Today crews on the Devil’s Slide bypass tunnels will break through after more than 3 years of excavation work. The pair of 4,000-ft long tunnels will each convey Highway 1 past a dangerous and landslide-prone stretch of California Coastline. The tunnels will open to traffic in early 2012. [Source: San Francisco Examiner. Image: San Francisco Examiner]
In the mountains of Peru a tunnel-boring machine named â€œPacha Mamaâ€ is grinding through the heart of the Andes under rock as deep as 6,890 ft. It is carving away at a 20.2-kilometer-long tunnel through the South American Continental Divide to deliver water to arid coastal farmland.
This is a really interesting project, known as the Los Olmos project, and a nice little article. Normally for a civil tunnel project you drill geotechnical holes beforehand to know what kind of material you’re dealing with. In this case, because of the depth, they don’t have that luxury, so all decisions will be made on the fly. The depth of the tunnel creates some very challenging rock mechanics and logistics problems as well! (Illustration by Odebrecht)
The Seattle Times (hat tip to ASCE SmartBrief) has reported that seven voids have been discovered above the Beacon Hill Tunnel with one opening up at the ground surface. The tunnel is being constructed by Sound Transit, the area’s transportation agency as part of a roughly $2.6 billion (yep, billion) light-rail project connecting downtown Seattle with the University of Washington and SEA-TAC airport. The voids were a result of running sand pockets in the otherwise stable clay units that were encountered by the tunnel boring machine or TBM. These voids migrated up like a chimney with one reaching the surface, almost 160-ft above the tunnel. This void was apparently 21-ft deep and opened up in a resident’s front yard and could have easily swallowed her up as she noticed it while gardening. The other voids were discovered at a depth of 20- to 65-ft below the ground surface. More after the break. (Illustration from Seattle Times)