2017 ITA Tunneling Awards: Winners Announced in Paris

The ITA Tunneling Awards recognize outstanding projects and innovation across the globe.

Instituted in 2015, the ITA Tunneling Awards recognize the most ground-breaking international innovation and outstanding projects in tunneling and underground space utilization. The two first editions of the ITA Tunneling Awards received more than 200 entries and 64 nominations, rewarded 21 projects and personalities and gathered more than 450 attendees.

Through nine categories and one Lifetime Achievement Award, the ITA Tunneling Awards is becoming an international standard for tunnling projects. This edition, the event took place in Paris, Nov. 15, during the congress of AFTES (French Association of Tunnelling and Underground Space). After two days of congress and technical conferences, the Awards ceremony was a grand finale and offered a vibrant Parisian evening at famous Salle Wagram, drawing a crowd of 400 attendees.

The winners were:

• Major Project of the Year (over 500m€): Doha Metro – Qatar 

The Doha Metro is an underground, elevated and at-grade rail network that will be built in two phases. The first phase with 85 km network length is planned to be operational in 2020, consists of three lines with 37 stations and will be served by 75 trains. For the tunneling, 470,497 concrete segments were required to produce 70,071 tunnel rings to construct the 111.5 km of tunnels between July 2014 until September 2016. In 2015 Qatar Rail achieved the Guinness World Record of the highest number (20) tunnel boring machines operating on a single project.  The continued effort among Qatar Rail’s 54,000-strong workforce has enabled the projects’ accident frequency rate to be one of the lowest for any major project in the world. Qatar Rail being recognized internationally by several prestigious organizations such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Gold Award 2016, the British Safety Council’s International Safety Award in 2017 for Qatar Rail’s Headquarters, and the International Standards Organization (ISO) accreditation in 2016 for quality, environment, health and safety. The Doha Metro will revolutionize the way people move around Doha and its suburbs.

• Project of the Year (50-500m€): MTR Shatin to Central Link (SCL) – Hong Kong – China

The project included high-risk tunneling works in a 4-km tunnel (part of a 17-km strategic railway line), underneath Hong Kong’s highly built-up urban areas, in close proximity to residents. In a complex geological situation, different tunneling methods had to be used such as cut-and-cover and drill-and-blast at only 6 m above a live water supply tunnel, and TBM crossing twice at 6 m below an operating railway line. Also noteworthy is the alternative design which was used for a large-span mined soft ground tunnel to reduce construction and safety risks as well as the redesigning of the ventilation shaft to improve safety.

• Project of the Year – (up to 50m€): Fjærland Hydropower Plants – Norway

The Fjærland HPP consists of six HPPs in rural surroundings along the Fjærland Fjord. Two of these HPPs is with tunnel. These tunnels were developed without road access and within strict environmental requirements.Innovative solutions were developed in the project and small interventions in the surrounding nature were operated. The finished result will be not only an environmentally friendly production facility for electricity but also a beautiful feature on the shoreline along Fjærlandsfjorden.

• Technical Project Innovation of the Year: Construction of Bifurcation Section of Underground Expressway Underneath Residential Area in Yokohama – Japan

In this project, instead of using the open-cut method, new technologies were developed and introduced to construct the large bifurcation section – 20 m wide and 200 m long – from the main tunnel by trenchless construction method directly under the residential area. New technologies for widening tunnel from segmentally lined tunnel were used, such as the combination of Enlargement Shield Tunneling Machine (ESTM) and Large Diameter Pipe Roof (LDPR). Utilization of advanced technologies contributed to the completion of the bifurcation works without adverse impacts to the residential area at surface and the successful opening of Yokohama North Line (8.8 km) expressway.

• Technical Product/Equipment Innovation of the Year: Strength Monitoring Using Thermal Imaging – United Kingdom

SMUTI is a completely novel method of monitoring sprayed concrete strength gain. SMUTI allows the strength of the whole shotcrete lining to be monitored continuously in real time from a secure position, bringing huge benefits to safety, quality control and productivity. SMUTI is easier to use, safer and quicker than existing methods and the data is accessible, auditable and traceable.

• Sustainability Initiative of the Year: Anacostia River Tunnel Project – United States

The Anacostia River Tunnel (ART) is a major component of the DC Water Combined Sewer Overflow remediation program. When completed, the entire project will reduce sewer overflows to the Anacostia River by 98%. The ART is a 3.8-km long tunnel with an internal diameter of 7 m. Existing overflow sewers are connected to the tunnel using 30-m deep shafts with a specially designed configuration to control inflow into the tunnel while reducing wear. The tunnel has a 100-year minimum design life. The tunnel was excavated in an urban setting with minimal impact to the environment and the surrounding community.

• Safety Initiative of the Year: Telemach Cutterhead Disc Robotic Changing System – Hong Kong – China

Telemach is a semi-automatic multi-purpose robotic arm installed inside the front shield of TBM aiming to safely replace used cutter discs with the operator remaining inside TBM control room. During the stoppage for TBM maintenance, the arm is able to maneuver into the cutterhead chamber and perform cleaning and replacement of worn discs by a new unit.This 10-year development project is part of the demonstration that the robotic industry, adapted to the tunneling environment, can contribute to a better and safer tunneling environment leading to an enriched well-being of workers.

• Innovative Underground Space Concept of the Year: Cavern Master Plan – China, Hong-Kong

China is currently facing urban housing issues as the cities are overcrowded and lack of available space is now obvious. The project was born by noting that rock caverns may serve as a sustainable source of long-term land supply in Hong Kong and may represent a new solution to relocate some functions and release some precious space. To unleash the potential of this hidden land resource, Hong Kong has formulated its first Cavern Master Plan (CMP) to guide and facilitate territory-wide application of rock caverns for supporting continuous social and economic development of the city. The potential uses of these caverns vary between food/wine storage, archives and data storage, research laboratories and vehicle parking. With the launch of the CMP, numerous cavern projects covering a wide range of uses are being implemented in various the 48 Strategic Cavern Areas delineated in the plan.

• Young Tunneler of the Year: Tobias Andersson – Norway

Andersson started as an engineer for JV Skanska-Vinci at the notorious and challenging Hallandsas project in Sweden where after four years he became a TBM manager. He moved on as TBM Site Manager for LNS AS to be a part of bringing TBMs back to Norway through the Rossaga HPP, close to the arctic circle, were challenges like extreme winter conditions, karstic ground and very hard rock over 300 MPa were faced. Andersson and his team managed a 25-ton main bearing change, 3 km into the tunnel, impressively in six weeks. Now he works as a TBM construction manager for JV Skanska-Strabag at the Ulriken project in Norway and just had a breakthrough in the first railroad tunnel excavated with a TBM in Norwegian history.

• The Lifetime Achievement Award: Prof. Einar Broch 

Professor Einar Broch has been a member of ITA since its creation. He was President of ITA from 1986 to 1989, and he is a member of Norwegian Academy Technology Sciences and the Norwegian Society Professional Engineers. He is notably recognized for his outstanding contributions (more than 100 scientific publications) concerning hydroelectric installations.

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