Looking Ahead to 2015

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For the past couple of years, we at TBM have kicked off the New Year with an industry forecast – namely a questionnaire sent to experts in the tunneling sector asking about the future of the market and how it is changing. Unanimously, our four panelists agree that the need for tunneling and underground construction in North America remains high.

Aging infrastructure, increasing population and congestion in urban centers, and the need to protect our environment (natural environment from pollution and built environment from catastrophic events) continue to drive demand for infrastructure – including tunnels. In the water and wastewater sectors alone, EPA cites $674 billion dollars in needs over the 20 years nationally to maintain and improve infrastructure.

On the transportation side, follow-on segments of the New York and Los Angeles subways are still a ways off, and much-needed trans-Hudson tunnels remain in a state of flux. Transit projects are also on the drawing board in Maryland and Massachusetts, and high-speed rail remains a topic of discussion in California – tunneling on these projects, however, is on a limited scale.

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However, coming into the New Year, we are lacking eminent mega projects that have marked the last several years. With the awarding of the $1.6 billion Metro Purple Line Extension in Los Angeles, there are no looming projects in the billion-dollar range that had been coming out lately (No. 7 Line extension, East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway-Segment 1, Port of Miami, SR 99, LA Metro’s Regional Connector, Crenshaw/LAX and Purple Line Extension).

As the panelists report, there are several mid-size projects under development across the country, as well as projects for rehabilitation and resiliency involving existing tunnels. All in all, it seems likely that the market will hold steady – at the least – in the short term, and no slowdown in demand over the long term.

We thank this year’s panelists – Priscilla Nelson, Faruk Oksuz, Steven Kramer and Michael Maltezos – for sharing their insights.

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U.S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx delivers the keynote at The Moles Award Dinner.

Juno Doesn’t Stop Moles Dinner
Despite the impacts of Winter Storm Juno that smacked the Northeast, The Moles Awards Dinner went off without a hitch on Wednesday, January 28 at the New York City Hilton Midtown. The storm led to the cancellation of thousands of flights into and out of the city, resulting in some no-shows. Before the storm hit, The Moles were expecting in excess of 2,000 attendees to the annual event. In all, the event was well attended with little perceptible impact.

The highlight of the evening is the presentation of awards for outstanding achievement to a Moles’ Member and a Non-Member. The Member Award was presented to Raymond R. Oneglia, Vice Chairman of O&G Industries, Torrington, Connecticut, while the Non-Member Award was presented to Timothy Barnard, Chairman of the Board of Barnard Cos., Bozeman, Montana. Additionally a special award was presented to Gerry Carty, outgoing Executive Director of The Moles, who is retiring.

Another highlight of the event is a keynote presentation, given annually by politicians, academicians, military leaders and other high-profile individuals. This year Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, delivered the keynote, reiterating the need to re-invest in our transportation infrastructure.

Some of the other events that piggyback on The Moles Awards Dinner were cancelled, most notably the George A. Fox Conference, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 27. It has been re-scheduled to March 16 at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

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