Tunnelling Under the Fraser River at 6 Bar

Author(s): S. Robillard, S. Skelhorn, T. Langmaid, A. Mitchell
World Tunnel Congress, San Francisco, 25th April 2016


The Port Mann Main Water Supply Tunnel project provides a critical water main crossing of the Fraser River for the owner, Greater Vancouver Water District (Metro Vancouver). The project consists of two 60-metre-deep slurry panel shafts and a 1-kilometre-long, 3.5-metre excavated diameter tunnel located near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The initial tunnel lining is a precast concrete steel fiber reinforced gasketed segmental lining. The final lining is a 2.1-metre-diameter welded steel pipe. This paper describes the challenges encountered during tunnel construction and the solutions implemented. Key challenges include earth pressure balance tunnelling at up to 6 bar pressure—the highest to date in Canada—a water-crossing without surface access for the majority of the tunnel drive, ground freezing from a river platform for a critical TBM intervention, and boring through cobbles and boulders in dense glacial till.