Tunnel Under the Alps

By Deane Barker on February 3, 2006

Gotthard Base Tunnel: I’m watching Extreme Engineering right now. Did you know they’re seriously building a tunnel under the Alps?

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is a railway tunnel under construction in Switzerland. With a planned length of 57 km and a total of 153.5 km of tunnels, shafts and passages planned, it will be the longest railway tunnel in the world upon completion, ahead of the current longest, the Seikan Tunnel. The project is designed to feature two separate tunnels containing one track each.

They’re talking about the problems with working underground, and the foreman is quoted as saying, “The biggest problem is the lack of oxygen.” Uh, yeah, that would be a problem.

Interesting fact: the 24 million tons of rock they excavate is turned into concrete at one of five concrete plants built at the openings to the work tunnels. Then it’s sent right back into the hole to line the walls of the tunnel.

Next thing you know, they’re going to try to bore a tunnel under the Atlantic. Oh, wait



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