Downtown Tunnel



Meet the Roadheaders


Jawbreaker was the first roadheader in full service. It dug east from the West Portal, located off Commissioner Street, and proceeded to complete the Lyon Station cavern in November 2015. Jawbreaker is now in Parliament Station cavern, finishing the job Chewrocka started.

Digging start: November 2013


Chewrocka entered the tunnel through the central shaft at Kent and Queen Streets, and was assembled inside the tunnel itself. Chewrocka tunneled east from the central shaft and began digging the cavern for Parliament Station. Chewrocka is now excavating the running tunnel between Parliament and Rideau stations.

Digging start: January 2014

Crocodile Rouge

Starting at the East Portal, located near University of Ottawa, Crocodile Rouge dug west to link underground with the other roadheaders at the central shaft. Crocodile Rouge is currently mining the cavern for Rideau Station.

Digging start: early December 2013

Station Caverns

Lyon Station

100% complete as of November 2015.

Parliament Station

100% complete as of May 2016.

Rideau Station

100% complete as of June 3, 2016.

Running tunnel between Parliament & Rideau

23.5 m top heading excavated for week ending May 27, 2016


Roadheader Digging the downtown tunnel of the Confederation Line will be the job of three mighty roadheaders, each weighing in at 135 tonnes and measuring approximately 20 metres from end to end. At the front of each of these amazing digging machines is a rotating cutterhead covered with 78 replaceable picks made of tungsten carbide, a very hard and durable metal. At the rear, a conveyer belt removes debris excavated by the cutterhead. Brought to Ottawa in small to mid-sized pieces from New York and Austria, the roadheaders were assembled on site, each taking approximately two weeks to complete. After a naming competition with Grade 4 students from across Ottawa, a naming ceremony was held on November 29th, 2013. The three roadheaders were given the official names Jawbreaker, Chewrocka and Crocodile Rouge.


Roadheader in Action

Excavation begins at the LRT tunnel

A Roadheader excavation machine begins mining the Confederation Line LRT project’s tunnel at the West Portal near Lebreton Flats.
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