Massive Northeast Anthony Henday Project Weathers Stormy 2013
Despite challenging weather in 2013, the Northeast Anthony Henday project is starting to take shape. NEAH is the largest highway construction project that Alberta, Canada, has undertaken. The project includes the construction of 27 kilometers (17 miles) of six- and eight-lane divided roadway, nine interchanges, two road flyovers, eight rail crossings (flyovers), and two bridges across the North Saskatchewan River, for a total of 47 bridge structures. Construction began in June 2012 and is slated for completion in October 2016.
The project is a public-private partnership. Owner Province of Alberta contracted Capital City Link General Partnership as the concessionaire to design, build, finance and operate the construction of NEAH. Flatiron works as part of a joint venture, alongside Dragados, Aecon and Lafarge as the prime contractor for the project. The JV partners work together in the project office in Edmonton, Alberta, to facilitate construction needs—from underground utilities to multilevel flyovers. With 18 different worksites come a variety of challenges—like extreme weather variation—that the partners work together to overcome.
In June 2013, the area experienced heavy rainfall and flooding described by the provincial government as the worst in Alberta’s history. The flooding affected the entire province; the most significant impact on the NEAH project was at the North Saskatchewan River Bridge. The berm for the structures was constructed based on historical data for the river water elevations, but the water levels during this flood event had never been seen before.
Crews worked double shifts around the clock for five weeks to get back on schedule and maintain progress at the two largest structures on the project. Summer season rains also affected numerous earthworks operations that the team tirelessly worked to get back on track, including culvert installation, utility installations and relocations, roadway construction as well as mechanically stabilized earth wall construction. Edmonton’s climate includes brutally cold winters with temperatures dipping down to minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) with the wind chill, shutting down earthworks operations and making drainage and structures work difficult and expensive to perform through the winter months.
Utility relocations and crossings within the NEAH Transportation and Utility Corridor have been one of the most strenuously pursued scopes due to the schedule impacts that surfaced. The entire team worked together diligently to come up with new, innovative designs and traffic accommodation strategies to ensure that the utility delays don’t stand in the way of the project opening to traffic in October 2016.
Despite these challenges, 20 months into the project, girders have been erected at 19 bridge sites. The project is starting to take shape; the public is starting to see the progress and eagerly awaits the end of construction. Once complete, the entire Anthony Henday Drive, including already completed segments, will be the first free-flowing ring road in Canada, where an estimated 40,000 motorists will use it on a daily basis.