GIW Industries is a strong company because of our people, including our partnerships. As we continue to grow, we are pleased to welcome Gomez International as our tunnelling rep.

Gomez’s history

Gomez International was founded in 1991 and boasts over 125 years of combined tunnelling, construction, and mining experience. Combining these areas of expertise makes the company’s offerings even stronger. They specialize in heavy civil tunnel, power, mining, and bridge projects.

With two facilities in the US, Gomez can manufacture, repair, or remanufacture almost any tunnelling equipment. Gomez is considered the leader in providing on-site mitigation of stalled or stuck tunnel boring machines and solving tunnelling excavation problems. Notable projects include the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Lesotho, South Africa; Magma Copper Company, Lower Kalamazoo Project; Upper Diamond Fork Tunnels; Minneapolis LRT & Station; Beacon Hill Tunnels and Station; East Side Gold Line LRT; and the Colorado River Bridge.

Tunnelling challenges

GIW is no stranger to tunnelling, but bringing Gomez International on as a partner strengthens our offerings significantly. According to Rick Gomez, “Tunnel construction is regarded as one of the most difficult and complex feats in the world of engineering.” New problems arise often, leading to a constant need for new solutions.

Tunnelling presents many potential difficulties. For example, the presence and movement of water can influence ground behaviour. In addition, the makeup of the soil and rock at each site is unique. Controlling pressure during tunnelling operations is a complex process, and maintaining precise pressure control takes ingenuity and skill. Gomez’s expertise utilizing slurry tunnel boring machines, differential pumping, and pressure control through air and gas pressures makes the company’s operations stable and productive.

GIW has excelled in tunnelling in the past because we’ve borrowed ideas from the mining industry. Tunnelling, hard rock mining, and dredging have a lot in common — they involve transporting large solids using water to move them. Tunnelling applications have completely different sets of needs, but they share the common need to move solids as economically as possible. The economic factors that govern mining focus on how much usable product is produced from the ground, whereas productivity in tunnelling is typically measured by how fast a job can be completed. In all applications, time is money — and efficient tunnelling operations keep costs low by avoiding financial penalties for late delivery.

The importance of tunnelling

John Park, GIW US Western Region & Tunneling Manager, notes that tunnels are built for many reasons. They carry drinking water from reservoirs to large cities. They handle runoff from streets during rainstorms or floods. They provide inexpensive ‘surge capacity’ to municipal sewage treatment plants. They carry effluent from water treatment plants to ocean disposal sites. They handle highway traffic through mountains or underwater (e.g., the Chunnel). Some tunnels house underground subway trains. As populations grow (and real estate doesn’t), tunnelling helps provide essential services with minimal disturbance to the lives of people up on the surface. These examples illustrate some of the reasons tunnels are so important and why new tunnel construction will be around for a long time.

Tunnelling will continue to be necessary well into the future, and tunnel boring machines are often cheaper and less dangerous than conventional ‘drill and blast’ methods. As the need for tunnelling grows, tunnel boring machine methods will continue to advance both in the US and worldwide.