The TBM Timmy the Tunneller has reached in Belfast to be used on a key £7M flood alleviation project that is going on in the Ravenhill area of the city.
Expected to be completed in early 2023, this key project is going to decrease the risk of out of sewer flooding in the area. It contains the upgrade of the current one and installation of 2.5km of new sewers along a section of Ravenhill Avenue and surrounding streets. It is going to reduce the capacity of the sewerage system in this area of South Belfast and improve the current infrastructure, some of which goes back to the early 1900s.
The tunnel boring machine, which is more than 2m in diameter and 2.5m long, will excavate the tunnel beneath the Ravenhill Road at a depth of 6m and is going to assist in decreasing disruption during construction. The tunnel is going to extend 75m from the edge of Ormeau Park up Ravenhill Avenue. When the tunneling works are done, a more traditional open-cut method will be used to build the remaining sewers and manholes.
The main contractor for the project is Geda Construction, with Aecom consulting and providing design and project management support.
Work is happening in phases, progressing along Ravenhill Avenue, Sunwich Street, Federation Street, and Millar Street. The project team has worked with the local community to minimize disruption, comprising employing the use of underground trenchless construction methods where appropriate.
“NI Water is delighted to welcome the tunneling machine on this major flood alleviation project and look forward to putting the machine into operation. We would also like to thank Downey House for the fantastic artwork and naming our machine Timmy the Tunneller and all the local schools for engaging with the project,” stated NI Water project manager David McClean.
He asserted: “We would like to thank the public for their ongoing patience as construction progresses on this major project. Once complete, the local community will benefit from this major flood alleviation project for many years to come.”
Nichola Mallon, the Northern Ireland infrastructure minister mentioned: “I was pleased to be on site for the arrival of this major piece of machinery to really appreciate the scale of this £7M project. Once complete it will help to reduce the risk of out-of-sewer flooding, whilst minimizing disruption during construction in this busy area of Belfast. Well done to all the local schools for their artwork and Downey School for naming the machine Timmy the Tunneller.”
She also added: “This major flood alleviation scheme is part of the Living with Water Programme (LWWP) for Greater Belfast. The LWWP is an excellent example of how we can work together to deliver integrated sustainable drainage solutions to manage flood risk, enhance our environment, and allow our local economy to grow.”