On Nov. 15, the Niagara Tunnel Project was named Canadian Tunneling Project of the Year at the Awards Gala of the Tunnelling Association of Canada (TAC). The event was held at the Sheraton Wall Ventre in Vancouver, B.C.
With a diameter of 14.44 m, the Niagara Tunnel is the world’s largest tunnel to be constructed in hard rock with a tunnel boring machine (TBM). Working in a tourist-sensitive environment, in extremely difficult mining conditions, the tunnel project was completed almost 10 percent under budget and nine months ahead of schedule. The project experienced half the provincial rate of lost-time injuries, with no life-threatening injuries. Project representatives included Strabag (contractor), Hatch Mott MacDonald (owner’s representative), Ontario Power Generation (owner) and The Robbins Company (TBM manufacturer).
The Niagara Tunnel will enable the generation of enough clean renewable electricity to power about 160,000 homes for a century or more. During construction, the project directly employed up to 600 workers and brought approximately $1 billion in economic benefits to the Niagara region.
TAC also presented awards for the International Project of the Year and Tunneler of the Year. The 2013 award for the international project to which a Canadian company made a significant contribution was presented to Canadian contractor McNally Construction as sponsor of the JV that completed the Euclid Creek Tunnel Project in Cleveland, Ohio. McNally was instrumental in working with its JV partner Kiewit and introducing several new construction techniques to the CSO interceptor tunnel that will prevent combined wastewater overflows into Euclid Creek and protect the environment of Lake Eire.
Steve Skelhorn accepted the award on behalf of McNally Construction. He noted innovations that included using steel-fiber reinforced concrete segments as a one-pass liner, which allowed the JV to shave months off of the schedule. Located 190 to 220 feet below ground, the tunnel is about 18,000 ft long and 24 ft in diameter. About 3,000 ft of the tunnel extends beneath Lake Erie. Tunnel boring operations have been completed and the facility is expected to go online in 2015.
The TAC Canadian Tunneler of the Year award for 2013 was presented to Dr. Peter Kaiser for his career as Canada’s leading expert on rock mechanics and tunneling in high stress environments and his contribution to the understanding of time-dependent rock behavior, brittle rock failure, ground support and microseismicity. Kaiser is currently Vice President of the Center for Excellence in Mining and the driving force behind the Rio Tinto Centre for Underground Construction based in Sudbury, Canada.
Additional awards included the presentation of the Dan Eisenstein Memorial Scholarship Award to Michelle van der Pouw Kraan and a recognition award to Rick Staples of Delcan, past president of TAC and its current representative to ITA.