The first of four huge tunnelling contracts has been awarded to a joint venture team who were one of three teams short listed for the Blue Plains Tunnel in Washington DC. The joint venture partnership of Skanska, Traylor, and Jay-Dee will be working with designer, Halcrow. The JV won the tunnelling contract based on a price and technical evaluation and the $330.5 million contract will be officially approved on April 7.
The Blue Plains Tunnel is one of four tunnels in the Washington DC Clean Rivers Project, all of which are part of a $2.5 billion Long Term Control Plan.
At 7,315 metres in length, the Blue Plains tunnel will be the longest of the four tunnels and part of its alignment will pass beneath the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. An EPBM will tunnel though clay and silt at depths of 30 metres and the tunnel will be lined with a precast liner. Construction and excavation on the Blue Plains tunnel will begin in 2013 and the work is expected to reach completion by the end of 2015.
The next major tunnel in the Clean Rivers Project is the Anacostia River Tunnel and geotechnical and engineering work is currently underway. This should be completed by the end of this year. Once completed, the Anacostia Tunnel will be 3,840 metres long and 7 metres in diameter. The tunnelling contract will also include the excavation of five shafts through clay and silt using a pressurized TBM. The completed tunnel will eventually connect with the Blue Plains Tunnel at Poplar Point.
The procurement process for the Anacostia Tunnel will begin later on this year and a short list of successful bidders will be announced in April of next year. A contract for the Anacostia Tunnel will be awarded in 2013.
Cost overruns on the Blanka Tunnel project in Prague are continuing to cause consternation for all concerned in the Czech Republic and the new Mayor of Prague, Bohuslav Svoboda, has announced that the tunnelling project is now expected to cost a further $561 million.
This is a significant increase in costs for the project and there is currently a great deal of debate as to who exactly is responsible for the overruns. The Mayor has made a statement to suggest that the original plans will be examined in great detail to try and ascertain where exactly the huge hike in costs has originated.
The main contractor responsible for all construction works on the job is Metrostav. They are working to the FIDIC Red Book contract. Negotiations are currently taking place between the contractor and clients and the contract agreement is in the process of being verified by the Prague Magistrate.
The Blanka Tunnel project has been the subject of much controversy for quite some time. At its inception, the previous administration went to great lengths to assure the public that the project would be completed on time and within budget. However, this has not happened and past and present members of the administration are all blaming each other for the catastrophic errors in management of the tunnelling project. The previous City Hall controllers claim to know nothing about the increase in costs and have put the blame for the fiasco at the door of the previous Mayor, Pavel Bern. He, however, is blaming the new administration for the problems.
But despite the political infighting and cost overruns, not to mention a stop in work following a third collapse in July 2010, construction on the Blanka tunnelling project has been progressing steadily and further section breakthroughs were recently reported
With plans for the controversial ARC tunnel in New Jersey State shelved, Governor Christie is coming under pressure from other senators who are deeply unhappy that the ARC tunnel project to connect outlying stations with Manhattan will no longer go ahead.
They believe that the tunnel project across the Hudson River would have created lots of new jobs in an ailing economy as well as relieving the pressure on an outdated and overcrowded transport infrastructure. However, Governor Christie is adamant that the ARC tunnel could simply not go ahead given the massive cost overruns and he reiterated that the state was unable to bankroll the estimated $10 billion it would cost to go ahead with the project.
Plans for a new tunnel project are being proposed that would follow the same route, but with one big difference: trains would go to Penn Station rather than the 34rd Street station in Manhattan. The other main disadvantage is that trains from Passaic and Bergen would not travel into Manhattan and commuters would need to make a transfer at Secaucus.
The new tunnel is being dubbed “the Gateway Tunnel” and is seen as a way of dealing with the current transportation crisis afflicting residents of New Jersey. During peak times there would be an extra 13 trains added per hour into New York City, and off peak, an extra 8 trains would be running.
Initial cost estimates are $13.5 billion and if the tunnel project goes ahead it could be completed within ten years. However, with the cost of the new tunnelling project expected to exceed that of the ARC Tunnel, senators face an uphill struggle for gaining the necessary funding from Federal government, especially as there is still a great deal of acrimony relating to the loans paid out for the ARC Tunnel.