COWI JV Completes NYC Tunnel Rehabilitation Project

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COWI and CHA were contracted to provide expert quality oversight and coordination of new ventilation and fire protection systems, including advanced smoke detection and communication systems in the tunnels.

COWI in joint venture with CHA Consulting, Inc. (CHA) as owner’s engineer quality oversight to assist the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) in the completion of five $123 million design-build contracts to refurbish the Hugh L. Carey and Queens Midtown Tunnel. The modernization project features advanced systems that improve public safety and the reliability of the city’s transport network.

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Together, the Hugh L. Carey (HLC) and Queens Midtown tunnels accommodate approximately 128,000 vehicles per day and are vital to commuters and visitors traveling to Manhattan. Both tunnels are over 70 years old and the Hugh L. Carey is the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in North America.

Environmental events such as Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and its transportation infrastructure, highlighting the need for advances in design and technology. COWI and CHA were contracted to provide expert quality oversight and coordination of new ventilation and fire protection systems, including advanced smoke detection and communication systems in the tunnels. All upgrades were completed on budget and on time during the pandemic without closing the tunnels to traffic.

Steven Kramer, senior vice president and project director for the project at COWI said, “This project has been very close for our engineers, most of us have used these tunnels and know how important they are to the New York ecosystem. Working on such an ingrained part of our transportation network can be challenging, but our proactivity and collaboration with construction partners delivered a design-build model that delivered significant cost and time savings.”

The project involved the design and construction of a prototype water mist fire suppression system in the HLC tunnel, the first of its kind to be installed in North America. The team was able to achieve this through their collaboration between designers and contractors with knowledge of local regulations, suppliers and specialist craftsmen. The existing firefighting system relied on the New York Fire Department’s response, which could be disrupted by traffic disruptions related to a fire in the tunnel. The improved technology now protects the traveling public and provides additional protection for the tunnel infrastructure from fire damage.

“Secure and reliable infrastructure is critical to New York City, and CHA thrives on working with partners like COWI to deliver solutions that help the city thrive. This was a complex project and the team involved was first class,” said Lee Ecker, PE, senior vice president and head of CHA’s Highway & Rail business practice.

RELATED: Amtrak crews strengthen New York’s North River Tunnels

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