In April 2017, Dr. Rolf Bielecki died at the age of 85. German engineering has thus lost one of its most incisive and internationally regarded personalities of recent decades. Bielecki became widely known in the 1990s as the managing director of the Hamburg building authority. He was the responsible project engineer and client representative for the construction of the 4th bore of the Elbe Tunnel and, as an early pioneer of trenchless installation of underground utilities, implemented the latest technologies like hydroshield tunnelling or the use of steel fibre concrete. In 1997, he was awarded the first STUVA Prize to honour the numerous technical innovations he had initiated. These noteworthy new developments include the accessibility of the spokes of the cutting wheel of the tunnel boring machine for the 4th bore of the Elbe Tunnel and the advance probing of the ground from the TBM, but also some administrative innovations such as the introduction of functional tendering for major projects.
One lifelong interest for Rolf Bielecki was to further the potential of trenchless construction. For example he was the essential driver behind the founding of the German Society for Trenchless Technology e. V. (GSTT) in 1989 and its chairman for 18 years. In 1997, he was selected as president of the International Society for Trenchless Technology. He was a member of the German Tunnelling Committee (DAUB) from 1990 to 1999. Numerous DAUB publications from this time of technical breakthroughs such as the “Recommendations for
Planning, Tendering and Awarding shield-supported Tunnel Drivage Projects” or the recommendations for the “Functional Description for Transport Tunnels” include his writing.
With Dr. Rolf Bielecki, a man has passed away who could be enthusiastic and enthuse others for great objectives but who also did not duck arguments when someone else held his visions for the future to be too daring or expensive. His rapid comprehension and impressive professional competence helped him in the following of his intended aims just as much as his rough hanseatic charm and genuine geniality in personal contacts. Despite his extremely purposeful manner, no one could actually be really angry with him. In his home town, he is still known until today as the “Jesteburg rebel”, who was politically active in the 1990s with his Bürgerunion to break up structures that in his view were antiquated. From 1996 to 2006, he was a member of the council, where he polarised the population with enthusiastic discussions about the relieving of the town centre and the assignment of new building zones.
We lose with Dr. Rolf Bielecki an exceptional man with vision and character, who provided in particular a great stimulus for the trenchless installation of utilities and had a significant influence on general technical developments of recent decades in underground construction.