England's Standedge Tunnel is famous for its engineering prowess, as well as its historical significance. It began construction in the late 1700's and early 1800's. It represents willpower at its finest, but it also teaches valuable lessons to current railway engineers. For example, a waterway tunnel requires specific attention to detail. There are certain hazards that can prove fatal, if they are not dealt with early on during construction and maintenance phases. One of the issues to consider is bottle neck traffic. This refers to areas of the tunnel that become congested with boat traffic. Wider areas of the tunnel must be built throughout its length so that boats might pass one another safely.
In the 1800's, air quality was not as significant as it is today. However, we now know that fumes that come from engines are harmful or fatal if ingested for longer periods of time. Today's car and boat tunnels feature ways to air out the confined spaces. Venting enables fumes to flow out of the area instead of becoming trapped. The major issue with venting is that creating holes in the roof of a tunnel might jeopardise its structural integrity. One way to combat this, is to simply allow a set number of travellers to use it at a time. This allows the fumes to have time to escape before they build up and become harmful.
All bodies of water have something referred to as silt. Silt management is a major issue because a large accumulation of it can cause problems relating to water depth. As it accumulates, boats have the potential to run aground in the tunnel. A stranded boat causes serious consequences because it does not allow others to pass by safely. Today, managers use tools to siphon the silt from the bottom of canals. It is dumped into trucks and taken away, or it is simply pumped into a neighbouring area.
Roof collapse is the most serious issue that must be considered, however. Anytime water is involved underground, there is the potential for a cave-in. These cave-ins are similar to sinkholes commonly found in Florida, in the United States. Reinforcements should be used to prevent a collapse of roofs, especially during storms. Metal beam and concrete combinations are the best solution for preventing the collapse of most roof systems inside underground tunnels. The next time you travel into a tunnel, consider the amazing engineering feats that were required to build it.