Tunnel Achievement Awards

Tunnel Achievement Award for Innovations in Mechanized Tunneling: Martin Herrenknecht

By Jim Rush

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at the annual Tunnel Short Course, Tunnel Achievement Awards will be presented to honor the people, products and projects that have had a significant impact on the marketplace. This year’s Tunnel Achievement Awards will be presented for “Innovations in Mechanized Tunneling” and “Project Excellence.”

Since its founding in the 1970s, Herrenknecht AG has steadily grown to become a worldwide leader in manufacturing tunnel boring and underground construction equipment. While other TBM manufacturers were focused on building machines for either hard rock or soft ground at the time of his company’s founding, Dr. Martin Herrenknecht had a vision to build a machine that could accommodate all ground conditions.

Today, Herrenknecht machines are driving tunnels through all types of geology and in all corners of the world. A map of the company’s jobsites shows TBMs working in each continent except Antarctica for subways, highways, sewer and water tunnels, and hydropower projects. Herrenknecht TBMs have been trailblazers in many respects, including its Mixshield TBM, which was introduced in the 1980s as a way to expand the reach of boring in mixed ground conditions with high groundwater content. Currently a Mixshield is mining the Lake Mead Intake No. 3 project near Las Vegas which was designed to withstand 17 bar of pressure.

Additionally, the company has been the leader in building large-diameter machines, including building record-setting machines for tunnels in Germany, Spain, China and, most recently, Italy. The next record-breaker is on order – a 19-m giant bound for St. Petersburg, Russia.

For his impact on the tunneling industry, Herrenknecht is being honored with the Tunnel Achievement Award for Innovation. The award will be presented at the Tunnel Short Course, Sept. 19-21, hosted at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.

“Herrenknecht has had a profound impact on the tunneling market by advancing the state-of-the-art in tunnel boring machines that are able to deal with challenging soil conditions,” said Levent Ozdemir, Tunnel Short Course organizer and professor emeritus at the School of Mines. “We are now able to put tunnels in geology that would not have been possible or feasible 20 years ago using traditional techniques.”

Herrenknecht was born in Lahr, Germany on June 24, 1942. After grade school and high school, he went on to the University of Konstanz where he earned a professional engineer degree in 1964. After graduation, he took jobs in Switzerland, Canada and Germany, designing road and earth moving machinery and managing work sites. In 1971, he was hired to help direct a tunneling job in the central Alps, beneath Switzerland’s Seelisberg, that involved a tunnel boring machine to grind through the mountain. For the next five years, Herrenknecht worked alongside the TBM on a daily basis.

When the project was completed in 1975, Herrenknecht returned to Germany and launched his own company, Engineering Service Company Martin Herrenknecht, in his hometown of Lahr. After developing machines for mechanical pipe jacking in loose soil, Herrenknecht founded Herrenknecht GmbH in 1977 to focus on equipment manufacturing. In 1980, the company relocated to its present headquarters in Schwanau, Germany.

Herrenknecht began its U.S. operations in 1992 and has had an increasing presence ever since. In fact, the largest TBM in the United States to date – a 42-ft diameter EPB for the Port of Miami Tunnel – was built by Herrenknecht. The company also had several machines working for New York MTA’s East Side Access and No. 7 Line extension projects.

Of note, Herrenknecht TBMs were used on bored sections of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland, which at 35 miles long is the longest rail tunnel in the world at depths reaching more than 8,000 ft.

From its humble beginnings, Herrenknecht AG today is a $1 billion euro equipment manufacturer with more than 4,000 employees working around the globe. The company’s equipment line now includes a full range of tools for underground construction, including hard- and soft-ground tunneling equipment, auger drilling, horizontal directional drills, direct-jack pipeline equipment, mining equipment and vertical shaft boring equipment.

Herrenknecht’s equipment can be seen operating throughout the world, boring holes in the earth from 4 in. to 50-plus ft in diameter.

“Martin is a real entrepreneur in the market,” Ozdemir said. “He started with just three people and now heads the leading TBM manufacturer worldwide. He was able to accomplish that through his commitment to industry, meeting with customers and making sure that jobs are done the right way.”

Over the years, Herrenknecht has received numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate by the Technical University Carolo-Wilhelmina at Brunswick, the STUVA prize in 2005, induction into the Handelsblatt Hall of Fame for German Entrepreneurship in 2009, and The Moles 2009 Non-Member Award, the first non-U.S. citizen to receive this prestigious honor (awardees include Herbert Hoover, Robert Moses, Karl Terzaghi, Ralph Peck, Peter Kiewit and Stephen Bechtel among other construction luminaries).

“Martin is a very dynamic individual who has had unprecedented success in providing the tunnel industry with over 1,900 tunneling machines of every type and description over the past 35 years. His skills and energy are second to none,” said Jim Marquardt, Senior Vice President and Eastern Area Manager for J.F. Shea. Marquardt presented Herrenknecht with The Moles Award. “In addition, Herrenknecht’s introduction of mix shield/slurry technology has been a significant technical advancement in the United States over the past several years.”

Herrenknecht is also a proponent of education within the engineering and tunneling industry, including providing scholarships for Colorado School Mines students, Ozdemir said.

Herrenknecht sees tunneling as vitally important as the world becomes more and more urbanized. “Tunnels are key for modern civilization,” he said upon receiving The Moles award. “Investment in these infrastructures increases the real value of cities and economies.”

Jim Rush is editor of TBM.

Tunnel Achievement Award for Project Excellence: No. 7 Line Extension
By Jim Rush

The ultimate goal of civil engineering is creating efficiencies and improvements that lead to a betterment in our overall quality of life – from out-of-sight, out-of-mind systems like water and sewer that are vital to public health, to transportation systems that foster economic prosperity by moving people, goods and services.

In evaluating “successful” civil engineering projects, an important consideration is the final use. Design and equipment innovation, safety, financial budgets and construction schedules are certainly key elements of the evaluation, but ultimately they are all for naught if the project does not achieve its goal of providing public benefit.

In the case of the No. 7 Line extension project in New York, not only was the complicated project completed ahead of time and under budget, but it is expected to play a key role in transforming the West Side of Manhattan in the coming decades. As a result, it is being recognized with the Tunnel Achievement Award for Project Excellence at this year’s Tunnel Short Course, Sept. 19-21 at the Colorado School of Mines.

“What the project does is unique because it opens the West Side of Manhattan to infinite real estate development,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction. “We are doing what I consider to be the ultimate transportation-oriented development because it opens up millions of square feet of space around the station. We are building above railyards and co-mingling development sites with our own ancillary buildings, including sinking a caisson below our tunnel that will support buildings, one that may be over 100 stories tall.

“If you look at what No. 7 does and will do for the economy of the city, it’s an incredible thing. I liken the expansion going west to the rush for gold. This time, however, the gold is real estate. We are mining for real estate gold by creating this connection. That area was totally isolated.”

The project is in the underdeveloped area near the Javits Center, Hudson Yards and industrial zones near the banks of the Hudson River. The project extends the No. 7 Line from the existing station at Times Square west and south to a new station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue. The new station is being built with future access to new development in mind.

The No. 7 Line extension includes several unique features for MTA projects. Chiefly, the project is being paid for by New York City, which sold bonds with the expectation that they would be repaid by property tax revenues generated by the development of the area. The project was also the first rock tunnel to be built in Manhattan using precast concrete segments, and included one of the first uses of a horizontal freeze for TBM construction.
“The tunneling from my perspective was a great success,” Horodniceanu said. “The contractor, Shea/Skanska/Schiavone JV, worked very proactively, was flexible to deal with unexpected changes and developed a good relationship with labor. This whole contract of $1.2 billion ended up six months ahead of schedule and under budget. Rarely have I been involved with projects that contractors end up giving money back. I give them huge credit for the planning effort.”

The freeze was installed in the first 300 ft of the TBM drive and was implemented as per the original design to facilitate TBM mining in the low overburden area. Two Herrenknecht 22.5-ft diameter double-shield TBMs were used to mine approximately 6,360 ft of tunnel connecting the new station to the No. 7 Line terminus at 42nd Street. The project included a concrete box structure built by precision drill-blast under the Port Authority Bus Terminal that served as the receiving pit for the TBMs. Tail tracks for the No. 7 also had to be lowered to accommodate the alignment for the extension. The TBMs were launched from a shaft at 25th Street and 11th Avenue, drove to the station at 34th Street, were walked through the cavern, and re-launched for their final drives.

The 12th Avenue station cavern and interlocking are more than 1,660 lf. The tunnel between the 25th Street shaft and 34th Street station will be used for tail tracks and could potentially be used in the event that the line is further extended to the south in the future.

The major underground contract, valued at $1.15 billion, was awarded to a joint venture of Shea/Skanska/Schiavone in December 2007 and was completed in October 2011, 10 months ahead of schedule.
Jim Marquardt, project director for Shea/Skanska/Schiavone, also credited teamwork and planning as keys to a successful job. “I am very proud of the accomplishments of the No. 7 Line project. The project was a success due to the total commitment to a team effort, first in the planning, and then in the execution.

“This approach helped overcome many key challenges, including schedule, TBM mining through frozen ground and around tight radius curves, low rock cover, and working under live subway tunnels, the Lincoln tunnels, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal at Times Square.”

Part of the project includes incorporating building foundations designed to support skyscrapers that are being constructed at several sites. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has compared Hudson Yards’ redevelopment to recent transit-oriented development in London. During a speech at Crain’s New York Business conference, he said: “On the Far West Side of Manhattan, we’re building an extension to the No. 7 subway line – the first city-funded subway track in 25 years and it will be built on time – something that you don’t hear too often about subway construction. It will do for the Far West Side what the Jubilee Tube line did for Canary Wharf in London: transform an old industrial area into one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the world.”

In September 2011, work began on the project’s last major contract. This systems contract includes rail track, all mechanical, electrical and related systems throughout the tunnels, station, ventilation buildings and the main subway entrance at 34th Street. Completion of this contract is the last piece needed to initiate service on the No. 7 Line extension. The $513.7 million project was awarded to a joint venture of Skanska USA and the RailWorks Corp. The entire $2.4 billion No. 7 Line extension is expected to be ready for revenue service by June 2014.

The project designer is Parsons Brinckerhoff with support from Dattmer Architects for the station design. Construction management is being provided by the tri-venture team of Hill International/LiRo Group/HDR.

The No. 7 Line Extension is one of several major transit programs under way in New York, including the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access and Fulton Street Transit Center. Collectively these projects are laying the foundation for the city’s future vitality. “If we are not going to continue to expand our transportation system, we are going to become a second-rate city – and that is not what New York is all about,” Horodniceanu said. “It is imperative that we continue to build. I am hoping that the momentum created by the current expansion will continue, and future projects are built that continue to enhance New York’s transportation system.”

Jim Rush is editor of TBM.
Photos: Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

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