In this episode of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast, we talk to Alp Gökalp, the deputy general manager of Kasktas Co. Inc., Istanbul, a leading specialized geotechnical contractor in Turkey about geotechnical applications and mega infrastructure projects in Turkey, and his involvement in the Eurasia Tunnel Project, an underwater tunnel between Asia and Europe.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Alp Gökalp in This Episode:
- You are the deputy general manager of Kasktas Co. Inc. Tell us a bit more about the history and structure of your company and in which countries you have worked so far?
- What was the most challenging project in Turkey you’ve completed, and how did you overcome the difficulties of the proposed shoring system presented?
- You were involved in the Eurasia Tunnel Project, an underwater tunnel between Asia and Europe. Please could you tell us more about this project and your involvement in it?
- From a geotechnical point of view, what kind of challenges have you encountered in this project?
- You have completed a lot of mega infrastructure projects recently. How did you manage these challenging projects? Are there any special management tools/software or innovative approaches you have proposed and applied?
- What final advice can you give young engineers and geotechnical engineering students, especially those thinking of becoming geotechnical engineers?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Working on Mega Infrastructure Projects and the Eurasia Tunnel Project:
- The Osman Gazi Bridge was one of the most challenging mega infrastructure projects that Kasktas Co. Inc. has worked on. It is in a highly seismic area and is one of the highest bridges in the world. It involved using state-of-the-art geotechnical applications that were never used before in Turkey. The bridge is 2622 meters long with a 1550 meters long main span making it the sixth-longest span bridge in the world.
- When working on mega infrastructure projects in high seismic areas, the foundations need to be constructed far away from the fault line. It is difficult to do this for long structures such as tunnels, bridges, and pipelines. These structures need to cross the fault zones and deal with soft soils that are unstable and liquefiable. Unique and innovative design processes are needed for the foundations of these mega infrastructure projects. These design processes must be in line with the HSC quality control and insurance programs.
- The Eurasia Tunnel Project is a highway tunnel under the seabed that connects Asia and Europe. The tunnel is the sixth place in the world that has an excavation diameter of 13.7 meters and lies at 106 meters below sea level. It is the second place in the world to have high hydrostatic pressure of 11 bar resulting from the depth below sea level. It has a total length of 14.6 kilometers. The tunnel passes through complex geological structures, transition zones, and marine sediments in a highly seismic area. It is situated 17 kilometers away from the North Anatolian fault line. To decrease the seismic stresses and strains on the tunnel, two flexible seismic joints and segments were designed and applied in the tunnel.
- Mega infrastructure projects have many challenges that need overcoming. In projects like the Eurasia tunnel, to improve the weak ground by the shoreline and high groundwater pressure, a 30 meters deep impervious block was required to create a transition zone composed of 120-centimeter diameter unreinforced second bore piles. To increase the stability of the shoring system against high lateral pressures, a grid of underground support systems made of unreinforced diaphragm walls was constructed.
- To ensure mega infrastructure projects run as smoothly as possible, you need skilled technical and managerial staff, a powerful technical office, and a fully owned mission accouterments fleet. The use of innovative cloud-based software for every aspect of construction work is highly recommended.
- Young engineers should work in a field that they like and enjoy. To like and enjoy what you are doing will give you a bigger chance of success in your professional life. Geotechnical engineering is the art of engineering. Every site you work on is unique and a new case study opportunity. Lifelong learning is required and essential in geotechnical engineering. If a young engineer is curious, likes research, and innovative techniques, then geotechnical engineering is the correct field of work for you to follow.
More Details in This Episode…
About the Guest, Alp Gökalp:
Alp Gökalp is currently the deputy general manager of Kasktas Co. Inc., Istanbul, a leading specialized geotechnical contractor in Turkey. He was graduated and got his B.S. degree in civil engineering from the Istanbul Technical University in 1990. Then he got his MS degree in geotechnical engineering from Middle East Technical University in 1994; where he worked as a research assistant for 3 years between 1992-1995. He worked as a Technical Office and Contracts Manager at Kasktas Arabia located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia between 1995-1999. Then he worked as a Site Manager and a Project Manager on different projects in Turkey and abroad between 1999-2004. In 2004, we worked as a Project Coordinator for Artificial Islands Project in Kazakhstan, in 2006 Technical Office Manager at Istanbul Main Office, in 2007 Projects Coordinator for Overseas Projects, and finally in 2017 as Deputy General Manager. Alp Gökalp has 30 years of practical experience in geotechnical engineering with a primary emphasis in ground improvement, deep foundation, and deep excavation applications. During his career, he has completed numerous projects especially in the Middle East, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. He is the author and co-author of over 50 papers published in national and international conference proceedings. He is a member of TC 209 Offshore Geotechnics and TC 307 Sustainability in Geotechnics Technical Committees of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE).
About the Host, Jared M. Green, PE, D. GE, F.ASCE, NOMA
Jared, originally from southwest Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Syracuse University’s College of Engineering in 2001 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He later went on to attain his M.S in Civil Engineering (Geotechnical Focus) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign in 2002. In 2003, he began working in the New York City office of Langan. He has since become a Principal / Vice President and is one of the owners of this international land development engineering consulting firm. After 15 years at Langan, Jared has moved to the Philadelphia Office and is one of the geotechnical practice leaders in that office.
Jared is a consultant and team leader that also enjoys mentoring young engineers and first generation college students. He has been instrumental in increasing the number of pre-college students that are interested in STEAM majors and fields. He strives to make complex engineering topics relatable and understandable to people new to the field and to people that are completely unfamiliar with engineering. Jared and his family currently reside in Flemington, New Jersey. He and his wife have three energetic, inquisitive and awesome children. You can connect with Jared here.
This Episode Is Brought to You by Menard USA
Menard works closely with civil, structural, and geotechnical engineers to minimize foundation costs for a wide range of soil conditions, structure types, and loading conditions. To learn more about Menard Group USA, or for help on your next project, please visit www.menardgroupusa.com
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on working on mega infrastructure projects.
To your success,
Jared M. Green, PE, D. GE, NOMA
Host of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast