The Chunnel Linking Britain And The European Mainland Is Drilled - 12/1/1990

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On this day in 1990, around 11:00am at 132 feet beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover, laborers drill an opening big enough to fit a car through the wall of rock. This drill is not just a usual hole rather it linked the two closures of an underwater channel connecting Great Britain with the European mainland for the first time ever in more than 8,000 years.

Popularly called the Channel Tunnel or Chunnel, was an idea that had been conceived years back. In the year 1802, Albert Mathieu, a French mining engineer, had proposed the project to Napoleon Bonaparte but due to lack of sophisticated equipment to make the project a reality, it was later abandoned. The project was executed in the late twentieth century. Thus in 1986, Britain and France signed an agreement approving the construction of a passage running between Folkestone, England, and Calais, France.

From 1986-1990, about 13,000 workers dug 95 miles of tunnels of 150 feet (45 meters) at an average depth beneath sea level. Eight million cubic meters of soil were evacuated, at a rate of somewhere in the range of 2,400 tons an hour. The finished Chunnel would have three interconnected tubes, incorporating one rail track in each of the directions and one service tunnel. The total amount spent on the project was $15 billion.

On December 1, 1990, it was a memorable moment as exchanged of flags between Britain and France toasted with champagne as workers drill the last and final opening. However, it took them an additional four more years, and on May 6, 1994, the Channel Tunnel became opened for commuting services, as Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and France's President Francois Mitterrand met in Calais for the inaugural ceremony. The tunnel was leased to a firm called Eurotunnel for a 55-year deal to run the Chunnel, which is the significant extend of the Eurostar fast rail connecting London and Paris. The normal transport train through the tunnel runs 31 miles in total 23 of those underwater and takes 20 minutes to complete, with an extra 15-minute loop when turning the train around. After the Seikan Tunnel in Japan, the Channel Tunnel is the second-longest tunnel on the planet.

In 1996, a report by the European Commission projected that the tunnel will see an increase in traffic volumes because of the cross-channel traffic and the traffic attracted by the tunnel itself. Since the opening of the tunnel, it has had small but positive impacts on the wider economy.  

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Meg Wong

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One of the hardest working individuals, Meg sets the bar high when it comes to work ethic and being a great teammate. She learned these values at a young age while she was the captain of her high school volleyball team. Leading her team to 3 state championships and coming away victorious twice. You can still see the leader in her through everything she does for us here.