The first of two Herrenknecht TBMs has been launched as excavation of Panama City's Metro Line 1 gets under way.
The country's President Ricardo Martinelli powered up the 9.77m diameter TBM at a launch ceremony in January. The ceremony marked the beginning of the northward drive from the Trinchera Sur portal to a central shaft along the alignment's 7.18km length at what will be the new Inglesia del Carmen Station (Fig 1).
A spokesman for Brazilian contractor Odebrecht, which won the US$1.45 billion contract in JV with Construcciones y Contratas of Spain, told TunnelTalk: "Two Herrenknecht TBMs are being used for the tunnelling work, the second of which we expect to launch in April on a southward drive from the Trinchera Norte portal to link with the northern drive at Inglesia del Carmen Station. Both drives should be complete by December this year (2012)."
Fig 1. Alignment of 13.7km Panama Metro Line 1
Fig 2. Panama Metro plans for Lines 1-4
The Linea Uno JV bid beat off competition from the Grupo Italiano Metro Panama JV, comprising Italian firms Impregilo, Astaldi and Ghella. The contract is Panama's second largest after the $5.25 billion Panama Canal Expansion Project.
Odebrecht is anticipating an average progress rate of 16m/day, and will use 4,049 precast concrete segments during construction of the 8.7m i.d. twin track running tunnel.
In addition to 7.18km of tunnelling, Phase 1 of the project also includes the construction of a number of new stations on the route from Albrook in the city centre to Los Andes in the north. There is also 1.19km of cuttings and 5.28km of elevated track.
Phase 2 will add a short above-ground extension from Los Andes to San Isidro. Meanwhile Odebrecht confirmed it will be bidding for the planned Line 2, which is due to go into a design phase later this year following a passenger demand study.
This eastern running section, which will connect with Line 1 at San Miguelito, is planned to be elevated along its entire length (Fig 2).
The Odebrecht spokesman said: "We will certainly be bidding for Line 2 but no timetable is set as yet for that process to begin."
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