Black & Veatch Center of Excellence to Drive Tunneling Solutions

The OARS tunnel in Columbus, Ohio.

Black & Veatch, a leader in the design and construction management of large-diameter, deep-tunneling projects, announced it has created a Center of Excellence in its Houston office to deliver sustainable, cost-effective tunneled solutions. With extensive background in large-scale tunneling projects across Texas, the United States and globally, Black & Veatch is uniquely positioned to help clients deliver challenging conveyance and storage projects with an eye to economic, environmental and community benefits.

The Center of Excellence designation of Black & Veatch’s Houston office comes as major metropolitan areas, many in low-lying coastal regions or otherwise exposed to damaging rain events, have begun to see diminishing returns on investments in traditional conveyance and storage systems. Deep, large-diameter tunnels can deliver value for wastewater and stormwater utilities by providing additional storage and conveyance capacity to significantly reduce or eliminate flooding and raw sewage overflow discharges.

Large urban flood-protection and sewerage conveyance projects are not new for Black & Veatch, an engineering and construction leader with Texas offices in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio, Austin and College Station. Black & Veatch is the city of Dallas’s construction manager for Texas’ largest stormwater tunnel, which received construction contract approval on February 14. The project includes a 5-mile-long tunnel — more than 30 ft in diameter — that will collect and convey floodwater, significantly reduce flooding south of the tunnel, and protect East Dallas businesses and residents from flood damages.

As part of Black & Veatch’s investment in the Houston market, Brian Gettinger relocated to Houston in late 2017. Gettinger is a project manager and Tunnel Practice Leader within Black & Veatch’s Water business. His experience includes leadership in planning, design and construction management on large tunnel, dam and heavy civil engineering projects in Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Missouri; California and Texas.

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Gettinger’s tunneling experience includes design and construction administration of the Chicago-area Thornton and McCook Reservoirs as well as their connecting tunnels, part of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s massive Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) to reduce chronic flooding problems and safeguard water quality. The award-winning projects have had a major impact in the Chicago area, providing an estimated $114 million per year of flood damage reduction.

Gettinger joined Sergio Flores, Jarl Molander and more than 80 other professionals in Black & Veatch’s growing Houston office. Flores is a seasoned tunneling expert with experience on large tunnel projects in Seattle, Texas and internationally. As a senior client director, Molander has more than 40 years of experience with large complex infrastructure facilities. He has served in leadership positions on many major public infrastructure projects in Houston and other major metropolitan areas across the U.S.

“Large urban areas are increasingly turning to large-diameter tunnels to minimize the impacts of extreme weather as well as minimize public and environmental impacts from traditional stormwater conveyance and storage projects. Tunnels remove floodwaters from problem areas and improve mobility by keeping streets free of water, generally without requiring significant property acquisition or causing damage to environmental habitats,” Molander said. “From concept development through construction management, our office can help communities achieve these benefits while managing risk to deliver projects cost effectively.”

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