Photo: Luetta Callaway Southern Nevada’s Water Authority recently unveiled its newest megamachine: a $25-million custom-made hybrid tunneling-boring machine that operates in both the open and closed positions, meaning the drill face is pressurized for more efficient ground and water control. It took Schwanau, Germany-based Herrenknecht AG 17 months to design and manufacture the 1,500-ton, 600-ft-long TBM, which is being used as part of the third raw-water intake tunnel project at Lake Mead. The additional straw is needed since lake levels have dipped 110 ft since 2000, leaving it at half capacity. In March 2008, SNWA awarded a $447-million design-build contract
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.