Canadian Consulting Engineer

Tunnel and longest runway under way in Calgary

The Transportation Business Group of CH2M HILL in Calgary is working on two major infrastructure projects around the Calgary International Airport – a runway expansion and a 620-metre long tunnel that will allow vehicular traffic en route...

June 4, 2013   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Transportation Business Group of CH2M HILL in Calgary is working on two major infrastructure projects around the Calgary International Airport – a runway expansion and a 620-metre long tunnel that will allow vehicular traffic en route to the airport to physically pass underneath the new runway.

Josh Bolderheij and Ken McWhinnie, manager and area manager respectively of the company’s transportation business group operations, are in charge of the $295-million “Airport Trail” tunnel for the City of Calgary.

The tunnel will increase access to the airport for vehicles travelling from the south or east, allowing motorists to avoid Deerfoot Trail, an inner-city expressway that is currently over-capacity and therefore, an unpredictable route that is often at a standstill during peak periods.

The second project, on which CH2M HILL is doing design as a sub-consultant to prime consultant Associated Engineering, is the Calgary Airport Authority’s’s runway expansion program. The new, and much longer, runway and taxiways will travel directly over top of the tunnel. The runway will be 14,000 feet long making it the longest civil aviation runway in Canada, surpassing the existing runway at 12,670 feet. Once complete, it will allow air traffic controllers to operate both runways simultaneously, increasing air traffic considerably in and out of the city. “This is significant for Canada and Calgary as the region continues to develop into a major player in the global market,” notes Bolderheij.

Currently, the longest runway in North America is in Denver at 16,000 feet in length. For cities that are considerably above sea level, extended runways are necessary for larger aircrafts, such as the Airbus A380, to take-off and land. With the addition of this new runway and the latest in navigation aids, Calgary will have the ability to provide certainty of delivery for courier companies such as Purolator, FedEx and UPS – some of the real drivers behind the improvements. Additionally, commercial airlines will experience fewer delays and cancellations due to extreme weather conditions such as dense fog.

With both projects well on their way to meeting the next round of milestones, it is expected that the work will conclude by May 2014.

“This was an incredibly visionary venture for the city to move ahead with,” says Bolderheij. “The benefits will not be immediate. However, they will be felt long-term as Calgary continues to expand at a high rate. It’s also a proactive measure that this tunnel build is taking place in conjunction with the runway expansion.”

For the airport tunnel project, CH2M HILL was retained by the City of Calgary as prime consultant and is doing structural design, contract administration and construction inspection and owner’s engineer services. CH2M HILL retained Thurber Engineering for geotechnical engineering expertise and material testing services and Associated Engineering for mechanical and electrical design, and civil design including stormwater management and road design.

Prime consultant for the Calgary Airport Authority’s (YYC) Runway Development Program is Associated Engineering. CH2M HILL is subconsultant responsible for the design of the runway and its peripherals such as lighting, navigational aids and the electrical systems. As well, CH2M HILL prepared a preliminary design for a central de-icing facility and is also providing contract administration services and construction inspection services.

Editor’s note.  A correction has been made to this article on June 5, 2013. The original article referred to the “Airport Trail” tunnel proejct as sole sourced, when in fact it was commissioned by a competitive RFP process.


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