Massive tunnel boring machines heading across the Atlantic

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Cargo ships carrying the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension recently departed Germany, beginning the journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

After undergoing testing at the Herreknecht facility in Germany in October, the tunnel boring machines were dismantled and packaged into 14 shipping containers for the voyage. They started by travelling to the riverport in Kehl, Germany then onto Antwerp in Belgium, where they set sail for North America.

The cutterheads, which will each arrive in one piece, are the largest parts of a TBM and is found at the front of the machine, which has disc cutters that rotate to loosen rock and soil.

Each cutterhead weighs about 65 tonnes and is laid down on a flatbed on the bridge of the ship to make the journey across the Atlantic.One of the cutter wheels for one of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension’s tunnel boring machines being loaded onto a ship. (Metrolinx photo)

Shipping from Antwerp on the Federal Delta, the cutterheads are travelling about 11,112 kilometres before arriving at a port in Hamilton.

After clearing customs, the shipping containers carrying the TBMs will be moved by truck to the launch site at Renforth Drive and Commerce Boulevard, where they will be assembled and lowered into the ground in the spring.

As the TBM travels to the worksite, Metrolinx is getting closer to finding a name for these mighty machines with over 140 entries submitted by the community.

The second phase of the naming contest is now live, with a shortlist that will be voted on by the community.

  • Scarlett and Ren: The roads where the TBMs will enter/exit. (Ren is short for Renforth).
  • Squirrel and Beaver: Common species in Canada that also dig tunnels.
  • Tobi & Sauga: Short forms for Etobicoke and Mississauga.
  • Rexy and Renny: Rexy since extension mostly in Rexdale. Renny for Renforth where the line terminates.
  • Richie and Rosie: A majority of the ECWE tunnelled portion will go through the Richview neighbourhood. Rosie is named after LaRose avenue, from the LaRose family who owned and farmed the majority of the land on Eglinton between Scarlett and Kipling Ave for decades.

The winning name will be announced in the new year when the tunnel boring machines arrive at the launch shaft site.

Voting closes Dec. 22.

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