Ronald E. Heuer, a Geotechnical Consultant, and John L. Kolaya, President and Chief Operating Officer of Yonkers Contracting Co. Inc., were awarded the top honors by The Moles, one of the industry’s foremost construction organizations, at its annual Award Dinner Jan. 29 at the Hilton in Midtown Manhattan.
The keynote speaker was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who spoke about the need to make difficult choices and prioritizing the needs for projects and programs in New Jersey and across the country. As an example, he cited the Access to the Region’s Core project and his reasons for cancelling in 2010 the megaproject that included a trans-Hudson tube linking New York and New Jersey.
Both Heuer and Kolaya have had distinguished careers in the heavy construction industry. Heuer earned three degrees from the University of Illinois: a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering; a master’s degree in geology; and a Ph.D. in civil engineering (geotechnical), and began his professional career in 1969 working for A.A. Mathews. From 1975 through 1978, he served as an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois and became an International Geotechnical Consultant for underground construction projects. Having worked on several hundred underground projects, Heuer’s combined theoretical and empirical knowledge has earned him the industry-wide respect of engineers, geologists, contractors and owners.
Kolaya earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Bucknell University and Rutgers University, respectively, and began his career in 1970 as a project engineer with Thomas Crimmins Contracting Co. on subway projects in New York City. In 1979, he became General Superintendent at Crimmins, overseeing deep foundation work on such projects as Trump Tower, 60 Wall Street and the original 7 World Trade Center. Kolaya joined Yonkers Contracting Co. in 1987 and served as project manager on the reconstruction of the Queens Midtown Viaduct and the Manhattan Bridge. In 1996, he was promoted to Vice President of Construction; in 1999, to Executive Vice President; and in January 2013, to President and Chief Operating Officer. Kolaya served as the President of The Moles in 2004 and has been honored with ENR’s Medal of Excellence and ACE’s 2012 Mentor of the Year.
Heuer received the Moles Non-Member Award, and Kolaya accepted the The Moles Member Award.