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“The Smallest Tunnel Element, the Largest Expert Meeting; the Highest Altitude, the Most Accurate Adjustment”

——Joel, an Engineer of the Trelleborg in Netherland, Had a Deep Impression about the Placement of the Final Closure Joint

As a designer for GINA gasket of tunnel element of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project, Mr. Joel Van Stee participated in the expert appraisal meeting and on-site inspection for the placement of final closure joint held by the HZMB office on April 8th. In the past, he usually was accompanied by an interpreter, but at this time, I accompanied him for inspection. Although we had communicated with each other through e-mail of 50,000 words, something new was still found when we met each other. Once arriving at the meeting room, Joel was shocked by the number of experts in that meeting. In the past, nearly a hundred expert meetings had been hold for the 33 elements which are 180 meters long. But here today, a large numbers of experts were invited to that meeting for the placement of the final joint, which is only 10 meters long but full of difficulties and unpredictable risks. Joel concluded, "The smallest tunnel element, the largest expert meeting". When experts discussed the prestress on the final joint, Joel began to ponder the GINA waterstop pressed by the prestress and seawater. With the help of hydraulic pushing beam, the final joint and two tunnel elements of both ends become to an integral whole, but then he reminded that the longest element should be finished before the prestress lose. In the afternoon, the participants took a boat to the West Artificial Island, a lot of electromobiles were waiting at the dock to welcome the visitors. Since the current length of the immersed tunnel grew from 100 meters to several kilometers, workers need to go to work by electromobiles with little exhaust, so as to improve the air quality of the inner tunnel. "Golf car! Golf car!" Hanada Yukio, our Japanese technical adviser, introduced that kind of electromobile to the foreign experts in English. And Joel chose one of these electromobiles. When the electromobile was driven near the tunnel portal, its speed was slowing down. Looking at the light grafting, Joel said, "The first traffic jam in tunnel portal". On his way back, Joel accepted the interview of Mr. Bai from Journal of Bridge Construction. In that interview, he said, “Although I only did some of the work of HZMB project, I felt very proud of myself, because I was not only a supplier, but also a part of the project.” He loves his work and feels it’s wonderful to see something to be created for people’s good. Besides, working with others through closely cooperation is the reason why he kept energetic for this project. He is pleased to be able to contribute to the project because it is full of challenges needed innovation. Different from other contractors around the world, who would like choose conservatism rather than innovation, Chinese engineers love to learn with curiosity, and they not only treat everything from the holistic view, but also consider all details. For him,it is worth working with such a group of engineers. On May 2, the final joint began to be placed. Joel noticed all workers dressing neatly with bright five-star red flag embroidered on their coveralls, he also asked for a uniform the same with that of workers. In addition, 33 five-star red flag on the measuring tower stand for the 33 elements. When the final joint was lifted to the highest altitude which is 20 meters from the sea surface, Joel witnessed the element with the highest height in the HZMB project. When the final joint gradually sink into the sea, he said, "this is the last time to see the M type waterstop as well as the element of HZMB project, so I cannot help moving to tears.” On May 3, Joel is preparing to return to the Netherlands, but he received a notice from the office, asking him to go back to the site for an accurate adjustment of the final joint at six o’clock in the morning. Joel further immediately canceled the flight, and took the early boat to the "Jinan 3"panton. He arrived at the measuring tower at the top of the final joint, and then he climbed down the ladder to enter into the "enterocoelia" of the final joint. Two hours later, he came out and made a speech in the meeting: "with a good crimping situation, the immersed tunnel didn’t leak. According to my previous experience, the overall linear shape is good enough. Theoretically, there is no problem if the small GINA was re-compressed, but the perfect result of longitudinal space, angle of rotation, the vertical position, the vertical bend, the GINA compression and the waterproof effects may disappear when we adjust one direction. Therefore, I tend not to adjust the final closure joint again. " Joel felt very surprised when he heard that HZMB project office decided to make a fine adjustment, but then he realized that Chinese engineers are willing to take risks for the sake of excellence. "It was a very difficult decision." he said. It takes two days and two nights for adjustment, he also stay here for such a long time. Due to the hot weather in Zhuhai, which is completely different from the Nordic climate, he felt fatigue physically, but excited mentally for he thought he could learn a lot from that experience. Finally, in the celebration for the accurate adjustment, Joel felt very lucky to participate in that project, "it is the best project I had ever experienced".

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