Drilling starts at the Erjos tunnel which will complete the islands ring road
Drilling officially started yesterday in Santiago del Teide on the excavation of the new Erjos tunnel, which at over 5 kms long will be the longest in the Canary Islands, and will link the north and the south of the Island. There are two channels being drilled straight through Mount Erjos, the largest project of its kind costing 240 million euros, and expected to be completed in 32 months time.
The Minister of Public Works, Transport and Housing of the Government of the Canary Islands, Sebastián Franquis, yesterday supervised the start of the excavation works of the double tunnel of Erjos, which will initially have two lanes in each direction, although they will be prepared to be extended to three lanes if needed in the future.
“Today is a special day for the Government and, above all, for the citizens of Tenerife because works are beginning to be seen in progress, and this is significant because in previous years road expansions were always in debate. This shows as a government we not only announce projects, but we execute them,” he said.
The venture has already seen a significant deployment of operators and machinery to the work area at the ‘southern mouth’ of the tunnel, to begin drilling that will alternate ‘Robo-drills’ with the use of explosives to advance more agilely.
Over 70 workers, 27 of them specialized in tunnel excavation, will work three 24-hour shifts to advance at an average of four meters a day in each of the tunnel mouths, eventually meeting in the middle. For this, they will have a dozen specialized devices, such as the so-called jumbo robots, vehicles that drill and prepare holes for explosives, as well as normal excavators and other ripper types to get through the rock.
To begin the excavation of the two mouths of the double tunnel, it was necessary to start digging to reach the level foreseen by the technicians to drill, which is 30 metres below ground level. The engineers have chosen this depth to drill in the rockiest and most solid area of the mountain, to avoid possible collapses due to the porosity of the stone at higher levels.
As works prior to the excavation, the so-called umbrellas have also been carried out at the entrance of both tunnels, vaults formed by a multitude of micropiles embedded in the stone, to support the land on which it is going to excavate, according to the director of the work, Juan José Campos.
This new section of the Insular Ring road will link the north (TF-5) and south (TF-1) motorways of the Island to the northwest in 10 minutes, when now it takes just over 25, opening up the west coast.