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Big Becky Bores Through Tunnel

Well, it would appear as if this is certainly a week for major happenings at major landmarks in Canada. On Monday, we blogged about the fact that the world famous CN Tower would be opening up “EdgeWalk” – a thrilling opportunity to walk outside along the edge of the tower’s pod some 356 metres in the air!

Today, The Toronto Star’s business reporter, John Spears reports that Niagara Falls is undergoing quite a significant change of its own. As Spears writes, “Big Becky, the 4,000-tonne boring machine that has been chewing her way through 10.2 kilometres of rock at Niagara Falls finally broke through into daylight shortly after noon Friday, just above the Falls.”

Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty was on hand to witness the big boring (as in “creates big holes” not “uninteresting”) machine break through the last bit of the tunnel. Unlike the CN Tower, however, the new happening at Niagara Falls is not meant to be a tourist attraction.

Instead, the new tunnel is part of a huge initiative to create clean renewable power. Spears notes that project is coming into completion two years later than projected and at a budget topping $1.6 billion as opposed to the originally budgeted $985 million.

The new tunnel stretches 10.2 kilometres and is 14.4 metres in diameter. Big Becky bore through 1.6 cubic metres of rock to complete the job. Spears points out that this amount of rock would fill the Rogers Centre in Toronto! In addition, the cement being used to line the tunnel could build a sidewalk from Windsor to Quebec City!

Although many people were on hand to witness the end of Big Becky’s journey through the tunnel, there were a number of people who expressed concern over the inflated budget of the project. Extra money was needed, writes Spears, because Becky ran into some snags along the way.

Some of the rock the machine is designed to cut through was combined with loose, crumbling material that couldn’t be tunneled through. A detour was required putting a big monkey wrench into both the time and budgeting outlines. Nevertheless, McGuinty held strong that this project was all worthwhile.

Said McGuinty: “Yes, some of it has come at a price that hasn’t been easy. But neither was it easy for our parents and grandparents to build our original electricity system, to build our schools, to build our roads. But they did it anyway, because they were builders. And so are we.”

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