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Critical Storm Defenses: 2013 Award of Excellence Winner Wayne E. Jones

April 18, 2013
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Integration and Synchronization

Where the wall curves, the alignment of each element was especially critical. The ends of the wall had to dovetail with the work of the other contractors building foundations and support structures for the navigation gates at two widely separated points, one near the middle and one at the north end. GPS equipment and the templates ensured the precision placement and verticality of the piles, but the ultimate proof of the accuracy of construction is found on the 8,000 ft of handrails, whose prefabricated sections are prescribed to meet at an expansion gap with a tolerance of 1/8th in. to 3/8 in. at 72º F. Accuracy there is a reflection of the accuracy of the entire assembly, all the way to the pile tips deep in the mud. Jones says all the rails met within tolerance, and none had to be trimmed to fit. "There were no cuts," he says. "It amazes me."

The wall was built in 1.05 million worker hours, with a lost-time incident rate of zero, against a national average of 1.40. The recordable incident rate was 2.09, against a national average of 4.20, according to Shaw. "It was the best safety record in the history of the Corps," says Sinkler.

While finishing the wall, Traylor worked on additional contracts to build guide walls for the barrier's 150-ft-wide sector navigation gate and drive the underwater pile foundations for it. Again, work required precision construction on a high-stakes site crawling with contractors building other components (see sidebar on how this was , p. 44). As the deadline approached, TMW returned Jones and other senior supervisors to the project in February 2012 to help bring the full surge barrier to substantial completion in time for the start of hurricane season, June 1, 2012. Hurricane Isaac struck three months later.

Jones’ Skills

Jones attributes his project management style to his upbringing, the influence of his mentors, work experiences and reading. A meticulous planner, he always has at least three contingency plans. His style is also marked by a refusal to abdicate responsibility for final decisions and a genuine respect for the drivers, constraints and opinions of others.

"I've tried to emulate the people I respect in life—how they deal with other people and what worked for them," Jones says. "Twenty years ago, I decided to read all of the philosophers, from Aristotle to Spinoza, and I've gone past Spinoza." Studying philosophy helps him solve people management and construction problems because, Jones says, "philosophy is the critical analysis of a subject while setting aside all of your preconceptions and dogmas."

And, as he says his old boss John Harbert told him once while handing him a "rotten" job, "Problems are opportunities for innovation. The guy who will take on a problem and solve it will always be in demand."

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