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Station design speeds construction for Omaha Rapid Bus Transit (ORBT)
Structural and electrical design, pre-fabrication reduce transit-station canopy construction times to about an hour.
Designed for rapid installation, one-third of the 24 stations for Omaha Rapid Bus Transit (ORBT) are now in place along Dodge and Douglas streets in Omaha, following the first installation at Westroads shopping district on May 19. The ORBT system will be the city’s first dedicated-lane transit system in more than 60 years. LEO A DALY led design for ORBT stations, leveraging the firm’s full-service engineering, architecture and construction management capabilities.
The design team specified pre-manufactured components for the iconic metal-and-glass canopies and pillars now appearing on Dodge and Douglas streets, between the Westroads District and Downtown Omaha. Pre-manufacturing allowed precise fabrication to take place off site, reducing on-site installation time to about an hour. This was critical to the project’s strategy in order to reduce closures on one of Omaha’s busiest roadways.
Each station’s canopy and support pillars are installed pre-equipped with electrical infrastructure and technology for ORBT features, such as pre-paid boarding, Wi-Fi, real-time updates, wayfinding signage and lighting. Canopies range from 12 to 24 feet long and achieve ORBT’s signature aesthetic through architectural branding. Even though the 24 stations share similar appearances and features from a passenger’s perspective, each station site had unique challenges.
Site-specific engineering for uniform construction
The design team’s engineers worked behind the scenes to develop the sophisticated infrastructure needed for rapid on-site installation of station canopies. Each of the 24 sites had its unique characteristics, and each transit-station foundation and platform is designed precisely for the location.Some sites required the foundations to bridge over in-place utilities.Some sites occupied sloped terrain. For these sites, engineers designed stepped foundations that adhere to the grade, including one site at 4 percent and another at 6 percent. Sloping sites required structural piers at variable heights for the ultimate level installation of pre-manufactured canopies.By designing variable piers, the canopies and support pillars could be fabricated at uniform dimensions, creating efficiencies for fabrication and on-site construction.
Geotechnical analyses were performed for each site to provide soil characteristics for structural design of foundations. The soil properties vary among sites, leading to foundations designed specifically for the location. Piers are elevated to thwart pooling from rain and runoff. Station foundations were designed in concert with upgrades to adjacent traffic lanes that will support ORBT’s new high-efficiency and double-length buses. One lane is being replaced with pavement 11 inches thick. Station platforms are designed to match the height of the new buses, providing level boarding for universal accessibility. Bicycles, wheelchairs and strollers can easily board the buses from each platform.
The design team also coordinated pre-installation of underground electrical and fiber-optic infrastructure at each station, making them virtually “plug and play” ready when the canopy components arrive on site. The components for each station arrive in three parts on the backs of trucks from the facility where they were manufactured. After about an hour on site, the stations are installed with service for lighting and security already built in, as well as data service for ticket vending and ORBT’s free Wi-Fi service. Final wiring and terminations are then completed at each site.