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IndustryDesign, Engineering consulting, Environment consulting, Project management
Founded1885 (as Parsons Brinkerhoff)
FounderWilliam Barclay Parsons (1885)
Number of locations
New York, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and approximately 150 other offices worldwide
Area served
Key people
Lewis Cornell, President and CEO, U.S.
ProductsStrategic consulting, planning, design, program management, engineering, construction services and operations & maintenance
Number of employees
Approximately 14,000 worldwide
ParentWSP Global

WSP USA, formerly Parsons Brinckerhoff, is an American multinational engineering and design firm.[1] The firm operates in the fields of strategic consulting, planning, engineering, construction management, energy, infrastructure and community planning. It is a subsidiary of WSP Global.

In 2013, the company was named the tenth largest U.S.-based engineering/design firm by Engineering News Record.[2] In 2020, it was ranked #7 of the Top 500 Design Firms and #2 of the Top 100 Pure Designers by the same magazine.[3] On October 31, 2014, Parsons Brinckerhoff became a wholly owned independent subsidiary of WSP Global,[4] a Canadian-based professional services firm. Parsons Brinckerhoff was renamed to WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff, then to WSP in 2017.[5] Part of WSP Global, WSP USA is one of the largest professional services firms in the world, with approximately 31,500 employees in 500 offices serving 39 countries.[6]


Chief Engineer William Barclay Parsons and the NYC Subway

Founded in 1885 in New York City by civil engineer William Barclay Parsons, among Parsons Brinckerhoff's earliest projects was the original IRT line of the New York City Subway, designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff and opened in 1904.[7] Parsons Brinckerhoff also designed the Cape Cod Canal, which opened in 1914 [8] and charted the course of a railway in China from Hankow (Wuhan) to Canton (Guangzhou), a line that is also still in use today.[9] In 1906, Henry M. Brinckerhoff, a highway engineer, brought his expertise in electric railways to the firm. He is known for his co-invention of the third rail.[10]

The firm has worked on some of the most notable infrastructure projects of the 20th century, including: the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel (1930);[11] the Scheldt Tunnel in Antwerp, Belgium (1933);[12] The Buzzards Bay Railroad Bridge on Cape Cod, Massachusetts (1935);[13] The 1939 World's Fair in New York City;[14] the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey (1957);[15] the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia (1957);[16] the Pell Bridge in Newport, Rhode Island (1969);[17] the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (United States) (1980);[18] the I-95/Fort McHenry Tunnel (1980);[19] the U.S. 25E Cumberland Gap Tunnel at the Tennessee/Kentucky border,[20] the H-3 Highway in Oahu, Hawaii (1997);[21] the Sabiya Power Station in Kuwait (2000)[22] and the rapid transit systems of San Francisco (1972);[23] Atlanta (1979);[24] Singapore (1987);[25] Taipei (1996);[26] and Caracas (1983).[27]

Parsons Brinckerhoff was acquired by Balfour Beatty in October 2009 and operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Balfour Beatty plc. In October 2010 Balfour Beatty acquired Halsall Associates, which became a subsidiary of Parsons Brinckerhoff and part of its Canadian operations.[28]

Acquisition of Parsons Brinckerhoff by WSP Global[edit]

Former logo of WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

On October 31, 2014, Balfour Beatty sold Parsons Brinckerhoff to WSP Global. In 2017 Parsons Brinckerhoff changed its name to WSP USA. On September 3, 2014, it was announced that WSP Global had made an offer to purchase Parsons Brinckerhoff from Balfour Beatty plc for US$1.24 billion.[29] The transaction closed on October 31, 2014[30] and Parsons Brinckerhoff became a wholly owned subsidiary of WSP Global. On January 10, 2017, it was announced that the brand Parsons Brinckerhoff would be retired and combined into the parent company, WSP Global. WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff is now called WSP.

Following the acquisition of Louis Berger Group by WSP Global in 2018 for $400 million, the operations of Louis Berger Group in the United States were merged with WSP USA's. WSP USA acquired two US-based environmental consulting firms over the next two years: Ecology & Environment (E & E) in 2019,[31] and LT Environmental in 2020.[32]

In 2021, WSP purchased Golder Associates,[33] and in 2022 WSP acquired Wood PLC’s Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc. business.[34]

Current projects[edit]

The firm is involved in Long Island Rail Road's East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal in New York City,[35] with a planned opening of December 2022.[36] It is also involved with the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport in New York City, announced in 2015,[37] with an expected completion date of 2022.[38] In 2018, it was selected as the lead firm for the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Airfield Expansion, with a targeted completion of 2022.[39] It is working on the new Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Southwest End-Around Taxiway,[40] with an expected completion date of 2021.[41] In 2018, it started working on a master plan update for San Antonio International Airport.[42]


Parsons Brinckerhoff partnered with rival engineering firm Bechtel to build the troubled Big Dig in Boston, Massachusetts. The Big Dig, or Central Artery/Tunnel project as it was officially known, was intended to replace an elevated Interstate freeway and connecting roads with a tunnel system underneath Boston. The project was beset with bad engineering, shoddy workmanship, and the death of an automobile passenger as a poor ceiling design caused a tunnel roof section to collapse on a car in the tunnel, crushing the victim. The Big Dig was years over schedule and engineering costs to several times of Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff's original estimates, from $8 Billion to in excess of $24 Billion. Due to the poor construction, it has been estimated that the Big Dig's life span will be far short of the original specification that taxpayers paid for. The tunnels still have "thousands of leaks" and substandard materials. Subsequent to the fatal tunnel ceiling collapse, light fixtures have been found to have been incorrectly installed and corroding, posing a risk of failure and falling to the tunnel roadway.[43]

Parsons Brinckerhoff was also the lead engineering firm to build the Silver Spring, Maryland transportation center. Despite a ballooning budget and a project that has run far behind schedule, the transit center was poorly constructed and has not become operational due to poor design and workmanship. In April 2014, The Washington Post published an exposé on Parsons Brinckerhoff's troubled transit center, reporting that an independent report has found that the public would be at risk due to falling concrete and needs a significant redesign and upgrades.[44]

Parsons Brinckerhoff was part of a lawsuit for Lane Cove Tunnel, Sydney, Australia.[45] The claim by AMP Capital Investors for Australian $144 million was settled in September 2014. The basis of the claim was 'Misleading and defective conduct' but the settlement is on confidential terms with no admission of liability.


  1. ^ WSP. "WSP Investors – Corporate Presentation".
  2. ^ "ENR 2020 Top 500 Design Firms Preview,"Parsons Brinckerhoff, 2020
  3. ^ "The Top 500 Design Firms,"Parsons Brinckerhoff, 2013
  4. ^ "Press release WSP Global".
  6. ^ "News WSP Global".
  7. ^ Hood, Clifton (1993). 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  8. ^ Reid, William James (1961). The Building of the Cape Cod Canal. New York: George McKibbin and Son, Inc.
  9. ^ ""L" Engines on Chinese Road". New-York Tribune. January 15, 1905. p. 2.
  10. ^ Moses, Lisa (August 1981). "Henry M. Brinckerhoff". APWA Reporter.
  11. ^ Thoresen, S.A. (April 1931). "Constructing the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel". Civil Engineering.
  12. ^ Thoresen, S.A. (June 29, 1933). "Shield-Driven Tunnels Near Completion Under the Schelde at Antwerp". Engineering News-Record.
  13. ^ "Lift Span Over Cape Cod Canal Sets New Precedents". Engineering News-Record. January 30, 1936.
  14. ^ Hogan, John P. (September 22, 1938). "Construction Organization and Technique". Engineering News-Record.
  15. ^ "New Jersey eases some traffic jams with long parkway". Engineering News-Record. September 16, 1954.
  16. ^ Kuesel, Thomas R. (December 1974). "A tale of three tunnels". Civil Engineering. Vol. 44, no. 12. American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 50–53.
  17. ^ Hedefine, Alfred; Silano, Louis G. (October 1968). "Newport Bridge foundations". Civil Engineering. Vol. 38, no. 10. American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 37–43.
  18. ^ Beaubouef, Bruce A. (August 2007). The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: U.S. Energy Security and Oil Politics, 1975–2005. Texas A&M University Press.
  19. ^ Bernstein, Corrinne S. (July 1986). "Tunneling Around Ft. McHenry". Civil Engineering. Vol. 56, no. 7. American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 38–40.
  20. ^ "Cumberland Gap Tunnel". Parsons Brinckerhoff. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  21. ^ Bert, Ray (July 1998). "Paradise Crossed". Civil Engineering. Vol. 68, no. 7. American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 42–45.
  22. ^ "Combined Heat & Power in Saudi Arabia". Worldwide Independent Power. September 1, 2010.
  23. ^ Kuesel, Thomas R. (March 1969). "Bart subway construction: planning and costs". Civil Engineering.
  24. ^ "First Line of Atlanta's New Transit System Opens". Civil Engineering. Vol. 49, no. 7. American Society of Civil Engineers. July 1979. pp. 77–82.
  25. ^ Krishnan, Rajam; Chan, K.S. (November 2003). "Singapore on the Move". Civil Engineering. Vol. 73, no. 11. American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 56–63, 82–83.
  26. ^ Danielson, Scott (November 1994). "Enter the Dragon". Civil Engineering. Vol. 64, no. 11. American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 64–67.
  27. ^ "Venezuela Accelerates $1.5 Billion Caracas Metro Project". The New York Times. March 12, 1977. p. 36.
  28. ^ "Home". Balfour Beatty plc.
  29. ^ Stynes, Tess (September 3, 2014). "Balfour Beatty to Sell Parsons Brinckerhoff to WSP Global". WSJ.
  30. ^ "Press Releases | WSP".
  31. ^ "WSP closes the previously announced acquisition of E & E in the United States". December 31, 2019.
  32. ^ Shaw, Mark (January 30, 2020). "Engineering Giant WSP USA Acquires Denver-Based LT Environmental".
  33. ^ "WSP acquires Golder in $1.5B deal that creates one of world's biggest environmental consulting firms". Environmental Science & Engineering Magazine. December 6, 2020.
  34. ^ Edwards, Jane (September 22, 2022). "WSP Closes Purchase of Wood's Environment & Infrastructure Business". GovCon Wire.
  35. ^ Cho, Aileen (February 2, 2011). "Cavernous Crusades". Engineering News-Record. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  36. ^ Siff, Andrew (April 16, 2018). "MTA Megaproject to Cost Almost $1B More Than Prior Estimate". WNBC. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  37. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (July 27, 2015). "La Guardia Airport to Be Overhauled by 2021, Cuomo and Biden Say". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 28, 2015. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  38. ^ "What We Do | LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal B". WSP USA. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  39. ^ "WSP USA Named Engineer Partner for CLT Expansion" (Press release). WSP USA. December 14, 2018.
  40. ^ "What We Do | Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Southwest End-Around Taxiway". WSP USA. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  41. ^ Shine, Conor (July 30, 2018). "Why wait? DFW Airport plan for taxiways could save travelers time". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  42. ^ "Strategic Development Plan Effort Continues at the San Antonio International Airport" (Press release). City of San Antonio. Department of Government and Public Affairs. June 20, 2019. Archived from the original on October 19, 2020. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  43. ^ "Report: Even More Big Dig Leaks Found – Big Dig News Story". WCVB Boston. November 17, 2004. Archived from the original on May 23, 2006.
  44. ^ Turque, Bill (April 29, 2014). "Transit center report: Public at risk from falling concrete without additional repairs". The Washington Post.
  45. ^ Supreme Court New South Wales Court Ref No 2009/290489

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