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June 1, 2017

Major new book “History of Tunneling in the United States”

Colin Lawrence, Global Tunnels Practice Leader, is one of three main editors for The History of Tunneling in the United States, a massive and lavishly illustrated new book published by the Underground Construction Association of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration. It portrays an impressive heritage of underground construction in the United States covering the last 200 years.

The book was the brainchild of editors Colin Lawrence and Dave Klug. They agreed that our industry needed a better way of communicating positive messages and true success stories to both the public and to the policy makers responsible for developing underground infrastructure. This book was the first positive step in a much larger campaign to this end.

A broad cross-section of the US tunnel industry provided input, including public owners, academia, contractors, suppliers, and of course consultants. This book is primarily aimed at decision makers, elected members at all levels of government, clients, universities, and schools. It has the overarching aim of educating and demonstrating the importance and benefits that tunnels and underground construction have achieved in the development of modern society.

The book project started as a coffee table book concept. Through the course of uncovering the many stories and photographs worthy of inclusion, it was finally judged by the publishers to be a complete illustrated history. No small achievement!

All the work done to edit and produce this book was done by volunteers. It contains a significant input from cover to cover by Mott MacDonald staff: from complete chapters to discrete historic project text, including many of the illustrations, photographs, and graphics that are an impressive feature of this book. The project gave us a unique opportunity to engage and work with clients who possessed many of the archived photographs and contributed to some of the unique stories from bygone days. The book covers many important Mott MacDonald projects, including the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Arrowhead Tunnels, Beacon Hill (Seattle), Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Crenshaw/LAX, DC Metro, Dulles International Airport, East Side Access, Euclid Creek Tunnel, LA Regional Connector, New Irvington Tunnel, and Whittier Tunnel.

Of the book's nine chapters, eight are written or had input from Mott MacDonald staff.

  • Colin Lawrence: book editor for all chapters, author of preface, author of Chapter 1 ("The Building of a Nation"), contributing author of Chapter 8 ("Innovations in Tunneling") and Chapter 9 ("The Future of Tunneling"), developer with Toby Sargant of the cover concept illustration
  • Lee Abramson: author of Chapter 5 ("Highway Tunnels")
  • Mike Vitale: author of Chapter 7 ("Wastewater Tunnels")
  • David Field: author of "Historical Biographies," coauthor of "U.S. Constructed Tunnel Archive," contributing author of Chapter 5 and of a unique 4-page open-out timeline chart covering 200 years of underground history, "Tunneling Milestones in the U.S."

Contributing authors from Mott MacDonald included Andrew Thompson (Chapters 3 and 8), Henry Russell and Frank Frandina (Chapter 4, "Transit Tunnels"), and Larry Williamson (Chapter 6, "Water Tunnels"), with help from Olga Beltsar (now working for Virginia DOT), Richard Buck, Mat Dalrymple, Christopher Preto, Stephen Taylor David Young, and the dearly departed Darryl Brogan.

This book finally shows the tunnel industry in the positive light it deserves. It also truly helps to reinforce with our many clients that Mott MacDonald continues to be a major leader and contributor to the US tunnel industry.

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