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February 4, 2013

'Chip' the tunnel boring machine breaks through Toronto's island airport tunnel

One of the two tunnel boring machines (TBM) working on the pedestrian walkway to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport completed one of the drift tunnels and broken through the tunnel’s shaft wall on Toronto Island on Jan. 29.

‘Chip’ started drilling on Jan. 12. The other Canadian-made TBM, ‘Dale’, is currently beneath the Western Gap creating one of seven drift tunnels that will form the walkway's crown.

‘Chip’ will be returned to the mainland to begin work on the next drift tunnel. The TBMs can excavate 12 to 15 metres a day.

The walkway crown will be arched and comprise seven smaller, interlocking 1.8-metre tunnels designed to reduce the potential for water ingress during construction.

These tunnels will be constructed to form an arched roof for the walkway. Three of the drift tunnels will carry city mains to the Toronto Islands.

The 800 foot walkway is expected to be completed in spring 2014 and will be the only known pedestrian tunnel in the world that connects to an airport and sits beneath a body of water.

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