Winners of the 2018 ITA Awards 08 Nov 2018

Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk

Following a day-long conference of presentations by all the worthy finalists of the 2018 series of the ITA Awards, the winners were announced at the gala evening banquet. This year, the Awards event of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA) was held in Chuzhou Nanjing city in China and in conjunction with the 20th CTUC, Chinese Tunnels and Underground Works Conference.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao immersed tube sea link

Following a second-day programme of international presentations, the third day provided the opportunity for all category finalists to present the details of their shortlisted projects and illustrate to the audience why each was worthy of the Award recognition. The eight Award categories created a programme of presentations ranging from safety initiatives and technical innovations to projects in three categories of scope and value, from the smallest, but nevertheless complex and demanding, to the largest of more than €500 million in scale for which different planning and implementation skills are required. Next year, the 2019 ITA Awards conference and presentation ceremony will be held in the USA when again, the conference day of finalist presentations will draw together the best of the best from around the world for each of the award nomination categories.

For 2018, the winners from the shortlisted finalists in each of the categories highlight the ingenuity of innovations and the outstanding achievements being recorded in the international field of underground space excavation and tunnel construction.

The Major Project of the Year of more than €500 million was awarded to the immersed tube tunnel of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao sea link in China. Construction of the project took eight years with the 5.6km long immersed tube between two man-made islands comprising of 33 elements of 180m long x 11.4m high x 38m wide.

Queershan Tunnel portal high in the mountains
Queershan Tunnel portal high in the mountains

The undersea highway crossing is one of the deepest immersed tunnels in the world. It required several innovations to meet the many challenges presented by the logistics and stringent design criteria. Among these alternatives to traditional immersed tube design and construction was the use of steel cylinders inserted into the soft sea bed using vibration piling to create the artificial islands and a prefabricated v-shaped element. The v-shaped element was lifted into place by a floating crane for the final closure joint in the immersed tube string of precast concrete elements.

Winner of the Project of the Year of between €50 million and €500 million was another project in China, the Queershan Tunnel on National Road 317. Engineers for the design and construction of the project had to overcome the technical challenges associated with construction at high elevation and cold climate conditions. The tunnel will provide a year-round highway route through the high mountains and contribute to further highway and railway connections between China and Tibet.

Zarbalizadeh road tunnel underpass
Zarbalizadeh road tunnel underpass

A shallow tunnel project excavated beneath operating railways in Tehran, Iran, is the winner of the Project of the Year including Renovation of up to €50 million. The €6.5 million Zarbalizadeh road tunnel passes under the Tehran Metro Line 1 and the north-south mainline railway. A multi-drift NATM excavation sequence was implemented to excavate safe passage under these railways without causing any settlement damage or any interruption in services.

A large section 10.95m high x 11.9m wide horseshoe shaped EPBM designed and manufactured by CREG of China and used for the first time in the mountain tunnel (China) was awarded the Technical Innovation Project of the Year. The TBM, equipped with multiple cutter heads was used instead of the conventional sequential excavation method with a double lining. Advantages of the multiple cutter head horseshoe-shaped TBM as compared with a single circular cutter head TBM is reduced TBM manufacturing costs, increased utilisation ratio of the tunnel cross section, and a reduced quantity of excavation and construction material.

Horseshoe-shaped EPBM
Horseshoe-shaped EPBM

The Technical Innovation Product or Equipment of the Year Award was presented to the engineers in China who have developed a multifunctional energy-storage and luminescent material (LUMA ) for sustainable and energy-saving lighting for tunnels. LUMA as a product has been applied on tunnel coatings, road marking and tunnel signage fixtures. It provides a non-flammable, anti-mildew, anti-corrosion, anti-pollution, self-cleaning, negative oxygen ion releasing finish that alleviates contamination to tunnel walls from car exhausts, increases in-tunnel visibility and air quality, and provides illumination for escaping from accidents. It is estimated that, LUMA has helped save 22 million RMB in tunnel lighting energy costs since its introduction in 2016.

LUMA multifunctional energy-storage and luminescent material in application
LUMA multifunctional energy-storage and luminescent material in application

A semi-automatic drilling robot developed by Bouygues of France and in collaboration with Dragages of Hong Kong was awarded the Safety Initiative of the Year. The ROBY 850 is a semi-automatic robotic system designed to replace the human involvement in the process of setting out and drilling the holes for the brackets and fixtures for ventilation, lighting, security, communication, and fire services and other mechanical and electrical equipment in transportation tunnels. The system was first used for installations of the M&E fit out of the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary highway tunnel in Hong Kong.

ROBY 850 drilling robot
ROBY 850 drilling robot

The Rock Blasting Museum in Norway is the winner of the Innovative Underground Space Concept of the Year. Located near the Winter Olympic Park in Lillehammer, the underground museum was created 25 years ago by the main stakeholders of the industry to recognise the close and extensive history with tunnels in Norway. It is an entertaining and informative journey through the history of Norwegian tunnelling and rock blasting, with a 240m long semi-circular tunnel as the main attraction. The tunnel museum displays equipment and tunnelling techniques dating from the beginnings of tunnelling to modern computerised drilling and TBM boring. This is possibly the only purpose-built tunnelling museum in the world.

Norway’s Rock Blasting Museum
Norway’s Rock Blasting Museum

From the shortlisted group of very talented young engineers that includes He YingDao (China), Jack Muir (New Zealand), Senthilnath G T (India), Fredrikke S G Syversen (Norway), Mandy Ang (Malaysia) and Morteza Javadi (Iran), it is Giuseppe Gaspari of Italy who won the 2018 Young Tunneller of the Year. Gaspari, born in 1983, holds a Degree in Civil Engineering, a Master in Geotechnics and a second level Master in Tunneling & TBMs. He is currently enrolled in the Kellogg-Schulich executive MBA global business program. He has worked on projects in Italy and worldwide including in India and Singapore. He is currently based full time in Canada and joined Arup in 2018 on the design management of the Toronto Relief Line South. He has been a steering board member for ITA-Young Memebers since 2016; an Executive Committee Member for WTC 2019 inNaples, Italy; is a founder and president of the SIG, Italian Tunneling Society, Young Members.

Congratulations go to them all and with support for their continuing careers in tunnelling. The future of the industry and its development is in their hands.

Giuseppe Gaspari (Italy)
Giuseppe Gaspari (Italy)

To round off a well-organised and highly entertaining evening, the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018 was presented to Dr Evert Hoek of Canada for his outstanding career after becoming involved in the young science of rock mechanics in 1958 when he started researching the problems of brittle fracture associated with rockbursts in very deep mines in South Africa. Born in Zimbabwe, he is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, a Foreign Associate of the USA National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. His continuing consulting work has taken him to projects in 35 countries involving TBM and conventionally excavated tunnels and large underground caverns for hydro-electric projects. Due to prior travelling commitments, Dr Hoek was not able to accept his award in person but sent his sincere thanks for the recognition by the ITA via a video link.

Dr Evert Hoek

As the 2018 series of the ITA Awards celebrated its finale with the announcement of the winners in Chuzhou, China, the industry was invited to prepare to submit nominations for projects once the call for nominations opens early next year and to be part of the Awards shortlisted finalists conference day and gala winners banquet in the USA. Ahead of that, recognition is given to the other shortlisted finalists in each category who are themselves winners for having been selected from all the entires to the shortlists.

Major Project of the Year of more than €500 million
  • China's Mega Water Project: Jilin Yinsong Water Supply (China)
  • West Qinling Tunnel on Lanzhou-Chongqing Railway (China)
  • Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point site formation and infrastructure works (Hong Kong, China)
Technical Innovation Project of the Year
  • TBM entry works under sea level near the Bosphorus (Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Velstertunnel Project; Integrated BIM for failure free retrofitting of a motorway tunnel: innovation creates a fixed link between contractor and stakeholders (Netherlands)
Project of the Year of between €50 million and €500 million
  • Gongbei tunnel of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge (China)
  • Foshan Dongping Tunnel (China)
  • Vamma 12 hydropower project (Norway)
Technical Innovation Product or Equipment of the Year
  • FlatMesh wireless system (UK)
  • Innovative backfill grout for dilative soils (Germany)
  • An innovative hard-rock TBM-mounted system for geological forward- prospecting (China)
Project of the Year including Renovation of up to €50 million
  • Kaikoura earthquake recovery main north line tunnels (New Zealand)
  • Trenchless tunnel construction of Bukit Panjang MRT entrance and underpass (Singapore)
  • Maroggia railway tunnel enlargement project (Switzerland)
Innovative Underground Space Concept of the Year
  • Underground pedestrian passage under Heiniucheng Road in the New Badali area in Tianjin (China)
  • Ecological civilization construction and intensive land use of metro project (China)
Safety Initiative of the Year
  • MineARC’s Aura-FX digital gas monitoring technology (Australia)
  • Site formation and infrastructure works for development of Anderson Road Quarry (Hong-Kong, China)
  • Excavation of a tunnel with traditional methods, through rocks containing natural asbestos, safeguarding the health and safety of workers and preserving the external environment (Italy)
Members of the Awards organising committee, lead by Mrs Jenny Jinxiu Yan (centre in red), and members of the Judging Panel join the celebration of the 2018 Award winners
Members of the Awards organising committee, lead by Mrs Jenny Jinxiu Yan (centre in red), and members of the Judging Panel join the celebration of the 2018 Award winners

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