Construction of the SR-99 recovery shaft
Mining Engineering, 2016, Vol. 68, No. 6, pp. 133-133
Starcevich, John; Rasband, Lance; Hanke, Richard
Mining on Seattle’s SR99 tunnel began in July of 2013. Initial mining progressed slowly through a 4.5 m (14.9-ft) thick fiber-reinforced concrete headwall before immediately entering the first of three planned safe havens. Once through the headwall and safe haven the machine would move through roughly 122 lineal m (400 ft) of jet grout improved soil at a rate of slightly more than 1.6 m/d (5.3 ftpd). It was anticipated that once mining has passed through the improved area, “Bertha” – now the world’s second largest tunnel boring machine (TBM), would be moving at a rate of almost 11 m/d (36 ftpd). By the end of October 2013, Bertha had mined roughly 131 m (430 ft), averaging 1.4 m/d (4.7 ftpd), and had begun mining within native soils. By the start of December 2013, tunneling had reached the 244 m (800 ft) mark and Bertha was averaging 3.6 m/d (11.9 ftpd), achieving as much as 12.8 m (42 ft) of progress on given days. Unfortunately, on Dec. 6th, 2013, Bertha began to stumble and all progress quickly came to a halt.
Initial reports stated an obstruction had stopped Bertha in her tracks. The preliminary investigation involved installation of 10 deep dewatering wells to reduce the hydrostatic pressure within the ground around the TBM, to allow the contractor’s personnel to inspect the cutter head from within and also to investigate for the presence of obstructions at the face of the cutter head. During inspection, the contractor’s crews found fragments of steel pipe entangled in the cutter head. The steel was apparently from an abandoned 254 mm (0.9 in.) diameter monitoring well casing, previously installed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to monitor groundwater conditions for the design and planning of this tunnel project. After the steel was removed from the cutter head and cleared from Bertha’s path, she attempted to move forward but was only able to generate a slow crawl.
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