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Bidding opens for turnkey Toronto rail tunnel 23 Mar 2017

TunnelTalk reporting

Three groups have been shortlisted to bid for the turnkey and finance contract to build an extra rail tunnel below a busy highway in Toronto, Ontario. The three groups are teams led by Kiewit, Aecon/Dragados and EllisDon Capital/Strabag.

Bids are due by mid-2017 for a contract that has an estimate of Can$200 million to Can$499 million, said Infrastructure Ontario, the provincial agency leading the project procurement, in response to questions from TunnelTalk. The preferred bidder is to be selected to negotiate a final contract with financial close on the turnkey and funding contract expected by the third quarter of 2017.

The three shortlisted groups comprise:

  • Peter Kiewit Infrastructure (lead), Kenaidan Contracting, Obayashi Canada, Hatch and Jacked Structures and financial advice from Kiewit Canada Development with TD Securities.
  • TK Linx team, comprisng Aecon Infrastructure Management and Dragados Canada (both providing lead), Technicore Underground, Arup Canada, Morrison Hershfield, Peto MacCallum and financial advice from ACS Infrastructure Canada with Aecon Concessions.
  • Toronto Tunnel Partners, comprising EllisDon Capital and Strabag (both providing lead), EllisDon Civil, WSP Canada, Dr Sauer & Partners and Amec Foster Wheeler and financial advice from EllisDon Capital and Strabag.

New rail tunnel to be added below Toronto highway
New rail tunnel to be added below Toronto highway

The request for qualification to be shortlisted was initiated in September 2016. Infrastructure Ontario said the selection process included design and construction experience as well as the financial capacity to deliver. Infrastructure Ontario is collaborating with rail infrastructure organisation Metrolinx on the project.

The new tunnel is being constructed as part of the Metrolinx Regional Express Rail (RER) programme and is located below Highway 401 in the Kitchener Corridor. The box-shaped tunnel will have minimum internal dimensions of 10.7m wide x 8.6m high.

While the tunnel is not especially long, it is located in a congested urban area with live rail along side and road services above and presents construction challenges to build a large opening next to and below such infrastructure.

Infrastructure Ontario told TunnelTalk the construction challenges include:

  • a minimum gap of 3m between tunnel crown and road surface of the highway through fine compacted sand;
  • a distance of 1.5m-2m between the outside walls of the new and existing tunnels;
  • ground improvement works to assist tunnelling and underpin of existing structures as required;
  • gravity drainage to the storm sewers must continue;
  • all rail services on the existing tracks must remain in operation without interruption;
  • all lanes of the highway must remain in operation without interruption;
  • modification of retaining walls at a highway ramp, including removal of some footings in the path of the new tunnel;
  • an instrumentation and structuring monitoring system to be implemented in support of the project design and construction work to ensure any deformation and settlement risk is minimised at the highway and existing rail infrastructure.

Tight construction challenges for new rail tunnel
Tight construction challenges for new rail tunnel

The existing rail tunnel that runs below the highway was completed in 1965. It was constructed as part of the expansion of highway 401, which now has 21 lanes. The new project calls for a 176m long tunnel to run parallel to the existing rail tunnel, and so provide extra capacity for Metrolinx to add a new mainline rail track in the area.

No works on the existing tunnel are required under the new design-build-finance contract. Following the construction of the new tunnel however, the track alignment in the area will be modified to have twin-tracks running through each tunnel. Meantime, the existing tracks cannot be affected by the works.

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