European firms selected to build $2.8 billion Broadway Subway

Jul 17 2020, 9:57 pm

An 18-month procurement bidding process for the 5.7-km-long Broadway Subway project has ended with the selection of a team of European-based firms.

The provincial government announced today the Acciona-Ghella consortium, led by Acciona, is the preferred proponent as the design-build contractor for the $2.83 billion SkyTrain project to extend the Millennium Line westward to reach Arbutus Street.

Spain-based Acciona is known for managing major infrastructure projects, including the $700 million new sewage treatment facility currently under construction in North Vancouver. Early in 2020, the provincial government also selected Acciona as the main contractor for the $1.4-billion new Pattullo Bridge.

Ghella is based in Italy, and specializes in tunnelling works. Both companies have worked together on projects that include the Follo Line, Scandinavia’s longest railway tunnels, as well as Brisbane’s Legacy Way tunnels, and high-speed rail on Milan-Naples corridor. Acciona also has experience with building metro lines in Spain, Ecuador, and Brazil on its own.

For the SkyTrain project, Acciona holds 60% of the stake, while Ghella holds 40%.

SkyTrain Millennium Line Broadway Extension Subway Arbutus Station

October 2019 preliminary conceptual artistic rendering of Arbutus Station of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension and the new 99 B-Line bus loop. (Government of BC)

Other members in this consortium include design firms DIALOG and IBI Group, Mott Macdonald Canada, Parsons Inc., and Ingenieria Especializada de Obra Civil e Industrial.

Apart from a short 700-metre section of elevated track in the False Creek Flats between the existing VCC-Clark Station and the future Great Northern Way Station, the extension will be bored underground using twin tunnels, with an excavation diameter of six metres. All six new stations will be underground.

The end-to-end journey time on the section of new rail between VCC-Clark Station and Arbutus Station is just 11 minutes, down from the current time of 40 minutes by bus during busy periods. This is a seamless extension of existing Millennium Line infrastructure, allowing a one-train ride all the way from Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station in about 47 minutes.

Broadway Subway SkyTrain route map

June 2019 route and station map of the Broadway Subway. (BC Ministry of Transportation)

Other new stations along Broadway are located at Main Street (Mount Pleasant Station), Cambie Street (Broadway-City Hall Station, with an interchange to the Canada Line), Oak/Laurel streets (Fairview-VGH Station), and Granville Street (South Granville Street).

Approximately 150,000 boardings are expected daily upon opening in 2025. Trains will operate every three to four minutes during the peak periods.

“This new contract will mark Acciona’s sixth active infrastructure project in BC. We are proud to share the trust of the Province of BC and are looking forward to another strong collaboration with Ghella,” said Carlos Planelles, country director and president for Acciona North America, in a statement.

“Our team is looking forward to develop further connections with our local partners and communities as Acciona will be celebrating its 20 anniversary in Canada in 2021.”

The consortium says they are aiming to begin construction later this year. Pre-construction activity is already well underway, with crews currently working on relocating utilities and dismantling the overhead power lines for trolley buses.

Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin was the contractor for the region’s last two SkyTrain projects — Millennium Line Evergreen Extension (2016) and Canada Line (2009) — and its bid for the Broadway Extension was initially shortlisted. However, in July 2019, the embattled firm pulled its bids for both the subway and new Pattullo Bridge as part of its new international strategy of not delivering fixed-price projects.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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