Canada pays tribute to expertise and effort 27 Oct 2014

TunnelTalk reporting

An adopted son of Canada and a public-private-partnership project are the outstanding winners this year of awards presented by the Tunnelling Association of Canada (TAC) in recognition of lifetime achievement and innovative project planning, design and development.

At a gala dinner at the Sheraton Hotel in Vancouver on Monday evening, 27 October 2014, Rick Lovat, President of TAC, presented the awards to Dr Evert Hoek as Canadian Tunneller of the Year and to the design and construction teams of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Pedestrian Tunnel as the 2014 Canadian Project of the Year.

Dr Evert Hoek honoured for his life’s work and expertise

As one of the most active national tunnelling associations, and as the representative of Canada on the General Assembly of 71 Member Nations of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA), Canada has a long and advanced history of applying and developing cutting edge excavation and underground development techniques for both the civil tunnelling and underground mining industries.

Dr Evert Hoek, a native South African who has made Canada his home, is known internationally for his work in developing the study of rock mechanics to a geological and engineering science. He has brought to the field a fundamental understanding of rock mechanics and, with colleagues, introduced formulae and tests for establishing rock strength and insitu stresses. His work continues today with engagements as a lecturer and tutor at universities around the world and with his global consultancy assignments.

In addition to producing renowned engineers at the forefront of their fields, Canada has played a leading role in the development of new technologies and in the application of systems and techniques from other countries. It was a Canadian TBM manufacturer that contributed significantly to the development of modern soft-ground mechanized TBM technology; it was Canada that applied the largest ever hard rock TBM at 14.14m in diameter; and the country has completed many complex tunnel drives and sunk some of the world’s deepest single-drop access shafts in the mining industry.

Top spot for subaqueous pedestrian link

For the 2014 Canadian Project of the Year, the judging panel selected the under-water pedestrian tunnel fixed link from the centre of Toronto, under the channel, to the Billy Bishop regional airport. More than the other projects nominated for the accolade, the Billy Bishop airport access tunnel encapsulates the advantages of the underground option for public infrastructure, and illustrates how the tunnel facility will change fundamentally the social appreciation and economic future of the airport.

Although only short, the tunnel is recognized for several particular elements. It is a public-private-partnership project with the airport owner that has made use of both TBM and open sequential face excavation together with a sheet membrane waterproofing system and a final insitu concrete lining. The design and excavation team has almost completed construction and official opening of the new fixed link airport access is drawing near.

Jennifer Day
Scholarship beneficiary

As an important part of its activity, TAC fosters development of the next generation of tunnelling recruits and promotes a career in tunnelling and ground engineering to young graduates.

To support the education and training of new talent to the industry, each year TAC awards a scholarship for further study by a tunnel engineering student. The scholarship is presented in memory of Prof Dan Eisenstein who also made Canada his home and was Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at The University of Alberta in Edmonton as well as President of the ITA in 1992-95. For this year, the 2014 Dan Eisenstein Memorial Scholarship is awarded to Jennifer Day.

During the awards evening, TAC premiered a video it has commissioned to assist the tunnelling industry around the globe advocate the underground potential, advantages and option for the many public infrastructure needs in the rapidly growing urban environments and megacities of the world.

Promoting the underground as the long term option

Using Canadian projects as examples, and the policies towards underground infrastructure as adopted by different public authorities in cities across the country, the video promotes the underground as a valuable resource for planning and creating sustainable and livable cities of the future. As the message states, no public authority has ever regretted placing public infrastructure underground: the advantages are numerous, the technical knowhow for building underground facilities in all types of geological conditions is available, and innovative contractual and funding vehicles are being developed to facilitate their design, planning and construction. The message to city planners and politicians is simple: set the challenges and the tunnelling industry will rise to meet them.

With the TAC awards presented for 2014, the Association and the tunnelling industry of Canada looks forward to presenting nominations for award-winning recognition in 2015.

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