By Chris Sallese
Principal, Special Projects
As former commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, DEC’s Principal for Special Projects Chris Sallese knows a lot about designing and executing major federal projects. Chris uses that expertise and experience to lead DEC’s efforts to win coastal, federal and program management work.
The U.S. House voted on June 6 to authorize the Corps to begin planning the proposed $31 billion coastal protection project, moving it one step closer to reality. What projects is DEC doing now that qualify it to work on this critical regional project?
DEC has years of experience on coastal projects. I’ll mention just two current projects. First is our dune restoration work on Follett’s Island from San Luis Pass to Quintana Beach in Brazoria County. This is an important Brazoria County project to protect this barrier island, the beachfront highway and a national refuge. It demonstrates our experience in working on complex projects with coastal clients and the Corps.
Second, we are general engineering consultant for Jefferson County Drainage District 7 (DD7), which is included in the Gulf Coast Protection District’s (GCDP) coastal barrier project. Our work includes oversight of Corps design activities, real estate procurement and other work that strengthens relationships and demonstrates our expertise.
The coastal protection project will have a major program management component. What is DEC’s experience in this service area?
DEC would be a perfect fit as a program manager for the coastal spine project. Our experienced staff and leadership have enabled us to excel as program manager for major, long-term projects.
As an example, DEC has been program manager for the $1.8 billion West Harris County Regional Water Authority program, one of the region’s largest water supply programs, since 2001. DEC interfaces and coordinates with more than 120 municipal utility districts, cities, regulatory agencies and subconsultants to ensure project success.
A program manager is an extension of the client, making sure that the client’s end goals and the activities of all the firms working on the program are synchronized. The program manager typically establishes the program’s technical standards, executes technical design, provides design oversight and ensures that the program stays on budget and on schedule.
Finally, tell us about DEC’s experience with federal projects.
We currently have contracts with the Corps’s Galveston, Fort Worth and Little Rock districts, which encompass Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. DEC has years of experience on federal projects, so we “speak federal” and know how to navigate the federal system.
We are also executing rehabilitation design for 11 miles of levee along the Rio Grande River in South Texas in support of the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission.
At the state level, we’re working on a regional flood study encompassing 16 counties in East Texas for the Texas General Land Office. This study is focused on helping local communities devastated during Hurricane Harvey to better identify flood risk and mitigation projects.