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Project of the Year (subcontract over £2m): Winner

Winner: VolkerLaser – Woodhouse Tunnel A58(M), refurbishment and strengthening

VolkerLaser’s largest project to date was a masterpiece in early contractor involvement and successful planning. The client and main contractor are delighted with the work and the general public barely even noticed it taking place.

But if anything at all had gone wrong, everyone would have known about it.

The Woodhouse Tunnel A58(M) in Leeds is used by 75,000 cars a day. Just a few minutes’ delay in the morning to the work to refurbish and strengthen the tunnel would have caused instant congestion in the city centre and back up to the motorway.

VolkerLaser’s early contractor involvement meant the team could work with the principal contractor Carillion and the client Leeds City Council for a year before work began. By the time the project started, the scope was meticulously planned and fully resourced. Carillion reported that there were no surprises at any stage.

With traffic management in place from 7pm to 6am, work was delivered within an intensive seven-hour window across 400 night shifts within a two-year period.

VolkerLaser delivered the vast majority of the package, cutting down the inefficiencies of multiple interfaces between teams and placing over 5,000 sq m of formwork, pumping nearly 2,000 cu m of concrete and fixing more than 500 tonnes of reinforced steel.

“VolkerLaser managed to work without disturbing a live hospital above the site, demonstrated excellent collaborative working and had an exemplary approach to occupational health”

Judges’ comment

All this took place beneath Leeds General Infirmary and adjacent to the university, requiring additional consideration and planning to confine all disturbing drilling to a four-week period, during which patients were temporarily moved from wards.

As a result of the project’s ambition, the success of its planning and the value engineering introduced via ECI, VolkerLaser was able to shave £3.5m off what was originally planned as a £14m job, as well as several months off the programme timeframe.

The team also found time to fundraise for the hospital and other local charities and put in place a comprehensive health and safety regime. This prioritised workforce management and safety through two additional daily briefings, a focus on individual gang risk and activities, and special attention on night shift risks.

It also included an occupational health programme with regular screening for night shift workers. Two were sent home for previously undetected high blood pressure. VolkerLaser won Rospa Gold for occupational health and safety in 2014 and 2015.

The judges praised the company’s holistic approach, which delivered not only an excellent engineering project, but one which demonstrated true collaborative working, value engineering, health and safety and impressive community and stakeholder working.


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  • MAC Roofing & Contracting – MoD Lyneham
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  • Structural Systems UK – Hammersmith Flyover, bearing replacement
  • TA Colbourne – Land Rover BAR Team HQ

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