COWI, a leading international engineering consulting group, has been awarded a $15 million Province of British Columbia contract as the Owner’s Engineer of an eight-lane immersed tunnel across British Columbia’s (BC) Fraser River, to provide more capacity for drivers and transit users, while providing walking and cycling options through the crossing for the first time.
The new tunnel will have three general purpose traffic lanes and one dedicated bus lane in each direction, as well as a bi-directional multi-use cycle path/pedestrian walkway to improve travel across the river without restricting navigable space for marine traffic. COWI will provide the reference concepts and geotechnical underpinning for the ambitious CD$4.15 billion river crossing. Drawing on its experience designing the original George Massey tunnel in 1959, COWI will conceptualize and oversee removal of the original four-lane tunnel and construction of its eight-lane replacement.
COWI will draw on international expertise from its offices around the world to create pioneering flood control systems around the new tunnel that can withstand extreme river flows as well as anticipated increased sea levels. COWI’s experts were chosen for their unique experience designing immersed tunnels under different types on conditions around the world including the world’s longest immersed tunnel for motorists in China and the first immersed tunnel designed against typhoon waves in South Korea. COWI has also previously helped create pioneering tunnel concepts for an immersed tunnel in the center of Stockholm where the water depth to an existing utility pipe near the tunnel alignment required casting of the tunnel elements on site under floating conditions.
Darryl Matson, Senior Project Director for the project at COWI in North Vancouver, said: “It’s projects like these that light up the engineer inside each of us. We are very passionate about this project as it lies in the backyard of our local team – we use it frequently so we know what a difference we can make to the community. It’s a key transportation link with engineering challenges such as minimizing disruption to local ecosystems during construction and ensuring the final tunnel will stand up to natural disasters. It will both test and showcase our talented engineers. The tunnel will break new ground with a dedicated pathway for cyclists and pedestrians and a dedicated bus lane alongside road traffic, helping create cleaner transport and bringing huge trade and travel benefits to the local communities.”
As the Immersed Tunnel specialist, COWI will be part of the broader Owners’ Engineering team that will bring together experts from highway/civil, environmental, hydraulics, communication, marine navigation and construction, and archaeology to overcome unprecedented engineering challenges and build for the future.