Building the World

May 12, 2017
by buildingtheworld
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Mothers Walk for Peace

Image: Photographer, Rebecca Eschler, 2008. Wikimedia commons.

A higher purpose, above ground; a safer world, below. Why not send cars and trucks underground, where new roads for autonomous vehicles might be easier to build? Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX fame, envisions cars positioned on platforms that descend to traverse networks below ground. A similar design was earlier suggested by David Gordon Wilson of MIT whose palleted highways would increase speed and decrease accidents. Tunnels have changed transport around the world: the Channel Tunnel and the Mount Blanc Tunnel are recent examples. Boston depressed the Central Artery, resulting in a Greenway atop with a special park called the Mothers’ Walk. Nearby, walk towards a better world with the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute for the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace. Will Elon Musk’s underground highways promote a cleaner, safer environment with more parks above where people can walk and nature flourish? It’s an exciting idea with a name that belies the innovation: The Boring Company.

For more: mothersdaywalk4peace.org

For Elon Musk, watch the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpDHwfXbpfg

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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June 9, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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Tunnel (En)Vision

World’s longest tunnel, Gotthard. Image: wikimedia commons.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel, world’s longest, opened to fanfare and diplomacy, and a ballet corps of 600, in June 2016. The Gotthard massif has long challenged transport efforts; Gotthard now joins the Mont Blanc Tunnel in traversing mountainous terrain. Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project also features a tunnel to bring vehicular traffic underground while a new greenway park graces the urban landscape above. Tunnels are an ancient instinct: moles know the routes underground, while human endeavors appear to have been early home-improvement projects by cave dwellers adding a second room. Land tunnels preceded water transit ways such as the Channel Tunnel. But all tunnels have one aspect in common: emissions trapped in a contained environment. Research contrasting on-road carbonyl emission factors in two highway tunnels, Caldecott Tunnel near San Francisco, California and Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel in Pennsylvania, was conducted 2002. WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff recommended jet fans to move fumes through long road tunnels. But could there be a better solution? Will the EPA‘s capture and sequestration research apply to tunnels? Might ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy‘s innovation to cleanse carbon dioxide from the exhaust of natural gas- and coal-fired plants be applied to other situations? Carbon capture could take on a new meaning if tomorrow’s tunnels might become channels for environmental improvement.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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July 11, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Mount Blanc Tunnel

Mount Blanc image from Wikimedia Commons

Favorite of skiers, the Alps stand between France, Italy, and extend into Switzerland; the highest peak is Mont Blanc, elevation 15, 771 feet (4,807 meters). When France and Italy built  a  tunnel in 1965 between Chamonix-Mont Blanc and Courmayeur, the Mont Blanc Vehicular Tunnel was successful, perhaps beyond the limits of its single-bore two-way design, originally specified for 350,000 vehicles but soon accommodating over 2,000,000, many trucks. When a truck carrying margarine and flour caught fire in the middle of the tunnel in 1999, temperatures rose rapidly in the contained tunnel environment, escalating to over 1,800 F (1,000 C) and causing tires on nearby cars and trucks to explode as asphalt was in a meltdown. More than 40 fatalities resulted. In comparison, when a 1996 fire broke out in the Channel Tunnel, lives were spared by advance thinking of a design demanding three bores: one each way and one service tunnel, used by Eurostar passengers to walk to safety. But can tunnels be made even safer in the future by the addition of pallet transport? Or might tunnel sensors coordinate with driverless trucks and cars?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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October 23, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Afghan Tunnel

Map of the location of the Salang Tunnel from the BBC at bbc.co.uk.

When the Salang Tunnel, cutting through the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan opened in 1964, much like the Mont Blanc Tunnel cutting through the Alps, is was heralded as a major feat of engineering. Fast forward nearly 50 years, and lack of upkeep and overuse has led this modern marvel to a dangerous state of disrepair. The volume of cars and trucks has increased ten fold, the road at some points is a dirt path, and the tunnel itself is barely large enough to allow the passing of many shipping trucks. So why is this tunnel still used? Because Pakistan has closed its boarders to NATO and other travellers, leaving the Salang Tunnel as the only optionfor travel. For more information on the tunnel and its role in Afghanistan today, please visit: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/24/155302587/afghan-tunnel-decrepit-dangerous-yet-indispensible?sc=17&f=1001

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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