One of the highlights of the Trenchless Technology editorial calendar is its annual list of the Top 50 Trenchless Engineering Firms in North America.
Starting in June, Trenchless Technology contributing editor Andrew Farr contacted trenchless engineering firms across the continent to submit surveys to compile this list. This helps tell the tale of the size of the trenchless construction sector in North America.
The Top 50 list ranks firms by their overall North American revenue. Since Trenchless Technology Canada is a Canadian-focused publication, we wanted to breakdown that North American list even further and highlight the firms doing work across Canada.
This marks the third year that – as part of the overall Top 50 survey – we asked firms to also include separate trenchless revenue data for Canada. We used this subset of data to create the list you see here of the Top Trenchless Engineering Firms in Canada.
Also included in our list is where the firms rank among the Top 50 Trenchless Engineering Firms in North America. For reference, we’ve also included a column that indicates a firm’s reported Canadian revenue from our 2022 and 2021 lists.
We realize this is not a complete list and that there are many engineering firms working in the trenchless field across Canada. We hope that this is something we can build on in the future as more Canadian trenchless engineering firms complete the survey. Only firms that indicated revenue for Canada are included here.
Farr coordinates the survey for Trenchless Technology and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re a firm that does trenchless work in Canada and are not included on this list, email Mike Kezdi, managing editor, at email@example.com.
The complete North American Top 50 list can be read in the December issue of Trenchless Technology or online at trenchlesstechnology.com/2023-top-50-trenchless-engineers-survey.
2023 Top Trenchless Engineering Firms Project Spotlight
This year, we asked all the engineering firms that listed Canadian revenue to submit a spotlight project that they were involved with. We asked that the project be part of their reported Canadian Total Trenchless Net Revenue for 2022 Labour Hours (or last fiscal year).
You’ll find those spotlight projects listed below. Only the firms that responded to the request are included in this review.
Name of Project: Malcolm Tweddle & Edith Rogers Dry Ponds and Sewer Improvements
Where the Project Took Place: Edmonton, Alberta
Your Company’s Role in the Project: AECOM provided design, tendering, and construction services.
Date Project Completed: 2023
Why This Project Is Notable: The infrastructure upgrades were required to mitigate surface ponding and basement flooding in an Edmonton community. A two-cell dry pond with 80,000 m3 of storage volume, 1,200 m of 3,000-mm storm trunk sewer, along with pipes ranging from 525 to 1,950 mm in diameter and numerous catch basin upgrades were all constructed within a mature residential neighbourhood. The design needed to accommodate existing utilities, including communication, gas, water and electricity, and a pipeline corridor. The design also needed to accommodate existing storm and sanitary sewers installed in a common trench. The project involved extensive trenchless construction methods including microtunneling for large diameter tunnels through high traffic areas. AECOM’s team liaised with the public, stakeholders and with another team completing LRT construction occurring concurrently in the project area. This project mitigated the impacts to the community during construction and has significantly reduced the risk of flooding for area residents.
Name of Project: Newton Force Main River Crossing Replacement
Where the Project Took Place: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Your Company’s Role in the Project: Associated Engineering handled the trenchless design and construction engineering.
Date Project Completed: April 2023
Why This Project Is Notable: The Newton Force Main crosses the Red River in the northeast corner of the City of Winnipeg. A new river crossing was needed because the existing HDPE line, installed in 1978, had been identified as having excessive deformation and leaks while being at risk of failure. Due to the urban development along the river, limited options were available for crossing locations which could accommodate the work and allow for the needed connections. The most suitable crossing option existed between Fraser’s Grove Park and Kildonan Park but would require closing park space and avoiding several conflicting utilities. The final 466-m long, 500 mm HDPE DR7 design targeted a depth of 32 m below the river bottom with horizontal and vertical curves through the fractured medium strength bedrock. Due to the overburden conductor casings were installed and both ends and an intersect HDD method was used successfully. Associated Engineering teamed with KGS Group to deliver the project for the City of Winnipeg.
Name of Project: Morice River Microtunnel
Where the Project Took Place: Houston, British Columbia
Your Company’s Role in the Project: CCI provided trenchless engineering for the crossing from preliminary option evaluation through to the final IFC package. CCI also provided construction inspection and technical oversight in the field during execution.
Date Project Completed: August 2023
Why This Project is Notable: The Morice River Microtunnel installation was completed near Houston, British Columbia and was as part of the Costal Gas Link Project on Spread 7. The microtunnel drive was 900 m in length launching from a 9-m-deep shaft on the southeast side of the river. The elevation change from launch to reception was 30 m, as a result vertical curves were required as part of the design. The 2.2-m outside diameter reinforced concrete jacking pipe tunnel was constructed through challenging glacial till formation using an up-skinned AVN1600 slurry machine. CCI supported the trenchless installation with FEED and detailed design engineering, this was complimented with on-site technical construction support for the owner. The crossing was successfully completed after overcoming a verity of challenges allowing the NPS 48 product pipe to be pulled in place inside the RCJP and the annular space was grouted.
Name of Project: Northwest Inner City Upper Plateau Separation Project
Where the Project Took Place: Calgary, Alberta
Your Company’s Role in the Project: Delve Underground, as a subconsultant to Associated Engineering, led the design of the shafts and tunnel. During construction, Delve performed quality assurance reviews for the tunnel lining and shaft structures, as well as daily reviews of geotechnical instrumentation data for the protection of nearby infrastructure and microtunnel boring machine (MTBM) data to monitor tunneling progress.
Date Project Completed: Tunneling was completed in December 2022.
Why This Project Is Important/Notable (100-150 words): The interface with the urban environment was identified as a major risk for the underground scope of the project. A feasibility study of alternative alignments and trenchless methodologies was performed, with the preferred methods recommended for detailed design. For each option, Delve identified and analyzed temporary works and ground improvement areas (jet grouting for shaft construction, TBM launch structure), and permanent structures (initial and final lining requirements for tunnels, shafts, and permanent storage facility). Construction methods and constructability were assessed, including TBM, microtunnel boring machine (MTBM), roadheader, open-cut, horizontal directional drilling, and pipe jacking. The microtunnel was completed in 12 weeks and advanced through weak sedimentary bedrock (mudstone of the Paskapoo Formation), a mixed-face zone and coarse granular channel fill soil. At the time of completion, this was the largest diameter microtunnel in North America.
Name of Project: Coxwell Bypass Tunnel
Where the Project Took Place: Toronto, Ontario
Your Company’s Role in the Project: FK Engineering provided contractor engineering support, segment tapping design, TERS designs, geotechnical instrumentation installation and monitoring.
Date Project Completed: December 2023
Why This Project Is Notable: The Coxwell Bypass Tunnel provides additional sanitary sewer capacity to the City of Toronto to supplement the existing system. As the City continues to grow the bypass tunnel will allow for future flow redundancy and decrease sanitary sewer overflows into Lake Ontario.
Name of Project: Keswick Sewage Pumping Station Upgrades
Where the Project Took Place: Keswick, Ontario
Your Company’s Role in the Project: GHD’s range of services included management of various investigations/surveys, preliminary design, detailed design, tendering, contract administration, site inspection and commissioning of the Pumping Station Upgrades; and trenchless design and supervision activities included route selection, methodology selection, settlement analysis, GBR preparation, settlement impact reviews, and shop drawing reviews for shafts and microtunnelling.
Date Project Completed: May 2021
Why This Project Is Notable: The Keswick Sewage Pumping Station (SPS) Upgrades forms part of the broader Upper York Sewage System program undertaken by the Regional Municipality of York with the mission to address growth within Keswick, Ontario. The project included the design and construction of approximately 485 m of twin 600-mm OD HDPE forcemain laid and grouted in place inside 1.5-m diameter tunnel installed in advance by microtunnelling. Notable aspects included: Successful completion of microtunnelling and shaft construction in very low blow count silts below the water table. One of the drives had a 500 m radius horizontal curve. Use of a GBR for risk sharing. Implementation of a comprehensive traffic management plan. Temporary flow bypassing plan of an existing sewer during construction. Construction adjacent to a residential neighbourhood required noise and vibration monitoring and public consultation/communications throughout design and construction. Construction undertaken through wooded areas required tree management, compensation and the development of tree replanting plans. Construction undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Name of Project: Ontario Line Enabling Works 2 Project – Lower Don Yard Watermain Replacement
Where the Project Took Place: Toronto, Ontario
Your Company’s Role in the Project: Serving as Technical Advisor for the Metrolinx Ontario Line project, HDR leads overall program management, planning, preliminary engineering, final design, and construction administration for this challenging, multi-faceted program. HDR managed the geotechnical investigation and the trenchless engineering and design in the Lower Don Yard. HDR expects additional trenchless projects as the Ontario Line project continues.
Date Project Completed: June 2023 for Lower Don Yard microtunnel. The Ontario Line project overall is ongoing with an estimated completion date in 2031.
Why This Project Is Important/Notable (100-150 words): Recognizing the pressing need to serve the fast‑growing Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that is gaining 125,000 residents per year, Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario developed an option for a new free standing subway rapid transit line—the Ontario Line. With this unprecedented growth, expanding the transit system is essential to connect people to jobs, schools, and their communities. The Ontario Line represents an important investment for Toronto, providing relief for the existing subway system and creating connections with the existing and planned transit network. This is a flagship project, an estimated $10.9 billion (CAD), for the Province of Ontario. Without the multiple utility relocates and other projects accomplished and aided with trenchless technology, this project couldn’t proceed. The use of trenchless specifically in the Lower Don Yard has also allowed current operations and rail activity to continue during construction.
Name of Project: New West Minster Interceptor Columbia Section Rehabilitation
Where the Project Took Place: New Westminster, British Columbia
Your Company’s Role in the Project: Prime Consultant Responsible for the design and engineering services during construction.
Date Project Completed: May 2023
Why This Project Is Important/Notable: Completion of this project represents a defining moment for trenchless technology in the Lower Mainland BC. This project, delivered for Metro Vancouver (owner), proves that large-diameter live sliplining is a viable methodology for future rehabilitation projects, even in the face of significant challenges. Our work on this project carefully considered congested work areas, varying and extreme flow conditions, historical labour and market conditions, crucial sustainability goals, increased focus on social impacts, and efficient use of public funds to minimize the impacts of infrastructure replacement on the high cost of living in our communities. The project is notable from a technical angle; sliplining had to be completed in high-velocity conditions, adding risk to the project, and Jacobs’ design addressed that risk while also focusing on constructability. It is also a significant milestone, as the longest and largest-diameter instance of sliplining completed for Metro Vancouver in this region.
Name of Project: The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP)
Where the Project Took Place: Alberta and British Columbia
Your Company’s Role in the Project: Stantec supports the TMEP in multiple capacities including overseeing construction of trenchless crossings, geotechnical and environmental engineering services and more.
Date Project Completed: In progress with an estimated completion in December 2023.
Why This Project Is Notable: The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) consists of approximately 590 miles of NPS 36 and NPS 42 pipeline, 11 pump stations, three berths, and the addition of 19 storage tanks. The new pipeline generally twins the existing pipeline in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. The pipeline will extend from existing facilities in Edmonton, Alberta, to Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia. TMEP includes over 65 major trenchless crossings, including 2.6 miles of hard rock tunnel, and well over 500 shorter trenchless crossings, utilizing a wide range of trenchless construction methodologies. These crossings are performed in diverse topographical settings ranging from prairies and deltas to mountain ranges, and geological conditions ranging from soft marine clay to extremely hard rock formations. Stantec supports the TMEP in multiple capacities including overseeing construction of trenchless crossings, geotechnical and environmental engineering services, and more.
T2 UTILITY ENGINEERS
Name of Project: Yonge North Subway Extension
Where the Project Took Place: The project spanned four municipalities, starting in the City of Toronto, extending through the City of Markham, City of Vaughan and ending in the City of Richmond Hill
Your Company’s Role in the Project: T2 Utility Engineers (T2ue) completed a subsurface utility engineering (SUE) investigation in accordance with the Construction Institute/American Society of Civil Engineers (CI/ASCE) Standard 38-, for OneT+. OneT+ is the technical advisor for the Yonge North Subway Extension (YNSE) Advanced Tunnel Design.
Date Project Completed: T2 Utility Engineer’s component was completed in October 2023.
Why This Project Is Notable: Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx are extending 8 km from Finch Station to Vaughan, Markham and Richmond Hill. The Advanced Tunnel (AT) design will permit for work to commence on the tunneling phase on an accelerated timeline while design continues on the remainder of the project infrastructure. The results from the utility investigations will play a considerable role in managing utility risk for the majority of the project scope. There are a number of deep utilities to consider when proceeding with the tunnel. Utilities will need to be considered and managed when the project interfaces with the local transit stations as well as the provincially owned GO transit services. Utilities will be need to be relocated to facilitate the launch and extraction shafts, and conflicts will need to be identified/mitigated for the design of the emergency exit buildings and stations headwalls.