Howard Colburn

Construction Management


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June 1988 to September 1991







Funding for this project was provided by four hundred million dollars in infrastructure improvement bonds and matching funds from all levels of public trust. It had been underway for two years without the progress anticipated by the principals when I assumed management responsibility.  Contracts and design were far behind projected completion schedules and the agencies involved were beginning to have serious reservations regarding the staffing of the project.


I took the helm of the project in June 1988 and developed the program that completed all critical portions of the infrastructure. This allowed the sale of properties in a timely fashion, increasing the anticipated profit from $60 million to $90 million.


A major stumbling block when I assumed management responsibility was various infrastructure utilities that had to cross a railroad right of way. These crossings provided utilities to almost half of the land under development in this project.


In July 1988 I began engineering a program that re-routed rail freight and allowed the closure of a spur to the SPRR railroad. This right-of- way bisected the property and impeded the construction of drainage, sewer, water and dry utility improvements across the project. Attempts to obtain approval of the program necessary to cross the right-of-way had been in process for more than two years with the approval for only one of six necessary encroachments. Negotiation of various agreements and design processing with SPRR from July to December created the opportunity to close the spur on December 5,1988 for 15 days. Schedules for four different trade contractors working 24-hour days were in place on December 5 to provide the necessary sequencing to cross the right-of-way. Construction included double and quadruple reinforced concrete box structures as bridges, the installation of two 168" diameter steel plate arch structures, a 48" sewer, two 48" casings for dry utilities and an 18" storm drain. All of the encroaching utilities were successfully installed during the 15-day period and the rail was back in service on schedule.


As a result of my aggressive efforts and follow through to completion, escrows on all of the affected properties were closed on December 31, 1988. The properties had originally been projected to produce between $30 million and $60 million at completion. The actual profit figure was $ 90 million due to the timing of the railroad crossings.  The timely sale of the properties insulated my client from the catastrophic downturn in a real estate market that began in March of 1989.


There were many other opportunities for solving problems of substantial proportion on a project of this size and all were met with the same zeal for professional resolution. The elements of construction included over $50 million in storm drainage facilities, $8 million in landscape improvements, $50 million in transportation projects and over $10 million in dry utilities. I managed to keep various critical project headings on target despite contractor financial problems and agency issues requiring timely resolution thus keeping the owners commitments to merchant builders, who purchased the developed land.


During my employment as a consultant on this project I held many positions including, Construction Manager (predominant role), Resident Engineer, Freight Agent (for the Railroad), Inspection Supervisor, Design Consultant to civil engineering, Agency Liaison and many other positions that situations created a need for a flexible and action oriented manager.