Enbridge picks 2 contractors for tunnel project in Straits of Mackinac

Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 8:11 AM EST
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Enbridge has picked two contractors to build an underground tunnel for its Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac while court battles continue over the plans.

Enbridge announced Friday that Michigan-based Great Lakes Tunnel Constructors would construct the tunnel. Great Lakes Tunnel Constructors is a partnership between a Michigan tunnel construction firm, Jay Dee Contractors, Inc., and the U.S. affiliate of Japanese tunnel construction firm, Obayashi Corporation.

Enbridge has also selected Arup, a leading engineering and consulting firm with large-scale infrastructure and tunnel design capabilities, to deliver construction design documentation for the project.

Even though Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is appealing a court ruling that upheld legislation authorizing the tunnel agreement, Enbridge says it anticipates construction will begin in 2021. Following approximately two years of construction, Enbridge expects to place the new Line 5 segment into service in 2024.

“The Great Lakes Tunnel Project is essential to Michigan’s economic vitality and long-term energy security,” said Brad Shamla, Vice President of U.S. Operations at Enbridge, in a press release. “It will enable residents, schools and businesses to continue to receive critical fuel and the thousands of products Line 5 helps make possible while increasing environmental safeguards and protection of the Great Lakes.”

According to Enbridge, Arup has extensive tunnel related experience, including design of the world’s highest pressure tunnel, design of the largest TBM constructed tunnel in the world, and numerous other river, lake and sea tunnel crossing designs involving a wide range of ground conditions.

Enbridge says Great Lakes Tunnel Constructor’s project team has a collective track record of constructing more than 400 pressurized-face tunnels consisting of more than 2.4 million feet of tunnelway. A number of those projects involved high pressure and ground condition parameters similar to those that will exist in the Straits of Mackinac.

“We are pleased to be part of the biggest infrastructure project in Michigan,” said Timothy Backers, Project Manager with the Great Lakes Tunnel Constructors, in a press release. “We have worked successfully on some of the largest tunnel projects throughout the world, though there is an extra measure of pride in being selected to work on a project where we can make another vital contribution to our home state.”