Private contractor reports losses due to delays from Evergreen Line sinkholes

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Evergreen Line tunnel boring machine

The Canadian engineering and construction giant contracted to design and build the SkyTrain Evergreen Line faced a quarterly loss due in part to delays with the project’s bored tunnel segment. SNC Lavalin reported a $26.9 million loss in the second quarter within the company’s Infrastructure & Construction division.

“The Infrastructure & Construction sub-segment negative EBIT in the second quarter of 2015 was mainly due to challenging soil conditions relating to the tunnel portion of a mass transit project and additional costs to secure the completion date on a major highway project, both in Canada,” reads the company’s second quarter financial report.

The two-kilometre-long tunnel boring project for the Evergreen Line began in March 2014 and was originally scheduled for a completion in approximately 200 days.

However, tunnel boring subcontractor S.E.L.I. Canada began experiencing challenges with the project whenever the 10-metre diameter machine was stopped for regular maintenance. Due to poor soil conditions, as the tunnel route runs through loose glacial deposits, tunnel crews have experienced several cave-ins when the machine is not in motion and creating new spans of tunnel.

To date, there have been four small surface sinkholes along the tunnelled route. All of the sinkholes have occurred on road surfaces, and there have been no injuries or damage to any property.

Crews have attempted to reduce the likelihood of additional sinkholes by injecting cement jet grouting ahead of the tunnel boring machine’s maintenance stoppage sites to strengthen the soil.

While the Evergreen Line tunnel boring project is only roughly half complete, the other sections of the new line – the elevated and ground-level spans – are approximately 70 per cent complete. In addition, all seven new stations including the third platform addition at the existing Lougheed Town Centre Station will be nearing substantial completion this fall.

And earlier this summer, trains began rolling between Lougheed Town Centre and Burquitlam stations for the first phase of testing.

But delays with the tunnel boring project have forced the provincial government to delay the opening of the $1.4-billion, 11-kilometre-long SkyTrain extension from summer 2016 to fall 2016.

The private contracts bear the full responsibility of any incurred construction overrun costs. The entire project and the current testing phase is being managed by the Ministry of Transportation; TransLink will assume control of the new line next year when it is ready for revenue service.

SNC Lavalin also designed and built the Canada Line and S.E.L.I. Canada was responsible for building the tunnel boring project under False Creek and downtown Vancouver. There were no delays or issues with tunnel boring, and the entire line opened three months earlier than anticipated in summer 2009.

Other local projects SNC Lavalin have been involved in include the Expo and Millennium lines and the pre-Olympic Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrade. Elsewhere in Canada, it recently completed an extension of the light rail system in Calgary and is concurrently building a major light rail system in Ottawa.

When the Evergreen Line opens, the entire SkyTrain system will grow to 79 kilometres in length and become Canada’s longest rail rapid transit network – ousting both Toronto and Montreal’s subway systems.

SkyTrain Evergreen Line Testing UnderwayTesting on the 11-km-long #SkyTrain Evergreen Line is underway! Here’s footage of a train arriving at Burquitlam Station, one of 6 new stations on the network.Video by: Evergreen Line Rapid Transit Project

Posted by Vancity Buzz on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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