Byce & Associates, Inc. provided a study of the Power Plant Utility Tunnel for Western Michigan University to assess the feasibility of adding a second Utility Tunnel to connect their Power Plant, located on the southeast side of Stadium Drive, to campus, located on the northwest side of Stadium Drive. The design intent of the new tunnel was to create a redundant system that provided a back-up in the event of a catastrophic failure of the existing tunnel. It was essential that the tunnel crossed beneath both Stadium Drive and the Amtrak railroad lines which run parallel to the road and span an approximate total length of 300 feet.
The tunnel design requirements included space for utility lines consisting of steam, condensate, potential electrical power, and adequate space for personnel to walk the full length of the tunnel to perform inspections and repairs. The tunnel is to be located far enough away from the existing Utility Tunnel to avoid damage of both tunnels in case of a catastrophic event.
The existing tunnel is constructed of round concrete pipe, approximately 7′-0″ in diameter, with a poured infill approximately 5′-3″ wide. This provides approximately 5′-9″ of maximum head clearance at the center of the tunnel.
Three types of tunnels were researched for the study which included a rectangular concrete box culvert, round concrete pipe, and corrugated metal liner plate.