Randall L. Barr
Randall L. Barr

Randall L. Barr ranks the $299-million first phase of the overhaul of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry linking Mexico and California—the world’s busiest border crossing—as a standout among his projects during a nearly 42-year career with contractor Hensel Phelps.

“I’ve worked on some tough projects, but there was only one like this,” says the operations manager, who plans to retire in June.

Barr ran the job, described as a logistical nightmare, with Jeffrey L. Wellenstein, Hensel Phelps’ project manager, and Robert Tornberg, the superintendent.

ENR's Top 25 Newsmakers IconThe team had to keep the port operational around the clock. Between 2001 and 2014 alone, about 62 million vehicles and 137 million pedestrians crossed the jobsite.

“Every moment is crazy when you are working in the middle of a major freeway,” says Wellenstein. “Randy brought it all together.” 

Perhaps the hairiest part was disassembling the old administration building, constructed over Interstate 5’s 24 primary-lane inspection booths, and erecting, in its place, new booths and their 570-ft-long x 55-ft-wide canopy. The work was a game of “musical traffic lanes,” requiring the shutdown of four to six at a time.

Charlie Atkinson, a senior project manager with construction manager Jacobs, worked with Barr on an earlier project, the San Diego Federal Courthouse. He calls Barr a relationship builder, especially with government officials.

That skill certainly helped at the port project, which involved constant coordination with the U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and various other federal, state and local agencies.

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