UCA award winners to be recognized at Cutting Edge

October 22, 2020

UCA will present and celebrate its 2020 awards at the upcoming Cutting Edge conference in mid-November. The conference will be virtual and plans are being made to recognize the accomplished award winners in the spirit of the UCA's tradition.


John J. Reilly, P.E., C.P.Eng.

John Reilly has more than 56 years’ experience in the management, design and construction of large, complex infrastructure and underground projects in the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdon, Europe, South America and the Middle East.

In 1987, he established a consulting practice in the areas of management, design, construction, contracting methods, partnering, risk management and risk-based cost estimating. He has authored over 100 papers in these areas, has chaired numerous expert panels for metro systems, tunnels, highways and bridges and served on several National Academy Panels.

Reilly is a graduate of the University of Sydney (BE Honors Civil) and the University of California Berkeley (MS Structures). He was President of the American Underground Construction Association 1999-2001 and chair of two international tunneling sssociation committees.

Henry A. Russell Jr., P.E., PG
Henry Russell has more than 50 years of tunnel experience. He has worked internationally and has personally inspected and rehabilitated over 350 miles of tunnels and underground structures. Russell was employed by Parsons Brinckerhoff for 40 years, becoming the national program leader for tunnel rehabilitation and senior vice president. He is currently employed by Mott MacDonald as a principal tunnel engineer and vice president. Russell has written more than 40 technical papers on tunnel inspection, security, structural repairs and fireproofing. Since 1997 he has been the official deligate to the International Tunneling Association (ITA), Working Group 6 Repair and Maintenance of Tunnels. He was the vice chair 1997-2000 and has been the chair since 2001. During this period the Working Group produced three documents on tunnel refurbishment and tunnel fireproofing. He is an active member of ITA, AUCA/SME, ASCE/BSCES, The Moles and TRB. His publications include chapters on tunnel rehabilitation in the Tunnel Engineering Handbook, TCRP Synthesis 23, FHWA Tunnel design Manual- Civil elements, and he is a contributing author to the FHWA Tunnel Operations, Maintenance, Inspection and Evaluation (TOMIE) Manual.

George E. Williamson
Since joining Traylor Bros. Inc. in 1985 as vice president of the Underground Division, Williamson has procured and supervised the successful construction of dozens of tunnel contracts. Attesting to knowledge, experience and qualifications, Williamson, a graduate of the University of California-Berkeley, was recognized as one of the top tunnel engineers and managers in North America when he was presented with the 1999 Golden Beaver Award for Supervision. In his time with Traylor, George has led the acquisition and construction of more than 40 underground projects throughout the United States, including multiple award-winning projects such as the St. Clair Tunnel, South Bay Ocean Outfall, Los Angeles Eastside LRT Project, and Queens Bored Tunnels. In addition to being director of special projects for Traylor’s Underground Division, Williamson sits on the board of directors and management committees, which direct strategic planning for the entire company. Williamson is also a member of ASCE, The Moles and a registered professional engineer in ten states and the District of Columbia.


Gary A. Almeraris, P.E.

Almeraris has worked in the underground industry for more than 40 years. He is a licensed professional engineer, blaster and an engineering graduate of CCNY with a Masters in Management from Worchester Polytechnic Institute. He began his career as an intern working for MacLean Grove under the guidance of legendary tunneling professionals Ed Plotkin, Tom Peyton, Claes Bjork, Leon Vincent, Norman Nadel, Richard Redmond Sr. and Gus Fleicher. He cut his teeth in tunneling with this team driving a four track drill/blast tunnel, the 63th street subway, in Manhattan under Central Park and east to Park Ave. Originally from Brooklyn where he attended Brooklyn Technical High School, Gary enjoys building complex underground projects in urban environments--back to his roots.

He is vice president of operations for Skanska USA Civil Northeast and is its leading underground expert. Almeraris has worked primarily on the northeast coast and occasionally overseas on numerous large projects including transit, water supply, water power, CSO and highways, most of which included major underground work. He has managed the construction of several SEM caverns, utility infested cut and covers, tunnels in rock, soil and mixed face driven by conventional or TBM. He has managed many varied SOEs including a number of frozen ground solidifications. Some of his more challenging projects included the BIG DIG, Second Ave Subway, DC Water’s CSO program and the Fulton St/WTC transit hubs. Gary believes that his best accomplishments have been mentoring our young men and women in the underground industry. “I am constantly impressed by the talent and drive that these young professionals bring to our projects. Now is the time for me to give even more back to help develop these underground leaders of tomorrow."


James W. Mahar
Dr. Jim Mahar has more than 21 years as an educator in engineering geology and geotechnical engineering. Between 1975 and 1980 he was a visiting assistant professor in The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Mahar is a senior lecturer in the Departments of Civil Engineering and Geosciences (Geology) at his alma mater, Idaho State University, where he's taught since 2003. Mahar teaches courses in Engineering Geology, Geologic Data Methods, Project Management and Case Histories courses, he focuses on design and construction of underground openings.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mahar has been a thesis adviser to twelve graduate students with topics in civil and environmental engineering. Two of the dissertations have been on computer simulation of loosening loads in rock tunnels and on prediction of squeezing behavior in fault zones and soft ground tunnels. Mahar has received three teaching/mentoring awards and is the 2010 professional achievement award recipient.

He has more than 47 years of consulting experience in design and/or construction on more than 200 projects involving underground openings in soil and/or rock. Dr. Mahar uses his years of professional experience in teaching the theory and practice in design, construction and management of underground openings.

The Regional Connector Project was unique in that it required a variety of structures and construction techniques, including TBM tunneling, deep cut-and-cover excavation, large cavern sequential excavation method and underpinning in a dense urban environment adjacent to and/or underneath numerous iconic and historic buildings. Innovative solutions were considered and implemented across the project, from semi-automatic earth pressure balance (EPB) conditioning, monitoring, tie-back removal shaft and adit, cross passage support and underpinning.