Entries that appear on the news page.
A 6.5 km (4 mi) long tunnel for wastewater storage below Louisville, Kentucky, USA has more to it than meets the eye. “At first glance, this seems like a straightforward project, but it turned out to be much more challenging,” said Shemek Oginski, Project Manager for the contractor, a joint venture of Shea/Traylor. The 6.7 m (22 ft) diameter Robbins Main Beam TBM and conveyor system had to cope with overstress in the crown that resulted in significant rock fallout in seven different areas, as well as methane gas in the tunnel. By the machine’s breakthrough on September 22, 2020, the crew had much to celebrate.
The machine was refurbished and consisted of older components as well as a brand new cutterhead supplied by Robbins and completely rebuilt electrical and hydraulic systems. “This was definitely an older machine—I actually operated it on the DART [Dallas Area Rapid Transit] tunnels in Dallas, Texas in the 1990s, but with many of the components being new we were confident in it,” said Oginski.
The original tunnel was expected to be 4 km (2.5 mi) long, but a change order added to the length by 2.1 km (1.3 mi). The extension was ordered by the owner, Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), and its Engineer-of-Record Black & Veatch in order to eliminate four surface CSO storage basins. That included one basin originally located at the site of the TBM breakthrough, explains Oginski: “The original CSO site was located in close proximity to Beargrass Creek and had flooded multiple times. It was decided to extend the tunnel to that site in order to use the tunnel as storage instead, and connect it to the sewer system.” MSD installed a sheeting wall to protect the site from floodwaters while Shea-Traylor installed liner plate in the retrieval shaft, resulting in a site that is in much better shape.
It was in the 2.1 km (1.3 mi) extension, essentially a bifurcation of the main tunnel, where the crew encountered much of the crown overstress. “The longest section of overstress was 700 m (2,300 ft) and took two and a half months to get through,” said Oginski. The crew switched up the prescribed rock bolt pattern of four to six bolts at 1.5 m (5.0 ft) centers, and instead installed six bolts at 1 m (3 ft) centers. “It worked out to two rows per push. When that wasn’t enough, we installed wire mesh in the crown, mine straps, and channels. It definitely took extra time to install steel support, remove loose rock, and deal with the rock coming down so we could install rock support safely.” Overbreak varied from a few inches above the machine to 30 cm (1 ft) or more.
“We also had encountered natural methane gas in the tunnel just shortly before holing through,” said Oginski. The methane was discovered while the crew were probing out 150 ft ahead of the machine—something that the crew did continuously throughout the bore, using one, two or four probe holes depending on the geology. “We were down for about two weeks and were able to contain the methane within the cutterhead, where concentration spiked at 100% LEL. We were able to resume work after systematically ventilating, probing and grouting multiple times.”
Despite the challenges, the TBM was able to achieve up to 658 m (2,159 ft) in one month and 192 m (630 ft) in one week. The Robbins conveyor, including a 68.6 m (225 ft) long vertical belt, made this progress achievable, said Oginski: “The conveyor is definitely the way to go, especially for longer drives. There was quite a difference in performance between the extension tunnel, which we mined with lift-boxes, and mining with the conveyor. Our best month in the extension tunnel with the boxes was 221 m (725 ft), so that is a big difference.”
With tunneling now complete, Oginski is “definitely proud that we got to the end, as this is a challenging project.” The contractor is removing the components of the TBM to be stored in their yard in Mt. Pleasant, PA, and sees future applications for the equipment. “If the right project comes up then yes, it’s likely we would use this machine again.”
On July 24, 2020, a jubilant ceremony marked a milestone for southern Turkey’s arduous Bahçe-Nurdaği High-Speed Railway Tunnel. The first TBM-driven portion of tunneling using an 8.0 m (26.2 ft) diameter Robbins Single Shield machine is now complete. The 8.9 km (5.5 mi) long TBM tunnel was no easy bore, as it was excavated through some of the hardest and most abrasive rock ever encountered in the country.
“We are proud of the TBM crew who acted rapidly and were well organized to overcome the challenging ground conditions with a unique Single Shield TBM for the completion of the first tube of the Bahçe-Nurdağı Railway Project,” said Deniz Sahin, TBM Chief for contractor Intekar Yapi A.Ş.
Ground conditions during tunneling ranged from abrasive, interbedded sandstone and mudstone with quartzite veins to highly weathered shale and dolomitic limestone. The TBM encountered rock measuring between 136 and 327 MPa (19,700 to 47,400 psi) UCS. Water ingress with fines was expected in fault lines and shear zones affected by the East Anatolian Fault. “The TBM became stuck in three different fault zones, which we got through by building bypass tunnels. In smaller fault zones, we encountered excessive material flow and the TBM had to be stopped, while ground had to be stabilized with chemical injections while we cleaned the cutterhead,” said Sahin. Water inflows of 10 liters per second on average were removed using a dewatering system.
The majority of tunneling, said Sahin, was in metasandstone with quartz, with an average of 220 MPa (31,900 psi) UCS and a Cerchar abrasion value of 3.87. In such regions, the TBM’s 19-inch back-loading disc cutters had to be changed frequently and there was high vibration. Despite the challenges, Sahin was impressed by the machine’s overall capacity: “The Robbins Single Shield TBM’s motor power, hydraulic power and cutterhead torque were quite strong. The secondary ventilation and air suction systems inside the TBM were powerful. The connections between the gantries, scaffolding systems, walkways and working areas were good.”
The TBM ultimately achieved up to 456 m (1,500 ft) per month, a result achieved with the help of a Robbins continuous conveyor system for muck removal. “The electric motor and gearbox capacity of the conveyor system was quite enough for a 10 km (6.2 mi) tunnel and we had no failure on them. The conveyor performed well even under excess material and the whole system was quite robust,” said Sahin.
The owner, Turkish State Railways Directorate (TCDD), is aiming to overhaul the railway connection in southeastern Turkey by providing a shorter, faster route in one of the country’s busiest railway corridors. The new rail line between the towns of Bahçe and Nurdağı includes two parallel 9.8 km (6.1 mi) tunnels being excavated by both NATM (850 m / 0.5 mi) and TBM (8.9 km / 5.5 mi).
In January 2020, a Robbins 5.97 m (19.6 ft) diameter Main Beam TBM cleared its final hurdle when it broke through in Guangxi Province, China. The TBM excavated its first of two tunnels, an 11.9 km (7.4 mi) long conduit for Lot 1 of the North Line Water Irrigation Project, Letan Water Reservoir, Drought-Relief. The tunnel was marked by a gauntlet of challenges, from karst cavities to fault zones and water inflows. The workers on the jobsite, contractor Guangdong No. 2 Hydropower Bureau Co., Ltd., and the owner, Construction Management Bureau for the Letan Water Reservoir, had much to celebrate after completion of what is widely regarded as the most complex and longest tunnel on the North Line project.
Boring with the Robbins Main Beam TBM and continuous conveyor system began in summer 2015. “There was no precedent in this province for using a Main Beam TBM to excavate a tunnel longer than 10 km. We didn’t have relevant local experience to use for reference,” explained Yongjiu Jin, Deputy Manager of the Project for contractor Guangdong No. 2 Hydropower Bureau Co., Ltd. The machine did encounter a number of difficult geological obstacles as it bored through limestone rock, but was still able to achieve advance rates up to 40 m (130 ft) per day in good ground.
Much of the geology consisted of lightly weathered limestone in rock class II to III, with some sections in class IV to V rock that required the heaviest amount of ground support, ranging from rock bolts to ring beams and mesh. “Our team encountered a coal seam, gasses in the tunnel, two large water inrushes, three fault zones up to 103 m long, 11 karst cavities, and more. In order to solve the ground problems, there were more than 160 special technical research meetings held,” said Yongjiu.
Throughout tunneling, the contractor expressed thanks for Robbins Field Service staff. “Robbins personnel provided good technical support from equipment installation and commissioning through to tunnel completion. After the equipment was handed over to our company, they still helped us with equipment usage on our project, which makes us very satisfied with the Robbins after-sales service. Robbins really delivered: the after-sales phase was not the end of service, but the beginning of site service,” said Yongjiu.
While the completion of the first tunnel—the longest single-heading construction on record for water tunnels in Guangxi—is a milestone, there is more to do. The Robbins machine will be inspected and relaunched to bore a second tunnel 4.2 km (2.6 mi) in length. The ground conditions are predicted to be equally challenging, but the tunneling operation has some help from ground prediction methodology. Tunnel Reflection Tomography (TRT)—consisting of ground prediction using seismic waves—is being used to detect changing conditions ahead of the TBM. The method can predict the distribution and scale of joints and fissures, allowing the crew to plan ahead.
Located near Laibin City, the North Line project provides much needed drought relief using a network of tunnels totaling 29.4 km (18.3 mi). “This tunnel will realize the dream of drought control that people in Central Guangxi have had for many years. The breakthrough is the most important milestone event in this first phase of the North Line project,” said Yongjiu.
In December 2019, the City of Dallas, Texas, USA unveiled the largest hard rock TBM ever to bore in the U.S. The 11.6 m (38.1 ft) diameter Robbins Main Beam TBM will excavate the 8 km (5 mi) Mill Creek Drainage Relief tunnel, and its size is not its only distinction. The adaptable machine will change size partway through the bore, to a more compact 9.9 m (32.5 ft).
The unique Robbins TBM will be used to dig a tunnel designed to provide 100-year flood protection for east and southeast Dallas, areas affected in recent years by severe storms. The tunnel will protect 2,200 commercial and residential properties, including Baylor Medical Center. The current drainage system in these areas was constructed 50 to 70 years ago, and only provides two to five years of flood protection. “The completion of the TBM assembly marks a major milestone in the Mill Creek Tunnel Project,” said Council Member Lee Kleinman, chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the City of Dallas. “I’m thrilled to see this type of engineering marvel happening right here in Dallas.”
The dual-diameter aspect of the Robbins TBM will be a first-of-its-kind conversion process. The contractor, Southland/Mole Joint Venture (SMJV), will make the conversion underground about 2.8 km (1.8 mi) into the bore. The two diameters are needed as the upstream section of the tunnel is designed with a circular cross section and peak flow rate of 42 m3/sec (15,000 ft3/sec), while the downstream 2.8 km (1.8 mi) portion has a higher peak flow of 565 m3/sec (20,000 ft3/sec) and was initially designed as a horseshoe cross section. Using the TBM for the entire tunnel is less time consuming and costly. “Robbins and SMJV are working closely to create the safest and most efficient sequence for completing this conversion within the limits of the bore. The City of Dallas (Owner) and our Project Team are very excited to embark on this unique challenge,” said Nick Jencopale, Project Manager for Southland Holdings.
The Robbins TBM, named “Big Tex” with permission of the State Fair of Texas, has been designed with a specialized cutterhead including removable spacers and adjustable bucket lips to convert to a smaller diameter. The TBM will first complete its 11.6 m (38.1 ft) diameter section of the alignment, then back up about 21 m (75 ft) to a transition area for the conversion, which is expected to take six to eight weeks.
As the TBM bores, it will pass through Austin Chalk between 12 to 30 MPa (1,800 to 4,400 at depths from 31 to 46 m (100 to 150 ft) below the city. The route is potentially gassy, so probe drilling is mandatory throughout the project. Crews will utilize ground support including eight 3.9 m (13 ft) long rock bolts every 1.5m (5 ft) with wire mesh and channel straps as needed. The finished tunnel will be lined with a 380 mm (15 in) thick cast-in-place concrete lining.
“Big Tex will work 24 hours a day to excavate the tunnel with crews ranging in size depending on activities,” said Rachel Sackett, marketing and communications director for Southland Holdings. Based on previous work through similar geology, the project team expects TBM excavation to progress rapidly to an average of 25m (80 ft) per day, allowing the project to be completed on schedule in 2023.
In 1979, a 4.56 m diameter Robbins Double Shield TBM was delivered to bore the Severomuysky Service Tunnel, a 15.3 km long railway through the remote mountains of Siberia. Now, 40 years after the original machine was delivered, Robbins is returning to the role. Two 10.37 m diameter Crossover (XRE) TBMs will bore the second Severomuysky Tunnel, clocking in at 15.5 km long and running through mixed ground and fault zones. The new rail line is needed due to limitations on carrying capacity on the current Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) railway through the area. Currently 16 million tonnes of cargo are carried through the existing Severomuysky tunnel but the Russian Government wants to increase cargo carrying capacity by more than six times in the region.
The largest global anthracite producer, Sibanthracite Group, is taking on the tunnel construction with management by VostokCoal Management Company. The companies, owned by Dmitry Bosov, aim to increase coal transport by up to 100 million tonnes per year through the addition of the second tunnel. “Robbins has established itself on the market as the best manufacturer of hard rock machines, which are able to provide the maximum penetration rate in hard rock. This is one of the determining factors in connection with the tight deadlines for the implementation of our project. Also, Robbins is the only manufacturer to build the Crossover TBM,” said a representative of Sibanthracite Group. Other aspects of the supply include a continuous conveyor for muck removal, rolling stock, spare parts, and cutting tools.
Sibanthracite Group chose Crossover technology for a number of reasons, geology being chief among them. “A Crossover type tunnel boring machine was selected for tunneling due to the fact that the construction of the tunnel will be carried out in difficult heterogeneous geological conditions (from unstable waterlogged soils to hard rock). The Crossover is able to operate in two modes: Open mode, used while boring in hard rock formations, and closed mode (with earth pressure balance), used when boring in unstable water-logged soils,” said the Sibanthracite representative.
The lessons learned during the first Severomuysky tunnel—the importance of probe drilling, consolidation grouting, and preventing a shielded machine from becoming stuck in fault zones or squeezing ground—are all part of the Crossover TBM solution. “I was a young engineer working at Robbins when the Double Shield TBM was delivered for the first tunnel, so it is a special honor to bring this new technology to the second Severomuysky Tunnel in Siberia,” said Robbins President Lok Home. “Per the contract Robbins is supplying Crossover TBMs for the new parallel rail tunnel—these machines are made to bore in highly variable ground conditions while maintaining good advance rates. With our latest technology we hope to again prove TBMs are the better choice over Drill and Blast when difficult ground conditions are to be encountered.”
The machines will be designed for varying water pressures, ranging from 5 to 20 bar. They will feature Water Inflow Control, a system that seals off the face and periphery and creates a safe working environment in which to dewater and consolidate ground. The machines will feature probe drill ports and capabilities for 360-degree probe drilling and grouting ahead of the excavation face, while the Robbins Torque-Shift System will enable the machines to bore through collapsing ground and other situations that demand high torque. The machines will also be designed with a belt conveyor in hard rock mode that can be switched out with a screw conveyor when crossing into soft ground.
Crews will bore through the Severomuysky Ridge, a mountain range in Buryatia and part of the Stanovoy Highlands, which separates the basins of the Upper Angara and Muya Rivers. “The second Severomuysky tunnel is located in one of the most geologically active areas of our planet—on the north-eastern flank of the Baikal rift zone. The region is characterized by high seismic activity, difficult geological and hydrogeological conditions against the backdrop of a harsh climate (the summer period lasts only 80-100 days, temperatures from + 39°C in summer to -58°C in winter). The construction work on the portals is complicated by the presence of permafrost as well,” said the Sibanthracite representative. Construction of the new tunnel is expected to begin in 2020 and take five years.
In August 2019, a small diameter Double Shield TBM made a big impact. The 2.46 m (8.07 ft) diameter Robbins machine completed 3,475 m (11,400 ft) of boring with no intermediate access, making it the longest rock tunnel ever bored by a Double Shield TBM under 2.5 m (8.2 ft) in diameter.
The machine completed the Parmer Lane Wastewater Interceptor in Austin, Texas, USA for contractor S.J. Louis Construction. Despite obstacles including two tight curves of 150 m (500 ft) radius and unexpected ground conditions that required modification of the cutterhead in the tunnel, advance rates were good. The machine reached up to 380 m (1,250 ft) per month while mining in single 12-hour shifts per day. “It was a hard rock TBM, and it performed better than expected through hard rock,” said Zach West, Project Manager for S.J. Louis.
The challenges for the TBM and its crew were varied, explained West. “The pairing of this tunnel length, which is on the longer side, and the diameter, which is on the smaller side, is challenging. The survey in a small tunnel with tight radius curves and limited surface access for over two miles is very difficult.” He added that the shallow tunnel depth, and the alignment to within a few feet of sanitary lines, high-pressure gas mains, and fuel tanks for gas stations, made TBM guidance critical. “I would say that I am most proud of our ability to guide the machine successfully through these obstacles and into our retrieval shaft within our expected tolerances.”
Through one stretch, the tunnel advanced directly between a 30 cm (12 in) diameter, high-pressure gas main and fuel tanks for a gas station with limited as-built information. “Navigating this section took a great deal of coordination with the local utility companies. Because the tunnel diameter was too small for an automated guidance system, we manually surveyed the front of the machine at every push to ensure the machine was on track,” said West.
“I’m proud that they mined the longest tunnel to date for a small shielded gripper machine of this size without any safety issues. Kudos to their management philosophy and jobsite team,” said Tom Fuerst, Robbins Utility Tunneling Sales Manager. Robbins assisted the crew while in the tight 150 m (500 ft) curves and helped with modifications required to the cutterhead and disc cutter arrangement.
The tunnel is located in an environmentally sensitive aquifer, with ground conditions ranging from soft dolomite with clay to limestone from 13 to 68 MPa (2,000 to 10,000 psi) UCS. “While we tunneled through the softer material, our best advance rate was close to 0.9 m (3 ft) per hour. When we tunneled through the expected limestone, advance rates were over 5.2 m (17 ft) per hour. Our best day was 25 m (81 ft) in a single shift,” said West.
The majority of the tunnel used a simple two-rock-bolt pattern for support. In the last 10% of the tunnel, ribs and lagging were used as support. Final carrier pipe, which is now being installed, consists of 110 cm (42 in) diameter fiberglass pipe.
The successful project is part of a larger trend towards small diameter, TBM-driven rock tunnels in the United States, says Fuerst. “It is primarily due to demographics and business growth. The parts of the USA that are growing need to build out their sewer and water infrastructure. TBMs can mine long distances with tight curves. They can reduce the need for multiple shafts, which lowers the overall project cost. And, given that most small diameter pipelines follow a road or municipal right-of-way, traffic problems are reduced significantly compared with open cut operations.”
The Parmer Lane Wastewater Interceptor connects to two existing lift stations at Lake Creek and Rattan Creek. The tunnel allows for these lift stations to be decommissioned, and will provide additional flow capacity by gravity, reducing operating costs for the City of Austin.
Adapted from the official press release of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP).
On Tuesday August 13, The New York City Department of Environmental Protection completed excavation of the Delaware Aqueduct Bypass Tunnel, a significant milestone in the USD $1 billion effort to repair leaks in the longest tunnel in the world. The moment happened at 6:51 a.m. when a tunnel boring machine broke through a wall of shale bedrock nearly 700 feet (210 m) beneath the Town of Wappinger in Dutchess County, New York, USA. Excavation of the tunnel was completed on budget and ahead of schedule.
“I want to congratulate the engineers, project managers and local laborers who steered us toward this milestone with considerable skill and precision,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “Holing through is a major achievement for any tunneling project, especially one as large and complex as our repair of the Delaware Aqueduct. The moment is also a reminder that much work remains to be done as we move steadily toward completing this project in 2023 and ensuring the long-term reliability of the water supply system that sustains 9.6 million New Yorkers every day.”
The Delaware Aqueduct Bypass Tunnel is the largest repair project in the 177-year history of New York City’s water supply system. Its centerpiece is a 2.5-mile-long bypass tunnel that DEP is building 600 feet (180 m) under the Hudson River from Newburgh to Wappinger. When the project is finished in 2023, the bypass tunnel will be connected to structurally sound portions of the existing Delaware Aqueduct on either side of the Hudson River to convey water around a leaking section of the tunnel. The 85 mile (138 km) long Delaware Aqueduct, the longest tunnel in the world, typically conveys about half of New York City’s drinking water each day from reservoirs in the Catskills.
A massive Single Shield tunnel boring machine, manufactured by The Robbins Company in Solon, Ohio, USA, began to excavate the tunnel on Jan. 8, 2018. The tunneling machine mined 12,448 feet (3,794 m) during the 582 days that it pushed eastward from its starting point nearly 900 feet (270 m) below the surface in the Town of Newburgh in Orange County. According to data tracked by DEP, the machine excavated 89.8 linear feet (27.4 m) on its most productive day, 354.8 feet (108.1 m) during its best week, and 945 feet (288 m) during its most productive month. The tunnel boring machine excavated through three bedrock formations, starting with the Normanskill shale formation on the west side of the Hudson River, the Wappinger Group limestone formation, and finishing in the Mt. Merino shale formation on the east side of the river. The location and condition of these bedrock formations was well documented by New York City when it originally built the Delaware Aqueduct in the 1930s and 1940s. Engineers used that historical information to design the tunnel boring machine for the bypass tunnel and plan for its excavation.
As the tunnel boring machine forged ahead, it also lined the shale and limestone bedrock with precast rings of concrete. A total of 2,488 concrete rings were installed by the machine. Now that mining is finished, DEP will begin to install 16 foot (5 m) diameter steel liners inside the first layer of concrete. After the 230 steel liners are installed and welded together, they will be coated with a second layer of concrete. This “triple-pass” design will provide the bypass tunnel with structural stability and prevent leaks from occurring again in the future. During the excavation, the tunnel boring machine was driven, maintained and supported by dozens of local laborers who worked 24-hours, six days a week. They operated cranes, trucks and underground trains to collect the pulverized rock and haul it to the surface. They removed and replaced cutting discs on the front of the machine, and maintained the many complex systems that kept the tunnel boring machine functioning properly.
The Delaware Aqueduct Bypass Tunnel is the first tunnel built under the Hudson River since 1957, when the south tube of the Lincoln Tunnel was finished.
Background on the Delaware Aqueduct repair project
DEP has monitored two leaking sections of the Delaware Aqueduct – one in Newburgh, and the other in the Ulster County town of Wawarsing – since the early 1990s. The leaks release an estimated 20 million gallons (76 million liters) per day, about 95 percent of that escaping the tunnel through the leak near the Hudson River in Newburgh. DEP has continuously tested and monitored the leaks since 1992. The size of the cracks in the aqueduct and the rate of leakage have remained constant over that time.
In 2010, the City announced a plan to repair the aqueduct by building a bypass tunnel around the leaking section in Newburgh, and also by grouting closed the smaller leaks in Wawarsing. The project began in 2013 with the excavation of two vertical shafts in Newburgh and Wappinger to gain access to the subsurface. These shafts, 845 and 675 feet (258 and 206 m) deep respectively, were completed in 2017. Workers then built a large underground chamber at the bottom of the Newburgh shaft. That chamber has served as the staging area for assembly and operation of the tunnel boring machine, and as the location from which excavated rock is brought to the surface by underground trains and a large crane.
The existing Delaware Aqueduct will stay in service while the bypass tunnel is under construction. Once the bypass tunnel is nearly complete and water supply augmentation and conservation measures are in place, the existing tunnel will be taken out of service and excavation will begin to connect the bypass tunnel to structurally sound portions of the existing aqueduct. While the Delaware Aqueduct is shut down, work crews will also enter the aqueduct in Wawarsing to seal the small leaks there, roughly 35 miles (56 km) northwest of the bypass tunnel.
The project will mark the first time that the Delaware Aqueduct will be drained since 1958. In 2013, DEP installed new pumps inside a shaft at the lowest point of the Delaware Aqueduct to dewater the existing tunnel before it is connected to the new bypass tunnel. Those pumps will be tested several times before the tunnel is drained in 2022. The nine pumps are capable of removing a maximum of 80 million gallons (302 million liters) of water a day from the tunnel—more than quadruple the capacity of the pumps they replaced from the 1940s. The largest of the pumps are three vertical turbine pumps that each measure 23 feet (7 m) tall and weigh 9 US tons (8 metric tons).
Background on the tunnel boring machine “Nora”
The Delaware Aqueduct Bypass Tunnel was excavated by one of the world’s most advanced tunnel boring machines (TBM). The Robbins Single Shield TBM – which measures more than 470 feet (140 m) long and weighs upwards of 2.7 million pounds (1.2 million kg) – was named in honor of Nora Stanton Blatch Deforest Barney, a noted suffragist and the first woman in the United States to earn a college degree in civil engineering. Nora, who worked for the City’s as a draftsperson during the construction of Ashokan Reservoir, was also the first female member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The USD $30 million TBM arrived at the site in Newburgh in 2017. It was delivered in 22 pieces and took four months to assemble. The 21.6-foot (6.58 m) diameter TBM was built to withstand more than 30 bar of pressure. The machine needed to withstand high pressure because workers encountered huge inflows of water under immense pressure when the aqueduct was first built more than 70 years ago. The TBM was equipped with pumping equipment to remove up to 2,500 gallons (9,400 liters) of water per minute away from the tunnel as the machine pushed forward. The TBM was also outfitted with equipment to install and grout the concrete lining of the tunnel, and to convey pulverized rock to a system of railroad cars that followed the TBM as it worked. The railroad cars regularly traveled back and forth between the TBM and the bottom of Shaft 5B in Newburgh, delivering workers, equipment and rock between the two locations.
2019年5月23日，举行了一场庆祝活动：6台直径为8.93米的土压平衡盾构机中的最后一台在墨西哥城的伊米苏. 奥连特隧道（Emisor Oriente，简称TEO）的第4标段完成了挖掘工作，这一壮举标志着历时10年、长62.1公里的隧道施工顺利竣工。“我们为成功完成挖掘工作感到自豪，尽管我们经历了各种困难，例如大量的涌水、液压负荷和不断变化的地质。我们通过对没段地质类型进行调整挖掘模式来解决这些问题，”第4标段包承包商Carso Infrastructura y Construcción（Carso）的机械经理Hector Arturo Carrillo说。
这一项目的贯通是土压平衡盾构机在应急污水项目中所遇到的一些最困难地质问题，最新和最重大的里程碑。10.2公里长的4号标段，从17号竖井延伸至13号竖井，深度达85米，地质包括玄武岩段，中间夹杂着高水压的渗透性砂。“我们的机器必须攻克最恶劣的地质条件，但它们是为挑战这些困难而设计的，”负责第3、4和5号标段三台罗宾斯土压平衡盾构机和连续输送机系统的罗宾斯墨西哥总经理Roberto Gonzalez Ramirez说
2019年4月，罗宾斯双护盾隧道掘进机成功挑战喜马拉雅山公认的困难地质条件，总体项目计划提前约一年和隧道掘进计划提前七个月贯通。尼泊尔的第一台隧道掘进机，直径5.06米，在两个不同的情况下，月进尺超过1,000米。 该机器完成了尼泊尔政府灌溉部（DOI）和承包商中国海外工程集团有限公司尼泊尔分公司（COVEC NEPAL）的12.2公里的巴瑞巴贝引水多用途项目（BBDMP）。
尼泊尔总理毕马沙尔马·奥利（KP Sharma Oli）在仪式上发表了演讲，他称赞了该项目及这个项目对尼泊尔未来TBM项目成功的影响。“这不仅是新技术进入尼泊尔，而且是一个巨大的收获。政府还计划实施各种其他多用途项目，如萨科希马林引水工程（ Sunkoshi-Marin Diversion Project）。
可行性研究表明隧道的钻爆开挖法可能需要12年的时间，但作为国家“国家骄傲项目”之一的BBDMP项目需要加快完成。灌溉部需要一个更快的选项，他们在隧道工法中找到了全断面隧道掘进机。他们开始与当地罗宾斯的代表商量将把尼泊尔有史以来的第一台隧道掘进机引进入该国。内政部花费了七年，通过国际竞争性招标获得项目资金和选择了承包商。从2007年到2015年，项目正式启动。罗宾斯驻尼泊尔的代表Prajwal Man Shrestha说：“我们很荣幸成功地引进了掘进机技术。尽管过程有障碍和阻力，我们最终还是引进了这项技术，打破了尼泊尔所有的隧道施工记录。该国已受到国际关注，来自世界各地的施工商和开发商目前正在考虑尼泊尔未来的TBM项目。”
“克服障碍取得最近的贯通是一个重大的成就，” Marc Dhiersat说，他是承包商埃法日土建施工公司格勒瑞德嘉鲁隧道（Galerie des Janots）的项目总监。“我们很荣幸带领一支积极、认真的团队到达隧道尽头，尽管遇到了许多技术难题，但他们做的很好，没有发生事故。”
引水隧道位于法国卡西斯社区的下方，是一个以地下水，岩溶洞和空洞而闻名的石灰岩地区。设备于2017年3月始发，在含有石灰石与粉状粘土相结合地质下进行挖掘。在1,035米处，我们的工作人员在掘进机的左侧碰到了一个洞穴。洞穴中镶嵌着钟乳石和石笋，被掘进机的盾体磨破。工作人员不得不建一个4米高的混凝土墙，以便掘进机有东西可以顶住。然后再次启动掘进机，并且能够在八次冲程中成功导航出洞穴，并且期间没有停机 – 该过程耗时约两周。尽管存在这些挑战，但Dhiersat在整个考验中都对掘进机给予了积极的评价：“能应对这些所有的地质困难，这是最出色的设备。”
工作人员在刀盘前探测并开始用泡沫和混凝土稳定和固定洞穴，并挖掘旁路隧道。 “在填充了大部分洞穴（1,500 平方米）后，我们最大的困难是确保支撑住机器：我们需要六个旁路隧道和四个月的工期完成这一挑战，” Dhiersat说。对于最后600米的隧道，“我们终于处于良好的岩石地质，”他强调说。该项目的总体平均日掘进为18米，两班制，并最高日掘进达到25米。
“和Marc及他的团队在现场的合作非常好，我们始终享受他们对项目和任务的专业精神和承诺。毫无疑问，这是我们取得成功的关键，“罗宾斯欧洲业务经理Detlef Jordan说道。 “对于我们来说，通过共同努力、通力合作，可以实现最佳和最成功的结果，这是令人满意和鼓舞的。几十年来，这一承诺一直是隧道行业成功的核心，但在最近的其他项目中并不总是如此。“
格勒瑞德嘉鲁隧道是14个旨在节约水资源和保护资源的工程之一，这系列工程由艾克斯 – 马赛 – 普罗旺斯大都会，罗纳地中海科西嘉水务局和州政府执行。格勒瑞德嘉鲁隧道开通后，将取代目前位于铁路隧道中的现有管道 – 这些原始管道存在严重缺陷，导致每年估计水损失量为500,000立方米。新隧道将容量增加到每秒440升。
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