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Meet Doug: The tunnelling dragon speeding up roadworks in Plymouth

15th March 2019

Doug, a tunnelling ‘dragon’, is helping to speed up construction work and prevent road closures in Plymouth.

Doug, a tunnelling hand shield named by year 6 pupil Rosie Denham at Lipson Vale Primary School, is being put to work for South West Water’s ongoing Lipson Vale bathing water scheme, part of a £28m investment in Plymouth’s bathing water quality.

Pupils from the primary school were invited on site to learn about the work taking place on their doorstep and find out about how tunnel boring is being used to speed up the process.

Mike Court, Senior Project Manager at South West Water, said: “The work we are carrying out to improve stormwater overflows in Lipson Vale will help to ensure Plymouth maintains its excellent bathing water quality.

“We have been very mindful of the fact that we are working near local schools and in a residential area, so we have therefore invested in a specialist, custom made tunnel boring machine which ultimately will help us speed up the work and prevent the need for road closures.

“We really enjoyed welcoming the children on site and painting the machine helped to engage the children in the project so that they could find out more about the local sewerage network.

“The work has been progressing well and the temporary traffic lights on Bernice Terrace will likely remain in place for a further month depending on factors such as weather and ground conditions.”

Dylan, a year 6 pupil at Lipson Vale Primary School, said: “I have looked out from my window and wondered what they are doing, but now I know! The experience was amazing and we got to look into the deep hole and get ‘eaten’ by Doug! His face freaked me out a little bit but I loved it.”

Rosie, who named the tunnelling shield, said: “I liked meeting Doug because I got to learn more about what is happening on our field!”

Fellow pupil Brooklyn said: “Meeting Doug was really fun because we got to stand inside him. We also got to see the plans for digging the hole in the field, which was seven and a half metres deep!”

The work in Lipson Vale is due to continue for around five months and regular updates are being made available on South West Water’s website: https://www.southwestwater.co.uk/lipson-vale

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