National Grid is getting ready to start its big dig under the River Humber with parts for a 160-metre-long tunnel boring machine arriving on site at Goxhill next week.
After it has been assembled on site early in the new year, the machine will begin a five-kilometre, year-long journey under the river to emerge on the north bank at Paull.
It will create a 3.65-metre diameter tunnel as it travels, around 35 metres below the river bed.
Once the tunnel is finished, a new 42-inch diameter gas pipeline will be laid inside it to replace an existing one.
The gas pipeline which currently crosses the river is laid in a trench just below the river bed but is at risk of being exposed by shifting tides.
Work has been carried out to keep it buried but the Humber Pipeline Replacement project offers a long-term solution.
“We hope tunnelling will start early in the new year and we expect to see the machine emerge on the other side of the river around a year later.”
National Grid has awarded the £100m contract to build the tunnel to a joint venture made up of Skanska, PORR Bau GmbH and A. Hak.
The tunnel boring machine has been built in Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany and, given its size, has been disassembled to make the journey to Goxhill near Hull.
It will travel by road to Rotterdam, ship to Immingham Docks and then by road again to Goxhill.
The four largest sections of the 510-tonne machine will arrive in two separate deliveries on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th December.
The vehicles will travel from Immingham Docks to Goxhill along the A15 and B1206 via Barrow upon Humber.
They will then progress along College Road, entering Goxhill via Thornton Road and on to National Grid’s site via Ferry Road and East Marsh Road.
The route has been carefully planned and agreed with the highway authorities and the police to make sure it is safe. The delivery vehicles will also be escorted by police officers.
The components for the tunnel boring machine will be undercover during transportation.
A media event is being planned in February when the machine will have been reassembled on site and ready to start work.
National Grid is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world, owning and managing the grids that connect people to the energy they need.