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A Novel Continuous Conveyor System and its Role in Record-Setting Rates at the Indianapolis Deep Rock Tunnel Connector

The Indianapolis Deep Rock Tunnel Connector (DRTC)—first in a vast network of storm water storage tunnels below Indiana, USA—was a wildly successful endeavor. Crews for the Shea/Kiewit JV drove a 6.2 m Robbins Main Beam TBM to world record rates. The machine achieved 124.9 m/day, 515.1 m/week, and 1,754 m/month in limestone and dolomite rock. The advance rates can be attributed to many factors including ground conditions and knowledgeable crew, but continuous conveyors are also of key importance.

The novel conveyor system, manufactured by The Robbins Company, enabled continuous tunneling in a difficult layout that included two 90-degree curves and two S-curves. Spanning 11,777 m in its longest iteration, the system included nine booster drives plus a main drive. A vertical belt moved muck up the 76 m deep shaft to a radial stacker for temporary storage. The system, one of the most complex in North America and the first to operate in 90-degree curves, made swift tunneling possible.

This paper will examine the world-class tunneling done at the Indianapolis DRTC and the role of continuous conveyance in reaching high advance rates. The logistics of the system will also be examined as it could apply to future tunneling projects with similarly complex layouts.


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