2010 in perspective Jan 2010
Shani Wallis and Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk
- As the start of a new decade, 2010 is punctuated with important international events and a calendar of construction project start dates.
- Most significant of these for gauging the pulse of the international market is the 29th Bauma equipment trade show in Munich, Germany from 19 to 25 April. As the largest show of its kind in the world, and staged once every three years, the event is a hub of international construction trade, an important venue for establishing contacts, as well as an opportunity for meeting the experts in their field and for staying up to date with current technology. More thanhalf a million square meters (5,382,131ft2) of exhibition space, with more than 3,000 exhibitors and more than half a million visitors are expected at this major opener of the decade in April.
- A monitor of the international tunnelling industry specifically will be held the following month in Vancouver, Canada when the World Tunnelling Congress (WTC) will host the 36th Annual General Assembly of the 55 member nations of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA-IATES) from 14 to 20 May. As a recognized NGO (non-governmental organization) of the United Nations, the work of the ITA is vital to the promotion of underground space for development of urban utilities, mass transportation systems, long distance road and rail networks and oil, gas and water supply-pipelines through and under natural and urban barriers, and for the storage of precious resources and high risk materials.
- Titled 'Tunnel Vision Towards 2020', the Vancouver WTC will chart the strategies by different nations of the world for utilizing the underground dimension for sustainability and economic growth.
Event inspired investment
Preparing a city for an international event fixtures has inspired some significant public investment projects over the years and this year has a crop of the most exciting for the tunnelling industry. Shanghai has spent the last several years preparing itself for the influx of an expected 70 million visitors to the six-month long Expo 2010 extravaganza from May to October. Built on a total 5.28km2 area along both sides of the Huangpu River between the Nanpu and Lupu Bridges, Shanghai's hosting of the event initiated an immense investment programme to provide (among much other construction) extensions to the city's metro system and construction of two new highway tunnels of international acclaim:
Fig 1. Chongming project elements
- The twin 7.5km long three-lane highway tunnels under the Yangtze River connect the Pudong district with the river island of Changxing for further bridge extension to Chongming Island. Excavation of the long under river drives was completed by two of the world's largest TBMs ever, the giant 15.43m Herrenknecht Mixshields. With successful breakthroughs in May and September 2008, the new highways were ready for their inauguration in November last year. Meanwhile, the twin two-lane highway tunnels running directly under the famous Bund embankment and alongside its most historic buildings are being excavated by the 13.2m diameter NFM TBM that excavated the Groene Hart (Green Heart) rail tunnel in The Netherlands. The new tunnel is needed to increase traffic capacity along the Yangtze River frontage and across the Huangpu River.
Fig 2. Canada Line alignment
- Ahead of hosting the 21st Winter Olympics in February 2010, the city of Vancouver built its 19km long Canada Line to speed visitors between the international airport and the city center. The line comprises 7.3km of cut-and-cover work, eight cut-and-cover stations, and a 2.45km section of twin-bore tunnels excavated directly under the city centre using a 6m diameter Lovat EPBM. The line opened in August 2009 almost four months ahead of the original schedule.
- The 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa in June inspired promotion of the Gautrain mass transit rail project to link the O.R. Tambo International Airport with Sandton and on south to Johannesburg's central Park Station and north to Hatfield Station in the country's capital city Pretoria (Fig 3).
- While the opening of the 80km long system is not linked specifically to the hosting of the World Cup fixtures, a target has been set to open the airport link to the underground station at Sandton by June this year. Some 3km of single-tube TBM running tunnel from Rosebank station to shaft E4 was completed in January 2009, and the last breakthrough on a total 15.5km of drill+blast excavation on the line between the transition portal at Marlboro, through Sandton and Rosebank stations, and on to Johannesburg's central Park Station holed through in September 2009 after three solid years of 24h/day, 7 days/week excavation.
- In India, the hosting of the international Commonwealth Games in October in Delhi also initiated a tremendous investment in public rail transportation with a 121km Phase II expansion of its metro system (green lines on Fig 4) and construction of a new 19km long link from the city to the airport (blue line on Fig 4). Long sections of both the Delhi Metro lines and the airport metro express line (AMEL) are underground. To complete the works a total 14 TBMs, together with long sections of NATM excavation, tracts of cut-and-cover work, and stretches of elevated guideway have progressed concurrently during the height of civil construction in 2008 and 2009.
- In addition to these projects linked to 2010 events, several major tunnelling projects are set to start construction in 2010. In Toronto the $Can2.6 billion Spadina subway line with its 6.7km of twin bored tunnels will move into construction. Four Lovat TBMs are already on order to expedite the start of excavation anticipated to begin in late 2010.The Spadina extension will run 8.6km (5.4mile) from Downsview Station, northwest through York University, within the City of Toronto and north to the Vaughan Corporate Centre in the Regional Municipality of York(Fig 5).
Fig 5. Spadina alignment
- In London bids for the civil tunnelling contracts for the city's Crossrail project have been invited for the intention of having contracts awarded by mid-2010 and for TBMs to launch into the construction of the 21km of new twin bore railway tunnels required directly under the heart of the capital by late 2011.
- In San Francisco the Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) will commence excavation of two major tunnelling projects for its $4.2 billion Water System Improvement Program. The 5-mile Bay Tunnel under San Francisco Bay is expected to be awarded in the coming weeks after the Michels/Jay Dee/Coluccio JV submitted the lowest bid of $215.3 million in November. In addition, the SFPUC is also planning to advertise the New Irvington Tunnel, with an estimated cost of $250 million, any day now. The new 3.5 mile tunnel will be excavated using conventional mining methods, including road headers and controlled dill+blast in sections of hard rock.
- The largest transit project in the United States will also move into construction this year. The $8.7 billion Access to the Regions Core (ARC) project under the Hudson River will double commuter rail capacity between New Jersey and New York City. The Manhattan Tunnels contract was award last month (Dec 2009) to the Barnard/Judlau JV. Bids have been opened for the Palisades Tunnel on the New Jersey side of the river, with the Hudson River tunnel contract currently out for bid.
- In Mexico City, a total six TBMs - three Robbins and three Herrenknecht EPBMs - will begin excavation of the 62km (39 mile) Emisor Oriente drainage tunnel system. Once complete in 2012, the $US1.2 billion project will provide drainage at 150m3/sec (5,300ft3/sec), easing surface subsidence problems and adding drainage capacity for the city's booming population that has doubled over the last 30 years to 19 million.
- Another three Robbins machines are due to launch in October and December this year on the near 50km-long Pahang-Selangor raw water tunnel project in Malaysia.
High-specification Mixshield heading to Nevada
- Once complete in 2013, the tunnel will convey about 27.6m3/sec of water for domestic and industrial applications in the Kuala Lumpur region.
- In Australia, the 5km long Northern Link highway tunnel in Brisbane will start this year, two years ahead of its original 2012 start date, and construction of the
- Maimi Port Tunnel by the Bouygues-lead concessionaire in Florida, USA is set to start in May 2010. In Nevada, one of perhaps the most demanding of TBM tunnels in the world at the moment will begin this year. The new Lake Mead No 3 water intake tunnel will be excavated by a 7.22m diameter TBM supplied by Herrenknecht that is design to withstand a potential 17 bar hydrostatic pressure.
- 2010 is going to be a busy year and providing all the projects stay on track, that the owners remain committed to the investment and that schedules don't slip into indefinite postponement, the tunnelling industry should be in for a good year with us all prospering and providing positive news in an otherwise gloomy construction market.
Add your comment
- Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and comments. You share in the wider tunnelling community, so please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language professional.