Expert acknowledges strong work of Great Lakes Tunnel Project team

Latest tunnel project details

Sept. 29, 2021

An independent consultant hired by the State of Michigan to provide tunneling expertise related to Enbridge’s Great Lakes Tunnel Project recently acknowledged the strong work and experience of the Project’s design and engineering team.

“Overall, just from my perspective, this is a very world-class team ─ a lot of experience both from design and construction and geotechnical engineering ─ that has moved this project forward,” said Mike Mooney, PhD, PE, in addressing the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) at its Sept. 20 information work session on the Great Lakes Tunnel.

Mooney is a Grewcock Chair Professor of Underground Construction & Tunneling at the Colorado School of Mines.

As part of his presentation, Mooney also shared comparative information on three other tunnels built underwater, noting the complexities of constructing such tunnels.

“In tunnel projects of this complexity, that’s critical, to have that input along the way so those constructability aspects that might drive design decisions are on the table from the get-go,” he said.

The Great Lakes Tunnel is expected to be four miles long and 21-feet wide. Placed well below the lakebed in the Straits, the Tunnel will encase a replacement section of Line 5 in concrete, eliminating the risk of an anchor strike to the pipeline or a leak from it into the Straits. 

The next MSCA meeting will be held Oct. 13.

What is the MSCA? What does it do?

The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) is responsible for overseeing construction and operation of a tunnel in bedrock beneath the waters of the Straits of Mackinac.

The Great Lakes Tunnel will house a replacement segment for the Line 5 petroleum pipelines that currently travel along the bottom of the Straits, and will accommodate other utilities to improve infrastructure connections between the peninsulas. MSCA will own the tunnel after its construction and provide independent oversight throughout its life.