Justin Acacio, PE, CBSI

Justin Acacio, PE, CBSI


Justin Acacio, PE, CBSI


“Build deeper relationships with your clients. Be more than a consultant; be a friend. You’re always going to go the extra mile for your friends. So, make it personal.”

After moving from his Hawaiian homeland to the mainland for college, Justin Acacio used his passion for math, science, and construction to cultivate a career path in bridge and construction engineering. The encouragement from his family gave him a push to leave the island and seek new, challenging opportunities.

We asked him a few questions to get to know him better.

How long have you worked in your field? Tell us about your experience in your industry.

My current role is on the construction management side of our business, but I started my career as a bridge designer and worked my way up to a project manager responsible for large multidiscipline projects. When I started designing bridges, young engineers were responsible for the construction engineering and inspection of their first bridge designs, so even as a designer, I spent a lot of time in the field. I’m equally passionate about the development and design of a project as I am about the construction, though I prefer getting my boots dirty and seeing something built.

I specialize in alternative delivery projects, primarily design-build and construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC). When I started in the industry 20 years ago, alternative project delivery methods were relatively new for transportation projects in Oregon. I’ve worked on numerous design-build projects, and I had the opportunity to work on Oregon’s first and second CM/GC bridge projects, the Whilamut Passage Bridges and the Sellwood Bridge.

I also specialized in accelerated bridge construction. One of my first major projects out of college was the Depot Street Bridge in Rogue River, Oregon. At the time, this was the first concrete tied network arch built in the U.S. in 50 years and utilized a bridge slide to minimize disruption to traffic.

This was the start of my passion for signature bridges and accelerated bridge construction techniques — and is what eventually led me to the east coast 10 years ago when I had the opportunity to work on a number of signature bridges, including the Indian River Inlet Bridge in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. It was an incredibly crazy jump from one coast to another. It’s almost as far away from Hawaii as possible, but it was a great opportunity for my career. I took the risk and I’m still here a decade later.

What brought you to Gannett Fleming, how long have you worked here, and what is it about the firm that makes you want to stay?

I joined Gannett Fleming in April 2018 after working with Senior Vice Presidents Brett Brenize, PE, CCM, and Art Barrett, PE, as teaming partners on prior projects. I wanted to work with people I knew I could trust. After working with Brett and Art for five years, I knew they were trustworthy leaders who represented Gannett Fleming’s core values. I felt confident that joining the Gannett Fleming team would provide challenging opportunities and be a great fit for my career goals.

Tell us about your role and responsibilities at Gannett Fleming. What impactful projects are you working on right now or have you worked on recently?

I’m an area manager responsible for the construction management team out of the Fairfax, Virginia, office, where I oversee construction projects throughout the region. I am proud of our successful team, and we partner with numerous clients across the Washington, D.C. metro area, including:

How does Gannett Fleming support your professional development and career growth?

I’ve had the privilege of attending several of Gannett Fleming’s professional development courses, including project management academy and project principal training. However, the training program that really sticks out to me is the leadership course I took at Carnegie Mellon University with Gannett Fleming. In this course, we discussed important topics like leadership skills, global business operations, and engineering management. The face-to-face interaction was incredibly valuable to strengthen peer relationships, too. As the future leaders of Gannett Fleming, we are all collectively responsible for the firm’s growth.

How does your work contribute to Gannett Fleming’s vision of creating a better future, together?

When we manage construction projects, we integrate with the client and become one of their team members. We value partnership and bring the best teamwork during the entire construction process. Nearly everything we do within our group directly impacts our local communities, and the most rewarding aspect of my job is directly seeing that positive impact.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? What advice would you give to students who aspire to have a career in construction engineering?

My high school guidance counselors encouraged me to pursue a college degree in engineering to utilize my math and science skill set. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a journeyman carpenter. I loved woodwork and construction and even competed in statewide construction competitions. Many of my friends were visiting colleges on the West Coast and told me about the excellent civil engineering program at Oregon State University. With the encouragement of my family to leave the island, I decided to go to Oregon State without ever visiting and received a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering. I’ll never forget the first winter there, which was particularly bad. It was the first time I experienced seasons, and I was shocked that I didn’t see the sun for three months!

If I could give advice to engineers as they enter the job market, I would tell them to be yourself. When I left the islands, I struggled with the thought that I needed to fit a certain mold to be successful. I was very fortunate to work for great leaders and mentors throughout my career who valued and encouraged my unique perspectives and utilized them to build stronger teams. There is no one template that makes a great engineer, and your individual experiences bring incredible value. Don’t be afraid to take chances to learn new skills and advance your career. Set short-term and long-term goals, and remember that failure is ok.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I was raised primarily by my maternal grandparents. They immigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii together, including my mom, aunties and uncles, and great-grandparent. When they first arrived in Hawaii, they made their living farming pineapples and sugar cane before transitioning to hotel tourism along the Kohala coast.

I was born and raised in Hawaii, but when I was very young, I lived for a short time in the Bronx with the Puerto Rican side of my family. Growing up in Hawaii, I spent a lot of time hunting wild boars, fishing, at the beach, or playing sports. Though I’ve spent over half my life away from the islands, a day doesn’t go by where I don’t miss it.

If you’re willing to share, please tell us about your family and your favorite family tradition.

First, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support of my wonderful wife, Lori.  She wrangles our hectic family life with kids, pets, and sports and still manages her own career as a landscape architect. I have five children, ages 17, 16, 10, 4, and 3, one dog, and two cats. Our dog is a Rottweiler-Great Dane who weighs 130 pounds at just one year old. He is the sweetest dog who doesn’t understand his size. Lori manages an Instagram page for him where he has almost 3,000 followers and reps a bunch of products. Check him out if you like big goofy dogs.

Our family traditions come from the love of cooking. I enjoy cooking simple Hawaiian and Filipino dishes for my family. We make a ridiculous amount of food when the entire family is together. Even as a family of seven with two teenage boys, we still have extra! If I weren’t in the construction industry, I would probably open my own Hawaiian-style food truck to share my hometown meals with my community.

What are your favorite hobbies?

I enjoy being outdoors. Being from an island, I love the ocean, and I get seriously antsy if I go long periods away from it. Stand up paddleboarding and snowboarding are my favorite activities. When I first moved to Maryland, I remember being the only stand up paddleboarder on the lake, and now everyone has one! I also enjoy, and probably spend the majority of my free time, coaching and being a spectator for the various sports our kids are into, including football, wrestling, and baseball.


Ready to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our communities? Join the team that’s leading the charge.

635 635 Linda Smith
What are you looking for?
Privacy Preferences

When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in the form of cookies. Here you can change your Privacy preferences. It is worth noting that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we are able to offer.

Our website uses cookies, mainly from third-party services. Define your Privacy Preferences and/or agree to our use of cookies.