Engineering at Nebraska, Spring 2009
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Bridge Build (h)er

Bridge Build (h) er

Work keeps getting bigger and better for Jayme Cruthoff Coonce (B.S. CIVE '00), an engineer and project manager with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD).

In spring 2009, she completed a four-span, 225-foot Franklin Boulevard Bridge over Interstate 84 in Nampa, west of Boise. The $3.1 million project finished three months ahead of schedule and a quarter of a million dollars under budget.

There's a lot of personal satisfaction that goes along with ... a structure that ultimately benefits so many people.

Most unusual was the fact that women led the project. Coonce's team included the manager with the general contractor; the project manager for design; and the owner of a consulting firm promoting public involvement and awareness for the project-all female construction industry professionals. Less than 10 percent of the construction industry's workforce is composed of women, yet this project was business as usual.

Next, Coonce will lead a $40 million bridge for Idaho's first SPUI (single point urban interchange, where traffic comes to one signal in the middle), a 13-month project scheduled to finish in September of 2010. For this airport interchange project, existing traffic must be maintained throughout its demolition and construction phases. It will be developed utilizing self propelled modular transport (SPMT) modes, with components built off-site and then moved into place to save time and reduce impact on traffic flow.

Coonce said she enjoys learning new technology and not having to do the same thing every day. That approach was part of her Nebraska Engineering experience and still serves her, after eight years at ITD. It was especially helpful when she first worked in Idaho: "All the classes with Karen Schurr and Dr. Sneddon came back to me-like survey, roadway design, concrete testing, soils labs ..."

Coonce grew up in Fremont and attended the Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. She graduated in 1998 with a B.S. in physics, then did an internship on a survey crew. She loved the work and decided to pursue civil engineering at UNL; because of her physics studies she was able to complete her second B.S. in two and half years. She met her husband, Dan, while both were working at Schemmer Associates in Lincoln. After graduating in December 2000, the couple moved to Boise for their careers.

"I absolutely love my job. You literally get to witness the fruits of your endeavors from the ground up," said Coonce. "There's a lot of personal satisfaction that goes along with (creating) a structure that ultimately benefits so many people."