Tunnel Construction Explained | Summary and Q&A

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September 18, 2019
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The B1M
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Tunnel Construction Explained

TL;DR

Tunnels are essential infrastructure that keeps cities moving, but their construction and operation involve complex engineering and safety measures.

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Key Insights

  • 🤪 Tunnels play a crucial role in urban infrastructure, but their construction often goes unnoticed by the public.
  • ⌛ The earliest tunneling method, cotton cover, was disruptive and time-consuming compared to modern TBMs.
  • 🦺 TBMs are efficient and safe, excavating and lining tunnels in one continuous process.
  • 👷 Spoil from tunnel construction can be repurposed for other projects, contributing to sustainable practices.
  • ❤️‍🔥 Operation and management of tunnels require ventilation systems, fire suppression measures, and traffic control systems.
  • 🚥 Metro tunnels have sensors and signals to ensure safe transportation, while road tunnels have traffic management systems.
  • 😥 Emergency systems and refuge points are in place to ensure passenger safety in case of accidents.
  • 🤕 Pairs of tunnels are built for one-directional traffic to minimize the risk of head-on collisions and provide alternate escape routes.

Transcript

from subterranean roadways to the network of tubes that make up many of the world's great mass transit systems and the means by which we move waste away from urban areas tunnels are among the most critical pieces of infrastructure that keep our cities moving however unlike above-ground infrastructure which becomes a visual part of any city upon its... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What were the challenges and disruptions caused by the earliest tunneling method, cotton cover?

The cotton cover method involved digging a trench, laying bricks for tunnel walls, backfilling, and reinstating the surface. It required closing large stretches of streets, leading to congestion and property acquisition.

Q: How do tunnel boring machines (TBMs) work, and what are their advantages?

TBMs excavate material and line tunnels in a continuous process. They have a rotating head with cutting blades that can cut through various types of rock and clay. TBMs increase efficiency, improve safety, and minimize disruption.

Q: What happens to the spoil or excavated material from tunnel construction?

The spoil is transported back towards the tunnel entrance through conveyor belts. In some cases, like the Crossrail project in London, the spoil is used to create new wetland sanctuaries.

Q: What are the key challenges in the operation and management of tunnels?

Ventilation is critical to maintain air quality, particularly in road tunnels with high pollutant levels. Additionally, fire suppression systems, traffic management, and signaling systems are essential to ensure safety and minimize the risk of accidents.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Tunnels are critical for mass transit systems and waste management in cities, but their construction and operation often go unnoticed by the public.

  • The earliest tunneling method, called cotton cover, caused significant disruptions and congestion during construction, unlike modern tunnel boring machines (TBMs).

  • TBMs are efficient and safe, excavating material and lining tunnels in one continuous process, but their size requires them to be assembled on-site.

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