Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Discovery to air documentary on Hsuehshan Tunnel

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Hsuehshan Tunnel is to gain international visibility as a documentary on the construction of Asia's longest tunnel is scheduled to be aired on the Discovery Channel on Aug. 27.

A pre-release press conference will be held in Taipei on Tuesday, Government Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said yesterday, adding that Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) would attend the event.

"The Hsuehshan Tunnel is regarded as the most difficult construction project by the Encyclopedia Britannica. So the documentary is a kind of testament to Taiwan's achievements in high-technology," Cheng said.

Fifteen years in the making, the tunnel, linking Taipei and Yilan County, opened on June 16. It is ranked as the world's fourth-longest tunnel.

"Lots of engineers pushed to speed up the construction 400 to 500 meters under the surface of the earth without rest, regardless of the political uproar in recent years, fully demonstrating the `spirit of Taiwan,'" Cheng said. "It is the accumulation of little dribs and drabs in the `spirit of Taiwan' that has made the country achieve progress all the time."

Cheng said the documentary, to be aired at 9pm, would introduce all aspects of the construction and help people understand the construction by presenting the facts and figures in an interesting way.

"The No. 1 shaft of the tunnel is 512 meters deep, which is higher than the building of Taipei 101. The total volume of excavated earth and stone was 5.090 million cubic meters, which is enough to build two Egyptian pyramids," the spokesman said.

The massive project began with a feasibility study in 1988. Construction finally began in July 1991. During the 15 years it took to drill 12.9km through a mountain, the ground collapsed 98 times, underground water inundated the tunnel 36 times, tunnel boring machines were trapped inside 26 times and 25 workers lost their lives.

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