Colorado Public Works Journal, Winter 2023

18┃ Colorado Public Works Journal “Obviously, the pandemic created many challenges, especially related to the workforce and social distancing,” says Williams. Given the nature of working at DEN, pre-pandemic, the workforce was already parking far away and being bused to the job site. “With social distancing, we had to triple the number of buses and time required. Then supply chain issues impacted everything from high-tech systems to everyday commodities. And there were times when entire work crews would have COVID together, and we’d lose a whole trade for a few weeks.” Global catastrophe aside, the complexities of managing $2.3 billion of construction designed and delivered by two independent teams concurrently is no day at the lake. In early December 2021, Williams got a wake-up call he will never forget. “We had a hot water line break in the mechanical mezzanine. It sprayed water that was heated to about 180 degrees everywhere and destroyed almost everything it touched,” says Williams of the nightmare scenario. “It happened in the middle of the night on a Sunday. The water flowed for between three and four hours and kind of created a sauna. Everything was mechanical, so even if it wasn’t destroyed it wouldn’t qualify for a warranty. The damage was on the order of $40 million, which was recovered through the builder’s risk insurance policy.” Beyond the unforeseeable challenges, Williams reveals some of the inter-complexities of expanding the country’s third busiest airport on a ‘build-it-and-they-will-come’ basis.