Broadway subway: Tunneling to start this summer as machine parts arrive in Vancouver

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British Columbians are getting an early look at the equipment that will be used to dig Vancouver’s new Broadway subway line.

The Ministry of Transportation said Friday that the first shipment of parts for the highly specialized tunnel-boring machines that will do the work has arrived in the province.

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The equipment was shipped out of Germany in late February, passed through the Panama Canal and arrived at the Fraser Surrey Docks on April 15.

A second and final shipment is expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

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The heavy equipment will then be assembled into two six-metre-wide and 150-metre-long boring machines at a staging area in Vancouver before being put to work.

The machines, which when complete will each weigh about a million kilograms, require a crew of eight to 12 people to operate and can cut about 18 metres of tunnel per day.

The work is expected to pull about 200,000 cubic metres of soil out of the ground, which will be removed by conveyor belt.

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The equipment was custom-built for the job by German tunneling equipment manufacturer Herrenknecht.

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The boring machines will be named later this spring.

The Ministry of Transportation says the borers will both be launched from the future site of the Great Northern Way-Emily Carr station near Main Street and will carve new tunnels to Cypress Street, near the subway’s terminus at Arbutus Street.

Work is already underway on the subway’s six stations, which will be connected by the new tunnels.

The boring work is expected to take about a year to complete.

The Broadway subway will extend the SkyTrain millennium line an additional 5.7 kilometres west to Arbutus Street, at a projected cost of at least $2.8 billion.

TransLink and the City of Vancouver have both said they want to extend the line all the way to the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus, however, funding for a second stage of the line has not been secured.

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