The Voice of the Railroad Construction Industry


Every year the NRC honors the most outstanding people and projects in the rail construction and maintenance industry by awarding the annual Railroad Construction Projects of the Year and the Field Employee of the Year honors.

The Railroad Construction Project of the Year Award has two categories: the Large Project Category (projects with budgets over $10 million) and the Small Project Category (projects with budgets of $10 million or less). The purpose of this award is to honor innovation, expertise, and quality project management applied toward the successful execution of a rail construction project by NRC member companies in the immediate calendar year. Any type of rail construction project is eligible for the award, including freight rail, industrial track, rail transit, commuter rail, intercity passenger rail, rail on port facilities, and rail on military facilities.

Additionally, every year the NRC Inducts a new class into the NRC Hall of Fame and names a Field Employee of the Year. 

These awards will honor the industry's best and brightest, while also highlighting NRC member companies' commitment to hiring hardworking and dedicated people who work on the most innovative and efficient railroad projects around the country.

The application period for 2018 Large and Small Projects and Field Employee of the Year, and the NRC Hall of Fame Class of 2019 is now closed, but please continue to check our website for the latest information and updates on applications for the 2019-2020 year. 

Past NRC Award Winners

Rail Construction Projects of the Year

The 2017 Large Project of the Year award goes to the KCS Mossville Yard Expansion Project in Westlake, Louisiana by Ragnar Benson, LLC. The project had two major components: 1) a classification yard that expands KCS’s operations, and 2) a rehabilitated and expanded leased storage yard to support the construction of the nearby Sasol Ethane Cracker Plant. The two-hundred-acre project included 212,769 feet of new track, 37,843 feet of rehabilitated track, drainage, lighting, and roadways. The existing yard facilities were demolished and four new buildings were added along with a wastewater treatment system, a fuel unloading track, and a spill containment area. A new 13 span bridge was also built across the old yard to allow traffic to travel over the new yard without the need for multiple crossings. The project had many challenges including relocating a water canal, gas line, and a 115 KVA power line, and establishing drainage in swampy conditions. Ragnar Benson continually reworked the project schedule to maximize available work as unexpected challenges arose. There were 405,000 man-hours worked on this project. The Ragnar Benson team had zero recordable injuries and no lost time accidents. 

The 2017 Small Project of the Year Award goes to the Union Pacific Lakeside Sub Bridge Project in Box Elder County, Utah by Ames Construction. UP’s 24-miile causeway across the Great Salt Lake outside of Ogden, Utah is a vital link in the transcontinental railroad, carrying dozens of trains per day. Originally built in 1900, with partial reconstruction in the 1950s, time and location in a harsh physical environment compromised the two concrete culverts that had allowed water to flow through the causeway. By 2011, the causeway had sunk more than 15 feet, rendering the culverts ineffective. Ames was the prime contractor for construction of a 180-foot six-span precast box girder bridge to reestablish the bi-directional water flow between the two arms of the lake.
Ames faced multiple challenges including limited site access, track time, and staging areas, and environmental permit restrictions. Mobilization of heavy equipment to the bridge site was complicated by a low-capacity existing bridge on the causeway. Equipment had to be delivered on highway-rated transport trucks and assembled at the construction site, which had extremely limited work areas alongside active tracks with high train traffic.
There were more than 40,000 man-hours on this project with one recordable injury. There was no lost time or restricted days. 

The 2016 Large Project of the Year award goes to the Exposition Light Rail Transit Phase 2 Design-Build (Expo 2) project by Skanska-Rados Joint Venture (SRJV). Expo 2 by SRJV provides essential transit access from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica Beach, connecting the University of Southern California, Exposition Park, and West Los Angeles for the first time in 60 years. Expo 2 wove a 6.6-mile urban light rail extension of the Metro Expo Line through the congested Westside of Los Angeles. It added seven stations, two aerial, four at grade, and one elevated station adjacent to the Colorado Esplanade Project, which connects the station to the newly renovated Santa Monica Pier. Systems and electrical work included a low-profile overhead catenary system (OCS), train control and signals, crossing protection, traction power, and communications. The project's urban location required extensive maintenance of traffic planning for vehicles, public transit commuters, pedestrians, and cyclists. Outreach efforts identified noise as a primary concern for residents, and high profile theaters and recording studios, so a GERB track system was installed to mitigate vibration and noise emitted by light rail vehicles. Expo 2 boasts two independent GERB systems, the first and second installed in the United States. Beyond the challenge of meeting community needs, Expo 2 met numerous technical challenges to become the first transit project in the United Sates to receive Envision™ Platinum certification from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

The 2016 Small Project of the Year Award goes to the Walong to Marcel 2nd Track project by Granite Construction. Granite Construction was awarded the project by Union Pacific Railroad, which included clearing, excavation, embankment, drill and shoot rock, rock anchors, storm drain culverts, headwall structures, and sub ballast to create approximately one mile of roadbed for a second mainline track. Additionally, six 48-inch steel pipes were bored and jacked under the live track to facilitate drainage flow. The Granite Construction project team faced unique challenges and rose to the occasion. The existing topography was very steep with a tunnel in the middle of the existing single track segment. Instead of widening the tunnel to create room for the second track, dirt and rock were excavated to create the second track alignment around the tunnel. Additionally, the project was located in an Extreme Fire Danger Class area. Extensive precautions were taken, including performing Fire Risk Assessments several times a day and adjusting as needed and, as a result of their efforts, no fires broke out. There were no delays or impacts to train traffic, no injuries occurred, and the project was completed on time and under budget.

The 2015 Project of the Year award goes to the Port of Long Beach, Pier E project by Herzog/Reyes, a Joint Venture. Herzog is the managing joint venture partner, working with Reyes Construction for the Port of Long Beach, a project that is the centerpiece of the largest and most sophisticated automated marine terminal in the United States. This intermodal yard spans 345 acres, and will handle 10,000 truck trips per day, 2,100 trains, 3.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units per year, and will employ nearly 3,000 people. The total linear footage of crane rail foundation and rail installed was almost 8 miles. The vehicle traffic areas required the construction of a flexible paving cross-section which consisted of up to 13-inch thick roller compacted concrete, with a three inch asphalt wear course. The project also involved the installation of drainage structures, utilities, and demolition of the prior site. The contract included the construction of reclaimed land by connecting Pier E to Pier F, which consisted of filling an area of the harbor previously used for ship navigation. The project was completed on schedule, within budget, and with zero "lost time" accidents and 313,046 total man hours. The NRC is proud to honor this outstanding project with our Project of the Year award.

The 2014 Small Project of the Year award went to the Crawfordsville Bridge Repair by Joseph B. Fay Company. The Crawfordsville Bridge Repair rehabilitated a bridge for CSX that spanned a creek in rural Indiana. Due to its location, the project necessitated close coordination between Joseph B. Fay, CSX, and private landholders to negotiate access to the project site. Fay utilized a combination of a short temporary causeway and sectional barges to gain access to the in-stream piers and north abutment to perform the work. Despite delays due to river and weather challenges, Fay was able to complete the project for the original contract amount by utilizing its own fleet of barges and other Fay-owned equipment. Weekly meetings with CSX were held to assure that all of their project goals, including cost control and efficient delivery, were met. Fay put in 9,800 man hours without any lost time or recordable incident. This record of safety success was attributable to daily safety briefings, training all employees in job specific hazards such as working from barges, and having a job specific safety plan.

The 2014 Large Project of the Year award went to the Port of Los Angeles Berth 200 Rail Yard by Herzog Contracting Corp. Herzog managed the relocation of the existing Pier A Rail Yard to the Berth 200 site in order to accommodate the expansion of the TraPac terminal. This project required strong communication between the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and Herzog to address numerous subsurface interferences including unknown structures, unidentified utilities, contaminated soil, contaminated groundwater, underground tanks, foundations, and various other conflicts. Herzog completed the project on schedule and within budget, without any safety incidents, by using a dynamic tracking system of the project components and costs that allowed the team to make informed decisions quickly. This project was a success for Herzog as well as the local community, with about a quarter of project needs supplied by local material suppliers, fabricators, and subcontractors. The project will continue to contribute to the local community through sustained employment, increased commerce through the Port, and more environmental-friendly systems at the new Berth 200 Rail Yard.

The 2013 Rail Construction Project of the Year award went to the Delta Railroad Construction Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. The Dulles Corridor Project proved that large projects conducted in adverse conditions could be completed on time and on budget when a strong safety culture is embraced. The project required inventive solutions, which Delta delivered through both custom-built equipment and construction practices, as well as special safety considerations for both employees and the public given the urban work environment. The strong safety record they achieved is commendable, especially in a congested location with difficult access and a tight schedule. Delta's collaboration and coordination with multiple partners and stakeholders, along with their commitment to safety, significantly contributed to the overall success of the project.

The 2012 NRC Rail Construction Project of the Year went to Stacy and Witbeck/Herzog Contracting Corp.'s Utah Transit Authority FrontRunnerSouth project. The safety record, scope of the project and the cost containment measures utilized in this multiyear project are what made the Stacy and Witbeck/Herzog Contracting Corp. project stand out. With over 2 million man hours worked in challenging situations without a single lost time accident, the companies have demonstrated that safety was the absolute top priority. The coordination and interface with major project stakeholders such as Union Pacific Railroad, the City of South Jordan, and the Utah DOT was impressive and displayed a commitment to quality work in a partnership environment.

The 2011 NRC Rail Construction Project of the Year went to Stacy and Witbeck/Kiewit Infrastructure West's Utah Transit Authority West Valley TRAX Light Rail project. The scope, ability to partner and manage work flow between a multitude of parties and innovative problem solving is what made the Stacy and Witbeck/Kiewit Western project stand out. There were numerous challenges, and judging from the response of the end user, Stacy and Witbeck/Kiewit Infrastructure West Joint Venture exceeded expectations in all areas. Their use of new technology saved their customer both time and money, and the project's safety program was particularly impressive.Use this style for most body text on the website so that the pages look clean and consistent. Maintaining stylistic consistency gives your website a professional appearance.

Field Employee of the Year

Mr. Phil Hutton, Track Manager for Universal Rail Systems (URS), has been selected as the 2017 NRC Field Employee of the Year. Previously employed by Canadian National Railway, Phil joined URS in 2012 as a Track Protection Rule 42 Foreman and was often called upon to protect complex projects. In less than two years, Phil was promoted to Assistant Track Protection Manager and, in 2014, he became the Track Protection Manager with responsibility for over 50 flagmen covering an operating area of nearly 7,000 square miles. “Phil stood out from the beginning,” said D.G. Wilfong, Director of Strategic Development in Eastern Canada for URS and Phil’s director supervisor. “Phil demonstrates all aspects of [quality] through continuous improvement, acting with integrity, respecting relationships and ensuring accountability.” “He treats his team with the highest regard,” said Priya Menezes, Human Resources Manager for URS. “He is always looking out for his employees and is dedicated to taking the company’s success to a higher level.” Customers describe Phil as “someone that has been available day or night to assist,” and as “a great manager, mentor, teacher, and guide.” 

Mr. Greg Dunn, Project Manager for Herzog Contracting Corp, has been selected as the 2016 NRC Field Employee of the Year. Greg 
has more than 30 years of railroad experience working his way through the ranks from a heavy equipment operator and mechanic to his most recent position as Project Manager of the $158 million Pier E project in Long Beach, California, a multi-award winning project including the 2015 NRC Project of the Year. Greg has also managed 15 other successful rail and heavy civil projects. During his tenure with Herzog, his clients have included Amtrak, North County Transit District, the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, and the San Diego Association of Governments. With his thorough construction knowledge and exceptional leadership abilities, Greg has ensured that all of his jobs have been on-time and under budget. Colleagues describe Greg as warm and cheerful toward all, and say he possesses "remarkable patience," "admirable tact," and "an excellent eye for detail and safety." Herzog Contracting Corp. President and CEO Alan L. Landes described Greg as one of the company's most trustworthy professionals. Darrin Lambrigger, Assistant Director of Construction Management at the Port of Long Beach, said that Greg was "a superb project manager" and a straight shooter respected for his expertise. 

Mr. Dennis Riggs, General Superintendent at Railroad Construction Company of South Jersey, has been selected as the 2015 NRC Field Employee of the Year. Dennis began working at RCCSJ as a laborer in March of 1989. He quickly progressed to the position of foreman by 1991, becoming RCCSJ's youngest ever foreman at that time. By 2000, he had continued his advancement to the position of General Superintendent. In this role, Dennis coordinates manpower, organizes deliveries of materials and equipment, and spends countless hours answering questions from both customers and project personnel. He oversees as many as 12 projects at one time, and deals with a work force of 110 people. He is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Dennis was described by a customer as their "most trusted source for honest, appropriate and effective rail construction and maintenance solutions" and as someone that "has always gone above and beyond." His colleagues describe him as a mentor, an exemplary leader, and "the backbone of the company". Dennis' unparalleled knowledge of the industry, his commitment to his customers, and his dedication to safety are among many attributes that make for an outstanding NRC Field Employee of the Year.

Mr. Mike Spalding, Track Superintendent of Stacy and Witbeck was selected as the 2014 NRC Field Employee of the Year. Mike's career began with 15 years at BNSF as a track laborer, progressing through the roles of machine operator, foreman, track inspector, and assistant road master. Mike joined Stacy and Witbeck 8 years ago, and has over 32 years of construction and maintenance experience on commuter rail, light rail, streetcar, and freight railroads throughout the western United States. His experience includes ballasted, embedded, direct fixation, and special track work construction and all associated civil elements. Mike has significant experience working in an active railroad environment, and has served as the track superintendent on many projects. Mike has worked on a vast array of projects, including: First Hill Streetcar, City of Seattle; West Corridor LRT Extension, Denver RTD; Washington County Commuter Rail Project, TriMet; I205 LRT Extension, TriMet; South Lake Union Streetcar Project, City of Seattle; and the C810 and C700 Projects, Sound Transit. Mike's innovative skills and commitment to safety are exemplified by his role in the development of a hydraulic rail beam that moves rail more safely than traditional means. Mike's performance, commitment to the industry, and character make him the type of leader the NRC is trying to recognize with this award.

Mr. Craig Almont of Hamilton Construction was selected as the 2013 Field Employee of the Year. Craig joined Hamilton Construction two years ago from the Central Washington University Construction Management program. Craig consistently exudes enthusiasm while demonstrating a strong work ethic. One year after his hiring, Hamilton Construction sent Craig to a job in Idaho where he not only exceeded the company's project goals and expectations, but he also immersed himself into the community and joined the coaching staff of the struggling local high school football team in need of inspiration. Craig managed to keep the project on time and on budget while turning a losing football program into the 4th best team in the State.A local resident even sent Hamilton Construction a handwritten note praising Craig, "Craig Almont has been so good to donate his hours after work to our local high school football team...the boys loved him and all the things he taught them this Fall." Craig is a dedicated worker who represents both Hamilton and the entire industry well.

Mr. Dave Friehl of Herzog Contracting Corp. was selected as the 2012 Field Employee of the Year. Dave has demonstrated outstanding expertise as a general superintendent and construction manager by coordinating closely with agencies, owners, stakeholders, and subcontractors on challenging, tightly scheduled projects while maintaining an outstanding safety record. Dave has built a track record of innovation and perseverance, and he recognizes when a project can be built more economically. Dave excels as a mentor and willingly shares his immense knowledge with the younger generation of field employees who will lead the rail industry forward.

Mr. Anthony MacIsaac of Railroad Construction Company was selected as the 2011 Field Employee of the Year. Tony exhibits a strong dedication to safety and customer service through his successes in project management and his time spent teaching the next generation of rail engineers. He not only holds the respect of his peers, but also of Railroad Construction Company's customers. It is people like him, with their hands-on experience and industry knowledge, which make NRC member companies strong.

Hall of Fame

The NRC 2017 Hall of Fame inductees were John Zuspan, Rick Ebersold, and Ronald Brown. 

John Zuspan has worked in the rail industry for more than 40 years, starting as a track laborer at Atlas Railroad Construction while attending Clemson & Drexel. In 1978, John left Atlas to go to Delta Railroad Construction as a switch foreman. In 1980, John left Delta to accept a superintendent of track position at Slattery/Skanska. In 2001, John joined Balfour Beatty Rail as Vice President. In 2004, John left Balfour Beatty Rail to launch his own business, Track Guy Consultants, after seeing a need in the construction industry for training in track construction and maintenance, including FRA Track Safety Standards. John has written 11 handbooks on track construction, maintenance, and management. In addition, John serves on the NRC Board and the NRC Safety Committee. He has participated in Railroad Day on the Hill and is an active member of AREMA committees.

Rick Ebersold has 45 years of experience in the rail industry beginning in 1969 as a laborer for the Chicago and North Western Railway. Herzog’s management team recognized Rick’s drive, and he was hired in 1973 as a foreman. He progressed through the ranks from general superintendent to project manager, overseeing numerous highly successful railroad construction projects from coast to coast. In 1992, he was promoted to President of Herzog’s rail testing group. Today, Herzog Services, Inc. continues Rick’s forward momentum and growth by providing testing services for Class I and short line railroads throughout North America. Rick joined the NRC board in 1999, holding several position including Secretary/Treasurer, Vice Chairman, and Chairman. He has also served on the Board of Directors for REMSA.

Ronald Brown founded Annex Railroad Builders (Annex) in 1961 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Annex’s geographical customer base grew to include most of the Midwest. By the 1980s, Annex was considered one of the larger, more highly respected railroad contractors in the Midwest, and employed over 100 people. In 1986, Annex purchased a small short line railroad, and the Central Indiana & Western Railroad was formed and is still in operation today. In 1998, Annex, along with 13 other companies, joined to form a new contracting company: RailWorks. After working for RailWorks for three years, Ronald retired in 2001. Ron was one of the founding members of the NRC, and was instrumental to its success during its infancy. He was also a member of the Union Negotiating Committee and was a Management Trustee.

The NRC 2016 Hall of Fame inductee was Cosmo Lawrence "Larry Sr." Laurello. 

Larry was born August 27, 1938 in Ashtabula, Ohio. He was a 1956 graduate of Ashtabula High School. He married his wife, Ida, in 1958 in Italy. He returned to the US after getting married to finish his degree at the University of Notre Dame. He finished his degree in Civil Engineering in 1961. Larry and Ida had three boys, Larry, Michael, and Paul. After graduating from Notre Dame, Larry worked for Koppers in Pittsburgh until joining his father, Cosmo, at Delta Railroad Construction in 1965. He continued to work with his father and mother until his father's passing in 1979, when Larry became President and CEO of Delta Railroad Construction. Under Larry's leadership with Ida, Delta became one of the country's premier railroad contractors, well known for advancing the latest technology. Larry was a driving force at Delta, known for his ability to look at problems and find solutions that were good for the customer, the employees, and the company. He taught this to his sons and grandchildren, and today Delta continues to do work that he would be proud of. Although Larry had FSH muscular dystrophy, he never allowed his disability to stop him. He was able to live and teach through others, especially his sons. Larry held Professional Engineer Certifications in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and was a registered contractor with the state of California. Larry was respected for his utmost integrity and honesty in all aspects of his life. He was a humble man, unwilling to take credit or receive recognition for the many contributions he made to assist those in need. His greatest joy was his family and the many workers that he also considered his family. He committed his life to helping others, never asking for anything in return. His friends and family say he was "the epitome of kindness." 

The NRC 2012 Hall of Fame inductee was James J. (Jim) Daloisio.

Jim Daloisio has worked in the family business, Railroad Construction Company for 50 years. Throughout his time at RCC, Jim has gained experience in all aspects of the industry both in the field and the office, including work force development, estimating, engineering, design, project management, negotiation, and corporate development. Proudly, Jim is a third generation railroader. Jim serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Railroad Construction Company of South Jersey, Inc. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Railroad Constructors, Inc. and sits on the Board of Directors of Railroad Construction Company, Inc. His leadership has stewarded his companies from being a small local contractor to a large national contractor that performs work all over the country. Jim's companies have successfully performed projects for dozens of transit agencies including CSX, Conrail, Norfolk Southern, and hundreds of short line and regional railroads. In 50 years he has never failed to complete a project on time. In addition to the leadership Jim has brought to his companies, he has brought exemplary leadership to the industry and to all the charities he has worked with. Jim's company is one of the founding members of the NRC and has been a member of its leadership team since the late 1980's. Working with his friends at Chambers, Conlon and Hartwell, to grow the NRC to the force in the industry it is today.

The NRC 2011 Hall of Fame inductees were Mr. Bill Herzog and Mr. Phil Stout.

Bill was the founder and owner of Herzog Contracting Corp. He was a fearless businessman, who started Herzog from scratch in 1969 in St. Joseph, MO. Bill lived the principles of honesty and integrity, and was the definition of 'probity.' He was a strong believer in giving back to the community and the industry, and many people at Herzog continue in his legacy of supporting the NRC, including Randy Poggemiller and Rick Ebersold who are bother former Chairmen of the NRC Board, Scott Norman and Norm Jester on the Board currently, Mike Maguire and Pete Kane on the Safety Committee, and Dan Samford on the Auction Committee.

Phil was a top executive with Atlas Railroad Construction and Marta Track Constructors, which is now a part of Balfour Beatty Rail. He was as Chairman of the NRC Board in 1992, and was always very supportive of the rail industry and the NRC. In addition, he was active in community issues, particularly through the United Way and his service on the Council of Trustees at the California University of Pennsylvania. Phil was a visionary in understanding the role of politics and policy in our industry - he was active with the DNC and Clinton Administration, and also was an important advisor to his brother Barry Stout in the Pennsylvania State Senate. He was a key member of one of the most important and wide-ranging families in the rail construction and maintenance industry - his family members still active in the industry include John Stout with Amsted RPS, Mark Stout with Atlas Railroad Construction, and Gary and Daniel Stout with STX. His brother Bill Stout recently retired as the President of Atlas Railroad Construction and as an NRC Board Member.