Skanska’s Gary Almeraris and Jake van Baarsel awarded highest construction honors for lifetime achievements

Press release 2/9/2024 7:00 AM EST
Gary and Jake headshots

NEW YORK, NY & RIVERSIDE, CA – For the first time, two Skanska construction veterans have concurrently received the highest honors in civil construction for their dedication and expertise in construction. Gary Almeraris, vice president of operations for Skanska’s East Coast civil operations, was awarded The Moles 2024 Outstanding Achievement Award, and Jake van Baarsel, engineering manager of Skanska’s West Coast civil operations, was awarded the 2024 Golden Beaver Award.

“It is an honor to celebrate the exceptional accomplishments of Gary and Jake, and it brings us immense pride to see them recognized with the industry's highest of accolades,” said Don Fusco, president & CEO, Skanska USA Civil. “We extend heartfelt congratulations on these well-deserved recognitions—a testament to their exceptional contributions and commitment to advancing our industry.”

At The Moles’ Annual Award Dinner on February 8, 2024, Gary Almeraris was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award and deemed a quintessential Mole for his nearly fifty-year dedication to heavy construction and tunneling.

Over his impressive 46-year career, Gary has played a pivotal role in many significant projects, showcasing his expertise in major tunneling and open-cut endeavors in New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Notable achievements include managing SEM caverns, utility-infested open cuts, frozen ground stabilization projects, and tunnels in diverse terrains using conventional methods and TBMs. Gary's international experience ranges from a special assignment in the remote Indian Himalayas on the Naptha Jhakri 1600-megawatt Dam/Tunnel project in 1994 to being a key team member on multiple projects throughout the UK, Norway, and Sweden with Skanska's international Underground group.

Beyond his technical prowess, Gary is passionate about mentoring young engineers entering the heavy civil industry. He actively supports initiatives such as the Moles outreach, bringing college students into the world of heavy civil construction. In 2021, Gary served as the President of the Moles and has been a member since 1989. He received the Underground Construction Association's Outstanding Individual Award in 2020 and was recognized as one of ENR's Award of Excellence top 25 in 2012. His life motto, "Be part of the Team, enjoy your work, and be proud of your accomplishments," reflects his enduring dedication to the industry and the people he serves.

As the first Skanska employee to receive the honor in the firm’s 60+-year membership, Jake van Baarsel was awarded the 2024 Golden Beaver Award for his Engineering Service & Supply Excellence at The Beavers’ 68th Annual Awards Dinner on January 18, 2024. He was honored for his skilled work on challenging, heavy engineering projects and the responsibility and integrity he’s shown throughout his career. Jake has exemplified the importance of building innovative civil infrastructure while understanding the importance of educating the next generation of engineers.

Throughout his career, Jake has provided construction engineering for more than 400 bridges on 25 freeways, 11 underground stations and other structures for five Los Angeles County Metro lines. At the helm of Skanska’s in-house engineering team, he has successfully addressed engineering requirements on several large heavy civil projects with challenging geotechnical conditions and is an expert in temporary work platforms, deep excavation shoring and foundation design solutions.