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Drilling down The R&D aspects of modern tunnel design and construction By Charles R. Goulding, Michael Wilshere & Andrea Albanese Engineers face challenges not only in digging the tunnel, but also in designing a safe and lasting structure that is compatible with hidden pipes, electrical wiring, other tunnels, and a conglomerate of buildings, roads and parks. As innovation continues to grow, there is a wide range of tech- nologies available to assist engineers in meeting these challenges. Tunnel boring machines are increasingly being used to carve out the initial path through the soil as they become more fexible, durable and precise. Sensors are becoming the common method of collecting data, not only from the soil and ground movements before construction, but also from tunnel conditions after the project is complete. In addition, cutting edge computer software is increasingly becoming more detailed, accurate and intelligent, which not only helps engineers and designers make accurate predictions about the effects of the tunnel on the environment, but also analyze traffc pat- terns, water fow and deterioration over time. Federal and state tax incentives area available to encourage and support innovation related to tunnel design and construction.. The Federal Research & Development Tax Credit Enacted in 1981, the Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13 percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualifed research must meet the following four criteria: • New or improved products, processes, or software • Technological in nature • Elimination of uncertainty • Process of experimentation Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost of testing, contract research expenses and costs associated with developing a patent. At the end of last year, President Obama signed the bill extending the R&D tax credit for the 2014 tax year. Tunnel boring machines Tunnel boring machines are increasingly being used for tunneling in a range of different geological conditions. Rock and soil mixtures can vary widely, not only from project to project, but also within projects themselves. Due to the soil variance, boring machine disc rotors must be designed for high effectiveness even as the machine moves between differing environments. Creating the optimum disc rotor for any given project involves an in-depth understanding of geological conditions and a process of experimentation using simulation. T unnel design and construction is an innovative and evolving industry. With crowded cities, growing popula- tions and sensitive underground infrastructure, cutting edge technology and creative solutions often are necessary to complete any project. 130 COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION & RENOVATION — NOVEMBER : DECEMBER 2015