Gregory Hauser laughs when he tries to recollect all the tunneling jobs in his 40-plus-year career. However, nothing compares to job No. 27, he says. Working on the $1.8-billion Brightwater wastewater treatment plant project—which included 13 miles of deep-bore tunneling—Hauser, 64, project manager for Livonia, Mich.-based Jay Dee Construction, helped to turn a bungled mess of stuck tunnel-boring machines into a hassle-free job.
The challenge gets Hauser up in the morning, he says, but it also keeps him up at night. At Brightwater, he first finished a four-mile tunnel, and then he reconfigured the TBM "Elizabeth" to finish a 1.9-mile stretch in which another company had broken two TBMs. Hauser worked with Lovat, now a division of Caterpillar, to modify Elizabeth for completely different ground pressures, but the key was having backups. "The secret of a good job is to plan for all the what-ifs," Hauser says.
Planning and a good team, that is. "We had the cooperation of the consulting engineers and the owner," Hauser says. "It is critical, because those two entities get in the way of a successful job. The engineer was the engineer, the owner [was] the owner, and they let us be the contractor."
With the vicissitudes of tunneling, being a contractor is hard enough. But that's what he knows. "When there's a deadline and a crunch, it becomes interesting and keeps the juices flowing," Hauser says.