Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Sporting chance

Italy

Billions are being spent as Turin gears up for the 2006 Winter Olympics. The trick for engineers is ensuring there is a positive legacy.

A staggering US$1.6bn is being invested into making the 2006 Winter Olympics an unforgettable experience for competitors and spectators alike. But the aim is also to create a lasting legacy for the city.

The Italian government has put up half the funding, with the condition that its contribution is spent on infrastructure that benefits the people of Turin long after the games have ended.

To ensure this, two different bodies will work together to construct the facilities and venues for the games.

Planning the work is the not-for-profit Torino 2006 organising committee, TOROC, acting as client, while responsibility for executing it was assigned to Agenzia Torino 2006 (the Agency) under Law 285, passed by the government on 9 October 2000. The Agency serves as the contractor for the works, which will largely be done by subcontractors. As client, TOROC is also responsible for ensuring that the games and their infrastructure have no adverse effect on the environment.

The Agency reports directly to the government minister responsible for the games, and is therefore charged with determining which schemes will be paid for from the public purse and which are funded by TOROC from its projected US$819M income from TV rights, marketing and ticketing.

With 70 projects for 15 sports in 14 different venues, many being built from scratch or heavily renovated, it is a difficult task.

In many cases venues will be built with a combination of permanent and temporary facilities to satisfy both needs.

'The problem is understanding how big we need the permanent structures to be, ' explains TOROC construction manager Nicola Bianchi. 'We are collecting feasibility studies in volumes.'

Design for most of the venues is under way or completed, with construction scheduled to start early next year. Exceptions are facilities that will need a trial in the winter of 2004/05 - work on these began this summer.

The new ski jump at Pragelato is a classic example of the public/private money trade-off.

Public money will build it (as it will be used in future years for competition and training) along with permanent seating for 2,000. Private money will build temporary seating for 5,000 along with temporary villages for media, athletes and sponsors.

It is a similar arrangement for construction of Oval Torino, the 400m speed skating facility to be built south of the city centre near the Lingotto exhibition centre.

With the competition demanding a 220m by 120m covered, column free floor space, there seemed little chance of public money being allocated. However, developer HOK Sport has designed the venue as a huge, multi-purpose building.

During the games a combination of permanent and temporary stands will provide seating for 10,000. Afterwards spectator seating will be reduced to 2,000 seats in the form of retractable stands running along the length of one side only. The building will then be adapted to house exhibitions, with the ice-making machinery retained so it can be still be used as a rink when required.

Short-track speed skating will be held in the refurbished Palavela Torino, an architecturally stunning structure built for the 1961 celebration of 100 years of a unified Italy.

However the city had little use for its 130m diameter floor area, and it fell into disrepair.

With an injection of public money, it is hoped the building will gain a new lease of life.

Metro countdown

With the 2006 Winter Olympics just four years away, engineers building Turin's first underground rail system are skating on thin ice.

As the new backbone of the city, the route of Metro Line 1 has been carefully planned to follow the two streets that carry the highest traffic volumes. Almost 30,000 vehicles enter the city daily from the south east along Corso Unita d'ltalia with another 50,000 coming from the west via Corso Francia.

Section one is now under way, with sites spaced every 700m on Corso Francia and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II as work begins on service diversion and excavation for the stations.

The 9.6km section - from the Collegno in the west to Porta Nuova includes 15 stations and will cost US$642M. It is scheduled to open in 2005, just months before the start of the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The seven station 4.5km second section - from Porta Nuova to the Lingotto exhibition centre in the south of the city - will cost a further US$180M and is scheduled to open in 2008. Further extensions to the south and west, as well as a second line running north east to south west are planned.

Funding on Line One comes from national government (60%), regional government (8%), and the city council (25%). The remaining 7% is provided by SATTI, the city council owned regional bus and rail operator which will project manage and operate the line.

Trains will be fully automated, using a system similar to that in use on Metro systems across France. Pneumatic wheels will reduce braking distances and provide better grip for faster acceleration, allowing trains to reach speeds of up to 80km/h between the closely spaced stations. Pneumatic wheels also generate less vibration - good for passenger comfort and nearby buildings - and increase the tolerances for the tunnel construction.

The trains will be small - a maximum of four, 110 person capacity cars - but at a frequency of up to one train every 69 seconds, 15,000 passengers can be carried every hour. The 9.6km journey from Collegno to Porta Nuova will take 16 minutes.

The average depth of the tunnel is 18m below street level, dipping to 25m where it passes beneath the cross rail scheme. As a result earth pressure balance tunnel boring machines will be used for the majority of the work, with stations constructed by cut and cover.

With completion ahead of the Olympics critical, three 600t Lovat TBMs will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the first having started from Collegno on 5 October.

The internal diameter of the tunnel is 7.6m, and each TBM is scheduled to race through the fluvial soil at an average of 10m/day.

Few problems are anticipated with the bored tunnels, but the cut and cover stations are proving more problematic, explains SATTI communications manager Marco Danzi. 'Services have been a real problem, with over 20 companies to negotiate with at some sites, ' says Danzi. 'But there can be no delay as stations need to be ready for when the TBMs arrive - for speed and efficiency all maintenance is done while they are in the open.'

As a result contractors on site are working long hours, calling for careful public relations. 'Each station takes two months of heavy working from 7am to 9pm, so there has to be lots of public liaison, ' says Danzi.

Changing rooms

Such is the stature of Turin as Italy's sporting heart that when the country won the right to host to the 1990 World Cup it was natural that the city should play a major part. There was just one problem. Although the home of Juventus and Torino, both teams with Europe-wide pedigrees, the city council owned stadium Stadio Comunale was falling into disrepair.

Rather than renovate, the city decided to build afresh, creating the magnificent Stadio delle Alpi. The Stadio Comunale was effectively abandoned. Until now.

The Olympic organisers are embarking on a complete renovation of the stadium to hold the opening and closing ceremonies. The 26,000 capacity will be raised to 40,000 by removing up to 14,000 permanent seats.

The original plans to use the Stadio delle Alpi were thwarted by Juventus' announcement that it is to buy and redevelop it. Attendances at the 75,000seat stadium have fallen in recent years and Juventus intends to reconfigure the pitch and get rid of the athletics track to bring the fans closer, cutting capacity to 40,000.

Space freed up will be taken by leisure and shopping facilities, helping to pay for the venture.

With the Olympic organisers committed to ensuring that all its venues can be used by the city after the games, the permanent seating will be replaced at Stadio Comunale to allow Torino to move back in.

Environment first at Torino 2006

TOROC is taking its environmental responsibilities seriously. Indeed, the Olympic programme is the first time that a construction project in Italy has been subjected to a strategic environmental assessment (SEA).

'The ecosystem of the Alps is extremely sensitive to change, ' explains TOROC environment director Roberto Saini. 'So our major task will be to monitor this ecosystem from the first construction site right through to the end of the games.'

Sixteen indicators will be used to monitor changes to the quality of air, water, soil and the landscape, with sanctions available to TOROC for anyone failing to comply. Any work which will result in an adverse effect on the landscape - such as tree felling - will have to be rectified - for instance by replanting.

The biggest problem will be avoiding pollution from road traffic, explains Saini. 'One thing we cannot change is the roads into the mountains, which are narrow and unsuitable for heavy use.

Private cars will be banned from the venues themselves, with spectators arriving by park and ride buses running on natural gas.'

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.