Tunneling Segments: News Briefs from Around the World

Gateway Update

The ongoing saga of the Gateway Project continued this week as President Donald Trump’s recently released budget proposal does not include funding for the project, which has been identified as one of the most high-priority infrastructure projects nationwide. Basically, Trump wants the project to be funded locally.

The project includes the construction of twin tunnels under the Hudson River to allow the repair of existing tubes built more than a century ago, and were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  The existing tubes house Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains and is a bottleneck on the heavily traveled corridor between New England and Washington, D.C

Meanwhile, Congressmen Peter King (R-NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) are filing legislation that would force federal Department of Transportation to develop a contingency plan should the existing tubes suddenly go out of service, according to the Times Herald-Record. Roughly 200,000 passengers travel through the Hudson River tunnels daily, according to the report.

The cost to build new Hudson River tunnels and repair the existing structures was estimated to by about $13 billion.

Financing Secured for Tunnel Linking Finland and Estonia

It has been reported that a Chinese firm has agreed to provide financing for a $17 billion tunnel under the Gulf of Finland between Helsinki, Finland, and Tallinn, Estonia. The project owner, FinEstBay Area Development signed a memorandum of understanding in financing with China’s Touchstone Capital Partners for its undersea train tunnel.

One-third of the funding will come as a private equity investment – giving Touchstone a minority stake in the project – and two-thirds will be debt financing, according to the FinEstBay website.

“Financial details will be negotiated over the next six months,” FinEst Bay Area said in a statement.

The tunnel linking the national capitals would span 100 km (62 miles) making it the world’s longest undersea tunnel.

Michigan Line 5 Tunnel

In another twisty, turny story, the Line 5 tunnel project in Michigan got good news as judge ruled that despite the fact that the proposal violated laws regarding terms for board members, it could be remedied and that the infraction was not grounds to have the project scrapped.

Six-year terms were included in the creation of a new authority created to oversee construction of the project. Michigan law limits terms to four years.

Line 5 is an oil pipeline owned by Enbridge and originally built in 1953 that carries 540,000 of NGLs 645 miles from Wisconsin, under the Straits of Mackinac, through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario. The project envisioned is a new pipeline conveying oil under the Straits of Mackinac. The State of Michigan approved the project in October 2018 but has faced opposition from environmental groups.

The tunnel would be drilled approximately 4.5 miles through bedrock at depths of about 100 ft beneath the Straits of Mackinac. It would house a new 30-in. Line 5 pipeline and possibly other utility connections. If all goes to plan, the tunnel will be operational sometime between 2025 and 2028. It’s estimated to cost Enbridge between $350 million and $500 million. It would replace the existing underwater pipeline with an in-tunnel pipeline.


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