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LOUISVILLE, KY, Dec. 3, 1999 -- LAWGIBB Group, Inc. and the University of Louisville have been awarded the 1999 Grand Prize Phoenix Award for the nation's best overall brownfield redevelopment project that transformed a contaminated, abandoned railroad yard into a 92-acre stadium site for the University. The project was selected from 32 applicants representing 14 states.

The national industry award is presented yearly for the project using the most innovative brownfield techniques that enable contaminated industrial property to become economically viable. There are more than 600,000 sites nationwide per EPA estimates that are abandoned or underutilized due to real or perceived contamination.

LAWGIBB, in partnership with the University of Louisville, worked closely with CSX Transportation (which owned the railroad yard), various business and community groups and state and federal regulatory agencies. LAWGIBB served as geotechnical engineer for the project and reviewed all environmental work, health and safety plans and conducted site evaluations.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the innovative approaches used by LAWGIBB and the University will help set a national trend. A campaign, for example, to help finance the 60,000-seat football stadium, known as Papa John's University of Louisville Cardinal Stadium, raised over $42 million --$15 million from permanent seat licenses, $27 million from corporate contributions. The state also swapped 118 acres of land in eastern Jefferson County, KY to CSX Transportation for the 92-acre stadium site.

"This project was exemplary of a commitment to cure a nearly overwhelming environmental problem and turn it into a regional asset of the greatest significance," Sen. McConnell said. "The environmental problems of the rail yard have been resolved and the stadium has proved to be a revenue producer not only for home football games, but for outdoor events not related to football. It has provided jobs; a home for football administration and practice; easy access for students, faculty and staff; and a source of pride for the University."

Doug Cobb, president and chief executive officer for the Greater Louisville Inc./The Metro Chamber of Commerce, added that the project has helped fuel an economic renaissance.

"The stadium has provided a big boost to the community's economic development efforts," Cobb said. "It's a perfect venue for entertaining corporate clients and business prospects and demonstrates Louisville's 'can-do' attitude."

According to Nick Schmitt, P.E., LAWGIBB corporate consultant who spearheaded engineering efforts for the firm, the sheer magnitude of the project was daunting. During the 90 years that the site was used as a railcar and locomotive repair shop, activities such as motor cleaning, use of solvents, varnishes, hydraulic oil, lead lubricants and plating solutions built up a literal witches brew of contaminants - 1.1 million gallons of diesel fuel in the ground with thickness as great as eight feet; asbestos in 20 acres of existing structures; 100 cubic yards of PCB; lead, arsenic, chromium, and more. "We implemented a series of administrative and construction techniques to facilitate site remediation and to achieve our clean-up objectives," Schmitt said.

Cheri Hildreth Watts, the University's director of the Department of Environmental Health & Safety, added that LAWGIBB and her department worked 50 hours a week for six months leading up to the start of construction.

"The extensive planning and meetings with LAWGIBB, state safety and environmental officials paid off as we developed successful implementation tools that helped keep the project on track and within budget," she said.

Hildreth Watts added that some of these tools included an Environmental Health & Safety implementation checklist; a 'Stadium Advisory Notice' form for timely delivery and easy recognition of imperative environmental findings and/or required actions; use of color-coded stickers on worker and visitor hardhats to immediately identify that person's environmental training level and site access clearance; and use of signage and 'snow fencing' to designate environmentally sensitive areas.

LAWGIBB Group, Inc., based in Alpharetta, GA, is a global engineering consulting firm with more than 3,800 people and over 100 offices in approximately 40 countries worldwide.

Return to: 1999 News Releases