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Infrastructure News Round-Up: Niagara, TTC, Turcot, Lacolle

Water started flowing through the new tunnel under Niagara Falls in March. The largest hard rock tunnel boring machine in the world was used to drill the tunnel, which is 12.7 metres (41 feet) wide and 10.2 kilometres (6.3 miles)...


Water started flowing through the new tunnel under Niagara Falls in March. The largest hard rock tunnel boring machine in the world was used to drill the tunnel, which is 12.7 metres (41 feet) wide and 10.2 kilometres (6.3 miles) long –  as high as a four-storey building. The tunnel diverts water from the Niagara River and carries it downstream to the Sir Adam Beck generating complex. Gravity alone propels the water at a rate of 500 cubic metres per second.

Ontario Power Generation and contractor STRABAG agreed to a revised schedule in early 2009 after the contractor ran into difficult rock conditions. The project was completed $100 million lower than the revised $1.6 billion cost, and nine months sooner than projected in 2009.

The design-builder was Strabag AG with Dufferin Construction, Dufferin Concrete, COH. Principal engineering design was by ILF Beratende, with Morrison Hershfield. The owner’s engineer was Hatch Mott MacDonald with Hatch.

To read an article from the January-February 2012 issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer describing the engineering by Paul Moorehouse, P.Eng. of Hatch, click here

The Toronto Transit Commission is going to spend almost $700 million modifying its streetcar platforms and overhead wiring to accommodate a fleet of new Bombardier streetcars. The streetcars are much longer than the existing ones and need new ramps to enable people with mobility difficulties to embark and disembark. Of the $700 million, $436 million is for a new repair and storage yard at Lake Shore Boulevard and Leslie Street. Changes will have to be made to streetcar routes that have only recently been rebuilt.

The Parti Quebecois announced on March 26 that the Turcot Interchange rebuilding in Montreal will take until 2020 rather than 2018 to complete, and will cost more, at an estimated $3.7 billion. However, some are relatively pleased by the delay because it is partly to allow the government time to make sure that the consortia bidding on the project are untainted by any corruption or collusion standards. Under new legislation companies that have any history of collusion are excluded from public works. As well, the government has decided that the project will be done as a fixed-price contract, with the final amount to be negotiated with the successful bidder. According to the Montreal Gazette, “This represents a welcome new way for the government to operate,” since under the traditional system, costs for “extras” in construction projects were piled onto the price. The Turcot project is also being reconfigured to make more space for public transport. Up to 300,000 vehicles use the current “dilapidated” interchange every day.

Ottawa has announced it will spend $47 million over the next three years on improving the Lacolle border crossing between Quebec and the United States. Last year 780,000 vehicles passed through the crossing, making it one of the busiest in Canada. An environmental assessment is under way on expanding the facilities.