Castrol powers the most challenging highway project in American History
Boston's Big Dig: Engineering Marvels, Grueling ConditionsIt's been called the largest, most complex and technologically challenging highway project ever attempted in American History. Dubbed "the Big Dig," the Central Artery/Tunnel project is a federally funded, $13 billion dollar renovation to the elevated, 6-lane Central Artery highway in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Central Artery highway opened in 1959 and comfortably carried 75,000 vehicles a day. Today, it carries upwards of 190,000. Traffic is stop-and-go for more than ten hours every day. The accident rate on this highway is four times the national average. Without improvements, traffic would be at a complete standstill 24 hours a day by the year 2010.
Boston's answer to this extraordinary traffic problem is the Central Artery/Tunnel project. Likened to engineering marvels like the Panama Canal, the English Channel Tunnel and the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, the Central Artery/Tunnel project will replace the current elevated highway with an eight-to-ten-lane underground superhighway, which will culminate in a fourteen-lane, two-bridge crossing of the Charles River. At its deepest point, the expressway will be 120 feet, or twelve stories, underground. Engineers expect this project to reduce pollution, solve traffic problems and pave the way for future economic growth in one of America's oldest cities.
Working the DigDue to the sheer magnitude of the project, the Big Dig has been divided into over 100 contracts to local and national heavy-duty contractors. Conditions facing workers and their equipment are some of the most severe around. In many cases, equipment is working 200 to 300 feet underground, facing wet, muddy conditions, unusual temperatures and extremely long hours. Contractors are also challenged with difficult soil conditions, tight working spaces, proximity of construction to huge office buildings and fragile historic buildings and of course, keeping the current elevated highway functioning while tunneling directly beneath it.
The amount of reinforcing steel used in the Big Dig could make a 1 inch steel bar long enough to wrap around the earth at the equator.
Amidst these challenges, contractors strive daily to meet construction deadlines and keep their machinery up and running profitably and efficiently. With equipment working underground and, in many instances, 24 hours a day, six days a week, service intervals tend to get stretched making premium lubricants a necessity.
Castrol Heavy Duty is a major supplier for several contractors working the Big Dig including J.F.White, Kiewitt and Boston Sand and Gravel. During peak construction (1998-2000), Castrol Heavy Duty is supplying about 300,000 gallons of lubricants annually for equipment directly engaged in the Big Dig. Castrol Heavy Duty's reputation of premium-performing lubricants, the availability of high quality specialty lubricants and their proven technical experience makes them a natural choice to partner with contractors on the Big Dig.
Big Dig Lubricant Line-UpWith a project like the Big Dig, high performance lubricants play an integral part in contractors' operations. Castrol Heavy Duty has paired premium-performing products with the electronic used oil analysis program Castrol Labcheck Plus, to arm contractors in their uphill battle against a severe working environment and long intervals between service.
Bill Albertelli, Area Sales Manager for Castrol Heavy Duty, describes some of the lubricants that are helping make the Big Dig happen in Boston:
Castrol Dieselall Plus"A high percentage of customers working on this project trust Castrol Dieselall Plus in all types of earth-moving equipment," says Bill. "Backhoes, cranes, cement mixers and hundreds of other pieces of equipment all over the job site have Castrol Dieseall Plus in their sumps. Customers want an engine oil they can count on to withstand the increased service intervals and the ugly conditions encountered on the job site."
Coupled with Castrol Labcheck Plus, customers report success in managing service intervals without compromising component life. Castrol Dieselall Plus offers superior soot control, guards against piston deposits and resists viscosity loss—all of which contribute to reduce maintenance costs, lower oil consumption and longer engine life.
Castrol Dual Range HV Hydraulic FluidSeveral Big Dig customers trust the hydraulic systems in earth-moving equipment to the multi-viscosity hydraulic fluid Castrol Dual Range HV. Touted for its ability to prevent sludge and deposit formation during high temperatures and its ability to maintain viscosity throughout a wide temperature range, Castrol Dual Range HV promotes long pump life and extended service intervals.
"Castrol Dual Range HV has more than doubled the manufacturer's recommended drain intervals for one customer in particular," explains Bill. "This customer carefully monitored the hydraulic system with Castrol Labcheck Plus and was able to extend service intervals beyond the standard 1,000 to 2,000 hours up to 4,000 hours."
Castrol Pyroplex GoldEmploying trademarked Hydro-Activation™ technology, Castrol Pyroplex Gold is the ideal grease for hammer attachments engaged in severe service on the Big Dig. Castrol Pyroplex Gold increases in tack and adhesion in the presence of water and has the mobility of an NLGI 1 grease with the staying power of an NGLI 3 grease.
Castrol Pyroplex BlueCastrol Pyroplex Blue is seeing a lot of action on the Big Dig. The muddy, wet conditions underground are perfectly suited for Castrol Pyroplex Blue, which incorporates Hydro-Activation technology and excellent extreme pressure and anti-wear performance.
Specialty LubricantsThe safety of the crew working on the Big Dig and the preservation of the environment and areas like the Boston Harbor, have dictated the need for many specialty lubricants. Fire-resistant and environmentally friendly Castrol SFR (Synthetic Fire Resistant) Hydraulic Fluid is being used in tunnel-boring equipment to minimize the threat of fire in the almost 19 miles of tunnel being drilled under the current elevated highway. Exceeding tough industry standards for fire-resistance, Castrol SFR also has a very low toxicity and is more biodegradable than mineral-based hydraulic fluids.
Working in such close proximity to the Boston Harbor, biodegradable fluids are a necessity. Castrol Carelube HTG Biodegradable Hydraulic Oil offers all the environmental protection of a biodegradable fluid without compromising fluid performance or wear protection. Formulated from natural vegetable oils, Castrol Carelube has a naturally high lubricity and better stay-in-grade performance than many of its mineral-based counterparts.
A Light at the End of the TunnelThe Big Dig is an excellent example of how Castrol Heavy Duty Lubricants partners with customers to achieve ground breaking results in both equipment performance and component life. The Big Dig is scheduled for completion in just four short years and Castrol Heavy Duty Lubricants, along with many Bostonians, will be there to celebrate the fruits of their labors.
Fascinating Facts About the Big Dig
- The Big Dig will displace 15 million cubic yards of dirt—enough to fill Foxboro Stadium (home to the New England Patriots football team) to the rim 15 times.
- Moving the displaced dirt will take more than 541,000 truckloads. If all these trucks were lined up end-to-end, they would reach all the way from Boston to the Panama Canal.
- Concrete used in this project could build a sidewalk 3 feet wide and 4 inches thick from Boston to San Francisco and back three times.
- The amount of reinforcing steel used in the Big Dig could make a 1 inch steel bar long enough to wrap around the earth at the equator.
- During peak construction (1998-2000), about $3 million of work is completed each day.