DEC 01, 2021

2021 AREMA Dr. William W. Hay Award

New heights for CN and our Engineering team

CN is very proud to share that we received a top industry award for the McComb-Bonnet Carré Spillway Bridge replacement near New Orleans, Louisiana!

During its annual conference, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) honoured our team and this project with its 2021 Dr. William W. Hay Award for Excellence, which recognizes outstanding achievement in railway engineering.

The award was established in 1999, and it’s the first time CN has received this honour. We were selected based on the project’s advancement of railway engineering, including enhanced safety for people and operations, innovative practices, and improved efficiency and reliability.

AREMA Hay Award

Congrats to our Bridges and Structures, Track, Signals and Communication, Design and Construction, and Environment teams who worked together over many years to accomplish this engineering feat!

The bridge is adding to our network’s safety, reliability and fluidity, and our team of experts greatly deserves this industry recognition.

The McComb-Bonnet Carré Spillway Bridge Project


A historic milestone was achieved by CN Engineering teams on November 23, 2020, with the cutover to the reconstructed Bonnet Carré-McComb Spillway Bridge near New Orleans, LA. The bridge provides a critical U.S. transportation corridor for both freight and passenger service across the Bonnet Carré Spillway, which alleviates excess water from the Mississippi River, protecting New Orleans and other communities from flooding. The accomplishment greatly adds to the safety, reliability and fluidity of CN’s network.

The size and scale of the $90-million multi-year project was significant. Large numbers of CN Engineering employees and contractor construction crews operated 24/7 to take an existing, historic timber bridge built in 1934–35 and replace it with an 11,712-foot (nearly 2.2 mile-long) precast concrete bridge. The ONE TEAM included employees from Bridges and Structures, Track, Signals and Communication, Design and Construction, Environment, Legal, Public and Government Affairs, Real Estate and Transportation.

Spillway McComb Bridge
A view of the ballasting operation on the bridge.

Foreman Gary Durbin also mentions that everything was done safely and efficiently for a smooth operation. “Despite all the large equipment around the site like crawler cranes and gantries and many workers, there was little or no train delays associated with the project,” says Gary.

The final cutover to the reconstructed bridge happened, fittingly a few days before Thanksgiving Day. “It was an emotional moment riding on the first train across the new bridge with Chris

Yeroshack (Assistant Chief Regional Engineering - South),” recalls Sandro Scola (Assistant Chief Engineer, Bridges and Structures). “I had worked on the old bridge for almost 21 years and thought of all the history behind the original structure. It was the end of a chapter. Now, we have a new bridge built by CN that is designed to stand for 100 years or more.”