Tunnel boring machines for the Broadway subway begin to arrive in Vancouver

Two identical tunnel boring machines that will be used for the SkyTrain Broadway Line Extension Project have begun arriving in Vancouver, according to a project update released today by the Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. British.

As each tunnel boring machine (TBM) is gargantuan in size, six meters (20 ft) wide and 150 meters (492 ft; almost the length of a football field) long, and weighs almost a million kilograms, they must be shipped in pieces.

Parts of the tunnel boring machine, built by builder Herrenknecht, left Germany at the end of February and passed through the Panama Canal before arriving at Fraser Surrey Docks at the end of last week. The second and final delivery of parts is expected in the coming weeks.

The various pieces will then be assembled in the tunnel bore pit excavated at the intersection of Great Northern Way and Thornton Street, which will also serve as the underground station footprint for the Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station.

Tunneling Machines (TBM) for the Broadway Metro extending the SkyTrain Millennium line to the manufacturing plant in Germany in early 2022. (Bowinn Ma/Twitter)

Great Northern Way Station Emily Carr Boring Skytrain Broadway Underground Tunnel April 15, 2022

Preparations for the tunnel boring pit and staging area at Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station, starting April 15, 2022. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Preparations for the tunnel boring pit and staging area at Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station, starting April 15, 2022. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Each machine will be responsible for boring one of two tunnels between Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station and Arbutus station – a distance of approximately three miles, passing through four stations on Broadway en route, stopping just before Arbutus station. At Cypress Street, the tunnel boring machines will be dismantled and removed through an excavation shaft.

The tunnels will be approximately 15 meters (50 feet) below ground, to a maximum depth of 20 meters (66 feet) at Broadway-City Hall station to dive under the Canada Line tunnel.

In keeping with the worldwide tradition of tunneling for subway projects, and similar to practice for the Evergreen Extension of the Canada Line and the Millennium Line, an official ceremony will be held to commemorate the start of tunneling, which is expected to start this summer.

The tunnel boring machines will create around 18 meters (60 feet) of new tunnel per day, with each machine having a staff of eight to 12 people controlling and monitoring them 24/7. Excavation of the twin tunnels will generate approximately 200,000 cubic meters of soil which will be removed by a conveyor system leading to the tunnel bore pit at Great Northern Way.

Evergreen Line Tunnel Parking Fee

Construction of a tunnel for SkyTrain’s Evergreen extension. (Evergreen Line Project Office)

The tunneling process for the Broadway Extension is different from that of the Canada Line, which used a single TBM for its two tunnels returning the machine to its starting point for its second pass, while the Evergreen Extension used a single large tunnel boring machine with a width of 10 meters (33 feet) to construct a single tunnel containing the tracks in both directions.

Extensive geotechnical testing and analysis was carried out along the Broadway Extension route to avoid a repeat of the tunneling challenges encountered with the Evergreen Extension, which resulted in significant delays to the opening of the project .

Another 700 meters of the Broadway extension project will be an elevated guideway between the existing VCC-Clark station and the tunnel portal east of Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station.

Major construction of the $2.8 billion project began in the spring of 2021, including the Broadway road decks for the open-air segments for subway stations only, and other site preparation activities.

great northern way-emily carr broadway station boring underground tunnel

Artist’s rendering of the Broadway Underground tunnel boring staging area at the intersection of Great Northern Way and Thornton Street, where the Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station will be located. (Government of British Columbia)

removal of the tunnel boring machine from arbutus station

Artistic representation of the TBM withdrawal process at Arbutus station. (Government of British Columbia)

The boring of the tunnel for the metro is due to be completed in the summer of 2023, and the entire 5.7 km long Millennium Line extension is due to open in 2025. The end-to-end journey time between Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station and Arbutus Station on a train journey will take 47 minutes, while travel time between Broadway Commercial Station and Arbutus Station will be 12 minutes, compared to nearly an hour on the line 99 B at peak times.

When the metro opens, the 99 B line will have a truncated route from the Arbutus station bus interchange for the remaining route to the University of British Columbia campus, up to that the Millennium line is extended to the university. TransLink expects the shortened 99 B line service to reach capacity during peak hours when the subway opens.

Preparations for the tunnel boring pit and staging area at Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station, starting April 15, 2022. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

elevated guideway of the broadway skytrain on april 15, 2022

Construction of an elevated guideway for the SkyTrain Millennium Line Broadway Extension, starting April 15, 2022. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

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