A total of 19 students, including undergraduate and graduate students from the civil, geological, mining and mechanical engineering departments of Colorado School of Mines (CSM), traveled to Seattle last month to visit the largest tunnel boring machine (TBM) tunnel project in the world. The 17.5-m (58-ft) diameter TBM is carving a 1.7-mile long tunnel through downtown Seattle as part of the SR 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project site.
Students included undergraduates Justin Downs, Stephanie Ecker, James Halverson, Erin Keogh, John Kuyt, Mark Landman, Heather Mergentime, Fausto Moraes and Stephen Semmens, and graduate students Ian Donovan, Robert Godinez, Mason Kreidler, Lisa Mori, Eric Poeck, Simon Prassetyo, Brock Rysdahl, Kevin Schaeffer, Daniel Cano and Erick Wilkins. The trip was organized and financially supported by the Center for Underground Construction & Tunneling at CSM.
Many of the graduate students who traveled with the group participated in the Analysis and Design of Tunnels in Soft Ground course taught by Dr. Mike Mooney in fall 2013 at CSM, in which they completed academic designs of many aspects of the enormous double-decker traffic tunnel. The tour provided a unique and valuable experience for them to compare what they had analyzed and developed in the classroom with the actual, implemented design.
In addition to touring the SR 99 project site, students visited a 6-m diameter metro tunnel and station under construction by Sound Transit. Juxtaposing visits to the two very different projects provided the students with a rich educational experience.
Other activities were included in the short but action-packed two-day trip: students attended presentations by Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the project design-build team, and by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the project owner; and the group was treated to dinner by Bob Donegan, stakeholder in the SR 99 project and owner of Ivar’s Acres of Clams restaurant on Pier 54 in Seattle.