Linda A. Figg

Bridging Expanses ... Connecting Lives

Inducted in 2010

She has several titles—president, chief executive officer, and director of bridge art of FIGG Engineering Group—but the one that probably fits Linda Figg best is director of lasting impressions. That is the sobriquet bestowed on her by Roads & Bridges magazine in an article about the Broadway Bridge in Daytona, Fla. This unusual title results from her pioneering creation: the FIGG Bridge Design Charette, a unique local consensus program that fosters input from community members on design elements for their bridge project. In 2002, Daytona workshop attendees voted overwhelmingly for “Timeless Ecology” as the overall theme. The result: mosaics of local wildlife symbolizing the community’s desire to integrate the bridge into the local ecosystem as sensitively as possible.

The most recent and notable application of this process won FIGG the AGC/Aon Build America 2009 National Project of the Year Award. When tragedy struck the Minneapolis community with the collapse of the I-35W Bridge across the Mississippi River, Figg understood the significance of the replacement bridge and was able to combine her strong engineering expertise with the need to respect community values. “We now have a bridge that is not only a technological marvel, but that truly belongs to our citizens and has helped the community heal,” said Minnesota Department of Transportation Chairman Thomas K. Sorel.

Founded by Gene Figg in 1978, FIGG Engineering Group has garnered numerous design awards for its bridges, 297 so far. Taking over from her father in 2002, Figg has continued the tradition of building sustainable, world-class bridges that are cost effective and sensitive to the environment yet continue to set new industry standards in design, technology, materials and efficiency. The industry recognized these accomplishments by featuring FIGG-designed bridges on 13 covers of the Engineering News-Record, considered the bible of the construction industry.

Widespread interest in these bridges turns up on the front pages of USA Today, in five “Modern Marvel” documentaries on the History Channel, and PBS “Nova’s Super Bridge.” Former Auburn classmate, L. Dee Rowe, calls this appeal the “Figg Factor” saying, “incorporating decorative art … on bridge structures … [makes] a great impact on how others think about the bridge they are seeing.”

As head of a firm with bridges in 38 states totaling $10 billion in construction values, one would think any engineer would be too busy to devote time to much else. Not Figg. She serves on the boards and executive committees of industry associations, has produced an award-winning, educational DVD to promote engineering among youngsters, authored a book chapter, and spoken widely on bridge aesthetics. In addition, Figg has published “Bridging the Mississippi: The New I-35W Bridge,” not only raising funds for two Minneapolis non-profit educational organizations but also honoring the memory of a tragic event.

Author Judith Depré sums up Linda Figg’s philosophy best as “… [a] profound understanding that a bridge is more than just a crossing—it is a way of joining together what had previously been separate.”

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