Design, construction management
On December 26, 2004, the third largest earthquake ever recorded in the world struck 150 km off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The 9.2 magnitude quake lasted for almost 10 minutes, triggering a series of tsunamis as high as 30 m that killed an estimated 230,000 people and destroyed coastal communities in 11 countries between Southeast Asia and the eastern coast of Africa.
Given the catastrophic events, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) immediately identified the need to reconstruct the national road that runs along the coastline as pivotal in restoring the economic and social fabric of Aceh. This 242-km coastal road was the economic backbone of the region and included more than 110 bridges and crossings, all of which were damaged or destroyed. To move this vision forward, USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works to design, rehabilitate, and reconstruct the road from Aceh’s provincial capital of Banda Aceh to Meulaboh, one of Aceh’s major economic hubs. USAID then contracted with Parsons to prepare the design and manage the construction. Parsons’ working relationship with USAID dates to the early 1960s.
In designing the new two-lane road, Parsons had to consider Aceh’s unique blend of rainforest, coastal swamplands, and steep limestone hills. The alignment’s design also had to include segments of new road—to replace the roads that had disappeared where the coastline was reshaped — and then link these new roads with segments of the preexisting road that had to be rehabilitated and often widened.
The designs of the road and bridges were prepared in accordance with the highway standards of both the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). When feasible, existing meandering alignments were straightened to provide a safer and more direct route. Sections of the road also were constructed inland from the coast and on higher ground to improve the road’s durability.
In 2013, the International Road Federation honored the project with the Global Road Achievement Award in its Program Management category for designing and constructing the new high-tech coastal highway while overcoming countless challenges—including logistics, government coordination, community outreach, capacity building/technology transfer, budget constraints, and environmental management—in a devastated, underdeveloped location that had been the site of insurgency for 30 years.
The legacy of the Aceh Road/Bridge Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project is not just the smooth, safe, and durable new road but the expectation that the project will set the standard that will improve the quality of future roads.
Featured Aug 2009/Updated Jul 2017