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Open Doors: Lee Tunnel lifts lid on 'exciting' world of construction

Lifting the lid on a “mammoth” £635 million tunnel that could also link to London’s super sewer has provided a perfect showcase of this “exciting business of civil engineering and construction”, according to its deputy project director.


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The Lee Tunnel uses an 840-tonne boring machine which is bigger than those on Crossrail; 500 people on the site; workers lowered into the shaft in a metal cage into the 75-metre deep tunnel; and so much concrete that it meant having to create an on-site plant to avoid lorries coming in and out every three minutes.

MVB are behind the scheme – a joint venture with Morgan Sindall, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche. Mott MacDonald are the principle designers.

The tunnel will intercept 16 million tonnes of untreated sewage a year from Thames Water’s largest sewer overflow point (CSO) at Abbey Mills Pumping Station in Stratford, and transfer it to Beckton Sewage Treatment Works.

The tunnel will also have the capacity to be a vital link for the proposed Thames Tideway tunnel, or super sewer, which is subject to planning.

The visit attracted people in the industry, students and tunnel enthusiasts.

Deputy project director Alan Barker, from Morgan Sindall, said the weekend was about “showcasing the industry to people who want to consider a career in this very exciting profession”.

Describing the scheme as a “mammoth task”, he said:  “It’s an opportunity to try to see the scale and magnitude of what this form of construction is all about.”

Contractor: JV between Morgan Sindall, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche
Client: Thames Water
Price: £635m
Start date: July 2010
Expected finish date: Early 2015
Location: Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, Jenkins Lane, Barking, Essex

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