Tales From the Vista Ridge Underground

When most people think about pipeline construction, they probably picture a long, open-cut trench with sections of pipe joined end-to-end.

Along most of the Vista Ridge pipeline’s 142-mile route, that description holds true, as seen in this recent photo of construction along an easement in rural Burleson County:

pipe trench

But did you know several segments of the pipeline require tunneling deep beneath existing roads and other infrastructure? It’s true. The pipeline route includes 19 tunnels in all, spanning more than 2,500 feet — that’s almost ½ mile of horizontal boring!

One of those tunnels is currently under construction deep below Highway 281 near Bulverde Road. Here’s a view looking down at the tunnel’s east entrance from the surface:

tunnel pit

And here’s the view looking westward from the bottom of the entrance pit:

tunnel entrance

The tunnel is so long — 471 feet to be exact — that it requires the use of small “railroad cars” to remove the spoils:

Tunnel Cart

Tunneling under the highway allows construction to proceed without digging up the existing roadbed, much to the relief of tens of thousands of commuters who traverse that route twice each day. Currently, 15 of the 19 planned tunnels are complete.

Vista Ridge Tunnel Factoids:

  • 19 tunnels.
  • 2,500 feet total — almost ½ mile!
  • 15 already completed.