What stopped earth’s biggest-diameter tunnel boring drill?

Transportation, West
Thursday, January 16, 2014
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The south end of the tunnel. (WSDOT; Flickr.)

The south end of the tunnel. (WSDOT; Flickr.)

It was early December in Seattle when the world’s biggest-diameter tunnel boring machine, called Bertha, came to a stop underneath Seattle. It was plowing through the city’s underground as part of the two-mile project to bring SR 99 underground and replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Overnight, it seemed as if the whole of Seattle and beyond was curious: was it buried treasure from the gold rush days? Or bootlegger artifacts?

The answer after the jump.

Tunnel Rats: Does Texas Favor Building Highways Over Subways?

Eavesdroplet, Southwest
Monday, November 18, 2013
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The Waller Creek Tunnel in Austin. (Courtesy Lachel & Associates Engineers)

The Waller Creek Tunnel in Austin. (Courtesy Lachel & Associates Engineers)

According to a very confidential source, engineers currently working on the Waller Creek tunnel believe that Austin sits on top of some of the most optimal conditions for tunneling in the entire U.S. These number-crunching problem solvers claimed that a subway tunnel beneath the Texas State Capital’s downtown would cost 1/10th of the amount it would in most places in the country. However, the brainiacs also said that there are those in high places who do not want that knowledge spread around (read TxDOT) because the construction of more freeways is making certain people a great deal of money.

Video> Sandhogs Blast Bedrock Beneath Grand Central Terminal

East
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
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New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has completed blasting through bedrock far below Grand Central Terminal for the East Side Access Tunnels that will connect the station with Sunnyside, Queens. As part of the announcement, one of the last production blasts from late March has debuted on YouTube. The video above reveals what has been transpiring beneath the streets of Manhattan during the tunneling process, and the sight is rather impressive. A camera caught the final blast that made way for a massive cavern. So far 2,424 production blasts have occurred below the commuter rail terminal station, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. For this explosion, sandhogs drilled more than 200 blast holes and loaded them with over 300 pounds of powder to guarantee a powerful explosion that could rival any action movie’s special effects.

Tunnel Time: Amtrak Tunnel Beneath Hudson Yards Sets Stage For Gateway Project

East
Thursday, March 7, 2013
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Map of the Amtrak Gateway Project. (Hopeful in NJ / Flickr)

Map of the Amtrak Gateway Project. (Hopeful in NJ / Flickr)

Construction on the two-track Gateway project, a new tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan, will commence this summer beneath Related Company’s Hudson Yards redevelopment site. Related Companies and Amtrak will build this 800-foot-long “box tunnel,” which will first serve as a shell for Amtrak’s rail connection linking the Hudson tunnel to Penn Station’s tracks, and, eventually, to the proposed Moynihan Station. The actual Amtrak Gateway Project is still years away, but construction on this first leg of the tunnel is happening now to coordinate with construction on Manhattan’s West Side. The project will be funded by the federal government including some funding from the Hurricane Sandy relief package meant to help mitigate flooding during future storms. It’s estimated to cost between $120 and $150 million.

Slideshow> Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway Pushes North

East
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
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Inside the Second Avenue Subway. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

Inside the Second Avenue Subway. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway continues construction on the island’s east side. A new construction update from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority details excavation work at what will one day be the line’s 86th Street station and the various pieces of heavy machinery that are used in the construction process. Take a look at the photos below and be sure to check out more spectacular tunneling photos from the Seven Line subway expansion and the East Side Access Tunnel for the Long Island Railroad.

View the slideshow after the jump.

Slideshow> New York Subway Construction Creates Enormous Cathedrals of Transit

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
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Manhattan's East Side Access Tunnel will connect the Long Island Railroad with Grand Central Terminal. (Courtesy MTA)

Manhattan’s East Side Access Tunnel will connect the Long Island Railroad with Grand Central Terminal. (Courtesy MTA / Patrick Cashin)

There’s plenty of tunneling going on underneath the streets of Manhattan. On the west side, digging through the city’s bedrock has given way to interior station fit-ups for the Dattner-designed 7 line subway stations connecting Times Square to Hudson Yards as early as 2014. To the east, sandhogs continue to carve through solid rock for the $4.5 billion Second Avenue Subway Line while other crews outfit the tunnels with concrete and rebar.

Between the two, more massive caverns are being opened up beneath Grand Central Terminal, which turned 100 this month, that will extend the Long Island Railroad to the famed station from Sunnyside, Queens in 2019. The $8.24 billion East Side Access Project will allow commuters to bypass Penn Station and enter Manhattan 12-stories below Grand Central. Now, the MTA has released a dramatic set of photos from inside the 3.5-mile-long tunnel, revealing enormous cathedral-like spaces connected by perfectly cylindrical tunnels. Take a look.

View the slideshow after the jump.

Slideshow> Second Avenue Subway Construction Update

East
Thursday, January 31, 2013
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(Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

(Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

The much-talked-about 7 line subway extension on Manhattan’s West Side isn’t the only mega-infrastructure project making progress in New York. Construction continues far below the streets of Manhattan’s East Side as crews tunnel through bedrock for the Second Avenue Subway line. This week, the MTA released a gallery of photos showing construction progress on stations between 63rd and 73rd streets. The photos show the enormous rock caverns that will one day be subway stations being prepped with liners, rebar, and concrete casing. According to Gothamist, construction progress varies by station, with the 72nd Street station 96 percent complete and the 86th Street station 42 percent done.

More images after the jump.

Tunnel Vision

International
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Detour ahead: Le Gallerie is a twin tunnel-turned-exhibition space in Italy's Dolomite Mountains. (Photography by Pierluigi Faggion)

New York’s celebrated High Line may have turned an old rail trestle into a park, but the Northern Italian city of Trento has one-upped Manhattan, reclaiming two 1,000-foot-long tunnels in the Dolomite Mountains as an experimental history museum—and a fascinating example of the reuse of abandoned infrastructure. Read More

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