The Olympic Park and the new tower. Photo credit: msdeegan at FlickrLouise Hardy was the infrastructure manager for the construction work of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. She presented at a PMI event on the project work involved in preparing London 2012.
She stated that she was involved in the programme for five-and-a-half years and that her role as part of the delivery partner team was to deliver the infrastructure. The infrastructure included 20km of roads, 13km tunnels, 26 bridges and 7 underpasses. There were also 11 venues.
The majority of the money has been spent on what the Olympic programme team calls ‘legacy’. This is the effort to ensure that the Olympic Park and other venues are not left empty after the athletes leave. The ODA funded the infrastructure program costs totaling PS2bn.
The challenges: low confidence; unexploded bombs; and access
The infrastructure team faced many challenges. There was little public expectation that they would succeed. Hardy stated that they were able to survive in a low-confidence environment. The team was driven to build confidence knowing that the programme dates were set and that the eyes of the country (and eventually, the world) were on them.
The program was not without its challenges. Access was a problem. 500 vehicles were moved each day, along with 4 trains and 6 barges. It was difficult to manage the logistics of freight and people entering and leaving because there were only two vehicle access points and five personnel access points.
The greatest risk was land contamination. The area was hit hard by the Blitz and there was the possibility of finding unexploded bombs. There was also a large fridge mountain that had to be moved.
The sustainability and green agenda were part of the bid for the Games. So the infrastructure team came up with creative solutions to the problem. The soil was excavated and transported to the’soil hospitals’. It was then washed and stored until it could be used in park later. This also meant that there was no need for soil to be transported out and new soil in, which reduced the carbon footprint and environmental damage from lorries.
Safety record improvement
Safety was another issue that the programme team had to deal with. Hardy stated that there have never been any Olympic Games without fatalities during construction. She explained that 4 deaths could be predicted if you take the average safety and health statistics for a programme this large. She explained that there had been no such statistics at the time of her presentation, and that the work was complete.
To achieve the goal of zero deaths, it was necessary to work with all contractors on the site. It was difficult to reach all the workers on site with the safety message because there were between 10 and 12,000. Hardy stated, “We knew there had have to be engagement from the top to bottom.” The team worked hard to get the message across and communicate with supervisors. They established common standards and, when they saw a worrying trend in near miss statistics, they held a forum for contractors to discuss the issues.
It took a lot to finish the build projects one year before the opening ceremony. Hardy and her team completed the build and began to focus on closing out the project to avoid any disputes with contractors.
The Games begin in just a few days. We’ll be able to see the venues and infrastructure in action then!