Posts by Desiree

James Robbins at the Humber River TBM launch, 1956

A Tradition of Innovation: The 2013 Muir Wood Lecture takes a cue from Robbins’ Long History

Find out about the genesis of modern tunnel boring machines, the precursor to EPBs and Slurry machines, and the next steps for our industry in Dick Robbins’ upcoming Sir Alan Muir Wood lecture. Read More


Salamanders, Pseudo Scorpions, and Quartz Crystals: How my Recent Site Visit proved that TBM Tunneling is the Greenest Way to Go

What do these three things have in common? They all factor in to the environmentally friendly tunneling operations at the Jollyville Transmission Main in Austin, Texas, USA. Read on for more insights from our recent site visit. Read More


There are Urgent Projects…and Then There’s Emisor Oriente

After visiting Mexico City’s Emisor Oriente Wastewater Tunnel, I realized something: there are urgent projects, and then there are URGENT PROJECTS. Túnel Emisor Oriente, often abbreviated to TEO by those involved, is the latter. Read More

The launch of the veteran Robbins machine in Toronto, Canada

The Oldest Robbins TBM still in Action? We visit a jobsite in Canada that may be using the World’s Ultimate Workhorse TBM

In operation since 1968, a 2.7 m (8.8 ft) Robbins Main Beam machine currently operating in Ontario, Canada may be the world’s oldest Robbins TBM still in action. Read More


Visiting Mexico City’s Newest Metro Tunnel: How the Country’s Capital is Upgrading its Aging Infrastructure

I was lucky enough to visit the jobsite of the Mexico City Metro Line 12 tunnel in October. We walked through the tunnel to view the machine, and later sat down with metro director Enrique Horcasitas of the Mexican Federal District for an interview on the current state of tunneling in Mexico. Read More


Ground Control: Mitigating the Inherent Risks of Urban Tunneling

Settlement. It is one of the biggest risks in urban tunneling and the cause of sinkholes, cracked building foundations, and tunnel collapses. Surface subsidence and upheaval have vexed contractors and equipment suppliers worldwide, but there are some proven ways to minimize ground movement, even in low cover tunnels. Read More

Factory acceptance of the first of three Robbins Main Beam TBMs

Multiple Machines: The Challenges and Successes of Delivering Three TBMs for Malaysia’s Longest Water Tunnel

Simultaneous delivery of TBMs, some of the most complex machines in the construction industry, is no easy task. Robbins TBM assembly is most often a local process—one that requires skilled workers with knowledge of components designed and manufactured all over the world. Read More

McNally Support System used on Olmos Trans-Andean Tunnel

Ground Support for High Cover Tunnels: What is the Best Method?

Conditions in high cover tunnels are often challenging. At the Olmos Trans-Andean tunnel, crews face 2,000 m (6,500 ft) of hard quartz porphyry, andesite, and other volcanic rocks under high stress. At two rail tunnels in China’s Gansu Province, open-type machines are boring beneath 1,400 m (4600 ft) of weak phyllite and sandstone. Read More