Meet Sanja Zlatanic

ITA-AITES Executive Council Candidate

Sanja Zlatanic headshot

Sanja Zlatanic, PE
Fellow, Chair - National Tunnel Practice
HNTB Corporation

Sanja brings over 30 years of national and international experience in engineering and design management of multi-billion dollar tunnel and underground projects. She has been responsible for managing all phases of major multi-billion-dollar projects, including extensive multi-disciplinary joint venture staff, from feasibility and conceptual engineering through final design and construction.

As an active member of various tunneling and underground societies, Sanja is well recognized in the profession and has published numerous articles, chaired conference sessions and made numerous presentations on the design of construction of tunnels and underground facilities at national and international tunneling conferences. She received a Technical Excellence Award and had been recognized as a Fellow, for extraordinary career-long accomplishments, practicing technical excellence and championing innovative approaches to solving underground engineering issues, especially in relation to minimizing the impacts of tunneling beneath densely populated urban environments, communities and businesses. She is an elected Board Member and Secretary General of ACUUS (Associated Research Centers for Urban Underground Space), an international, non-governmental organization dedicated to partnerships among experts who research, plan, design, construct and decide upon the best use of urban underground space.

Working with the ITA

As a member of ITA’s Executive Council, Sanja would work with the ITA collaboratively to move ITA forward in a number of areas:

  1.  Advance ITA's image throughout the tunnel and underground industry, globally and in United States, as a positive force bringing innovations and improvements for betterment of people’s quality of life and safety especially in the realm of global climate change and related impacts.

  2. Establish qualitative and quantitative criteria toward motivating and measuring engagement and efficiency of ITA working groups and committees while assuring their broader outreach throughout the international tunneling and underground industry.

  3. Help formulate, promote, and advance ITA initiatives toward broader engagement of young professionals, globally and in the United States.



A Global Perspective

With over 30 years of experience, Sanja brings an international portfolio of projects, including the following highlights:

  • LA Metro Sepulveda Transit Corridor, Los Angeles, CA, USA

    • Lead tunnel engineer for planning phase comprising defining most practical and least environmentally impactful route for the potential future longest tunnel in the U.Ss providing better transit between the San Fernando Valley,

  • ​Sound Transit -The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE) Project, Seattle, WA, USA

    • Technical advisor to ST for tunnels and complex underground structures through Alternatives Development Phase to establish and refine specific route, station locations and types, and tunnel alignment and types during planning and advanced conceptual stage of environmental assessment considering public and third-party inputs leading to the Sound Transit Board identifying the project Preferred Alternative.

  • Republic of Turkey Ministry of Transport, Istanbul Strait Road Crossing (Eurasia) Tunnel, Istanbul, Turkey

    • Project Manager and Independent Design Verifier for category 3 structures, systems and facilities for this $1.35B Istanbul Strait Road Tube Crossing project of 14.5 km in length that includes 5.4 km of road tunnels and 3.4km Bosporus Strait Crossing double-deck bored highway tunnel 13.2m (43.3 ft) in diameter (sixth largest tunnel in the world), and 2km Asian and European side tunnel approaches (roadways, toll plazas, ventilation and system buildings and facilities).

  • Washington State DOT – Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement, Seattle, WA, USA

    • Member of expert review panel and technical oversight lead for $3.1 Billion design build project of 2.1 miles bored tunnel that replaces the Alaskan Way Viaduct along the central Seattle waterfront. She lead technical oversight for tunnel liner, interior structures and settlement mitigation measures design.

  • Toronto Transit Commission, Transit Expansion LRT Program, Toronto, ON, Canada

    • Consultancy and technical support for establishing technical and engineering standards for $8.2 Billion Transit Expansion LRT Program for Toronto Transit Commission, including criteria for tunnel precast concrete segmental liner design. She provided independent verification of tunnel liner performance during major fire event in the tunnel for 10.5 km long Eglington Crosstown Light Rail Transit twin bored tunnels, constructed by EPB TBM with 5.75 m clear inside diameter, and crossing beneath densely populated urban areas where loss of liner would cause loss of ground and large surface settlement impacts.

  • NJ Transit / Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Trans-Hudson Express (THE), NJ/NY, USA

    • Chief engineer for underground structures and tunnels responsible for final structural designs and interdisciplinary design integration for all underground structures and facilities (running tunnels, caverns, ancillary and utility tunnels and shafts), including development and implementation of design strategies, criteria and mitigation methods for special loading conditions – fire, blast and structural considerations – to prevent progressive collapse.


Awards and Recognition

  • Engineering News-Record (ENR) - Global Best Project, Bridge/Tunnel, Istanbul Strait Road Tube Crossing, 2016

  • International Tunneling Association (ITA) - Tunneling Project of the Year, Istanbul Strait Road Tube Crossing, 2015

  • Gold Award for Engineering Excellence, NY America Council of Engineering Companies, East River Ventilation Shafts Project, 2011

  • Outstanding Underground Project, American Shotcrete Association, Weehawken Tunnel and Bergenline Avenue Station, 2006

  • Grand Conceptor Award, ACEC, 63rd Street Connection Project, 2001

  • Gold Award for Engineering Excellence in Transportation and Mega Projects Category, NY ACEC, Rehabilitation of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, 1998


Professional Affiliations

  • U.S. representative to ITA Work Group 20: Urban Problems - Underground Solutions

  • Underground Construction Association (UCA), Member

  • ​UCA Working Group 20, Lead

  • Associated Research Centers for Urban Underground Space; Secretary General for the Board of Directors

  • George A. Fox Conference, Program Committee Vice Chair

  • Deep Foundation Institute - Tunneling and Underground Committee, Advisory Group Vice Chair

  • American Concrete Institute (ACI), Member

  • American Society of Civil Engineers, Member

  • UCA Women in Tunneling, Member

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