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Gregory Hauser: Veteran Tunneling Expert Rescues Faltering Brightwater Project

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Photo Courtesy Of King County
Engineer Mike Cole (left) and Hauser stand in front of TBM Elizabeth's cutterhead.
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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.

 

HAUSER
King County, Wash., the owner, loved Hauser's determination. "In the tunneling business, Greg is a perfect person," says King County's project manager, Gunars Sreibers. "He steps back from a job and looks at what needs to be done and plans out intricate details of who should do what. He puts that detail into motion. It's just the nature of the guy."

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.

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