up later. You leave early or take a day off, so that you always achieve a 40-hour per week average.

All of Europe is getting increasingly competitive in the construction industry, and you see companies taking more risks and looking for other opportunities that wouldn’t have been pursued before. Some major prime contractors from other countries are starting to come into the Swedish market and can offer projects at a lower price. This is causing Skanska Sweden and other Swedish contractors to figure out new ways to lower their costs.

Landscape Bridge Rock Exc.

The Landscape Bridge

What are some of the Swedish construction methods you’ve learned and how do they differ from U.S. methods? Are there any methods you find especially cool or useful?

Many of the different Swedish construction methods are based off the government quality requirements and not as much on construction efficiency. One of the big differences is that instead of using plywood or large form panels as in the U.S., Sweden uses several thin planks. This causes the finish look of the concrete to have a very wood panel feel to it. It does look aesthetically nice, however there is much more wood that is needed in this technique. Not only does this cost a lot more, but produces a lot more waste and takes much longer to construct.

Let’s talk about life outside work. How are you finding Stockholm? What are some of the differences you’ve seen from Sweden to the U.S.?

The biggest difference between the U.S. and Sweden is the Swedish approach to life. There is a bigger push for work-life balance, apartments and houses are smaller, and there is a much better mass transit system. The grocery stores are much smaller, but there are a lot of them around. Instead of a large weekend shopping for your week, it is more common to pick up what you need for the next day or two. Restaurants and cafes have more relaxed seating, since you stop and sit for a long lunch or dinner rather than a quick stop or eating on the go. It is also common to get outside as much as possible, this was more apparent when I got here and the weather was gorgeous, not as common now that it’s cooled off. Sweden has more area of parks than most any other major city in the world; however, whenever I would visit a park, they would be jam packed with people enjoying the outdoors.

I don’t have a day-to-day car, only a project vehicle, and actually it would be more of a hassle to have a car in the city than using the mass transit. It takes me about 45 minutes to get to work using the train and bus and it would take me about 30 minutes to drive. However, the difficulty to find a parking space, paying every day, or trying to find a long-term garage spot, makes the 15 minutes seem like a breeze. I haven’t lived in a city with a really great mass transit system, so having the ability to get wherever you need, conveniently and quickly, is fantastic. It is one aspect I really love and will surely miss.

Are there any key Swedish phrases you’re learning that come in handy on the job or in life?

So far the most handy Swedish phrase I know is ‘Förlåt, Jag förstor inte svenska.’ which translates to ‘Sorry, I don’t understand Swedish.’ Everyone in Sweden is very good at English, especially in a social sense, so it makes it easy to get around and get what you need and meet people. The language barrier is a little more difficult to deal with at work. Since the English everyone learns is more conversational for social settings, the work topics aren’t as easily translated. Swedes are very open to talking English in a social environment, but it is much less common in the work place. Everyone is used to talking business in only Swedish. My current focus is to learn basic Swedish to try and help myself close this gap.

What have you been doing out of the office (other than learning Swedish)? Are there any typically Swedish activities you have tried?

I have been trying to get out and do many activities to keep busy. I have found groups of expats that meet up regularly to share experiences and meet new people. I love exploring all the different parts of the city during the day and night. They have their own unique feel! One nice trip I made was to the archipelago, which is the grouping of islands between Stockholm and the Baltic Sea. It was nice to walk around the islands enjoying the outdoors and watching all the boats on the water.

Any funny anecdotes to share as you adjust to Swedish life? Is there anything from the U.S. you particularly miss?

One thing that I miss and always took for granted in the U.S. was the ease and variety of material type items. In the U.S. it was so simple to just run to a store and have a huge selection of an item to choose from. Or even the simplicity of online shopping. In Sweden the options are more limited and it is not nearly as easy to get things shipped to you. I needed a new charger for my old laptop and I had to use Amazon UK or Amazon Germany and choose from shipping from UK, the U.S. or China. I checked and could have the charger including shipping for around $10 to my U.S. address, but was going to cost me $20 to my home in Sweden.

Slammertorp Bridge

Brandon is assisting with Slammertorp bridge, pictured, with some of the big items such as the upcoming superstructure concrete pour.

What are you most looking forward to doing/seeing/learning over the course of your Stretch?


I am looking forward to learning more efficient processes. I would like to find new ideas that I can take back to my home district and implement on my future projects. I am starting off looking for big items, but will start focusing in on specifics that could really make a difference. Of course, I must be aware that something that works in Sweden won’t necessarily function in the U.S. This means I must not only take in everything I can in Sweden, but I have to keep thinking of the U.S. way of work as well.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Helping Colorado recover from the floodwaters

Colorado floodwaters

Last month, torrential rains devastated northern Colorado in what has been called a 1,000-year-flood. Today, under an emergency repair contract, a Skanska joint venture is reconstructing a 14-mile stretch of State Highway 7 – not far from Denver – that was badly damaged when an adjacent river crested its banks.

Their work requires moving boulders the size of school buses that rolled down a mountain, cleaning up oil and fuel leaked by cars washed away in the floodwaters, understanding a project that initially – given its emergency nature – didn’t have the normal plans and specifications from which to work, and navigating a jobsite that takes 160 miles and three-and-a-half hours to drive from one end to the other. That lengthy detour is required because not only is S.H. 7 impassible because so much of it has washed away, but surrounding roads also cannot be traversed.

Skanska’s task is to make its assigned section of the road passable at least for one lane of traffic by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s deadline of December 1. They plan to surpass that goal and have large sections of road open by then to its usual configuration of two lanes, one in each direction.

To meet that aggressive deadline, our team of 35 people is working seven days a week in two, 10-hour shifts. Equipment on site from all over our Western operations includes excavators, bulldozers, loaders and off-road dump trucks, typically six of each. Some of that is being used to funnel the Saint Vrain River back into its original channel so the road can be rebuilt.

CO SH 7 Flood 2013

Advertised and awarded in one week
Given this emergency, the procurement was extremely quick. The project was advertised on Tuesday, Sept 17. The pre-bid meeting was the next day, and proposals were due by 7 a.m. that Friday. At 5 p.m. that Saturday, we received the call that we had won one of the four road repair projects. On Sunday, Sept. 22, the day after we got that notification call, we landed 11 people in Denver to begin meeting with the Colorado Department of Transportation and understanding the project. Our team began repair operations on Sept. 30.

Understanding the project is an understatement: Many specifics were not available during the proposal process, as there were many unknowns along the route. Procurement, however, couldn’t wait until those were known. We were selected based on our past experience with emergency work done on a time and materials basis in rugged terrain, in which we beat the schedule and stayed within budget.

“We didn’t even know what the scope of the work was other than to fix roads,” said Dan Howell, Skanska business development manager said.

Despite the strenuous work and rapid pace of the project, the Skanska team knows their efforts are helping the local community recover.

“Everywhere we go, the locals come up and shake our hands and thank us for being there,” Howell said. “This should be a good, positive experience.”

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Intern stories: view from the 11th Street Bridge project

Stepping outside the classroom and onto a busy construction site can be a daunting and exhilarating experience. For our final intern profile, we find out what a civil engineering student from the University of Virginia learned when she left Charlottesville for the bustle of our 11th Street Bridge project in Washington, D.C.

serena2

Serena Zahrah, USA Civil – Washington, D.C. (rising senior studying civil engineering at the University of Virginia)

What was the most beneficial aspect of your Skanska internship? That would be the people I had the opportunity to work with this summer and the hands-on experience I received from working on the 11th Street Bridge project every day. I was able to work with all the different departments on site so that I learned about each position and figured out which areas I enjoyed the most. The experience of watching a bridge being constructed right before my eyes prompted me to ask questions that I would have never thought of in a classroom, and allowed me to visualize aspects that I had trouble picturing just by looking at a set of plans.

How do you view the construction industry after seeing it firsthand this summer? Did your experience change your thinking in any way? After this experience, I wouldn’t necessarily say it changed my way of thinking because I never really knew about the industry before. I have learned that the project site changes much faster than the public perceives. Also, the site is much more intricate than I imagined. Working with multiple subcontractors, the owner, inspectors and designers makes organizing and managing a construction site a complex process. Overall, I have found the field of construction to be very exciting and interesting.

What are your future career plans? My future goals include obtaining a master’s degree in civil engineering, as well as becoming a licensed professional engineer. I am still open to possibilities regarding my future career, but after this summer the field of construction has definitely become an appealing option.

serena3Serena on the jobsite in DC.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Intern stories: an environmental engineer gets hands-on experience

Take one recent graduate with a background in environmental engineering. Staff her on a major highway reconstruction project. What’s the result?  Here’s what one intern learned while working on the Skanska team’s I-275 project in Florida.

Zorana Kojic, USA Civil – Tampa, Fla. (recent graduate with bachelor’s degrees in agricultural and biological engineering from the University of Florida)

What was the most beneficial aspect of your Skanska internship? The most beneficial aspect of my Skanska internship – for which I was based at the I-275 Reconstruction project – was being able to show my skills and demonstrate how I add value to the company. Had I not had this internship experience, I do not think I would have been offered the opportunity to be a field engineer for Skanska due to the fact that I did not come from a traditional civil/construction background. I also found it beneficial because I was also able to test out the company for me. Do I like this environment? Do I like the people I work with? Yes, I do.

How do you view the construction industry after seeing it firsthand this summer? Did your experience change your thinking in any way? Coming from an environmental background, construction was very new to me. However, having had this internship I can see that things are not black and white like I previously thought. It also makes me appreciate construction’s many challenges. Working on a busy highway in the middle of a bustling downtown has many variables, and yet – with all the precautions being taken – the road is being built. It is amazing to see how intricate in detail and large in scope this project is. Most of all, the landscape is constantly changing: it is never the same and I find that very exciting.

What are your future career plans? Having achieved my first engineering job out of school was a great accomplishment for me. I believe I am with the right company (e.g., very similar core values) and doing what I like – environmental engineering – in the manner that keeps me going (e.g., lots of field time). I can’t wait to see where that will take me in the future. I would love to be part of the Skanska Unlimited program in the future and be part of Skanska’s international projects.

Skanska Intern

Zorana performs a turbidity analysis by the Hillsborough River.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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