New tunnels have been constructed across the globe at increasing rates in recent years. There are a few factors driving this development, including an exponential increase in the trade of goods and the unabated growth of other traffic. Creating tunnel networks offers a space-efficient option for extending traffic networks, creating new routes, and safely removing obstacles to all of the merchants and individuals that need to get themselves or their goods from place to place efficiently.
Below-grade construction comes with some unique challenges. Thankfully, the modern world offers plenty of effective solutions. Read on to find out about the fundamental concepts and principles of tunnel construction in the modern day to learn how.
The Role of Concrete Technology
The development of concrete as an affordable building technology has opened up a lot of options when it comes to tunnel construction. Contractors can now use a standardized Tunnel Formwork System to address planning, design, and implementation issues efficiently and economically. These load-bearing structures provide support for concrete while it hardens, allowing for not just improved economic feasibility but also more varied geometries.
Types of Tunnel Construction
These days, most engineers use one of two popular methods for constructing tunnel cross-sections and lengths. Each of them requires different types of formwork and supportive structures, but for now, let’s focus on the construction processes themselves.
Also known as cut-and-cover tunneling, open-cut tunnels are perfect for shallow-depth applications. Most large sewer tunnels, automotive tunnels, and rapid transit tunnels are constructed using this method, which involves excavating a braced, trench-type cut, installing the tunnel, and backfilling over top of the excavation.
The mining method of tunnel construction isn’t as common as open-cut tunneling these days, but it can still be the most economical option for shorter, smaller tunnels constructed in stable soils. There are two primary tunnel mining methods: the top-heading-and-bench method and the full-face method, both of which require substantial framework for stabilization. Tunnel builders can use either blasting or drilling machines to excavate the soil.
Alternative and Supplementary Techniques
Some tunnel structures are more complex in design than others. Tunnels that feature transitional above-ground areas, half-open structures, or gallery-type structures may require more specialized types of formwork and excavation practices. It’s usually best to work with a vendor that offers modular and customizable formwork when constructing intricate tunnels that pose unique engineering challenges.
Placing a Priority on Safety
Improperly designed or constructed tunnels pose significant risks to workers and end-users. Tunnel designers, engineering teams, and excavation contractors must all do their part to manage risks throughout the entire design and construction process. Risk identification should take place during the earliest planning stages, and a risk management policy should be established before any work begins.
Providing safety equipment and ongoing training for workers, purchasing high-quality formwork and scaffolding and performing comprehensive assessments during every stage of the project can help to reduce the risks associated with tunnel construction. Open communication between design, engineering, feasibility, and construction teams is also a must for tunneling projects completed at any scale.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of High-Quality Formwork
Tunnel designers, engineers, and contractors should not underestimate the importance of quality when it comes to concrete formwork. The right formwork is essential for completing projects safely and on time.