ITA post congress analysis
ITA post congress analysis Jun 2009
Shani Wallis, Editor
The buzz in the corridors was positive; the talk of big projects moving ahead, immanent; progress of major projects worldwide, reported; and space for exhibitors was sold out long ago. Being at the ITA conference last week in Budapest was another exercise in asking; 'so where is this global recession?' Despite prefaces from several speakers about the dire affects of over-reactive tightening of credit by self-inflicted over-extension by banks - the need to build underground infrastructure is at record highs and now is the right time to get these projects into construction, while supply-line indices are down. Most countries in the world are programming many billions of capital investment to provide the groundwork for the cities and societies in which we will live in the near future. TunnelTalk was among the many who travelled to Budapest for the Association's 35th General Assembly, congress and exhibition, to report the major developments and topics of discussion.
Demand for integrated transportation links across Europe, and especially to the east, and the power of the general public to influence the decision making of urban infrastructure planners, were the two most evident points of focus at the ITA World Tunneling Congress and General Assembly last week in Budapest. Entitled 'Safe Tunneling for the Ciry and for the Environment', the organizing committee of the Hungarian Tunneling Associate, under President Pál Kocsonya, brought together a forum of more than 1,100 delegates from 50 countries or more, to discuss the topics in detail.
The keynote lectures on Monday morning, after the official opening ceremony, were delivered by:
Zoltan Kazatsay, European Union Deputy Director-General for Transport, who explained how, despite being hard hit by the economic downturn, Europe is to spend more than £900 billion over the coming decades to create and improve trunk road and network rail connections across the Continent and into the neighbouring countries of Russia, the Ukraine, Turkey and east through the Caucasus Mountains. The north-south Brenner Pass Baseline Railway Tunnels(1) and the east-west Lyon-Torino link with its many tunnels are among the first of 30 current top priority projects.
ITA President, Martin Knights, explained how the Association is preparing itself to face the major concerns of the industry internationally. This includes the establishment of three important subcommittees;
ITACUS under Committee Chairman Han Admiraal, to promote the use of underground space;
ITA-CET, the committee on Education and Training, chaired by Andre Assiss; and
ITA-COSUF, the committee on operational safety of underground facilities, headed by Felix Amberg. These are in addition to the on-going work of the Association's 12 Working Groups (see below). Knights also paid special tribute to Sir Alan Muir Wood as a founding force of the ITA(2), and also to the TBM masters of our industry - Dick Robbins, who recently was awarded the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Medal for Engineering(3); Richard Lovat who celebrated his 80th birthday last September(4) and was at the Budapest congress and exhibition as the principal representative for the LOVAT Company; and Martin Herrenknecht who has also been honoured recently with major awards including the Moles Award of recognition in the United States(5). Knights continued to discuss the issues of risk management facing the industry saying in particular that passing all risk from the Owner to the Contractor is not a viable situation.
Pic 3

"Passing all risk to the contractor is not viable"
Martin Knights, Budapest, 2009

Martin Knights, Budapest, 2009
Walter Wittke of the WBI Engineering Company gave the third keynote and concentrated on the risks and chances associated with soft ground urban tunneling.
The ITA's open session on Tuesday morning addressed the issues of planning modern tunnel projects. Introduced by Piergiorgio Grasso, presentations were made by:
Amanda Elioff, Animateur of WG 20 on Modern Tunnel Planning - A U.S. Perspective; Gusztav Klados on planning of the extraordinary multi-purpose SMART (Stormwater Management And Road Tunnel) project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Pablo Bueno on the evolution of the Madrid Metro and large diameter M30 TBM highway tunnel projects in Spain; Vahaadho Ilkka introducing the Underground (UG) Master Plan of Helsinki; Gu Xin on the visionary master plan for the development of transportation in the region of Shenzhen in China; Keith Tsang, on how drill+blast has been adopted as the specified method of construction of the Phase 2 Deep Sewage Tunnels in Hong Kong after the dire experiences of TBM tunneling for the programme's Phase 1 tunnels; and Harvey Parker on how, in a matter of weeks in December 2008, total rejection of an underground solution for replacement of the aging and earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way elevated highway along the waterfront of Seattle in the USA was turned, by the efforts of public opinion, to total support by politicians and city planners for a large 16.5m diameter, double-deck, single-tube bored tunnel as the agreed and adopted solution which is now being developed without further delay(6).
The message of the session was that proper planning and stakeholders consensus is playing an increasingly key role in the success of underground projects. The underground solution is often the optimum solution, but it is a limited resource and should be exploited with vision, sustainable cost effectiveness and adequately supported solutions.
The 12 Working Groups of the ITA and their Animateurs:
WG2: Research - Animateur: E. Leca (France)
WG3: Contractual Practices in Underground Construction - Animateur: A. Dix (Australia)
WG5: Health & Safety in Works - Animateur: D. Lamont (United Kingdom)
WG6: Maintenance and Repair of Underground Structures - Animateur: H. Russell (USA)
WG11: Immersed & Floating Tunnels - Animateur: Ch. Ingerslev (USA)
WG12: Sprayed Concrete Use (new name) - Animateur: T. Celestino (Brazil)
WG14: Mechanization of Excavation - Animateur: L. Babendererde (Germany)
WG15: Underground Works and the Environment - Animateur: J. K. G. Rohde (Norway)
WG17: Long Tunnels at Great Depth - Animateur - G. Seingre (Switzerland)
WG18: Training - Animateur: D. Peila (Italy)
WG19: Conventional Tunneling - Animateur: H. Ehrbar (Switzerland)
WG20: Urban Problems, Underground Solutions - Animateur: A. Elioff (USA)
Into the technical sessions, these themes were developed by the experiences of those in other parts of the world. Mark Galvin for the City of Windsor in Canada, on the border with the US, is spearheading a community-driven campaign to convince the federal and provincial roads authorities to have part of a new trans-boundary highway placed underground in cut-and-cover tunnels to protect the social environment and the community in which residents and local tax payers must live(7). The battle continues.
A report from Brenda Bohlke, Chairperson of the UCA of SME and representative of the USA at the General Assembly, indicated that the struggle in Washington DC for the planned elevated section of the DC metro to Dulles Airport to be placed underground in bored tunnel, may well move next to court proceedings(8). Efforts to initiate that change have not been abandoned.
Many technical papers at the congress discussed the development of underground metro systems and necessary public infrastructure.
Construction of the Budapest Metro Line 4 was a topic of several papers by the host city(9), with the news that impasse between the owner organizations and their bored tunnel contractor Bamco is now settled(10), with Strabag of Austria managing the contract and Christian Gentschel of daughter company Zublin, Germany, recently arrived in Budapest as the new Project Manager for Bamco. Presentation of some quite remarkable excavations for the Line's new underground stations were presented and were accompanied by examples of similar underground structures in Japan and other major conurbations.
With recognition of courageous and very successful projects, there were presentations also about disastrous failures. Nick Barton gave a presentation about his hypothesis and findings for possible causes of the fatal collapse of the Pinheiros metro station cavern on the Sao Paulo metro system in Brazil in early 2007(12). The collapse claimed seven lives and is the topic to be presented at the June meeting of the British Tunneling Society in London at the ICE on Thursday, June 18, 2009. Barton suggested that designing metro systems at a deeper level to avoid the risk of sallow excavations in soft and weathered ground would be policy worth considering.
  • 4

    Gallert station excavation on the Budapest Metro Line 4

  • 5

    Design of the Shoji Transportation Tunnel in Japan(11)

Two paper presentations, and one of the post conference technical tours, was to a long tunnel on the new M6 highway project in Hungary which suffered a major collapse of the twin SCL/SEM tubes a year ago(13). An initial failure saw a section of about 100m across both tubes collapse and a further 70m behind that collapse a week later. Following stabilization of the zone and installation of support diaphragm walls either side of the alignment, re-excavation of the tunnels through the failed alignment has commenced and was viewed by the technical tour visitors.
Pic 6

Aerial view of the twin tube M6 highway tunnel collapse

Although too recent for there to have been presentations about the disaster, there was discussion in the corridors about the open-cut excavation collapse on the Köln Metro in Germany in April(14) where recovery efforts of the historic data from the collapsed archive building is concluding and reconstruction of the failed track cross-over structure is being planned. Construction elsewhere along the new metro line has continued through the aftermath of the devastating failure event.
Speaking of different perspective disasters, Nasri Munfah of the USA addressed the vulnerability of underground infrastructure, particularly transit systems, to acts of terror following the incidents of the saran gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 to terrorists' attack in New York in September, 2001 and subsequently on the London Underground and the Madrid railway systems(15).
Conversations during the conference breaks discussed the need for the ITA to prepare a more decisive and unified response to high profile events that impact the public perceptions of underground space infrastructure.
Pic 3

Conversations during the conference breaks

Such a response, from the voice of the international underground industry, is needed to isolate the individual incidences from the many examples of highly successful projects that are progressed and completed every year by the international tunneling community and without much recognition or fanfare.
Another topic of international concern is the construction of underground repositories for spent nuclear fuel. Where the new administration of President Obama in the United States has more or less cancelled development of the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada(16), other countries are pushing ahead with their underground installations, including Hungary. Two papers about the project were presented at the conference(17).
In addition to the technical session presentations, the event hosted an exhibition of more than 60 stands spread over three floors of the convention centre venue. As well as the major industry suppliers including Robbins, Lovat, NFM Technologies, Herrenknecht, Altas Copco, Sika, Dywidag Systems, Minova, Normet, BASF-Meyco, Mapei SpA, Rascor, Mining Equipment, and VMT, there were major consultants represented including Amberg Engineering, Babendererde Engineers, Geoconsult of Austria, Geodata Geoengineering, Geodata Group, Arcadis, WBI of Germany, and Uvaterv Engineering Consultants; as well as contractors Stabag and Seli, and specialist suppliers KampeHarex Fibrin, TNO Diana BV, INECO TIFSA, Erkat. FiReP International, Matrics Consult, Maccaferri, Ceresola, DMT and S&B Industrial Minerals among many others.
Next ITA General Assemblies
2010 - Vancouver, Canada
15 to 20 May
Tunnel vision towards 2020

2011 - Helsinki, Finland
21 to 26 May, 2011
Underground spaces in the
service of a sustainable society

2012 - Bangkok, Thailand
18 to 23 May, 2012
Tunnelling and underground
space for a global society
ITA business
At the General Assembly sessions on Sunday and Wednesday, of the Association agreed some important decisions. It agreed the creation of a 'Muir Wood Lecture' in recognition of the efforts by Sir Alan to establish the ITA and sustain its existence over the past 35 years. It also welcomed Laos as a new member nation and 14 new affiliate members to increase the ITA membership to 55 member nations and 273 affiliate members. The assembly also selected Thailand to host the General Assembly and World Tunneling Congress in 2012. Thailand registered a bid for its first ITA assembly at the ITA Congress last year at Agra(18) and succeeded over a more recent bid by China to host the fixture. Both made excellent presentations and China will present again to host its second ITA assembly after the first back in 1990 in Chengdu.
Pic 7

Executive Council of the ITA during a General Assembly session

As the first of the week's proceedings, the ITA conducted its two-day training course on risk during construction of urban tunnels in soft ground. Coordinated by Markus Thewes of the ITA Executive Council; Andre Assis, President of ITA-CET; and Daniele Peila, Animator of Working Group 18 on training, the course presented 17 lectures over a total of 12 hours to about 100 participants.
Pic 8

Dean Brox for Canada (left) accepts the ITA flag from Pál Kocsonya for the 2010 General Assembly in Vancouver next May

At the end of the Budapest event and at the closing ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, Dean Brox of Canada accepted the ITA flag from Pál Kocsonya as the host nation of the 2010 General Assembly and WTC in May next year in Vancouver. The call for papers for the Vancouver event has been issued and the July 1 deadline for submitting abstracts is fast approaching. Following Vancouver, Finland will host the 2011 event in Helsinki.
As well as the business of being at the General Assembly and the ITA Congress, there was the social side of meeting friends and colleagues and making new ones. A Society Page of photographs taken during these social events is published in our Accolades & Tributes page and as everyone bade farewell to Budapest at the event's banquet on Wednesday evening is was the end of a very successful and enjoyable congress.


1. Lower Inn Valley link to the Brenner Baseline Railway Tunnel - TunnelTalk, Feb 2008 and
Prelude to building Brenner Baseline - TunnelTalk, March 2009
2. Obituary: Sir Alan Muir Wood - TunnelTalk, Feb 2009
3. Awards: Dick Robbins - 2009 Benjamin Franklin Medal for Engineering - TunnelTalk, April 2009
4. Celebration: Richard Lovat - birthday tribute - TunnelTalk, Sept 2008
5. Awards: Martin Herrenknecht - Hall of Fame entry and Moles Award - TunnelTalk, Jan 2009
6. Large diameter bored tunnel for Alaskan Way replacement - TunnelTalk, April 2009
7. Tunnels to connect and protect communities - CD proceedings 0-10-23
8. Tysons Corner - elevated or underground in tunnel - TunnelTalk, Aug 2008
9. Budapest Metro Line 4 - D proceedings 0-10-01; 0-04-01; 0-04-04; 0-04-07; 0-05-20; 0-06-07; 0-06-11
10. Budapest Metro tunneling contracting impasse - TunnelTalk, May 2009
11. Large double adjoined binocular tunnels for the Shoji Tunnel in Japan - CD proceedings 0-06-16
12. Pinherios Metro Station Cavern collapse, Sao Paolo, Brazil - CD proceedings 0-03-05
13. Hungarian Motorway tunnels - CD proceedings 0-08-01; 0-02-02; 0-03-13
14. Köln Metro track crossover collapse - TunnelTalk, March 2009
15. Vulnerability of underground infrastructure to acts of terror - CD proceedings 0-10-22
16. Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository all but cancelled - TunnelTalk, March 2009
17. Hungary's nuclear waste repository plans - CD proceedings 0-02-11; 0-08-11
18. ITA 2008 Agra General Assembly report - TunnelTalk, Sept 2008
Copies of the printed volume of the conference proceedings with an associated CD of the papers is available from the organizers for £70 (approx. $US100). Contact



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