The global tunnelling industry is expanding fast, with new innovations and technology influencing projects around the world. While this is occurring at lightning pace, it is important to slow down and recognise the hard work and effort that civil engineers have put in.

Millions of hours have been put into various projects involving everything from sewers and wastewater systems to city tunnel infrastructure such as railways and roads. With this in mind, the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA) announced earlier this year that it would launch an annual Tunnelling Awards ceremony to celebrate projects across the globe.

Since the announcement in March this year, nominations for the awards have flowed in. As such, the 18-strong jury has now confirmed the finalists in each category.

Winners are announced at a banquet at the Hagerbach underground test facility in Switzerland on November 19.

Australia's finalists

Australia is certainly growing as a tunnelling base. With so many quality products and services on offer today, it should not come as a surprise that the country is beginning to get international recognition for our innovative infrastructure projects.

In the outstanding project of the year (up to €50 million), Australia has two nominations:

  1. The Grosvenor Decline Tunnel in Queensland. This project is underscored by the use of mechanical tunnelling technology for the first time in a coal mine.
  2. The North Strathfield Rail Underpass in NSW. This project, open in June, successfully separated passenger rail and goods networks – key to opening up Northern parts of Sydney.

Australia also has a nomination in the Innovative Use of Underground Space category. The Sydney Opera House Vehicle Access and Pedestrian Safety (VAPS) Project features an underground forecourt demonstrating quality civil engineering innovation.

The importance of tunnelling around the world

While new technology and innovation is helping the civil engineering industry reach for the top, there are other factors involved in why this sector must continue to improve.

"The field of tunnels and underground spaces is in constant evolution; technical innovations are numerous. The ITA Tunnelling Awards are to detect such treasures in a context of climate and demographic emergency," ITA President Soren Degn Eskesen explained, as reported by REMI Network in a September 23 article.

"With more than 66 per cent of the global population (projected to be) living in cities in 2050, and regular floods caused by the global warming, the tunnels' engineering has got a strategic role to play in the construction of sustainable urban areas."

Bluey congratulates all finalists from around the globe and looks forward to the winners being announced in November. 

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