Urban EPB Tunneling in Limited Space: A Case Study of the San Francisco Central Subway Project
The San Francisco Central Subway project is a challenging modern example of urban tunneling in limited space conditions. Two 6.3 m diameter Earth Pressure Balance Machines (EPBs) are excavating parallel 2.5 km long tunnels under low cover and in mixed ground conditions. The small launch site situated between an interstate and an off-ramp, highly curved tunnel alignment, and geology are particular challenges. These elements required customized tunnel and machine design, from TBM shipment and assembly, to launch and excavation.
This paper discusses the project challenges and solutions at the Central Subway project, with a focus on TBM and continuous conveyor logistics. Requirements of the project include explosion-proof electrical components, laser-guided survey, rubber-tired supply vehicles, and machine and back-up solutions for steep inclines and tight curves.
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