When disaster strikes, you need someone who’s willing to jump in and help — no questions asked. You need someone you can trust.

When it comes to cultivating relationships, people come first. Whether it’s personal or professional, relationships blossom out of a genuine concern for others, nourished by open lines of communication that lead to mutual respect and understanding. In our business of engineering, across multiple industries, long-standing relationships evolve from years of collaboration with clients and successful project completions, improving efficiency and driving innovation each step of the way. Within that evolution, trust, the No. 1 factor in any lasting relationship, is developed. And it’s that trust that puts a consultant near the top of a call tree in the event of an emergency.

Fixing Transportation Troubles

Mishaps happen, caused by nature, people or system malfunction. It’s hard to plan for those situations, but how and when you respond are critical to the overall outcome. We jumped on emergency repairs needed after flood waters damaged the Route A bridge in Grundy County, Missouri, and when a train damaged a bridge on Route M in Scott County, Missouri. In May 2017, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) again called on us to provide new design plans for a bridge that washed away after Ozark County experienced a 200-year storm.

We’ve worked with MoDOT for decades to build, repair and update thousands of bridges and structures, as well as major highways and other roadways, in a timely, cost-efficient manner. With each bridge design and construction project, the partnership flourishes, so that when disaster strikes, we’re brought in to propose and evaluate customized solutions that support quick bridge repair and replacement.

The 42-year-old Hammond Bridge in Ozark County is a critical passage for residents and the school district. Bridge design concepts were fleshed out in a month, a process that normally takes more than a year. The new design addresses environmental concerns and a challenging sloped site, as well as lane expansion and reopening part of the restricted channel. The new bridge is slated for completion in September.

Repairing Water Worries

Mother Nature is always a force to be reckoned with, and tragedy can hit during any season. For years, the West Blue River interceptor sewer in Kansas City, Missouri, faced slow but steady erosion. In July 2016, a pier collapsed, causing gallons of sewage per minute to pour into Brush Creek, which runs near a prominent shopping district.

We worked with the city to quickly replace an aerial section of the interceptor sewer and build a new support system. Because our team has worked for years as an extension of the Kansas City Water staff as program manager for its Smart Sewer program, we understood its day-to-day operations, having helped train personnel, meet regulatory requirements and improve the sewer system design and functionality. Our response was a timely solution for a friend in need.

Providing Peace of Mind

No matter the project scope or service area, the goal is to always exceed expectations, especially during a crisis, because someone’s livelihood — company or community — might depend on it. But that trust didn’t develop overnight. It came from years of working side by side. To us, that means we are always on call when flood waters rise, trains wreak havoc or city sewers overflow.


See how the new bridge design for Ozark County’s Hammond Bridge was created in record time.


Michael DeBacker, PE, is vice president and general manager of the Transportation Group at Burns & McDonnell. With 30 years of experience, he leads the charge in market development and delivering high-quality transportation infrastructure nationwide. He manages a team that has participated in major capital transportation studies and projects, including multistate planning initiatives, complex bridge and highway projects, and asset management planning and implementation.