Big wins and major losses for industry as it gathers for RETC in Las Vegas
Big wins and major losses for industry
as it gathers for RETC in Las Vegas
Jun 2009
TunnelTalk Team
Click the number to find the stand
  • Meyco
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  • lovat
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  • Phoenix
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  • stirling
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  • SIKA
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The North American tunneling market is suffering fits and starts at the moment. Where some projects are powering ahead, others are in on-again, off-again situations. In the worst cases, projects are shelved, suspended, or cancelled after award of contracts. Where do we stand and how is the industry gearing itself to weather an economic storm that ought to be a great advantage with costs of borrowing money, buying energy and employing labor down from previous highs? TunnelTalk previews the program in store for delegates at the RETC conference and exhibition in Las Vegas next week.
Anticipating an even greater success than Toronto, Canada two years ago, RETC organizers reserved the mini-convention center at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for this year. In the run up to the event next week, all statistics confirm the predictions as correct. Close to 1,500 attendees have registered and an exhibition hall of more than 125 booths is being set up. All looks set for a highly successful event.
Pic 1

The one threatening cloud over the proceedings is the impact that the economic turmoil in the financial markets is having on the industry. This has thrown several major projects off course. The Miami Port Tunnel, for example, has lurched through several stop-start scenarios since the Florida authorities announced the intention to award the 35-year concession to the Bouygues-led group in February last year (2008)(1). First, the costs of contract supplies and materials shot sky-high in tandem with all time high oil prices in mid-2008. The financial market meltdown then had the group lose its initial financial partner. Problems raising the public part of the PPP concession, as well as the project becoming a political football in local elections caused a new hiatus. Latest reports however have Bouygues now teamed up with a new financial partner and given a second change to conclude a contract with the state, but what happened to the 1 June deadline for having that contract signed? TunnelTalk has the story in the pipeline and a paper in the Monday morning New Projects session will discuss the project from the the point of view of design builder's engineer.
The Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration

Construction Institute of ASCE

Future RETC meetings already planned:
2011 San Francisco, June 17-22
2013 Washington DC, June 23-26
The sorry state of affairs in Detroit with cancellation of the North Upper Rouge River CSO(2) tunnel contract and termination of the project's South Drive contract, together with termination of a contract to get the substitute high level, soft ground TBM tunnel for the City's Detroit River Outfall 2 project(3), are also blots on the proceedings. But TunnelTalk has learned, and reports, that there is a Plan B for the Upper Rouge River Project being advanced. Selection of the excavation methods for the contracts as currently designed, is the topic of a presentation in the Design/Planning Session on Monday, June 15th at 1.30pm.
But for each for these troubled projects, there are several major new projects in the planning and others into their construction or finishing phases.
Two sessions in the conference discuss new projects. The first, on Monday, June 15, at 8.30am, includes presentations on new lines for the Los Angeles Metro; the Los Angeles effluent ocean outfall; Boston's missing Silver Line LRT Phase III project; and the plan for a slurry TBM tunnel at a shallower level to complete the Detroit River Outfall No 2 project.
Pic 2

Field trips are planned to Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead intake tunnel, and the SCOP tunnel projects

The second new projects session is on Tuesday, June 16, at 8.30am and discusses a 7-mile long highway tunnel to relieve traffic congestion in downtown Atlanta, Georgia and the Caltrain Downtown Extension project in San Francisco.
Several other sessions include presentations about new projects in the planning. These projects include papers in the Design/Planning Session on Monday 15th at 1.30pm on the NATM strategies for the Caldecott 4th Bore highway tunnel in California(4); Planning of the Kensico-City water supply tunnel in New York; and the first bored water tunnel under the San Francisco Bay in California(5), as well as the extensive CSO program being planned for Washington DC, in the Geotechnical Session on Tuesday, June 16, 1.30pm.
Appropriately for a city hosting a tunneling conference, the Las Vegas region has significant tunneling projects to showcase in a session of their own on Monday, June 15th, at 8.30am. The session includes papers on the SCOP conveyance tunnel to Lake Mead(6) and the Lake Mead Intake No 3 project, which is one of the most technologically demanding, pressurized TBM tunneling projects in the world(7). The project, which is expecting to face hydrostatic pressures of up to 17 bar as the TBM drives out into the bottom of the lake, is also one of the post conference field trips along with a trip to the Reach 4 River Mountain tunnel on the SCOP. The Las Vegas Session also includes a paper on the design and construction proposals for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository to the north of the city, as submitted to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the US Department of Energy in June 2008(8).
Other significant new projects missing from the line up of presentations include, the large diameter, bored tunnel project for replacement of the earthquake damaged, double deck Alaskan Way highway viaduct in Seattle(9). Also in Seattle, the University Link for the Seattle Sound Transit system. The second contract for the section from Capitol Hill back to the end of the tunnels under the downtown region, is currently in the procurement stage, after award of the first major contract north to the University of Washington campus, was awarded to the Traylor Frontier-Kemper JV in March 2009(10). California's high-speed rail project with its long lengths of twin mined tunnels(11). is also a substantial and strategic project that is advancing.
Pic 3

Seattle's bored tunnel highway proposal

Many papers cover projects that are ongoing or recently finished. These include the major railway and subway projects in Manhattan for the East Side Access, the No 7 Line Extension and the Second Avenue Subway as well as the TBM drive for the Ashlu Creek hydro headrace(12); Portland, Oregon's on-going success on the East Side CSO using the largest slurry TBM used in the US to date; the LRT North Shore Connector tunnels under the Alleghany River for the Pittsburgh Metro; the Robbins EPBM on the Sacramento Upper Northwest Interceptor Project, Sections 3 & 4; the TBM drives for the Brightwater conveyance tunnel project north of Seattle where two of the TBMs are currently on long term hold for repair of aggressive wear to the cutterheads(13); the San Vicente water tunnel project in San Diego(14); and the many tunnel drives for the award winning Charleston sewer system network(15).
RETC Executive Committee

Chair: James Marquardt, JF Shea
Vice Chair: Bill Hansmire,
Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas
Dave Rogstad, Frontier Kemper
John Townsend, Hatch Mott MacDonald
Red Robinson, Shannon & Wilson
John Hutton, McNally Construction
Michael T. Traylor, Traylor Brothers
Bill Mariucci, Kiewit Construction
Gary Almeraris, Skanska USA, Civil Northwest
Victor Romero, Jacobs Associates
Steve Redmond, Frontier Kemper
RETC International Committee

AUSTRALIA: Tony Peach, Terratec Asia-Pacific
AUSTRIA: Christian Neumann, Beton-und Monierbau
CANADA: Rick P. Lovat, LOVAT Tunnel Equipment
ENGLAND: Ross Dimmock, Mott MacDonald
FRANCE: Jean-Claude Amet, Vinci Construction
Grands Projects

GERMANY: Klaus Rieker, Wayss & Freytag
ITALY: Remo Grandori, SELI
MEXICO: Roberto Gonzalaz Izquierdo,
Moldequipo Internacional
NEW ZEALAND: Siegfried W. Keis
SPAIN: Enrique Fernandez, Dragados
SWITZERLAND: Fredric Chavan, Prader Tunnelbau

Monday, June 15
5.00pm - 7.00pm
(Including hosted reception)

Tuesday, June 16
11.00am - 2.00pm
(Including 11.00am - 12.00pm exhibit hall
coffee break)
4.00pm - 6.00pm

Wednesday, June 17
11.00am - 2.00pm
(Including 12.00pm exhibit hall luncheon)
Several important international projects are covered during the course of the conference, some from unexpected countries. This is a credit to the work of the International Committee of the RETC, which was established some years ago to ensure introduction of international developments and practices to the North American discussions and expand the reach of the conference. Projects from abroad presented at this RETC, will include the first TBM operation for the Madiq water tunnel in Lebanon; on-site assembly of the Robbins TBM at the JinPing-II Hydropower project in China(16); the legendary Hallandsås railway tunnel in Sweden; Hobson and Rosedale TBM sewer projects in Auckland, New Zealand(17,18); the Gotthard Base-line Railway Tunnels in Switzerland(19); the most difficult of conditions encountered on the Gibe II TBM tunnel project in Ethiopia; and the twin Robbins TBMs driving the 43.9km long AMR water delivery tunnel project in India(20).
As well as these specific project-related papers and presentations, the packed RETC program also includes sessions concentrating specifically on shaft sinking; conventional/rock tunneling; innovations, including a paper about the unique undercutting TBM as used on the Uetliberg highway tunnel in Zurich, Switzerland; geotechnical techniques including presentation of a low-interruption wireless seismic reflector tracking system for assessing ground ahead of a TBM; SEM design and excavations; microtunneling and mining.
The technical program actually starts on Sunday afternoon with a session dedicated to risk management, drawing together references from across the USA and from the UK as well. Topics span the spectrum from getting the engineer's estimate right to using risk analysis to support decision-making.
Sunday is also the date for the two short courses being conducted in conjunction with the conference. Both are half-day events with the course on Recent TBM Innovations and Applications from 9-12pm until noon and the course on Structural Monitoring as a Risk Management Strategy in Underground Construction set for the afternoon from 1-5pm.
Between technical sessions, the packed exhibition hall will be open to the delegates. This year, the exhibition is bigger than it has ever been with many international companies making a déebut at this important North American fixture. As well as the leading companies and suppliers to the industry, there are some smaller but vital service and product providers, not least of which is Potti Corp, the distributor for Brief Relief field lavatory systems! Visiting the full exhibition hall of more than 125 stands in the 10 hours allocated across the three days, from Monday evening, will be a task. One of the more significant developments among the industry leaders is a new branding and department identity for the undergorund division of the giant construction chemical company BASF. From now on, the underground construction team, formally known as UGC International, is the MEYCO Global Underground Construction team and will combine efforts with MEYCO Equipment to offer service, solutions and support to customers around the globe.
As with all gatherings of professionals and industry colleagues, there are organized events for social entertainment and fun. As well as the Welcoming Luncheon on Monday, the UCA of SME Breakfast on Tuesday morning, and the RETC Dinner on Tuesday night, there will be the sponsored reception at the opening of the exhibition on Monday evening and other unofficial parties and corporate functions.
So much to do during the four-five days of the event, there will scarcely be time to remember that we are in the glamorous gambling capital of the world. We look forward to seeing you there and we wish everyone an enjoyable and productive time.


1. Port of Miami Tunnel - TunnelTalk, Aug 2008, Jan 2009, Apr 2009,
2. Upper Rouge River CSO project cancelled - TunnelTalk, Jun 2008
3. Termination of the Detroit River Outfall 2 tunnel contract - TunnelTalk, Apr 2009
4. Caldecott 4th Bore highway tunnel in California - TunnelTalk, May 2009
A video interview explaining the project - TunnelTalk
The project's procurement notice - TunnelTalk
5. First bored tunnel under the San Francisco Bay - TunnelTalk, March 2009
6. SCOP effluent conveyance tunnel system to Lake Mead - TunnelTalk
7. Lake Mead Intake No 3 - TunnelTalk, Jun 2008
8. Yucca Mountain waste repository facility in Nevada - TunnelTalk, Mar 2009
9. Bored tunnel to replace Alaskan Way viaduct in Seattle - TunnelTalk, Apr 2009
10. University Link contract award - TunnelTalk, Mar 2009
11. California high speed rail bond passes - TunnelTalk, Nov 2008
12. Ashlu Creek hydro headrace TBM drive - TunnelTalk, Apr 2009
13. TBM troubles on the Brightwater project - TunnelTalk, Jun 2009
14. Onsite build for giant Jinping-II TBM - TunnelTalk, Oct 2008
15. Underwater works for Hobson Bay - TunnelTalk, Feb 2009
16. Design-build responsibility at Rosedale - TunnelTalk, Feb 2009
17. TBM tunneling on the Gottard Base-line Railway Tunnels - TunnelTalk, Nov 2008
RETC 2009 List of Exhibitors
Company Booth Number Company Booth Number
ABC Industries, Inc. 704 Leica Geosystems Inc. 415
ABC Ventilation Systems 204 Line Power 104
Advanced Concrete Technologies, Inc. 523 LOVAT 613
Akkerman, Inc. 705 Maccaferri Inc. 620
Allentown Shotcrete Technology, Inc. 304 MCT Murer Consult GmbH 420
Alpine Equipment 218 Messinger Bearings 324
Amberg Technologies AG 217 Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. 406
American Chemical Technologies, Inc. 519 Mining Equipment Ltd. 920
American Commercial - Affiliate 905 Mining Technologies International, Inc. 601
American Commercial Inc. 805 Minova Americas 912
Anderson Drilling 423 Moretrench 409
Antraquip Corp. 512 Mts Perforator GmbH 607
Arup  321 MWH 520
Atlas Copco CMT- USA, Inc. 605 Nicholson Construction Co. 305
Ballard Diving and Salvage TBM Suprt. Srvs. 823 Normet Americas, Inc. 222
Barnhart Crane & Rigging Co. 325 NOV Brandt  316
Baroid Industrial Drilling Products 515 NTI Global  814
BASF Construction Chemicals LLC 621 Orica USA Inc. 914
Bekaert Corp. 514 Pacchiosi Drill U.S.A., Inc. 207
Boart Longyear E&I Drilling Services 205 Palmieri USA 725
Brookville Equipment Corporation 413 Parsons Brinckerhoff 404
CDM 804 PBS&J 113
Cellular Concrete, LLC 110 Permalok Corporation 312
CETCO Construction Drilling Products 522 Phoenix Dichtungstechnik GmbH 115
ChemGrout, Inc. 625 Potti Corp. USA, LLC 819
CIFA USA, Inc. 923 QSP Packers, LLC 724
Condon-Johnson & Assoc. Inc. 918 REI Drilling Inc. 921
Continental Crushing & Conveying 419 Richwood 105
Cosella-Dorken Products Inc. 622 Roctest 307
Crux Subsurface, Inc. 609 Ruen Drilling, Inc. 508
Daetwyler Rubber 306 San Francisco Public Utilities Commission 808
Daigh Company, Inc. 518 Sandvik Mining and Construction 618
David R. Klug & Associates Inc. 308 Sawtooth Wireless Sensors, Inc. 121
DeNeef Construction Chemicals 600 Schauenburg - CFT Compact Filter Tech. 505
Derrick Equipment Co. 719 Schauenburg MAB GmbH  421
Devico Directional Core Drilling 806 Schwing Bioset, Inc. 314
Dyno Nobel Inc. 220 SELI SPA 706
Ein Shemer Rubber Industries A.C.A. LTD. 213 Shaft Drillers International 521
Everest Equipment Co. 407 Shannon & Wilson, Inc. 822
Fenner Dunlop Americas 606 Shotcrete Technologies Inc. 418
Fibercon Intl., Inc. 818 Shurjoint Piping Products 123
Geocomp Corp. 111 Sika Corp. 405
GEODATA Group 301 Stirling Lloyd Products, Inc. 107
Geo-Institute & Construction Institute of ASCE 120 Surecrete Inc./Nittetsu 604
Geokon, Inc. 513 tacs gmbh 709
Giken America Corp. 215 Team Mixing Technologies, Inc. 811
Halcrow 309 Tensar International Corp. 700
Hatch Mott MacDonald 910 The Euclid Chemical Co. 122
Hayward Baker, Inc. 119 The Marvin Group 713
HC Global 209 The Robbins Co. 221
Heintzmann Corp. 507 TNO DIANA BV 919
Herrenknecht Tunneling Systems USA, Inc. 313 TTC 820
Hico Ltd. 821 Tunnel Business Magazine (TBM) 614
Hughes Brothers Inc. 212 Tunnels & Tunnelling North America 408
ILF Consultants, Inc. 812 URS Corporation 612
Irwin Car and Equipment 323 VMT GmbH 504
Ivy Steel & Wire 214 W. R. Grace & Co. 401
J. F. White Contracting Co. 319 Williams Form Engineering Corp. 422
Jacobs Associates 608 World Tunneling 715
Jennmar Corp. 400 Wyo-Ben, Inc. 815
Layne GeoConstruction 424 Zed Tunnel Guidance/Thunderbird 210


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