Non-stop to Boston

News November 29, 2000
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Every time a space shuttle is about blast off into space, Cape Canaveral stages a dramatic scene

Every time a space shuttle is about blast off into space, Cape Canaveral stages a dramatic scene. A giant clock located about a mile from the launchpad ticks down the time days prior to the event, which is notoriously delayed as NASA rechecks every nook and cranny of the craft.

But, really, what is the big deal? Boston can resist the thrusting power of four space shuttle launchings simultaneously on the word "go."

That's the word out of the Central Artery/Tunnel Project--aka "The Big Dig"--as crews work to complete a vital section on the city's south side. In order to prevent disruption of train service at South Station, which handles approximately 400 trains daily, tunnel jacking has been used to place three sections into the deepest part of the project. It's been said that the tunnel jacking pit walls can handle the thrust of Columbia, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour combined.

"That's at the biggest push of the tunnel," Mike Walker, project manager for GEI Consultants Inc., Winchester, Mass., told ROADS & BRIDGES. "It's really a rough calculation."

By far the fuzziest of the entire project, which has demanded precise formulas and anecdotes throughout the design and construction process.

Through the latter part of November two of the tunnels, ramp D and westbound, were in place while the eastbound section was 55% complete. Ramp D connects I-90 westbound to the northbound underground portion of I-93. The west and eastbound tunnels form part of I-90.

The entire concept of sliding a tunnel underground using a huge pit and powerful jacks was relatively new to the U.S. Alternatives, however, were scarce.

For more on the story, read the December issue of ROADS & BRIDGES.

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