Tyne tunnel no one noticed earns prize

A CRACK crew of tunnellers and their back-up teams, toiling more than a year to restore drinking water successfully to a flood-devastated North-East market town, have won their firm a major award.

A CRACK crew of tunnellers and their back-up teams, toiling more than a year to restore drinking water successfully to a flood-devastated North-East market town, have won their firm a major award.

Gales that devastated many parts of the UK over a week in January 2005 washed away both pipelines giving Hexham people their drinking water.

Northumbrian Water had to provide people with emergency supplies transported in daily amid wide publicity. To rectify the damage, civil engineering firm Byzak, of Gateshead, moved in a team from several nations and the North-East to run new pipes beneath the Tyne.

The tunnel needed was ready within a month and the entire job completed to a 64-week deadline and £2.7m budget. The achievement has brought Byzak a Project of the Year honour – its second in three years – from fellow members of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (North-East).

Design manager Iain Foster said: “We tunnelled the Tyne without causing a ripple in the end. And precision engineering brought the tunnel in on line and level.”

Civil Engineering Contractors Association director Douglas Kell said: “The judges were impressed that the tunnel was driven without public or media comment in such an area of natural beauty and tranquillity. It testifies to the success.”

Four commendations for outstanding work in the North-East were also made this year. One, to safeguard water for 800,000 Tyneside customers, was also in the Tyne Valley.

The firm Black & Veatch, with a northern base in Bradford, designed and built the £20m sustainable treatment plants simultaneously in two years.

Hartlepool civil engineering firm Seymour was commended for its role in reviving and transforming Sunniside Gardens in Sunderland centre and giving work to local jobless people.

Seymour worked with Robinson Landscape Design on the regeneration led by Sunniside Partnership and funded by TyneWear and English Partnerships.

At Hartlepool, the Newcastle operation of Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering replaced one of Network Rail’s oldest bridges, Lancaster Road, across the A1048.

Balfour Beatty business development manager Ken Wood said: “There was genuine public interest. Large crowds turned up, and a local resident even wrote to say he and his neighbour thought we had done a great job.”

And at Blyth port, Edmund Nuttall Ltd, of Newcastle, put an excavator on a landing craft to tackle a tricky rebuilding of a grain berth that now copes instead with increased arrivals of Russian coal in ships of up to 80,000 tonnes.

John Hellens (Contracts) of Hetton-le-Hole was named this year’s best training company and Hall Construction Services, of Rushyford in County Durham, best in health and safety.

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