Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Post #6: 72 hours, 2 tunnels, 3 time zones and countless new friends.

New Irvington Tunnel Project Manager David Tsztoo and Construction Manager Dan McMaster have been invited on a prestigious tunneling information and technical exchange with their tunneling counterparts in Europe. Since they are on their own time, they invited our Mikey to join them…. When last we left them they were in Switzerland.

Friday, Sept. 28: 

Guten Morgen! Or is it Buon Giorno?! You can understand David, Dan and Mikey’s early morning confusion. Crisscrossing Europe can have that effect and the boys had to wake up early to catch two impressive Italian tunnels.



At the twin bore Galleria Sparvo Tunnel near Bologna, Italy, the trio was greeted by a 15.6 meter (51-foot) Herrenknecht-manufactured tunnel boring machine (TBM) – the largest TBM in the world. It’s the equivalent of 51 Mikeys tall!

Most impressive sight? Watching what’s best described as a hovercraft move the 2,500-ton Sparvo TBM. Mikey wasn’t the only one that liked that!

Down the road was the Galleria Val di Sambro Tunnel. Unlike Sparvo, crews used fiber glass pre-excavation face supports and a giant hole-ram to mine the 50-foot diameter tunnel full face. Pre-fabricated steel and shotcrete were installed to support the ground after excavation.

Now for you foodies, dinner was at the rustic Antica Trattoria La Grotta tucked into the hills surrounding Bologna. This fourth-generation family restaurant served our intrepid travelers a multi-course meal that featured slow-cooked braised pork.

Saturday Sept. 29th: 

David, Dan and Mikey’s final day was a mix of technical presentations, sightseeing and fond goodbyes.

In the morning, the trio spent some time with the project managers of the Sparvo and Sambro tunnels and received briefings on current and upcoming tunnel projects in the United States.


The three spent the afternoon on a cultural tour of the historical center of Bologna and shopping for souvenirs. Mikey loved seeing how many old buildings were converted into shops, residential homes, and museums.

Finally, David, Dan, Mikey and tunneling experts from around the world gathered one final time over cheese, pasta and pork tenderloin. It was an evening of sharing stories, exchanging business cards and saying goodbyes to new friends.

Sunday, Sept. 30th:


The journey home started with a 4:00 AM wake up call. With their bags packed and passports in their pockets, David, Dan and Mikey boarded the early morning flight from Bologna. After layovers in Frankfort and London they made the trip back to San Francisco. Twenty-three hours later a very tired David, Dan and Mikey were back home.

Au Revoir. Auf Wiedersehen. Addio. It’s good to be home.

Want go back to where this adventure began?  Check out: Mikey Likes It!

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