Tunnels lead the way in world top-100 projects Jul 2012
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
More than one in ten global infrastructure projects included in a newly released list of the top-100, judged on scale, feasibility, complexity, innovation and impact on society, involve major tunnelling. Peter Kenyon takes a closer look at engineering and finance consultancy KPMG's major new Infrastructure 100: World Cities report, released at the launch event of the World Cities Summit in Singapore on Tuesday (July 3, 2012).
KMPG World Cities repor

KMPG World Cities report

Three North American and three South American projects that involve tunnelling have made it onto a prestigious list of the world's top-100 infrastructure projects, produced by international consultancy KPMG and as selected by an independent panel of judges spanning all sectors of construction and project finance.
In total 11 of the 100 selected projects, recognised for their scale, feasibility, complexity and innovation, involve a large element of tunnelling. One of the projects, the proposed 19km immersed tube Fehmarnbelt Crossing linking Denmark and Germany, appears in two of the 10 categories (Global Connectivity and Urban Regeneration). Other tunnelling projects that made the top-100 list also include:
The East Side Access railway project in New York, USA
California's high speed rail project
The Port of Miami highway tunnel in Florida
• The 52km long Aconcagua railway tunnel project linking Chile and Argentina
The Kuwait Metro
São Paolo's Metro Line 4 in Brazil
The São Paolo Ring Road in Brazil
Projects were nominated for inclusion in one of 10 categories, with 10 making it to the final list in each category. Tunnelling projects were strongly represented in the Urban Mobility section (6 of the total of 10) and the Global Connectivity section (3 of 10), with the Thames Tideway project, which involves excavation of a 30km tunnel 70m under the River Thames in London, UK, making it onto the list in the Water category, and the Singapore Deep Tunnel Sewerage project making it onto the list in the Recycling and Waste Management Section.
David O'Brien, leader of KPMG's Global Center of Excellence for Cities, said: "There is clear and ample evidence that the world is beginning to innovate and bring new solutions to respond to the simmering challenges of urbanisation and environmental sustainability. Looking around the world of urban infrastructure, it is not difficult to find examples of city planners, developers, engineers, investors and policymakers who are re-examining and re-inventing the way infrastructure is delivered."
Labelling the Top 100 as "triumphs of humanity", O'Brien added: "These projects should provide inspiration to urban infrastructure participants that change is not only possible but achievable. We hope that the projects highlighted help solidify a new vision for the future and catalyse a fundamental change in the way we interact with the urban environment."

Table 1. Global projects with significant tunnelling elements in the KPMG Top-100

Project Region Estimated cost (US$)
Bioceanico Aconcagua Corridor Argentina-Chile $3 billion
Fehmarnbelt Crossing (sea link) Denmark-Germany $6.9 billion
California high speed rail USA $68 billion
East Side Access railway USA $8.2 billion
Bosphorous Tunnel (sea link) Turkey $1.1 billion
São Paolo Metro line 4 Brazil
Kuwait Metro Kuwait $10 billion
Miami Port Tunnel (sea link) USA $0.6 billion
São Paolo Ring Road Brazil
Singapore Deep Tunnel Sewerage System Singapore $2.6 billion
Thames Tideway UK
Tunnelling projects included in the top 100 are:
52km trans-Andean base tunnel route

52km trans-Andean base tunnel route

Bioceanico Aconcagua Corridor (Category: Global Connectivity)
Considered by some of the judges to be a "game changer for South America" and "the region's most important development in 100 years" the ambitious trans-Andean electric rail crossing will involve the construction of a 52km long, deep base tunnel that would be second in length in the world to the St Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland.
It is designed to replace the Los Libertadores Pass, which is closed for up to two months a year, sometimes for weeks at a time, hindering commercial transportation between Argentina and the Pacific ports in Chile.
Funding arrangements are still to be finalised for the estimated US$3 billion project, and officials have approached the Inter-American Development Bank. In March 2012, during an official state visit to Chile by Argentina's President Cristina Fernández the two countries signed a new integration agenda and announced that the tendering process could start within six months.
Fehmarnbelt Crossing's 19km undersea tunnel

Fehmarnbelt immersed tube sea link

Fehmarnbelt Crossing (Category: Global Connectivity)
The preferred method for the 19km long link between Denmark and Germany is an immersed tube tunnel with a double track rail line and a four-lane motorway. The planned tunnel will be the world's longest road and rail combined immersed tube with 17.6km underwater.
The project is expected to cost US$6.9 billion (at 2008 prices) and will be undertaken by the Danish Government-owned company Femern A/S, with debt guaranteed by the Government and funded through tolls. Femern A/S plans to invite international consortia to participate in a prequalification process in the Autumn of this year (2012), with contract awards due to be made in 2013.
When the link opens, an average of 8,000 vehicles a day are expected to use it in the first year, rising to 10,800 in year six. The tunnel will cut rail journey distances between Scandinavia and northern Europe by 170km.
California high speed rail (Category: Global connectivity)
This ambitious project is described by one judge as "a one in 100-year transformative event". Despite difficult public financing, California is hoping to move ahead with the US$68 billion project as Governor Jerry Brown's number one infrastructure priority. Once built, trains capable of reaching speeds of up to 220mph will link San Francisco and Los Angeles in as little as two-and-a-half hours.
5.4km undersea Eurasia Tunnel alignment

5.4km undersea Eurasia Tunnel alignment

Bosphorus (Eurasia) Tunnel (Category: Urban Mobility)
The US$1.1 billion Bosphorus highway tunnel project in Istanbul, also known as the Eurasia Tunnel Project, will be constructed by a Korean-Turkish JV, to link Kazlicesme and Goztepe along a 14.6km route, and includes a 5.4km bored tunnel across the Bosphorus Strait beneath the seabed.
In addition to twin two-lane road tunnels, the project includes the improvement and widening of current roads that lead to the tunnel on both sides for 9.2km of construction in total. Design and construction of what will be the second tunnelled transport crossing of the Bosphorus (a 1.4km immersed tube rail crossing was completed in September 2008) is projected to be complete in 2016.
Judges were impressed most with the project's aims to ease congestion, cut journey times and stimulate economic growth in the dense environment of one of the world's oldest cities.
48km of tunnels for Singapore's DTSS

48km of tunnels for Singapore's DTSS

Singapore Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (Category: Recycling and Waste Management)
Singapore's US$2.6 billion Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS), is designed for the collection, treatment, reclamation and disposal of Singapore's wastewater, and will replace the previous system of six sewage treatment works, one sludge treatment plant and 139 pumping stations located throughout the city state.
The DTSS has been under construction since 2000 and is scheduled for completion in 2020. Phase One of the project was completed in 2008 (the last TBM holed through in 2005), and consists of a new 48km long deep tunnel sewer running from Kranji to Changi, where a centralised water reclamation plant was built. The Changi Water Reclamation Plant is the heart of the system, a state-of-the-art treatment plant capable of treating 800,000m3 (176 million gallons) of wastewater a day to international standards.
The award-winning system works entirely by gravity, to eliminate the need for pumping stations and the wastewater overflows.
Pedra Branca forest to the north of São Paolo

Pedra Branca forest north of São Paolo

São Paolo Ring Road (Category: Urban Mobility)
The project was given an honorary mention by the judging panel and is in fact four projects - the 32km western section that was completed in 2002; the 61km southern section completed in 2010; the 45km eastern section, which is due for completion in 2014; and the complicated northern alignment which is by far the most challenging as it runs through the green belt UNESCO-recognised Atlantic forest park.
The tendering process for this section, which includes seven tunnels of 7km in total, running under the urban forest areas, has resumed following a legal challenge. International prequalified bidders from 17 consortia and eight companies are being evaluated and the alignment's six construction lots are expected to be awarded later this month (July, 2012).
Kuwait Metro (Category: Urban Mobility)
The PPP project fills an urgent gap in the market. Kuwait City has limited public transport and an overreliance on cars, leading to traffic congestion. The first phase of the US$10 billion greenfield project includes 50km of track with 28 new stations, some 30% of which is aligned underground. It will be procured in six packages (one for rolling stock, four for infrastructure and one for operations), and have a significant social impact by reducing air and noise pollution. Following subsequent phases, the completed project will be extended to 160km through 69 stations.
São Paulo's Metro Line 4 (Category: Urban Mobility)
As the first PPP project signed by the Brazilian state, the new Yellow Line 4 will carry nearly one million people per day. The first section, with six stations, is already operating. When fully operational, the line will be 12.8km long, with 11 stations connecting Luz Downtown with Vila Sônia on the west side of the city.
Details of three other projects appearing in the top 100, the East Side Access project in New York, the Miami Port Tunnel, and London's Thames Tideway, can be found in articles published on TunnelTalk and listed in the references.
East Side Access
Slurry TBMs ready to tackle New York ground - TunnelTalk, March 2011
East Side Access soft ground tunnels awarded - TunnelTalk, October 2009
East Side Access optimization - TunnelTalk, October 2009
Miami Port Tunnel
Miami Port Tunnel finally a project - TunnelTalk, October 2009
Port of Miami Tunnel gets underway - TunnelTalk, July 2010
Miami TBM assembled and ready to go - TunnelTalk, September 2011
Thames Tideway
TBMs ready for London sewerage drives - TunnelTalk, February 2012
Super sewer to revitalize River Thames - TunnelTalk, March 2009
Fehmarnbælt Crossing
Political backing to Germany-Denmark linkTunnelTalk, February 2011
Cost comparison for Fehmarnbælt link optionsTunnelTalk, November 2010
TBM tunnels considered for Fehmarn sea linkTunnelTalk, December 2011
California high speed rail
California HSR identifies qualified contractors - TunnelTalk, February 2012
Peer review critical of California's HSR plan - TunnelTalk, January 2012
Singapore Deep Tunnel Sewerage System
Last TBM holes through on Singapore's DTSS - TunnelTalk, March 2005
The good, bad and mixed on the DTSS - TunnelTalk, April 2004
São Paolo Ring Road
São Paolo urban forest tunnels edge closer - TunnelTalk, June 2012

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