It is actually not a surprise but floods that happened in Klang Valley could have indeed been a lot worse if it was not for the creation of Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART). Previously, a total of five million cubic meters that is equivalent to 5 billion liters of floodwater was successfully diverted from entering Kuala Lumpur using Malaysia’s storm drainage and also road tunnel. We are so very lucky to have this particular SMART Tunnel here.
This specific architecture made here in this country that is Malaysia should be such a proud piece for all Malaysians and they should at least know some interesting facts about it. For those who might not know, these are 7 worth to know facts about the SMART Tunnel. All of these facts could make a lot of Malaysians understand more about it.
7 facts that you should know about the SMART Tunnel in Malaysia:
1) It Is Actually Longer Than You See
SMART is a combined traffic and storm tunnel, so you might have driven into it and excited at about four kilometers from where you entered, but the double-level roadway spans only a part of it. In fact, the entire tunnel is actually 9.7 kilometers long, starting from the Klang River at the north to the Kerayong River at the south.
2) It Really Is An Engineering Marvel
The tunnel boring machines themselves were impressive and were considered the Rolls-Royce of TBMs. They were custom ordered from Germany and were each 71 meters long, longer than a 747, and almost as heavy as a dozen of them. One was called Tuah, after Hang Tuah, and the other was called Gemilang. The machine dug and built at the same time, as it edged forward, it lined the newly dug portion with high-grade concrete segments.
3) The Air Is Surprisingly Fresh Down There
There are air ventilators or escape shafts at every kilometer of the roadway. Besides letting all that nasty exhaust fumes out, it also prevents the tunnel from being overcome with smoke in the event of a fire. That’s good to know, especially if you remember the Mont Blanc Tunnel disaster, during which a truck caught fire and turned the tunnel into a furnace.
4) The United Nations Has Given It Kudos
In 2011, the SMART Tunnel received the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award for being a unique solution for stormwater management and peak hour traffic. Later, the UN also described it as one of the world’s most innovative projects to address an urban issue.
5) Planning The Route Was Not So ‘Straight’ Forward
In Malaysia, landowners also own everything below the ground right until the core of the earth. To avoid the need to buy tunneling rights and spend millions more, the tunnel goes below the land that is already government-owned.
6) Sometimes It’s Just A Traffic Tunnel, Sometimes A Storm Tunnel, Sometimes Both
On most days, the roadway portion is open for light vehicles to use. If there is minor flooding of the Sungai Klang and Sungai Ampang catchment areas, stormwater flows through the tunnel, and motorists can continue to use the tunnel oblivious to the rushing stormwater underneath them. But if there is a huge surge of water, you’d be required to clear out and even the roadway section will be converted into a stormwater channel.
7) It Is A Builder’s Worst Nightmare
The city of Kuala Lumpur lies on top of karst topography, which is limestone bedrock with sections dissolved into fissures and caverns. This is why sometimes sinkholes occur in the city. When digging the tunnel, which is just 20 meters under the very busy cosmopolis, builders had to go about it very carefully. That said, when they were done, they had gone through enough earth to fill over 500 Olympic-size swimming pools.
Sources: SMART Tunnel.