Top engineering award for work on Beaminster Tunnel

Dorset Echo: WINNERS:  Constin Banu, left, and his brother Sabin at the repaired tunnel WINNERS: Constin Banu, left, and his brother Sabin at the repaired tunnel

WORK carried out on Beaminster Tunnel has won a top engineering industry award.

The innovative design to secure the slopes above the Beaminster Tunnel portals was selected as the winner of the UK project with a geotechnical value of between £1m and £3m category at the Ground Engineering Awards in London.

It comes after tragic couple Rosemary Snell, 67, and Michael Rolfe, 72, from Somerset, were killed when their car was engulfed by a wall of mud during a landslide.

They were buried for 10 days before their bodies were found in Beaminster Tunnel in 2012.

Engineering consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff carried out the work on the design of the Beaminster Tunnel stabilisation scheme for Dorset County Council.

The tunnel reopened 13 months after the tragedy.

Almost 600 industry specialists attended the award ceremony and the West Dorset project beat off stiff competition including London’s crossrail scheme and work on the Mersey Gateway bridge near Liverpool.

Ground Engineering editor – and former Colfox school student – Claire Smith said: “The quantity and quality of entries this year has been outstanding and this is probably the toughest year yet in which to win an award.

“The decision to present the award for the £1m to £3m category to Parsons Brinckerhoff was made by an independent panel of judges who were impressed by the level of innovation undertaken during the design phase.”

Judges for this category included Network Rail route asset manager Derek Butcher, City University head of civil engineering Sarah Stallebrass, Transport Scotland head of network maintenance Graham Edmond and Chris Chiverrell from construction industry standards body CIRIA.

Ms Smith added: “The work is believed to be the first time soil nailing has been used in Greensand and Parson Brinckerhoff used some complex computer analysis to prove the design would work and ensure the safety of tunnel users.

“The steepness of the slopes above the tunnel also made the work more complex than some other slope stabilisation schemes I have seen.

“It is because of this complexity that the judges were particularly impressed by the rigorous approach Parsons Brinckerhoff took in design of the scheme before moving onto site and in translating that design into a workable solution once construction started.”

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