Improving Infrastructure Across the Country

December 18, 2023

By Brian Bourassa, Vice President of Corporate Development, WSB

At WSB, we build what’s next in infrastructure—the places, spaces and systems that support our lives. We take pride in supporting communities across the country on a wide variety of projects. With over 30 complementary services within engineering, community planning, environmental and construction, we support the commercial, government and energy markets. From city to state, land development to facilities, and energy utilities to renewable energy— we build for people and the future. 



There is a lot of potential in the energy market, and we continue to lead the industry with advanced project delivery. In Arkansas, we perform utility work for Summit Utilities through inspection as well as utility mapping. Through this work, we have digitally mapped a large portion of new installations. Utility mapping is the future, and the safety and efficiency benefits are significant. 


Renewable energy is creating a more sustainable future. Across the country, we’re supporting utility scale solar fields and community solar gardens. Community solar gardens are constructed on smaller tracts of land within a specific geographic location and provide energy to individuals, businesses, nonprofits and other groups. A recent project we supported is Clearway Cokato in Minnesota. This 4-Megawatt community solar garden was distributed across 20 acres of land. We also provided infiltration trenches as stormwater management BMP’s. 



The Ridge is a 142-lot subdivision on 160 acres located within Crystal Valley outside of Denver, Colorado. This Crystal Valley Ranch property proved to be one of the most complex subdivisions ever completed by our land development team due to some challenging features. The project included steep grades, limited connection points, adjacent existing subdivision tie-ins, the creation of an entirely new pressure zone in the town’s water system and preservation of existing Gambel oak and view plane restrictions. 


We support many large facilities, including buildings on healthcare campuses. At the Kellen Research Building on the Mayo Clinic campus, we provided geotechnical inspections, vertical and civil special inspection services and GPR for the research building. Additionally, we provided land surveying, civil engineering and landscape architecture design. 


Recently, we have partnered with the University of Minnesota-Duluth to improve campus infrastructure. A project of note was the replacement of the heating plant underground storage tanks along with new asphalt and concrete pavements and sidewalks. Another involved replacing severely worn entrance roads, sidewalks and parking lots and improving crosswalk safety for the Chester Park building. For each of these projects WSB provided materials testing and special inspection services. 



We recently supported the city of Brainerd’s Oak Street Improvement Project in front of Harrison Elementary School, a roadway that warranted several improvements to improve safety of pedestrians and students crossing the busy corridor. The $500,000 project was fully funded by the Safe Routes to School grant program. The road was reconstructed with a median, Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs), and appropriate pedestrian signage to improve awareness and safety of pedestrians crossing the roadway. 


WSB provided plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E) for RM 967 in Hays County. The $6.6 million project added several improvements such as widening lanes, adding a continuous left turn lane, additional lanes at intersections and safety shoulders to 4.4 miles of the minor arterial. Beyond this, many traffic and pedestrian signals were improved, reducing congestion-related delays. Several innovative design elements were involved in making this project successful including designing a portion of the project non-symmetrically and developing a new construction approach to avoid relocation efforts. 


We recently performed a grade raise on ND 14; a roadway of regional significance backed by Emergency Relief funding. The goal of the project was to improve safety, specifically to expand flood risk protection. WSB supports roadway projects with many services, but this project included construction inspection and contract administration. 


WSB is part of a multi-disciplinary team designing a new high school campus in Twin Buttes, North Dakota. The comprehensive project encompasses constructing a school building, a large sports stadium featuring artificial turf, a sports dome, and a residence hall. Our role in this endeavor extends to spearheading critical site components, including civil engineering, permitting, and landscape architectural services. This project holds immense significance due to its commitment to incorporating indigenous values into the curriculum and addressing a vital need within the community. The closest existing high school is over 40 miles away, making this initiative an essential step toward providing accessible education for the local population. 

Brian is a registered professional engineer with over 30 years of experience in many types of municipal and general civil engineering projects including streets, parking lots, storm sewers and drainage, water distribution systems, sanitary sewer systems, site grading, park improvements, infrastructure reconstruction, and tribal communities. Brian’s experience includes all phases of the project including feasibility study, design documents. bidding process and construction administration.

[email protected] | 763.287.8536

Scalable Renewable Energy

December 18, 2023

By Behnaz Beladi, Director of Renewable Energy, WSB

Exploring energy resources beyond fossil fuels.

It is no secret that our future is focused on resiliency, and many communities are shifting toward utilizing renewable energy components. Renewable natural gas, utility scale solar fields, community solar gardens and wind farms all help power communities throughout the U.S.

WSB supports communities from coast to coast and collaborates with diverse clients such a owners, developers and large energy contractors. The scope and scale of our renewable work includes a broad geography of clients and projects.

Renewable energy powers a substantial number of homes, and in a sustainable way. Having energy sources that are replenished by nature and produce little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air is a big step toward living in a more resilient, net zero environment. One Megawatt (MW) of renewable energy can power up to 170 homes. The ability to offer this coverage is an advantage as we push toward a more sustainable future.

Renewable Natural Gas

Landfills, hog farm manure and more all are sources of methane. Through organic material decomposing, these items produce a gas that, when handled properly create a promising natural gas. Through a digester, a wastewater treatment plant, impurities can be extracted from the gas and turned into the renewable natural gas that is piped into our houses for daily functions such as heating the stove or furnace. WSB supports these projects in a variety of ways including helping clients get permits from the Public Utilities Commission, surveying, land acquisition and construction staking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the potential for 8,241 livestock biogas systems that could generate over 13 million MW hours of energy yearly.

Utility Scale Solar

Typically hired by a large Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) firm, we support utility scale solar projects to provide solar design. These large solar fields vary from 3,000-5,000 acres, equivalent to about 30 miles of roadway and millions of miles of cubic dirt moved for the solar panels to be installed. With renewable energy on this large of a scale, these is the potential to power 250 MW, or about 50,000 homes. In addition to design, WSB provides a design-build partnership – offering construction support and the automation of construction when working on these projects.

Community Solar Gardens

Like utility scale solar, community solar gardens are a way to meet energy needs and are the best fit for smaller projects or clients. Community solar gardens are behind the meter projects constructed for midsized developers such as nonprofits, community-based organizations, tribes or private owners. In this instance, a community comes together to get solar energy rather than energy from the grid. Instead of using a large solar field, like utility scale solar, community solar gardens utilize small amounts of land and roof space to generate the power for the community. Depending on the state and jurisdiction, these projects often range in size and in how many Megawatts they supply, but typically range from one to ten megawatts.

Wind Farms

Wind turbines are very similar to solar fields in how they produce energy, but there are some differences. A key difference between the improved efficiency of wind farms and solar panels is that wind turbines can provide energy at all hours of the day. Wind farms also allow producers to maintain their land and continue to use it for its original use. By utilizing wind turbines farmers can continue to operate on the land – a luxury that does not exist on solar sites. A single wind turbine can produce between 2-3 MW, providing between 340-510 homes with energy. From surveys, site assessments and permitting to design, WSB can support your wind energy needs.

Renewable natural gas, utility scale solar fields, community solar gardens and wind farms all support communities across the country with sustainability at the forefront. As society continues to shift toward a future of resiliency and explore resources beyond traditional fossil fuels, living in a net zero environment becomes more attainable. WSB is proud to offer a variety of services and many subject matter experts to assist in the transition and better your community.

Behnaz is a lead solar engineer and manager specializing in utility scale, commercial and residential solar design. She is mindful of and knowledgeable about all local state and federal environmental rules and regulations and adept at explaining complex technical engineering concepts clearly and accessibly to wide variety of professional and nonprofessional audiences.

[email protected] | 612.468.8423

Transforming Hillcrest into The Heights

December 18, 2023

By Bob Barth, Director of Land Development, WSB

A visionary redevelopment project in St. Paul. 

When the Saint Paul Port Authority saw an opportunity to purchase the Hillcrest Golf Course in 2019, they sought WSB’s infrastructure planning and design experience to breathe new life into the 112-acre property on Saint Paul’s east side. Four years later, this unique project is under construction and promises new jobs and housing, expands the local tax base, achieves multiple green outcomes, and interweaves publicly accessible open space into its employment and residential settings.  

The Challenges & Opportunities of the Project 

The Hillcrest transformation into the Heights can be mapped across several stages: pre-purchase due diligence, master planning, design and construction. We joined forces with the Saint Paul Authority and other partners for landscape and sustainability to tackle these phases head-on, understanding the complexities of the project, as well as the great value it will bring to the community upon completion.  

One problem that had to be mitigated was mercury contamination on the site, due to chemicals used on the property when it was a golf course. Also, the property’s uniquely hilly terrain had to be adapted to industrial development, new roads and infrastructure. Remediation plans to clean up the site and ensure the design accounts for the landscape were critical for this project. 

Crafting Community Space 

At the heart of this redevelopment lies the aspiration to create a space accessible to the public – one boasting open spaces, park-like areas and captivating public art displays. The idea is that no matter where someone is, people are close to nature. 

There will be one million square feet of industrial space and one thousand new housing units, driving economic prosperity and diversity in the area. This a public project, and at its heart, it is focused on the greater needs of the community and how to develop a project that brings critically needed housing, jobs and opportunities for the east side’s residents and its emerging young workforce. 

An Accelerated Timeline for Community Need 

Originally slated as a decade-long endeavor, the Heights redevelopment project gained momentum due to overwhelming demands and protentional to uplift the area. Substantial completion is expected in 2025, with full project completion in 2026. 

A Chance for Change 

Our firm’s involvement in this transformative venture was no accident. The choice was driven by a deep-rooted experience in working with project partners like the City of St. Paul and Ramsey County, and a shared commitment to projects that elevate diversity and prosperity. With a profound understanding of the region’s pulse and a dedication to inclusivity, WSB was proud to be a partner to turn the Heights vision into reality.  

Forging a Brighter Future, Together 

As Hillcrest Golf Course evolves into The Heights, a hub of vibrancy and opportunity, the collaborative efforts of the Saint Paul Port Authority, WSB and other visionary partners amplify the community’s prospects. From navigating complex terrain to envisioning inclusive spaces, this project speaks to a brighter, more sustainable future for the east side of St. Paul – one defined by innovation, diversity, and an unwavering commitment to transformation. 

Bob leads WSB’s Land Development Services. Over his 26-year career, he has worked for both public and private sector clients, beginning as a water resource engineer and evolving into his current land development role. Bob’s current interest and a focus for WSB’s Land Development Group is sustainable redevelopment within urban communities.

[email protected] | 763.231.4876

Beyond Maps

December 18, 2023

By Justin Hansen, Director of GIS Services, WSB

How GIS is Driving the Future of Data for Clients

As technology evolves, so does the way we harness information. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have emerged as a transformative technology, empowering organizations with location intelligence. At WSB, GIS isn’t just about maps; it’s about turning geospatial data into a powerful asset that fuels innovation and smart decision-making for clients. The work we do with integrating GIS with other systems provides a dynamic data-driven insights and action. 

Foster Data-Driven Asset Management and Community Engagement 

For government and municipal clients, GIS is a cornerstone technology. It doesn’t just create maps; it’s a system of record-enabling, efficient asset management. GIS is a system of engagement and can empower greater community insight. In Duluth, Minnesota we helped implement a GIS-driven app for citizens to report issues to the city like graffiti, downed signs or potholes. Appls like this bring maps, data and people together in real time.  

Drive Private Sector Solutions 

For commercial clients, GIS can help mitigate risk and drive informed decisions. For example, we collaborated with an insurance data analytics provider to infuse GIS into their products allowing them to offer a more cohesive approach to analyzing risk. GIS provides geospatial data-driven insights and predictive analytics that insurance carriers use to reduce risks and improve policyholder retention. This, in turn, empowers businesses to strategize effectively, minimizing potential losses and optimizing their operations. 

Enhance Safety and Prevent Damage 

Energy companies leverage GIS to enhance safety and prevent damage. These technologies provide location intelligence tools that can pinpoint potential risks and vulnerabilities with infrastructure and operations. This proactive approach enables energy companies to make informed decisions that protect their assets and improve operational customer safety. 

Support Multi-Dimensional Projects and the Future of Data 

As project operations become more complex and interconnected via technology, so do the dimensions of data. Our GIS solutions are future-ready, supporting integrations with Building Information Modeling (BIM) for 4D and 5D projects that add time-based and cost-based elements to the geospatial data. This advanced approach enriches decision-making and creates pathways for enhanced project data delivery, from complex urban planning to construction sequencing – offering a new level of insight. 

In the rapidly evolving landscape of data utilization, GIS is the compass guiding us toward smarter decisions, efficient operations and sustainable growth. We’re not just pioneers in integrating GIS across organizations; we’re partners in leveraging its power to shape the future of diverse industries. From the public sector to the private domain, GIS isn’t just about maps anymore – it’s about transforming data into a strategic advantage. 

Justin is the Director of GIS Services and leads WSB’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) group. He has over 15 years of experience managing GIS projects, staff, software development, solutions design, systems integration, and GIS implementation. Justin works closely with our clients to implement GIS-based tools and systems that meet their needs, provide maximum value, and foster engagement.

[email protected] | 763.231.4846

Q&A with Monica Heil | VP of Municipal Services

December 18, 2023

Monica Heil is the Vice President of Municipal services at WSB. Monica has been serving Minnesota communities for over 20 years. She leads the delivery of our Municipal Services in the Upper Midwest market, developing expertise, improving project management processes and creating efficiency among our teams. Her experience managing projects through construction allows her to see how final design decisions impact an agency’s system, and how we must proactively develop communication strategies to keep project stakeholders informed.


Culture is a prominent factor in contributing to the growth of WSB. When I first joined WSB in 2010, I was impressed with not only the technical expertise we had within the company but the willingness of every employee to pitch and leverage their expertise to contribute to a solution. From the start, I was able to collaborate with others across the company when delivering projects. This was good for our team internally; to be able to depend on one another and build that sense of trust. Externally, our internal collaboration benefits our clients as well, by increasing the potential for project success and providing the best possible service and solutions.


WSB’s curiosity and commitment to continuously improving the way we do things is what makes WSB different from other AEC firms. WSB could do the same thing day-in and day-out, but we are always looking for opportunities to improve upon and expand our service offerings to best serve our clients, both today and in the future.


We work on a variety of projects and have many technical experts on our team. The depth of our technical expertise from around the country allows WSB, as a consultant engineer, to contribute to the highest quality work product for our clients.


Our access to leadership is a differentiator. Everyone in our company can engage with our leaders, and that expedites professional development within the company. We have created a number of leaders within WSB due to the accessibility of other leadership and the mentorship that provides.


The impact we have on the communities we serve plays a huge role in attracting and retaining talent. I can think of very few professions where you can physically see the impact you have on the communities you serve. At WSB, we can look around and see exactly what we are doing – from safer transportation to clean drinking water and improved sustainable practices. So much of what we are doing is not only for today, but also for tomorrow, and it is extremely rewarding to be able to contribute to our future in that matter.


I would encourage staff to find a way to say “yes.” Find a way to say “yes” when you are unsure or uncomfortable with how you are going to perform because it will lead to great opportunities. Professional development and growth are going to come out of circumstances where you may be uncertain about what the future brings, but through those opportunities you will find professional growth not only for yourself but for others that want to grow their careers. Find a way to say “yes” and encourage others to do the same thing.


Since day one we have been a company that has supported an individual’s passion in their technical and service delivery. There will be opportunities for any individual that wants to pursue innovative ideas that benefit our clients and our projects. No career path is going to be a carbon copy of the leader that went before them, and we have done a great job of helping our staff identify the uniqueness of their passion and put them on a trajectory to be successful. That track may change as people move through their personal and professional lives, and we encourage that. Using that passion to develop outcomes is what has made WSB so successful.


The future of WSB is bringing what we have done very well in our existing geographic locations to other areas of the country. As a firm, we have a reputation for strong technical expertise and over-the top customer service. Our goal is to bring that to every client we serve, whether that is a public agency or private entity. We will continue to do more with technology to best-serve our clients wherever we go.

Monica Heil

Navigating the Future: Digital Construction Management with WSB

December 7, 2023
By Andy Kaiyala | VP of Construction Technologies and Controls, TX, WSB

In an ever-evolving construction industry, Digital Construction Management (DCM) is the future of our industry. Utilizing cloud-based connected data environments that visualize the physical world in an interactive digital space is the next step to advance civil construction project delivery. This undertaking will produce accurate 3D models that become the single source of truth for project delivery, with each stakeholder building upon the work of the previous.

Simply put, this is the future of civil infrastructure and WSB is at the forefront with our DCM service.

Defining Digital Construction Management
Digital Construction Management represents a paradigm shift. At its core, DCM is the fusion of advanced technology and traditional construction practices that allows all stakeholders to evaluate the same data and make smart decisions.

The shift from 2D to 3D workflows will not occur overnight, but we recognize the value of 3D modeling and its ability to provide a more comprehensive and intuitive view of a construction project. 3D models enable stakeholders to visualize the project in its entirety. Where are utility clashes? Where are the trouble spots that need to be addressed? How will shifting elements of a project play out in the real world?

DCM has far-reaching implications for every stage of a construction project, from design to execution.

Unparalleled Problem Solving
Every project comes with risk, but DCM helps create the opportunity to take risk from an abstract concept to a concrete reality so challenges can be solved efficiently. When the proposed design is analyzed in context of a full existing-conditions model, problems are identified early, risk is mitigated and projects are ultimately more efficient and cost-effective.

Putting the Design Model to Work
WSB is excited about DCM because it is the intersection between services and software, and what is next for our industry. WSB provides both cutting-edge software tools and the expertise to use them effectively. DCM enhances our clients’ capabilities, allowing them to integrate operational data within one platform from the very earliest stages of the project through construction close out.

WSB’s in-house DCM expertise spans construction modeling, visualization, design modeling, 4D scheduling, data analytics, project controls, IT development resources, constructability review and automated machine control. This holistic approach ensures that every facet of the project benefits from DCM.

Preparing for the 3D Future
WSB’s approach to Digital Construction Management is about meeting clients where they are today while preparing them for the future.

The future of construction is digital, and our DCM services are empowering clients to make informed decisions while fostering collaboration, utilizing data intelligently and mitigating risks.

The digital future is here, and WSB is leading the way.

Andy is Vice President of Construction Technologies and Controls with over 25 years of industry experience and emphasis on large, complex, alternative delivery infrastructure projects in the transportation, heavy civil, flood control, and transit spaces. Andy has led teams that secured construction projects with a contract value of more than $5B in nine states and three countries.

[email protected] | 203.599.5984