Construction crews use huge drill-like tool to tunnel under IH 10

SEGUIN, Texas – Before TxDOT can begin a $30 million project improving the frontage roads along IH 10, the City of Seguin is relocating and upgrading utilities between State Highway 46 and State Highway 123 Business (Austin Street). The project includes replacing the existing 8 inch water line with a 16 inch line that will run north/south under the interstate.

TxDOT gave the city an opportunity to make infrastructure improvements before they started work on the frontage roads. Upgrading the utilities in the area will help us prepare for potential new development that improved access roads can accommodate. The cost of this project is $507,000.

Atlas Construction Corp. is the city’s contractor over the utility relocation project. Vinson Construction is in charge of tunneling under the IH 10. They’re using a large horizontal auger boring machine to complete a large tunnel under the freeway. A huge drill bit rotates inside the black casing (seen in photo 1) pushing dirt back out to the pit.

The large auger drill bits are designed to dig large holes by spiraling the dirt out. Workers then collect it in a tray (photo 2). 

When the tray is full, chains are attached to pull it up and out of the hole. The dirt is dumped on a dirt pile nearby (photo 3 & 4).
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As the auger tunnels horizontally under IH 10, the drill bit becomes longer and longer by attaching additional auger drill bits, and drilling further under the interstate. All of the pictured bits will be connected by the end of the project (photo 3). The contractor says the tunnel should be completed by the end of the week (Oct. 23).
City of Seguin Project Inspector, Ernest Schmidt, spends his workday watching over active construction sites across the city (Photo 5).

His job is basically “quality control”, making sure the contractor workers are using machines safely and efficiently. He also ensures the project conforms to the city engineer’s plans.

When the crews finish tunneling, a blue 16 inch pipe (photo 6) will be placed inside to create a water line running north and south.

Posted by: Morgan Ash