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Tunnel Vision: Frank Pepe, Jr., P.E., Joins STV to Build its Newest National Practice

Frank Pepe, Jr., P.E., was first introduced to the world of geotechnical engineering by a mentor in college –  an interaction that sparked an innate fascination that has guided his more than 40-year career in the design and construction industry.

“People know exactly what steel does under load, but in the soil? It’s not as predictable,” said Pepe, who recently joined STV as a senior vice president and national director of the firm’s newly established tunneling and geotechnical engineering group. “You use your experience and judgement as much as you use your engineering knowledge of the material to design and build. In the ground, it’s more of an art than a science.”

Pepe’s storied career has taken him all over the world, leading projects throughout the United States and as far away as Taiwan, Turkey, and Venezuela.

“Nationally recognized for his tremendous talent and leadership, Frank has decades of hands-on experience, and I am excited that he will be leading STV’s newest national practice,” said Rich Amodei, STV executive vice president. “Frank will be a transformative addition to our team, melding existing in-house expertise with new talent to expand the tunneling and geotechnical services we provide to our clients throughout North America.”

Upon earning his Masters of Science degree in geotechnical engineering from Syracuse University, Pepe first gained industry experience by supporting the transportation, water, power, and other market sectors. However, his focus soon turned to tunnels and underground work. Some of his career highlights include serving as the deputy project manager for the heavy civil and tunnels design component for Phase 2 of New York City Transit’s Second Avenue Subway, and leading the on-site geotechnical and tunnel engineering efforts for the construction of the iconic World Trade Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan.

“The uniqueness of every project is what I love about my work. Nothing is ever exactly the same,” Pepe said. “Every job is in different ground, with different conditions, and different means and methods. You’re learning something new on every project. You’re solving problems that maybe you didn’t even foresee. Everything is always unique in the ground.”

Pepe also engages in the geotechnical design and construction community via his membership with the Moles, and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

STV, in joint venture, is performing multidisciplinary engineering services for East Side Access. The project includes more than 11 miles of tunnels that will connect the Long Island Rail Road to the East Side of Manhattan.

At STV, Pepe will build upon the firm’s track record in the tunnels and geotechnical engineering arena, which currently includes several high-profile projects. As part of a joint venture, the firm is providing multidisciplinary engineering services for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $10 billion East Side Access Project, which will bring Long Island Rail Road service into a new station under Grand Central Terminal. This project includes the design and construction of more than 11 miles of tunnels using tunnel boring machines, jacked shield, micro-tunneling, and cut-and-cover methods.

Additionally, the firm is serving as the lead designer as part of the design-build team led by the Frontier-Kemper/Tutor Perini joint venture, for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation’s (LA Metro) Purple Line Section 3 Tunnels contract. This project is part of the larger $9.3 billion LA Metro Purple Line Extension connecting the Koreatown and Westwood neighborhoods via subway.  It entails the design of guideway tunnels, segmental standard tunnel linings and special seismic fault crossing tunnel linings, cross passages, and connections to seismically resistant stations. The firm is also serving in a similar capacity for the Purple Line Section 2 and Purple Line Section 3 Stations contract, which is being led by Tutor Perini/O&G Industries.

“Our goal is to expand our existing in-house expertise to the next level,” Pepe said. “I’m looking forward to developing a group to help solve problems. I envision a world-class group that can deliver any type of geotechnical or tunnel engineering solution.” Pepe’s passion for team building and collaboration stands to serve the group well: “What drew me to engineering and makes me stay is that engineering is a service that depends on the people you have,” he said. “The most satisfaction I get is from working with talented, skilled people and helping them develop. They are the value we bring to our clients.”

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