Toronto LRT starts with giant Hamilton-made vault
There is a giant tunnel soon to be dug in Toronto for a new crosstown light-rail line and a Hamilton company played a key role in making that happen.
Bermingham Foundation Solutions built a giant L-shaped concrete vault into which a massive boring machine was dropped. Machines will chew up and spit out earth for about 10 kilometres starting at Black Creek Drive.
That’s the first phase of a $4.9-billion Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT scheduled to be open in 2020. It’s the largest capital transit project yet to be managed by regional transit authority Metrolinx.
“The launch shaft is basically a vertical concrete box,” explained company CEO Patrick Bermingham. It’s about the size of good-sized underground parking garage, he said.
“It was a very technically challenging job.”
An initial design for the structure was unnecessarily complex, so Bermingham engineers spent several months simplifying it and creating a stronger structure, he said.
It took more than a year to construct.
Bermingham crews had to drill interlocking piles more than 30 metres deep that were then filled with concrete to make a closed wall. Steel anchors had to be drilled into the rock 60 to 70 metres deep, said Bermingham. Soil was then removed to create the vault.
As the boring machine drills forward, it will use conveyor belts to move the excavated material back to the entry vault for removal. Once the boring is done, the vault will likely be buried, said Bermingham.
The boring machine, operated by a crew of about a dozen, will drill through a wall of the box as it inches west.
There will be four such borers, costing about $54 million and built at Toronto’s Caterpillar plant. The first will start moving from the west in June and the second will begin a couple of months later to build a tunnel big enough for trains moving in opposite directions.
Another pair will be launched in the east in May of next year.
As the 500-tonne machines tunnel at about 10 to 15 metres a day, they also build the concrete tunnel walls.
The 116-year-old Bermingham Foundation Solutions builds foundations for tunnels, bridges and structures all over the world. Its focus areas are energy, mining and transportation.
The company, which takes up about 12 acres on Hamilton Port Authority land, expanded its manufacturing plant into the warehouse portion of the former Lakeport brewery last year. The company is already looking to further expand on the site, said Bermingham.
Article courtesy of Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator.