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Bob Olmsted, Chair of the History & Heritage Committee, Dies at 85

Robert A. Olmsted, P.E., F. ASCE died on August 16, 2010 at the age of 85. A direct descendant of Frederic Law Olmstedóthe designer of New York City's Central ParkóBob had over 60 years of experience in the planning, design and construction of transportation facilities in the United States, Latin America and Africa and was an expert on transportation projects in the New York Metropolitan Area.

For nearly 30 years, Bob served as the chair of the ASCE Met Section's History & Heritage Committee and oversaw the designation of many projects in the New York City area as National Historic Civil Engineering landmarks including the Manhattan Bridge, Queensboro Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge, which were most recently dedicated I as landmarks in April 2010.

The principal author the Met Section's A Guide to Civil Engineering Projects in and around fliew York City, which was first published in 1997, Bob also served as a contributing author to the updated and expanded second edition published in 2009. He was the chair of the ASCE Met Section's Transportation Group in 4 1970-71 (a predecessor of the Infrastructure Group) and was a former Director or the ASCE Met Section. Bob also served as a delegate on the ASCE's Hoover Medal Board of Award and a member of ASCE National's Membership Application Review Committee.

A native New Yorker that grew up in Midtown Manhattan, Bob studied civil engineering at Cornell University From 1941-1943 before he completed the United States Army's Specialized Training Program in civil engineering at Princeton University in 1944 and served as a soldier during the liberation of the Philippines and the occupation of Japan in World War II, He returned to Cornell to complete his civil engineering degree in 1946 and later obtained a master's degree in civil engineering the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1953.

Bob started his career as a civil engineer for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority in 1946 working on the construction of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. He subsequently worked for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, TAMS Consultants and the New York State Office of Transportation before becoming the Planning Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1967, a position that he held for 22 years. After departing the MTA in 1989, Bob remained semi-retired and worked as a transportation consultant on a number of projects including the Historical Survey of New York City Transit Authority Properties and Access to the Region's Core with Parsons Brinckerhoff, the JFK Light Rail EIS with URS, and the Second Avenue Subway and LaGuardia Airport Rail Access with DMJM +Harris, Between 1963 and 1994, Bob taught courses in Urban Mass Transportation at Cooper Union, John Jay College, Manhattan College, New York University and Polytechnic Institute, In addition to his involvement with ASCE, Bob was a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Planning Association, Society for Industrial Archeology, Regional Plan Association, Transportation Research Board and Women's Transportation Seminar.

He was the recipient of the ASCE Met Section's Thomas C. Kavanagh Service Award in 1985, the ITE Met Section's Distinguished Member Award in 1999, the ASCE Civil Engineering History and Heritage Award in 2004, the NYU Wagner Rudin Center's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and the APA Metro Chapter's Andrew Haswell Green Award in 2008.

A memorial is planned for the fall. 

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