The Evergreen Line’s tunnel boring machine ‘Alice’ has resumed boring work following a lengthy six-month-long hibernation, a spokesperson with the provincial government has confirmed.
Last week, crews with Italy’s SELI turned on the machine, which has been boring at a much slower rate than anticipated due to the two-kilometre tunnel’s path through loose glacial till. To date, four small surface sinkholes have formed along the tunnel route where the machine has stopped for regular maintenance.
“The tunnel boring machine stopped at Seaview and Clarke in mid-March for regular maintenance and encountered some challenging ground conditions which delayed the progress,” Sonia Lowe, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, told Vancity Buzz. “The machine operation has resumed and is continuing to make progress.”
Tunnel boring began in March 2014 and was originally scheduled to be completed in about 200 days – at a rate of approximately 10 metres of new tunnel length per day.
The tunnel boring machine is currently located under Clark Road between Seaview Drive and Ingersoll Avenue. Work on tunnel boring is over 55 per cent complete and another maintenance stop will be made when the machine arrives under the intersection of Clarke Road and Robinson Street.
The elevated and at-grade guideway spans have been fully complete since spring and the seven station structures – all elevated or at-grade – are now between 65 to 98 per cent complete. Overall, the 11-kilometre extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line is 70 per cent complete.
Trains began to roll on the new guideway spans in July 2015 for the first phase of the extensive testing process.
The project was originally scheduled for a summer 2016 completion and opening, but delays revolving around tunnel boring have delayed the opening date to sometime in fall 2016.
“This [new] timeline is contingent on good tunnelling progress over the next few months,” Lowe added.
Any construction cost overruns on the $1.4 billion project will be the responsibility of private contractor SNC Lavalin – not taxpayers. The provincial government is overseeing the design and construction process and will handover the line to TransLink for operational control.
The Evergreen Line is forecasted to attract 50,000 riders per day upon opening. It will take commuters under 35 minutes to travel from VCC-Clark to Lafarge Lake-Douglas stations through a one-train ride and just 15 minutes from Lougheed Town Centre to Lafarge Lake-Douglas stations.