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Prepare to be amazed. This is the Shortlist For Construction Story of the Year 2023.

Fred Mills

02 October 2023

THE WAIT IS OVER. The entries came in, the judges deliberations took place, and now we’re excited to announce the final shortlist for Construction Story of the Year 2023.

From the longlist we’ve now narrowed it down even further to just three stories.

Trying to select finalists from so many amazing entries was tough and these three stories were decided on in a comprehensive and passionate debate among our panel of expert judges.

Now, we want to know what you think. You watch The B1M regularly and know what makes a good story. Take a look at the short videos below and tell us who you think should win. Comment, like, share, and repost – we’ll be watching very closely to see which entries resonate most.

Our judges will then take your responses into account when they have their final meeting to (somehow) decide on an overall winner that we'll announce on 16 November.

Remember that we teamed-up with Nemetschek to find and lift-up construction's most impressive and inspiring stories. In today’s busy world, it’s stories that cut-through more effectively than anything. They’re how we remember things, exchange information and convince others.

With Construction Story of the Year we're looking for something that can be held up as the very best of this industry and become a beacon for helping promote it to the wider world.

Here are this year’s top three finalists, in no particular order:

Digging a 57KM Tunnel Through a Mountain
The Mont Cenis Base Tunnel: TELT Team

Lyon and Turin aren’t that far apart. But try and plot the most direct route between them on a map and you’ll spot the small problem of a mountain range called the Alps blocking your path.

Not a problem for this construction team. They’ve decided to pick-up their shovels (or tunnel boring machines) and dig a direct tunnel right through the very base of the mountains.

It’s hard to see how a construction project could get much more epic (or quite frankly daunting) than this. Led by TELT, the 270-kilometre new high-speed railway between Lyon and Turin – cleverly called the Lyon-Turin Railway – will see part of the route run through the new 57.5-kilometre Mont Cenis Base Tunnel beneath the Alps on the French-Italian border.

The tunnel will enable trains to run at higher speeds and travel more directly than they do now: the current route involves a slow and winding four-hour train climb up and over the peaks.

With varying ground conditions and numerous digital collaboration and tracking tools deployed, crews here are using drill and blast techniques and tunnel boring machines to steadily dig its route.

Planned, co-ordinated and led by the teams at TELT, the tunnel will become the world’s longest rail tunnel once it completes.

The scheme is just part of one of the continent’s most critical infrastructure schemes – the TEN-T transport network. When finished, the railway is set to offer a new low-carbon link between Western and Central-Eastern Europe, cutting journey times and delivering significant economic benefits.

This is an incredible story that really speaks to the scale, ingenuity, and wider economic and societal impact of construction. Impossible is nothing.

The Innovation That Fixed Arizona's Critical Sewers
The Northwest Outfall Project: Northwest Outfall Team

“Sewage may not be sexy, but the teamwork and effort involved in processing society’s waste can be inspiration for all” – that’s how the Northwest Outfall team cleverly opened its eye-catching entry for Construction Story of the Year 2023.

Yes, this is a sewer, but bear with us, because this story and the team’s incredible work – which took place almost entirely out of sight and quite literally beneath the feet of its citizens – is a delight.

To fill you in on a bit of background: Tucson, Arizona developed a bit of an odour problem and it was all because of something called the Northwest Outfall Siphon; a dual-barrel sewer siphon under the Santa Cruz River.

The way the system was functioning meant that raw sewage was corroding the existing tunnels and releasing aggressive odours. Yep: raw sewage + Arizona’s heat. We don’t even want to imagine the smell.

So, in-stepped the Northwest Outfall Team consisting of Hunter Contracting, the Pima County Wastewater Reclamation Department and Dibble Engineering.

They engineered two new, corrosion-resistant fibreglass-lined structures to stop the flow churning and releasing corrosive gases. But to replace the original tunnels, they had to find a way to safely move 15 million gallons per day of raw sewage across the river.

Drilling deep under the river itself wasn’t really an option due to regulations, so they had to go over it. But instead of building a costly bridge, the team designed, erected and removed a single-span temporary bridge – saving the local environment and community a whole lot of trouble while simultaneously dealing with that awful smell.

This entry concluded with another great line: “Underground utility projects are often judged specifically by how little people notice. At the completion of a project, no one walks by and says “what a great sewer” – but failures cause huge disruptions to people’s lives and potential environmental destruction.”

Our judges love this story for that very reason. It highlights the incredible work that construction does to keep our world running and the little recognition it gets for it. It’s time to lift up and celebrate their impact.

Thank goodness you can’t smell a video.

Using Robotics to Restore an American Landmark
US Capitol Repainting: Scaffold Resource and KEWAZO

Touching-up some paintwork is a pretty standard construction activity.

Doing it at the vast US Capitol under intense security, with limited overnight working hours and the eyes of the world watching you is a whole different ball game.

The inspiring team at Maryland-based Scaffold Resource stepped-up to the task and became the first US company to use KEWAZO'S material-lifting LIFTBOT on site.

They took on the task of repainting the seat of American democracy: an activity that normally rolls around once every 15 years.

The constraints were extreme. Works could only take place overnight between 22:00-06:00 but those times could change if there were major events taking place or if congress sat late. On top of that, every member of the construction team had to go through security checks, so any last-minute changes to the crew due to sickness or availability were tough to navigate.

The sheer volume of scaffolding required over such a large expanse of this iconic building also presented challenges.

In a brave and innovative move, Scaffold Resource worked with KEWAZO to deploy its new LIFTBOT technology on the high-profile site. It helped to supplement manpower and improve operational efficiency by 50%, lower the risk of objects falling and create a safer jobsite overall.

This fantastic story really lifts-up and shines a light on the lengths that construction teams go to in order to get the job done, the pressure of high-profile projects, the important role construction plays in preserving heritage, the hard hours that much of the industry works and a fantastic attitude to innovation that’s now becoming much more widespread across the sector.

The challenge now is that our judges could easily make a case for each of these finalists to win. 
Help them out, watch and share the video features and tell us who you think should be crowned champion on 16 November.


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