FPA provided professional engineering services for the redevelopment of a 124 acre parcel of the 1100 acre Steelworks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Steelworks is considered the nation’s largest Brownfield project. The $750 Million Sands project consists of a 450,000 square foot casino, a seven level parking garage, a 300 room hotel, a 200,000 square foot retail mall and a 50,000 square foot meeting, convention or special events facility along with related site and off-site improvements.
FPA provided site, geotechnical, highway, and bridge engineering along with survey and construction phase services in support of the project. Tight site constraints and the closeness of the casino to adjacent Route 412 made internal roadway configurations challenging. Additionally, challenges came from the presence of the Minsi Trail Bridge that crosses the former Steelworks property and over the retail concourse and within 15 feet of the casino. From a geotechnical standpoint, the subsurface conditions at the site consisted of layers of urban fill, loose natural soils and limestone. Through the use of deep dynamic compaction to improve subsurface conditions, a shallow foundation system was used which resulted in reduced construction time and foundation cost savings of over $10 Million. To avoid disturbance to the foundations of the Minsi Trail Bridge, deep dynamic compaction within approximately 20 feet of the bridge piers was not allowed. In this area, minipiles were used to support the structures. The presence of limestone beneath the site also impacted the stormwater design as measures had to be taken to reduce stormwater infiltration.
Offsite improvements included the widening of Route 412 to two lanes and the adding of an additional lane to the southern end of the Minsi Trail Bridge to facilitate traffic flow into the casino. Widening of Route 412 along the northern side included construction of retaining walls to accommodate the steep slopes and 30 foot change in grade along the side. PENNDOT approvals were obtained for the improvements. The project was successfully completed and the casino opened a month ahead of schedule.