Dallas Area Civil Engineering Historic Landmarks

National Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks

ASCE’s Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Program recognizes historically significant local, national, and international civil engineering projects, structures, and sites. Through dedications, a physical plaque on site, and an online historical record open to all, the landmark program:

  • Increases public appreciation of civil engineering contributions to the progress and development of society;
  • Provides civil engineers with an historical awareness of their own profession for both practical insights and pride;
  • Encourages the preservation of significant historic civil engineering  works; and
  • Fosters the inclusion of civil engineering landmark information in encyclopedias, guidebooks and maps.

Information on nominating a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark can be found here.

Denison Dam, Cartwright, OK – 1943

The largest rolled-earth fill dam in the world at the time of its completion, Denison Dam eventually served as a prototype for dam construction in future U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects throughout the arid plains of the American Southwest. Procedures and equipment developed during its construction are now commonplace in the sampling and testing of soils.

In particular, the on-site laboratory at Denison Dam served as the model for the Corps' Southwest Division Lab in Dallas, Texas, which has analyzed soils for more than 75 large dam projects and is considered a world leader in clay testing.

Designed originally to control flooding on the Red River and provide hydroelectric power during World War II, Denison Dam also contributed significantly to recreational opportunities and water-supply storage in neighboring areas of Texas and Oklahoma through the creation of a reservoir, Lake Texoma, that holds nearly six million acre-feet of water.


[Reference - https://www.asce.org/landmarks/]

Texas Section Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks

The designation of projects as Texas Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks is encouraged to inform the public of these projects, to recognize the role civil engineers have in our everyday lives, and to recognize civil engineers for their achievements. For Society-level designation, the project must be at least 50 years old from the time of completion, and the design or construction must have expanded the limits of the profession. For a project that may not qualify on the Society level scale but is deemed significant for the region or local area as a noteworthy project, a Section may designate it to be a Texas Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Information on nominating a Texas Section Historic Civil Engineering Landmark can be found here.

Original Dallas Floodway, Dallas, TX  – 1989

The need for flood control of the Trinity River came to the forefront of Dallas’ public attention after the May 1908 flood – the worst the City had ever recorded, which resulted in the death of eleven people and the loss of more than five million dollars. The Kessler Plan - a result of committee action by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce in January of 1910 - called for the reclamation of the Trinity River Valley, which would involve the leveling of the river and development of a levee system. In 1919, the Dallas County Levee Improvement District No.5 was established, the lines of which were later broadened, providing for the reclamation of 7217 acres of land in the City and County and 336 acres outside of the original District. The geographical boundaries of this new Joint Plan of Reclamation roughly followed the flood limitation line of the 1908 flood. Bonds issued by the flood control districts funded the levee system and four pump stations, which went online in 1931. The original Dallas Floodway was designed for a 300,000 cfs flow of water.


Houston Street Viaduct, Dallas, TX – 1989

The first of five concrete and steel viaducts connecting the north and south sections of Dallas, the Houston Street Viaduct was entirely funded by Dallas County, and is one of the longest (6,562 feet, 56 feet wide) bridges ever built utilizing reinforced-concrete arches. This crossing, from the Dallas Central Business District, was the first reliable transportation to the then City of Oak Cliff, providing a future rail link, as well as clearances which would allow ocean- going vehicles to pass on a proposed Trinity River Canal. The Trinity River Canal would connect Dallas to the Gulf of Mexico and demanded a 90-foot clearance; this project is still under consideration today. The Houston Street Viaduct displays a remarkable insight into future infrastructure needs and development. In addition to accommodation for possible future oceangoing vehicles, the viaduct features a roadway for vehicular traffic, sidewalks with provisions for a double-track electric railway, pile footings, and discontinuous rocker bearing girders designed as simple beams. Work began in 1910 and was completed a year later.; Remarkably, the overall structure remains intact with no visible modification and continues to support a major traffic artery. This link to the past continues to serve the public and to further the legacy of the skilled, forward-thinking engineers of the early 1900s.


Photo Credit: Jonathan Brower

Cowtown Coliseum, Fort Worth, TX – 2015

Completed in 88 working days in February 1908, the rectangular Coliseum has a steel and girder infrastructure and concrete sections with a capacity near 10,000. Kennerly Robey, chief engineer, Fort Worth Stock Yards Company, was project supervisor. The Cowtown Coliseum was the third largest in the U.S., following Madison Square Garden and Chicago arenas and held the first indoor rodeo in 1918. The building was completely restored in 1986 by the City of Fort Worth and hosts a weekend rodeo.

Photo Credit: Gordon C. Henry

Holy Pump Station, Fort Worth, TX – 1992

The Holly Pump Station, which opened in 1892, and North Holly Water Treatment plant (opened in 1911) comprise the first waterworks system constructed by the City of Fort Worth. The City was responding to an increased demand for water associated with tremendous population growth. From 1880-1890, the population of Fort Worth quadrupled. The water supply was stretched thin and water-borne illnesses were a major problem. The city invested in the new technology of the time: including 5 million gallon low-lift centrifugal pumps, sedimentation basins, rapid sand filters, a million-gallon clearwell, and a laboratory to facilitate chemical and bacteriological tests. Major purchases were made from the Holly Water Works Co. of New York, which furnished the pumps and designed the plant; its initial system cleaned two million gallons a day. The total cost of the project – including pump and broiler house, two engine foundations, a brick smokestack, 12 8-inch wells, a suction crib, a standpipe, and pipelines, valves, and other components of the distribution system – was $687,000. The plant continued to grow over the years. Completion of the treatment plant’s second expansion in 1923 brought a dramatic decrease in the incidence of disease. The facility finally reached its ultimate size (79 MGD) fifty years after its initial construction. Unlike many of the early waterworks facilities, parts of the system are still functional; the updated plant is still a critical part of Fort Worth’s water supply system.

<< Photo Coming Soon >>

Paddock Viaduct, Fort Worth, TX – 1976

Replacing the ferries and low-water crossings, the Paddock Viaduct connected downtown to the northern sections of the city of Fort Worth. The bridge, started in the 1890s, was designed by Benneke and Fay of St. Louis as the first reinforced concrete arch in the U.S. to use self-supporting reinforcing steel. The bridge also utilized a unique three-hinged arch design, with the highest point on the arch and two end points being hinged - a recent innovation of Swiss engineer Robert Maillart. This was an optimal design considering the soil instability and unpredictable nature of the Trinity River. Although sometimes referred to as the Main Street Viaduct, the project was officially named in honor of B.B. Paddock, former Ft. Worth newspaper editor, mayor, and state legislator. The bridge, completed in 1914, comprises four arch spans for a total of 1,319 feet long and 54 feet wide. A 225 foot span crosses the Trinity River with 175 foot spans on either side; a fourth arch reaches across the north side into downtown.

Photo Credit: Gordon C. Henry

[Reference - https://www.texasce.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Previous-Texas-HCEL-Honorees.pdf]

Texas Section Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Projects

The Texas Section annually recognizes an exemplary civil engineering project as the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA). Established in 1960, this distinguished award honors the project that best illustrates superior civil engineering skills and represents a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society. Honoring an overall project rather than an individual, the award recognizes the contributions of many engineers.

Information on nominating a project for the Texas Section OCEA can be found here.

Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway (IH 635), Dallas, TX – 1971

The LBJ Freeway (IH 635) begins at IH 20 (southeast Dallas), travels northward towards US 80 and IH 30, and then turns northwest near the border between Dallas and Garland. The road continues west at the Dallas North Tollway intersection and its origin, IH 35E (Farmers Branch). It then veers to the northwest before arriving at its final terminus at the north entrance of DFW. The freeway was originally designated as a loop around east Dallas in 1959. The first section of the LBJ Freeway that opened to motorists was from US 75 (North Central Expressway) westward to I-35E. However, the IH 635 designation was subverted by the rerouting of IH 20 south of Dallas to Terrell; the designation was removed from IH 35E to its intersection with IH 20. The additional westward expansion to the north entrance of DFW airport opened in the 1980s. In 2005, the completion of the Dallas High Five interchange (with US 75) also brought improvements such as the two added high-occupancy vehicle lanes, continuous frontage roads, and new left turn and U-turn lanes improve overall ease of use.

Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport – 1975

Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport (renamed “International” in 1985) had its first arrival, American Airlines Flight 341, on January 13, 1974. Political jockeying for location had been ongoing between the two cities since the 1930s with respect to a combined Dallas/Fort Worth airport. At one point, both cities were tenaciously competing for air traffic, each with their own airports (i.e. Greater Southwest International Airport and Dallas Love Field), only 17 miles apart. Finally, the Civil Aeronautics Board ordered the two cities to agree on a site or have one chosen for them unilaterally; ground was broken on the Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport in 1968, bordering the cities of Euless, Grapevine, and Irving. The design for the airport specified 13 terminal buildings, a nine-mile parkway, 234 boarding gates, and up to 11 runways covering 27 square miles. Terminals were connected with the first automated transit system in the world, Airtrans, which could move 9,000 people and 6,000 bags per hour. Upon opening, DFW also featured a first-of-its-kind air traffic control tower, rising 232 feet, with a bank of equipment for visual and radar displays. Construction of the facility began in 1969 and was completed in 1973 at a total cost of $700 million.

Benbrook Pipeline Connection – 1999

The Benbrook Pipeline Connection is a $52 million project which includes an eight-mile long 90- inch diameter pipeline, a four-mile long 126-inch diameter tunnel with a 90-inch carrier pipeline, two de-chlorination facilities, and supervisory control and communication systems. The pipeline, which went online in 1998, allows the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) to utilize reservoir and transmission systems more efficiently, gaining an estimated $900,000 per year in power savings alone. The connection also provides drought backup for the West Fork of the Trinity River and redundancy in the water transmission facilities. The pump station was designed with special features in the structure, piping, systems and equipment, to allow for partial submergence during maximum flood levels, which provided significant cost savings in comparison to the prospect of elevating the station 46 ft. above the normal lake level. Innovative methods were also used in the reinforcement of a hill which made up part of the foundation of the road leading up to the pump station bridge. Instead of conventional retaining walls, drilled shafts were placed on two-foot centers to minimize excavation of the unstable hill and shafts were faced with cast-in-place concrete. Additional innovations aided in the construction process, including a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) which was specifically designed to handle both soft ground and hard rock, capable of earth pressure balance operation and featuring mechanisms to install the two types of tunnel liner that were required for the project. Recommendations from ASCE’s Committee on Resolving Disputes in Underground Construction and its Geotechnical Design and Summary Report were included in the contract specifications for the tunnel, which resulted in competitive bids and only .1% in change orders on the contract. Construction of the Benbrook Connection was completed six weeks ahead of schedule and on budget, saving the TRWD hundreds of thousands of dollars and solving a critical water supply shortage in Lake Arlington

North Central Expressway Reconstruction – 2002

The old Central Expressway, before reconstruction could easily be called a nightmare, with narrow lanes, nearly non-existent on-ramps, poor geometrics, and an extremely narrow right-of-way. The early 1980s brought TxDOT’s tentative plans to build an elevated structure above the existing freeway. However, after further review, the decision was made to reconstruct the full length in a trench. Reconstruction of the North Central Expressway (US75) was completed in November 1999 at a total cost of roughly $600 million. A minimum of eight continuous general-purpose lanes to facilitate the dense traffic. The building of the freeway in a trench (for six miles) on a narrow right-of-way while keeping the roadway open was a challenge, to say the least. The feeder roads are cantilevered over the main lanes in some sections because of the narrow right-ofway. When it opened in 2000, the project also included landscaping and architectural features at multiple cross streets which set a new standard of urban highway design.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Capital Development Program – 2007

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Capital Development Program (CDP) was one of the largest undertakings in the U.S. in recent history. Over 122 professional firms contributed to its design and administration, and over 479 construction firms worked together to complete multiple stages of the project while keeping the airport fully operational. This extensive project consisted of a new international terminal, Hyatt Hotel, garage with smart parking technology, Skylink system linking all terminals, major expansion of the Central Utility Plant (CUP), major storm relief line, roadway improvements (including a major interchange to connect the existing roadway system to the new terminal), and airfield improvements to service the new terminal. The design of this project is remarkable for its maximization of overall convenience and efficiency. Passengers are intuitively guided through the facility, including 99 ticketing positions, 14 passenger lanes for security screening, and a network of moving sidewalks, escalators, elevators, Skylink bridges, ramps, and elevated roadways for interior and exterior transit as well as a parking garage equipped with “Smart Parking Technology” to inform users of available parking capacity per level. The Grand Hyatt Hotel within Terminal D provides lodging and conference facilities, and the expanded Central Utility Plant provides conditioned water and air to the new CDP facilities for optimal passenger convenience and comfort. Structural components of the project include post-tension concrete to provide for cost-efficiency in spanning wide spaces. After the events of September 11, engineers heightened emphasis on security, and CDP components were designed using access control, closed circuit monitors, and secure area segregation methodologies to optimize structural and logistical security.

Arapaho Road Bridge – 2007

The 1,575 ft. long Arapaho Road Bridge is the signature piece of a two-mile extension of Arapaho Road. It carries four lanes of traffic and is a model of innovation for standard pre-cast concrete and materials. The bridge’s deck was constructed with pre-cast/pre-stressed U-beams and deck panels and is suspended by a series of steel rope hangers which attach to the arches and cast-in-place concrete diaphragms. The design is also notable for its use of round pipe for the arch rib, which was painted blue to tie the bridge into the town of Addison’s most famous public art piece - a sculpture called “Blueprint of Addison.” The use of round pipe was not only stylistically valuable, it also provides a high strength arch with good capacity against buckling and eliminates the need for lateral bracing. Inventive methods of arch construction were utilized to mitigate traffic disruptions, which included construction of a temporary bent in the median of the road to allow the two freestanding 85-ft. long U-beam sections to be set in place. The steel pipes were fabricated using induction bending and the arch pieces were erected in two pieces overnight prior to being set and spliced together. Then, once the diaphragms and deck were cast, hangers were installed and stressed, lifting the bridge off of its temporary bent. Apart from occasional overnight road closures, traffic on Midway Road continued to flow unimpeded throughout construction of the main span. The cost of constructing the bridge and its lighting system was less than $6 million - to the satisfaction of Addison’s budget. Completed in July of 2004 and open to traffic in January of 2006, the Arapaho Road relieves an estimated 11,000 vehicles per day from Belt Line Road without any additional congestion at the Midway Road intersection. The aesthetic theme of Arapaho Road Bridge unites the two areas of Addison and creates a striking gateway into the town’s restaurant district.

Cowboys (AT&T) Stadium – 2009

The $1.15 billion, 3 million sq ft Cowboys Stadium, completed in 2009, represents an extraordinary triumph of engineering. Upon completion of the Cowboys Stadium structure, at least three structural engineering world records were established, including: “longest single-span roof structure,” “largest center-hung high-def video display,” and “largest operable glass doors.” The single-span roof structure is supported by two 3,255-ton trusses that transfer 19 million pounds of thrust at each end into four concrete abutments. The first-of-its-kind, rack-and-pinion retractable roof was engineered with a very steep pitch (of 26°), mechanized, and features translucent fabric-covered panels that open or close within 12 minutes. The stadium’s design and engineering should also be commended for its extensive incorporation of green initiatives into materials use and management including the use of: more than 80% recycled reinforcing and structural steel content, at least 65% regional structural materials, and a translucent fabric retractable roof that provides substantially reduced power consumption through natural lighting. Cowboys Stadium’s contemporary, streamlined design, efficient function, and exceptional engineering make it a truly one-of-a kind building that will capture the attention of Cowboys fans and the international community for years to come.

DART Green Line Light Rail Expansion – 2010

The DART Green Line Light Rail Expansion of 2010 is the longest light rail transit expansion in North America - consisting of 28 miles of double-track light rail, 5 aerial stations, and 15 at-grade stations customized to each local community. Engineers for this project worked closely with area stakeholders to determine the needs and preferences of the community. Engineers also collaborated with artists in the design of a large collection of public art to reflect the local culture at each station. This $1.8 billion project expanded rail service across a highly populated metropolitan area with existing infrastructure, adjacent to active freight lines, two large medical districts, and a high traffic inner-city airport, while maintaining a tight schedule and budget, with minimal disruption to the public. The engineering and construction teams showed resourcefulness throughout the project such as in their fabrication of an at grade bridge to protect existing infrastructure and in the design of track elevation with minimal impact to the flooring pattern of flood plain areas.

Margaret Hunt-Hill Bridge, Dallas, TX – 2012

The Margaret Hunt Hill (MHH) Bridge was designed as part of a broader collaborative development project between the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the City of Dallas to revitalize the Trinity River floodplain. The MHH Bridge is the Woodall Rogers Freeway crossing over the Trinity River connecting Downtown and West Dallas; it has become not only a literal bridge between these two areas but also a figurative bridge over the economic chasm that exists between them, spurring urban planning and economic development aimed at revitalizing West Dallas. The bridge was the concept of renowned Spanish architect, artist and engineer, Santiago Calatrava. It instantly became an iconic city landmark for its singular design, whose signature features are a center arch pylon that rises 440 ft. above the floodplain - gracing the Dallas skyline with its unique, mesmerizing arrangement of cables. The final realization of this incredible achievement was made possible by the perseverance and innovation of the construction team. The institution of new national levee requirements mid-way through the project’s construction required the team to overcome new challenges and efforts to obtain the required 208 permits; this was achieved while staying on schedule and on budget. One of many process improvements - the use of a floating tension rig contained within the expansion sleeve in place of the larger, bulkier deviator installed inside an external guide pipe - improved the appearance of the arch and reduced construction costs and installation schedules. Upon completion, a three-day grand opening gala was held to celebrate the MHH Bridge. More than 40,000 people came out to participate in the weekend-long festivities culminating in a dramatic fireworks display - illuminating the Dallas skyline, highlighting its newest addition. Broader development plans for the Trinity River floodplain include three more Calatrava bridges, the second of which received funding approval from the Dallas City Council in January 2013.

West 7th Street Bridge, Fort Worth, TX – 2015

<< More details coming soon >>

Union Station to Oak Cliff Streetcar Project, Dallas, TX – 2016

<< More details coming soon >>

[Reference - https://www.texasce.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/List-of-Previous-Winners-3-17-20.pdf]