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Tunneling the Alps

Posted September 05, 2006 10:00 AM

A straight line: it's the shortest distance between two points. Technically speaking, Switzerland's Gotthard Tunnel routes have not been designed to run in a straight line, but the principle remains the same. Utilizing state-of-the-art excavating and tunneling equipment, the tunnels are presently being channeled through the Swiss Alps. Upon completion, they will decrease the present mountainous road route through Switzerland to other European destinations by as much as 25 miles. But the challenges are many. While engineers attempt to bridge the Piroa Syncline underground river with hydraulic arms, tunnel workers eliminate "buttery" soft rock with Shotcrete injections. With Switzerland being Europe's most centrally located country, the new tunnels will provide a more effective means for increasing trade, commerce, and tourism throughout the continent.

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