Woolpert Welcomes Roadway and Bridge Design Leaders Darrin Walbom and Mike Zwick
DAYTON, Ohio (Sept. 7, 2022) — Woolpert has hired two key transportation design leaders, Darrin Walbom and Mike Zwick, who specialize in geometric roadway engineering and bridge design and rehabilitation, respectively. Each brings more than 30 years of proven industry experience to support clients and the strategic growth of the firm’s transportation design team.
Walbom is a design engineer who spent the first three decades of his career at the Ohio Department of Transportation. He has worked with all 12 ODOT districts, serving as a preliminary engineer and geometric specialist. He developed conceptual and geometrically accurate layouts to identify cost-effective and innovative solutions for the state’s most complicated highway projects. These included conceptual alternatives and ramp realignments for the North Central Outerbelt near Columbus and designing geometric options for tying proposed Interstate 75 projects to the existing configuration at Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati.
Walbom said he likes the challenge and variety of trying to come up with economic solutions that support transportation safety and improve the flow of traffic.
“My role over many years was to solve roadway problems, like those seen at the Outerbelt, that everyday commuters encounter at intersections, poor weaves, merging traffic, etc.,” Walbom said. “The Brent Spence Bridge is so complex because it combines two interstates into one structure across the river. You have to think horizontally and vertically at the same time to successfully have two interstate movements on the Ohio side merging and crossing each other, while making sure you minimize rework and cost to provide for much-needed future capacities."
Complementing the role of Walbom, Zwick has spent his career with private architecture and engineering firms that serve local and state transportation agencies, including those in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, West Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin and South Carolina. He has worked on a broad spectrum of steel and concrete bridge projects, including two cable-stayed bridges over the Ohio River and a long-span truss bridge over the Tennessee River.
“My secret love is really geometry. It’s been since high school,” Zwick said. “Figuring out how all these pieces come together in the right places has been one of my loves with bridge engineering. The forces acting on a bridge resolve into stresses and strains during design, and that design is transformed into a very precise set of plans. Those plans need to then tie the design with the vertical and horizontal controls so each aspect of the bridge fits perfectly and, at the end of the day, the bridge and roadway mesh seamlessly.”
He said he enjoys being able to support each unique bridge project by drawing on this diverse background, incorporating expertise and integrating innovative capabilities like building information modeling.
“The bridge industry is beginning to adopt BIM capabilities that integrate design, geometry and drawings into one universe. It will give the contractor a better product to bid on because they have more information in the field,” Zwick said. “Integrating the software packages used in design, geometrics and detailing continues to be a huge challenge as they don’t communicate in the same ways. I look forward to the seeing this technology continue to evolve and develop.”
Woolpert Market Director Judi Craig said these most recent hires support Woolpert’s overarching strategy to successfully compete on national roads and bridges projects. These state transportation experts were brought into the team because they could provide what clients want and need to succeed.
“At ODOT, Darrin was considered to be somewhat of a savant when it comes to how to manage the roadway design system. His designs are so technically accurate that teams are able to pull those initial designs straight into the final design,” she said. “And Mike is among the nation’s top long-span bridge designers and technical experts. He already is mentoring our younger bridge designers and is paving the way to the next generation of transportation: electric vehicles, ride sharing, autonomous vehicles, multimodal options, etc.”
Walbom and Zwick both cited growth, client relationships and geospatial capabilities as what drew them to Woolpert.
“Woolpert is a leader in acquiring lidar data and imagery quickly from airplanes, vehicles and drones, so we don’t have to wait around for ground survey. And with that lidar and 3D imagery, we can create digital terrains that enable us to provide 3D modeling to visualize layouts for clients in actual project locations,” Walbom said. “I was fortunate enough to work, grow and forge new paths with some amazing people at ODOT. I am excited to do the same with this new team at Woolpert.”
Woolpert is the premier architecture, engineering, geospatial (AEG) and strategic consulting firm, with a vision to become one of the best companies in the world. We innovate within and across markets to effectively serve public, private and government clients worldwide. Woolpert is an ENR Top 150 Global Design Firm, has earned six straight Great Place to Work certifications and actively nurtures a culture of growth, inclusion, diversity and respect. Founded in 1911 in Dayton, Ohio, Woolpert has been America’s fastest-growing AEG firm since 2015. The firm has 1,900 employees and more than 60 offices on four continents. For more, visit woolpert.com.