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Achievements celebrated in 2019 ITA Awards 21 Nov 2019

Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk

Projects of complex design and construction, and developments of outstanding achievement in the fields of industry safety and innovation, are selected as the best of the best and recipients of the Brunel Trophy of the 2019 ITA Awards. At the end of the day-long conference, during which the Award finalists in each of eight categories provided details of their projects, the winners were announced at the gala dinner in Miami, USA, and the Brunel Trophies presented. “For 2019, we received 71 entries and 34 of them are entries for the three construction project categories, indicating the number of outstanding projects being built worldwide," said Jenny Yan, President of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA).

The Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok subsea highway link in Hong Kong' style=
The Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok subsea highway link in Hong Kong

The Major Project of the Year with a budget of more than €500 million was presented to the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok subsea highway link in Hong Kong. The 4.5km long twin-tube subsea tunnel of the €2.36 billion project is constructed using two 14m Herrenknecht slurry Mixshield TBMs to cope with harsh ground conditions as they progressed at up to 55m below sea level and under hydrostatic pressures of up to 5 bar. The first 630m of the first TBM drive was excavated using a TBM shield of 17.63m diameter, the largest in the world to date, for a three lane roadway for the up-gradient exit for the highway, with the machine rebuilt and reconfigured into a 14m diameter shield for the continuing two lane roadway. As an alternative to ground freezing, a mini TBM was developed to excavate the 41 subsea cross passages between the parallel highway tubes and an innovative series of interconnected shafts provided the support for a 500m cut and cover section.

Client: Highways Department of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Contractors: The Dragages-Bouygues JV

Engineering firms: AECOM; ARUP; Atkins and Golder

In recognition of their outstanding achievements, the fellow category finalists were:

  • The Follo Line twin tube railway tunnel, Norway
  • The Seoul metropolitan high-speed railway Yulhyeon tunnel, South Korea
  • The combined road and metro Sanyang tunnel under the Yangtze River in road tunnel in Wuhan, China
Contractor team celebrates Regional Connector winning achievements including first SEM cavern in Los Angeles

The estimated US$1.2 billion Regional Connector project for the Los Angeles Metro in California, USA, was awarded Project of the Year with a budget between €50 million and €500 million. The design-build procurement of the 1.9 mile underground light rail system, with three new underground stations, included twin tubes excavated using a TBM modified to navigate tight radius curves on the alignment; an open cut section to deal with tie back anchors supporting the basements of existing buildings; an SEM (sequential excavation method) alternative to open cut for a system crossover cavern, a first SEM operation in Los Angeles; and the managing of unforeseen obstructions during the TBM drive and the SEM construction that turned a one-month delay into a two-month schedule acceleration.

Client: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)

Contractors: Skanska-Traylor JV

Stakeholders: City of LA Bureau of Engineering and Bureau of Street Lighting; ConAd; LADWP; AT&T; LADOT; Caltrans; LA County; LADBS

Engineering firms: Owner designer - WSP; Design-build designer - Hatch Mott McDonald; Owner project management assistance - Arcadis and PCC consultants

Fellow finalists were:

  • Parallel tunnels for the Mexico City to Toluca suburban railway, Mexico
  • New Badaling tunnel and Great Wall Station on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, China
  • Sha Tin to Central metro immersed tube link, Hong Kong
  • Ulriken TBM railway tunnel, Norway
  • Victory Boogie Woogie highway tunnel, the Netherlands
Amanda Kerr and her fellow young aspiring tunnellers
Amanda Kerr and her fellow young aspiring tunnellers

Amanda Kerr of the USA was selected as the Young Tunneller of the Year from fellow candidates Diwakar of Singapore; Elliot James Fern of Switzerland; Sun Feng of China; and Yutaka Okuda of Japan. Amanda received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering in Construction Engineering from the Arizona State University in Phoenix. She began her construction career with heavy civil work on a project at the Tucson International Airport in Arizona and went on to work as a leading engineer on the Northgate Link metro extension in Seattle with Michels-Jaydee-Coluccio and as a Lead Field Engineer for the Michels-Jaydee JV on the Blacklick Creek sanitary interceptor sewer project. She was involved in the TBM design and hardware selection, led a team of engineers managing the construction of eleven shafts, served as lead project scheduler, and managed the Blacklick Creek project environmental program. After two years, she became Lead Project Engineer, where she oversaw major structural design modifications that significantly reduced construction costs and saved the project more than 180 calendar days, as well as successfully negotiated project change orders with the client, preventing any outstanding claims. Amanda currently works as a Lead Project Engineer for the large diameter tunnelling division of the Michels Corporation.

Past ITA President Tarcisio Celestino presents award to Harvey Parker, also a past ITA President, who is joined by his wife and ITA travel partner Karen

The 2019 ITA Lifetime Achievement Award honours the career of Dr Harvey Parker. With more than 45 years of experience in the tunnelling industry, Dr Parker has made significant contributions to signature tunnelling projects. He is a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign alumni where he received his PhD in Civil Engineering with a Minor in Geology. He also holds a MS in Civil Engineering from Harvard University and a BS in Civil Engineering from Auburn Polytech. He has held adjunct or visiting teaching positions at University of Illinois and Columbia University and is the author or co-author of more than 60 publications, often on planning, risk management, and geotechnical investigations. Specific examples of the many iconic projects he has been involved with include the Alaskan Way viaduct replacement highway tunnel project in Seattle, Washington, the largest bored tunnel in the world at the time; the metro system in Los Angeles; and the inception of the metro system in Washington DC. His knowledge has been captured and available to students and the practicing community through chapters in the most recognized textbooks in the industry.

The Safety Initiative of the Year was awarded to the Air Quality Working Group of the Australian Tunnelling Society (ATS) for its industry-first collaboration on research and control of silica dust in underground excavation environments. Silica dust is one major health issue for the Australian tunnelling industry. In Australia, tunnel construction workers have an increased risk of developing occupational disease when compared to the general construction industry such as lung cancer and silicosis. Over a 12-month period, the stakeholders of ATS took a proactive approach to this health issue to focus on sharing information to address the challenges associated with controlling silica dust and producing a much-needed body of reference material that previously did not exist in the tunnel construction industry. All reports and research results produced by the working group are available on the ATS website for free download and sharing.

Fellow finalists of the category were:

  • An automatic geological-prospecting technique safeguarding TBM tunnelling, China
  • Robotisation of the automatic tubular steel arch installation: a key factor for safety, Italy
Ed Taylor (left), President of the ATS, and Kate Cole of the Working Group, accept the safety initiative Award from fellow Australian and member of the ITA Executive Council Arnold Dix' style=
Ed Taylor (left), President of the ATS, and Kate Cole of the Working Group, accept the safety initiative Award from fellow Australian and member of the ITA Executive Council Arnold Dix

A project to develop autonomous operation of TBMs is the Technical Product or Equipment Innovation of the Year. Developed in Malaysia, the project is the development, testing and deployment of artificial intelligence algorithms for the autonomous operation of multimode TBMs working on Line 2 of the Kuala Lumpur Klang Valley MRT. The sophisticated operation of the multi-mode variable density TBMs working on the project requires re-training of even experienced operators, providing the initial motivation to develop the Autonomous TBM system. The system is a plug-and-play solution imagined as a custom software installed on an industrial PC module to assess the thousands of data points sampled every minute by the more than 400 sensors on the TBMs. A computer can process these data points and respond instantaneously with appropriate decisions and much faster than human operators. The system has already successfully completed 3km of urban tunnelling in complex geologies undercrossing sensitive infrastructure including live rail lines and a 14-lane highway.

Other finalists in the category were:

  • ARCHITA, an innovative multi-dimensional mobile mapping system, Italy
  • AXON, wireless connectivity underground for tracking personnel and equipment, monitor the environment and integrating with operating systems in the environment including pumps and ventilation fans, Australia
  • Smart tunnel inspection and maintenance using artificial intelligence, Switzerland
MMC-Gamuda team receive the technical initiative award for development of their autonomous TBM operating system

Extension of three existing Toulouse Line A underground metro stations in France was the winner of the Technical Project Innovation of the Year. The project required the removal of the existing station tunnel linings, while keeping the subway in operation and minimising, as much as possible, the disturbance caused by the works in the urban environment. A steel rib support, lined with steel plates, was placed around the tunnel to isolate the construction site from the operating subway allowing for diaphragm walls to be installed, excavation on both sides of the tunnel to progress and cutting out of the existing lining to be possible. At no time were passengers of the A Line aware of travelling through the heart of an underground construction site.

Client: Tisséo Ingénierie

Contractors: Eiffage Genie Civil/I.CO.P/BG Ingénieurs Conseil /Forézienne d'entreprises/Fontanié

Engineering firms: Arcadis/Puig Pujol Associés/Betem

Other finalists:

  • New single-tube double-line quasi-rectangular shield tunnel technology system, China
  • Intersecting and overlapping tunnel group construction developed for the Tianjin Metro Lines 5 and 6, Lot 1, China
  • Rapid construction technology for a large cross-section extremely-gassy tunnel, China

The Project of the Year with a budget up to €50 million was awarded to the modernisation of the Vladivostok railway tunnel in Russia. Water seepage was the major problem for the 1.4km long single-track railway tunnel built 82 years ago, with more than 1,800m3 of ice being cut from the tunnel each winter. The upgrade required casting of a new multi-layer drained lining. The work was completed successfully by Mosmetrostroy with reduction in terms of time by 1.5 years and cost by 2 times relative to the initial project, which planned a reconstruction during a complete tunnel closure of train traffic for the period of work and construction of a surface bypass railway section through the city centre. The work was completed without interrupting rail operations in the city and to and from the seaport of Vladivostok.

Other finalists:

  • Finsbury Park Station step-free access upgrade in London, UK
  • Outram Park interchange station passenger linkways, Thomson Line, Singapore
Underground farming prototype at Haggerbach, Switzerland
Underground farming prototype at Haggerbach, Switzerland

Innovative Underground Space Concept of the Year was awarded to an underground green farming concept developed in Switzerland. The Swiss Center for Applied Underground Technologies (SCAUT), has developed and commissioned the first prototype for sustainable food production in the underground facility at Hagerbach and using aquaponics. Underground green farming offers the opportunity to produce food locally in urban areas – exactly where the demand is, and to produce several harvests per year. The underground space offers other major advantages including constant climate conditions and protection from natural climate variations.

Other finalists in the category were:

  • Building large prefabricated urban underground spaces with small TBMs, China
  • Southern Nevada Water Authority low level intake pumping station at Lake Mead, Nevada, USA

It was a highly successful 2019 series of the ITA Awards, hosted in Miami, Florida, in conjunction with the 2019 Cutting Edge conference. Next year, the 2020 Awards will be hosted by the Australian Tunnelling Society (ATS) and in conjunction with its Australasian Tunnelling Conference in Melbourne, Victoria, from 29 November to 2 December 2020. Save the date and prepare your national suggestions as entries in each of the nomination categories.


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