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February Technical Meeting – JMU Land Bridge Project


Presentation Topic: James Madison University Land Bridge Project

Abstract: The presentation will provide an in-depth look at a unique and innovative Land Bridge project constructed on the Campus of James Madison University (JMU) in 2019.  As a tunnel and bridge comprising a multi-purpose landform, the Land Bridge project enhances JMU’s campus through connectivity and campus mobility. This open bottom arch structure was selected because of its innovative approach to solving two on-campus challenges: improved access to JMU’s East Campus, and what to do with a significant amount of excavated soil and fill materials from another University construction site.

As a member of the multidisciplinary design team led by VMDO Architects, VHB developed an innovative solution to solve these two challenges by devising an inventive engineering plan to use the excess fill to create the new land bridge. More than 160,000 cubic yards of excess fill were relocated to the site to cover the 60-foot-wide by 128-foot-long bridge and bring the grade up forty feet from the existing topography. The final structure included a 20-foot-wide multi-use path located above the tunnel with planting areas on either side of the path to make it feel like a continuation of campus. Since completion, the project has greatly enhanced campus mobility opportunities and has created a new campus gateway that connects JMU’s new Paul Jennings Residence Hall to the existing campus residences and newly constructed Atlantic Union Bank Center.

The project has won several awards including: an Engineering Excellence Award from The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Virginia, an Honorable Mention Award through the American Public Works Association (APWA) Mid-Atlantic Chapter’s Project of the Year Award category for structures $5-$25 Million and NCSPA (National Corrugated Steel Pipe Association) Project of the Year.

Presenters: John Stronach, P.E., Nathan Sauer, P.E.

Speaker Bios:

John Stronach, P.E. was born and raised in Petersburg, VA, before attending college at Old Dominion University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering. Since graduating, his entire 30-year career has been in the private sector where he has worked for several civil engineering firms across the Hampton Roads region. John joined VHB in 2001 to launch the firm’s first Virginia Beach office, where he currently leads as Principal. In addition, John holds the title of Director of the Mid-Atlantic Institutional Practice to focus on strategic growth for healthcare and education across Virginia, North Carolina, and Metro DC. John manages complex integrated design projects on education and healthcare campuses, providing insight on open spaces, campus connectivity, site development, and stormwater management. He has been involved in many award-winning projects over his career, including the East Campus Land Bridge at James Madison University. When not working, John loves music and dogs, and likes to run, play golf, and listen to informative podcasts.


Nate Sauer, P.E. is Contech’s Structures Area Engineer for the Northeast and Southeast United States. He began his career in the post-tensioning industry, working on long-span segmental bridge projects and commercial post-tensioning applications. He also has a deep background in bridge rehabilitation and durability. Nate earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology and a B.A. in Physics from the University of Central Missouri. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Texas



When: Wednesday, February 16, 2022 at 12:00 PM

Where: The Hofheimer Loft, 2818 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23230

Attendants will receive 1.0 PDH from this technical meeting. Cost is $30 for members and $35 for non-members. Lunch will be provided.

ASCE Richmond would like to extend our thanks to Menard for sponsoring this event. Menard is an international specialty ground improvement construction company based in France, and part of Vinci Construction. Menard works across North America and internationally, operating in more than 80 countries providing ground improvement services. Menard’s techniques include wick drains, earthquake (EQ) drains, Controlled Modulus Column (CMC)® rigid inclusions, stone columns, dynamic compaction, rapid impact compaction, and soil mixing. Typical projects include support of warehouses, buildings, material storage piles, processing areas, embankments, roadways, port facilities, storage tanks, containment structures, and relieving platforms.

Registration: Registration for this event is now closed

The cost of the event will raise to $45 if registered after 5 PM on February 15th.