Arup to lead engineering design for $82.5 million Billy Bishop Airport pedestrian tunnel

As part of the announcement of the start of construction for the privately-financed pedestrian tunnel that will connect Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to the mainland, it was announced that Arup will be the lead engineering designer on the project as part of the Forum Infrastructure Partners consortium.

The 800-foot long tunnel will be built under the Western Gap of Toronto Harbor to give passengers a second access route to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Currently the airport, which is owned and operated by the TPA, can only be accessed by ferry.

To address the engineering challenges posed by building a watertight tunnel, 33 feet in diameter, through shale and bedrock 130 feet below the lake surface, Arup’s multi-disciplinary team drew on their experience in all types of tunnel construction around the globe. Arup has worked on some of the world’s premier tunneling projects, including Lake Mead Intake No.3, London’s Crossrail and the Second Avenue Subway line in New York City.

“It’s not easy to create a watertight tunnel 10 stories deep, under a lake, in challenging soil conditions, while also maintaining a high level of customer service at the airport,” said Arup project director, David Pratt. “But we have the experience to make it happen, and we’re excited to be part of this high profile project that’s going to help make Toronto’s waterfront—and access to Billy Bishop City Airport—even better.”

The pedestrian tunnel at Billy Bishop will have the capacity to accommodate more than 1,000 passengers per hour.  To create a facility that provides a high quality airport environment within the underground space, the Arup team is using virtual design tools such as 3D modeling and simulation to feed into a design process that brings to life the interactions between architectural, structural, tunnel and building designers and between each design element.  Construction on the project is targeted for a completion date of April 2014.

In addition to acting as lead engineering designer on the project, Arup will also provide specialist services including acoustics, communications and security consulting.

Other organizations involved in the development of the project as part of the Forum Infrastructure Partners consortium include Forum Equity Partners Inc., PCL Constructors, ZAS Architects, Exp, Technicore Underground and Johnson Controls Inc. The project will be funded through a private-public partnership (PPP).

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