When you think of tunnels dug by hand, the image of a jailbreak using spoons to dig for freedom comes to mind.
Luckily, for one work crew in Houston, they didn’t need to use a pin-up poster to hide their underground tunnel.
As the Boulevard Project continues to reshape Uptown, a crew recently dug a 120-foot tunnel by hand under Post Oak Boulevard, and their work isn’t done yet.
The tunnel, which is 3-foot by 3-foot, will encase a 12-inch sewer pipe. Because of the narrow size of the tunnel, specially trained workers are sent into the dark tunnel to dig out the soil.
“It’s the special kind of guy to go in there and do what they do,” construction superintendent Roman Trevino said in an interview with KPRC.
Already, two man crews work 10 hours a day in the tunnel using small shovels and spades, equipped with an air compressor.
While one worker digs, the other carries the dirt and clay to a small rail cart for removal. Working together, they dug one foot out at a time.
The two man crews rotate out of the tunnel every two to three hours.
Extra oxygen is pumped into the tunnel to make sure the workers are able to breathe, but Trevino acknowledged the workers still get cramps from being in a confined space and working on their knees.
While hand tunneling might seem outdated, or boring, if you will, it prevents the need to close or tear up the roadway.
It also keeps utilities on, which is great for people who live and work in the area.
The Boulevard Project is redeveloping Post Oak Boulevard between Richmond Avenue and the 610 Loop.
Complete with its own bus line, it is being widened, and a beautification effort will bring in live trees and flowers to adorn the roadside.
Construction is expected to be completed by the end of next year.