Tunnel Boring Machine Arrives in Atlanta

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Excitement filled the air in Atlanta today as the first piece of a 12½-foot-diameter, 400-foot-long tunnel boring machine (TBM) arrived on the Atlanta Water Supply Program Phase 1 project site. Weighing in at 57,000 pounds, the main beam arrived on one of more than 30 tractor trailers that will transport the machine from Ohio to Atlanta. And that is when the fun will begin!

The pieces and parts will be assembled on a launch pad at the bottom of a quarry before the TBM begins its five-mile journey in September, chewing a tunnel linking the Chattahoochee River and Hemphill and Chattahoochee Water Treatment Plants to a new 2.4-billion-gallon water storage facility at the quarry.

Now the quest begins to find a suitable name for the mammoth machine. Over the course of the next month, the City of Atlanta will engage the community in a TBM naming campaign. The official name will be announced at the TBM launch in September.

PC Construction, along with partners Atkinson, Stantec and Robbins, is well underway with work to prepare the site. Scalers have prepared the quarry walls to ensure a safe working environment and blasting has begun to carve two circular 20- and 35-foot diameter, 200- and 300-foot deep shafts near the quarry. Using blind bore drilling, five eight-foot shafts are also being drilled at the Hemphill Water Treatment Plant, which will eventually connect to the tunnel.

Tunneling will continue through 2018 when the TBM will reach its destination at the Chattahoochee Water Treatment Plant. Once the project is complete, the tunnel will transfer 2.4 billion gallons of water to the quarry, increasing the raw water supply to a minimum of 30 days and enabling the City’s water infrastructure for the next 100 years.

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