Acciona-Ghella selected for Broadway Subway project 23 Jul 2020

Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk

Design, construction and partial funding of the CAD$2.83 billion Broadway Subway project in Vancouver is to be a project for the Acciona-Ghella JV. Its proposal is selected by the Government of British Columbia from two shortlisted proponents for the 5.7km westward extension of the Millennium Line SkyTrain from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street and with a connection to the underground section of the Canada Line at Cambie Street (Fig 1). Designers with the JV proposal are IBI Group of Canada; Dialog BC Architecture Engineering Interior Design Planning; Mott MacDonald; and Acciona Ingenieria Especializada Obra Civil e Industrial of Spain with systems integration contractor Parsons.

Fig 1. 5km of twin tube EPBM excavation will link six new underground stations
Fig 1. 5km of twin tube EPBM excavation will link six new underground stations

The project is funded and delivered by the Government of British Columbia, with contributions from the Government of Canada and the City of Vancouver and an element of funding from the construction group. “The Joint Venture is in final conversations with the Client towards a signing of the contract,” said Fernando Vara, Business Development Director for the Railways & Tunnels Unit for Acciona in the head office in Madrid. Acciona is the 60% leader of the JV with Italian partner Ghella at 40%.

The new 5.7km of public transit line is aligned 5km underground in twin tube running tunnels connecting six new underground stations, with a 700m section of elevated guideway linking to the existing VCC-Clark Station of the elevated Millennium Line. The 6m diameter tunnels, 5.2m i.d., will be excavated through sandstone geology, below the water table and through zones of glacial till. “We plan to use two EPB TBMs,” said Vara “and we are in discussions with TBM providers for the procurement of the machines. We will also design the segmental lining and will procure the moulds and the carousel and other equipment to produce the segments in a local facility in collaboration with a local Canadian company.”

Broadway City Hall interchange station with the Canada Line at Cambie Street
Broadway City Hall interchange station with the Canada Line at Cambie Street

The six stations are planned as top-down excavations beneath the main street of the Broadway Corridor. The first cut will be completed in two halves with each decked over to reinstate traffic for excavation to continue beneath and down to base level. All the traffic staging will be developed with minimum impact on the surrounding communities and stakeholders. Interior construction of the stations will then progress from the bottom up. Works are expected to start in 2020, with the new extension opening in 2025. Once in service, the trip from VCC-Clark to Arbutus Station will take 11 minutes, saving the average transit commuter almost 30 minutes a day and relieving congestion along Broadway.

This is the fifth extension of the metro system in Vancouver since the first element of the elevated Millennium Line was inaugurated in 1986. This was followed by the elevated Expo Line; the Canada Line link from the international airport with half of the line underground in cut-and-cover and bored tunnels under the city streets; and most recently the underground Evergreen Extension.

“The project is the sixth active infrastructure project in BC for Acciona,” said Carlos Planelles, Country Director and President for Acciona North America. “It will be significant also in that we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary for Acciona in Canada in 2021. We are looking forward to progressing the project and to another strong collaboration with our JV partner Ghella.”

Owner impressions of South Granville Station (left), Mount Pleasant Station (middle) and the Fairview VGH-Station that will serve the Vancouver General Hospital (right)

The two global companies have collaborated previously as JV partners on important international transport infrastructure projects including the twin tube TBM, segmentally lined, Follo Line railway between Oslo and Ski in Norway; the Legacy Way TBM highway tunnels in Brisbane, Australia; and the Bologna Node project on the Milan-Naples high-speed rail section in Italy. Both are also working independently on projects in their home countries and in different JVs on the Auckland interceptor in New Zealand, the Sydney City and Southwest Metro line and the Brisbane Cross River Rail project in Australia for Ghella, and the Quito Metro in Ecuador, a new road tunnel in Poland and a new metro project for the São Paulo Metro Line 6 in Brazil for Acciona.

Fig 2. Proposed extension of the Broadway Subway Milllenium Line west to the University of British Columbia
Fig 2. Proposed extension of the Broadway Subway Milllenium Line west to the University of British Columbia

Competition for the contract was presented by the second shortlisted proponent, the Broadway Connect JV of Dragados and Aecon of Canada, with designers Hatch, WSP, and Dr Sauer & Partners, VIA Architecture, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions and Sener. The JV proposed an alternative to design and build three of the underground stations as mined operations without disrupting traffic on the street.

A third group, the SNC-Lavalin led West 9th Partners, withdrew from the process after pleading guilty and being penalised for charges of bribery in connection with a project in Libya from 2001 to 2011.

Along with the Broadway Subway project another rapid-transit project is being developed for Vancouver. The Surrey Langley SkyTrain project is an elevated line to be built from King George Station alongside the Fraser Highway to the Fleetwood area of Surrey. The first phase of the project is estimated at $1.6 billion with a total of about $3.1 billion with the second phase included. The Federal and Provincial Governments are contributing funds to both projects with the Province as the client for the Broadway Subway Project and the Vancouver TransLink organisation managing the Surrey Langley SkyTrain project.

There are studies ongoing also for an underground extension of the Broadway Subway of the Millennium Line west from the Arbutus terminus to the University of British Columbia (Fig 2).

Revised shortlist for Vancouver Broadway Subway 01 Aug 2019

Karen Martin, TunnelTalk

Proposals to design, build and finance the most significant upcoming transportation infrastructure project in Vancouver are down from three teams to two, as SNC-Lavalin withdraws its bid to build the CA$2.8 billion SkyTrain Broadway Extension.

Earlier in 2019, SNC-Lavalin, and in partnership with Strabag in the early stages, was one of three pre-qualified teams invited by the Government of British Columbia to participate in the request for Broadway Subway project proposals along with the Acciona-Ghella Joint Venture and the Broadway Connect group led by Dragados and Aecon.

The Broadway Subway is an extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line
The Broadway Subway is an extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line

A spokesperson for The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for Government of British Columbia announced: “The Ministry is aware that SNC-Lavalin has announced a shift in its corporate strategy and will be withdrawing from all fixed price projects globally. We can confirm that SNC-Lavalin has withdrawn from the procurement process for the Broadway Subway project.”

Broadway Subway project is a scheme to extend the existing elevated SkyTrain rapid transit system to serve one of the most congested transit corridors in the city. The project includes the design, construction, and partial financing of a 5.7km extension to the Millennium Line with six underground stations below the Broadway Corridor to a new terminus at Arbutus Street and an underground connection to the city’s Canada Line at Cambie Street (Fig 1).

Open cut on the Canada Line caused severe disruption
Open cut on the Canada Line caused severe disruption
Proposed extension of Broadway Subway to the University
Proposed extension of Broadway Subway to the University

The partners of the two remaining bidders comprise:

Acciona-Ghella Joint Venture:

  • Acciona Infrastructure Canada
  • Ghella Canada
  • IBI Professional Services (Canada)
  • With designers:
  • DIALOG BC Architecture Engineering Interior Design Planning
  • Mott MacDonald Canada
  • Ingenieria Especializada de Obra Civil e Industrial
  • Parsons
  • Corporacion Acciona Infraestructuras

Broadway Connect:

  • Dragados Canada
  • Aecon Infrastructure Management
  • ACS Infrastructure Canada
  • Aecon Concessions, a division of Aecon Construction Group
  • Dragados, Spain
  • Aecon Group
  • With designers:
  • Hatch
  • WSP Canada
  • Dr G Sauer & Partners
  • VIA Architecture
  • Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, a Division of Wood Canada

The preferred contractor is expected to be selected by mid-2020, with construction anticipated to begin in late 2020 and for the line to be opened in 2025.

Construction of the Canada Line between 2005 and 2008 resulted in a costly lawsuit ruling against TransLink, the transportation network of Metro Vancouver. A 7km long section of the line along Cambie Street, converted from an original bored tunnel plan to a less expensive cut-and-cover method, including four open cut stations, caused major disruption to local businesses. A court ruling in September 2018 awarded damages of CA$128,000, CA$44,560 and CA$7,600 to the owners of a local theatre, a village restaurant and a general store, respectively, for lost value of the business properties. Mayor of Vancouver at the time, Gregor Robertson, committed to supporting bored tunnelling for the upcoming Broadway extension. In his ruling ordering TransLink to pay the damages, Justice Christopher Grauer wrote: “The ruling is seen as an important precedent for selecting bored tunnel construction over open cut works and for resolving the remaining claims by Cambie Village business owners.”

The Millennium Line Broadway Extension was prioritised in the 10-year vision for regional transportation by the council of regional city mayors. It is the number one transportation priority in Vancouver, and one of the most significant infrastructure investments for the future of the region.

Future transit plans to serve areas of urban growth
Future transit plans to serve areas of urban growth

Phase one of the 10-year vision focused on reducing overcrowding on transit and congestion on major roads. Phase two, which includes construction of the Broadway Subway, centres on further expansion and improvement of the wider transportation network of Metro Vancouver.

The Broadway Corridor in Vancouver is an important economic, healthcare, and residential centre for Metro Vancouver and British Columbia, linking significant regional destinations. It is also the busiest bus route in Canada and the USA with more than 100,000 journeys made each day. The new subway will integrate with the regional bus network and eliminate overcrowding and long queues at Commercial-Broadway Station, the busiest transit station in the region.

Once in service, the Broadway Subway will be able to transport 5,100 more passengers per hour, per direction than the existing B-Line bus service it will replace, increasing capacity by 250%. It will also be built to accommodate additional future capacity increases. On the new subway, the journey from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Station will take 11 minutes, saving the average commuter almost 30 minutes a day, and will relieve congestion and air pollution along Broadway.

Construction of the Broadway Subway project is budgeted at CA$2.83 billion. The funding breakdown is: CA$1.82 billion from Government of British Columbia; CA$888.4 million from Government of Canada; and CA$99.8 million in-kind contribution from City of Vancouver. An additional CA$17 million went towards the full project cost under phase one of the 10-year vision plan.

Other new rapid transit projects in the 10-year vision include:

  • Construction and operation of the Surrey-Newton-Guildford Line light rail transit
  • Project development and potential early works for the Surrey-Langley Line light rail transit
  • Planning for a potential gondola from the Millennium Line to Simon Fraser University Burnaby campus
  • Planning for a potential rapid transit to University of British Columbia Point Grey campus.

While the first three projects involve no underground works, TransLink is studying an extension underground of the Millennium Line from Arbutus to University of British Columbia. The University is engaging the community, regional partners and senior levels of government to determine the best way to accelerate and fund this second phase. The project would provide enough capacity to meet demand beyond 2045 and would be expandable to meet the longer-term transportation needs of the region.

The city is working also with TransLink to develop its new Transport 2050 regional transportation strategy, a blueprint for the region that will set out the vision, goals, strategies and key initiatives for Metro Vancouver for the next 30 years.


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