The area is approximately 300-m from the Rhine River, and groundwater is very shallow. As noted in another NCE article, the contractor constructed 15 dewatering wells when only 4 were approved. Additionally, the pumping rate being used was 750 m^3/hr, or nearly double the 450 m^3/hr it was pumping in December of 2008. Clearly the groundwater is one component of the failure, but it does not appear that there is sufficient evidence to say exactly what role of the groundwater was or if the shoring walls did in fact fail and lead to the collapse of the Cologne historical archives and the deaths of two people.
Thanks to approximately $100 million from President Bush’s proposed 2009 budget, the $1.8 billion project creating a light-rail line from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington is likely to break ground some time this year. The project will involve twin bored tunnels on the order of 3 miles in length. It is scheduled to open for use in 2016.
There is another notable tunnel project associated with the Seattle Light Rail, known as the Beacon Hill tunnel which I have blogged about before.