For pioneers, the Missouri River represented a new frontier — a place where the future was uncertain but, at the same time, unlimited. That same spirit of discovery and possibility is alive and well in Omaha., where two Kiewit projects are reshaping the future of this community.
At its heart, Omaha has always been a river city.
Now, the Omaha Riverfront Revitalization Project is bringing the community back to its roots. Rebranded under one identity as The RiverFront, the redesign and redevelopment of the area includes Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park, Lewis & Clark Landing and the opening of the state-of-the-art Kiewit Luminarium.
Visitors to the three parks, located near or on the Missouri River, will find a range of reasons to make the area a frequent destination.
They’ll be able to take in a show at the Performance Pavilion, watch their pets at the dog park, get a match together at the bocce courts, play sand volleyball, splash in one of the water features, stroll the 10 miles of walkways and paths — or simply kick back at the urban beach or on the 5 acres of grassy lawn. The Kiewit Luminarium, opening in spring 2023, will provide a year-round venue for families to bring their kids and engage with hands-on educational activities.
Kiewit Infrastructure Co. is the construction manager for the 72-acre project, in charge of oversight of all construction activities for project owner Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA).
As part of its responsibilities, Kiewit assembled packages for scopes of work to go out for bid and hire subcontractors. About 50% of the work — most of it focused on park infrastructure — has been self-performed by Kiewit, including:
– Demolishing and removing material in the existing parks
– Placing 90,000 linear feet of underground utilities
– Conducting 500,000 cubic yards of excavation and embankment work to change the grade and shape of the parks
– Fabricating and installing above-ground architectural amenities
– Placing 10,000 cubic yards of cast-in-place concrete structures
Each existing park was completely removed and built back from scratch. A major portion of the project involved heavy civil operations that changed the grade and shapes of these parks.
At Lewis & Clark Landing, new features will include a destination children’s playground, an urban beach, pickleball courts, a renovated marina and more. This segment of the project required special protocols when disturbing the ground, said Construction Manager Brett Bergdolt.
“We understood the complicated history of Lewis & Clark Landing and Heartland of America Park. This helped shape safety efforts and remediation protocols during renovations,” he said. “All the excavations were observed, and any questionable material has been stockpiled and tested.”
Procuring the highly customized, specialized materials and finishes for The RiverFront’s above-ground amenities was another priority for the team, Bergdolt said. That included everything from the custom-fabricated, custom-designed children’s play equipment to the architectural design of the restroom buildings.
The specifications for each structure meant the procurement process would require long lead times, as well as cost and schedule constraints.
“This isn’t off-the-shelf equipment that anybody can buy,” said Bergdolt. “It’s all customized and highly specified for the intent of each area.”
The specialized equipment and material would have been difficult to procure under normal circumstances, but the COVID-19 pandemic amplified complications. Material and labor shortages, price increases and shipping delays were all impacts that needed to be managed.
To help expedite fabrication and troubleshoot shipping constraints, the team turned to Kiewit’s Supply Network (KSN) organization. The team utilized KSN’s resources throughout the country to visit various fabrication shops to complete quality control inspections, as well as provide real-time updates on fabrication schedules.
Crews constructed Arches Playground with extra special areas for kids to explore, including a climbing wall, rope forest and plenty of shade for the hot summer months.
Gene Leahy Mall, reopening summer 2022, features a Sculpture Garden, Arches Playground, Performance Pavilion and more.
Juggling all the elements of this high-profile project hasn’t been a simple proposition, but it’s one that Kiewit was prepared for, Bergdolt said.
“We have discipline managers for all the different contractors and scopes of work. By setting up an organization structure that way, you can really boil down to ‘this person is in charge of this specific thing and specific area.’ So, you narrow this large project across three parks down to very specific scopes or areas, and we manage it that way from the bottom up.”
Bergdolt said he’s proud of the team’s work and its significance in bringing people back to the river in Omaha. “To step back and think about the work that we’re doing for the community, what it means regionally and what it means to Kiewit as a company, this is a very special project to be a part of.”
For more on the Luminarium project, click here.