Advancing Shallow Tunnel Construction in Soft Ground: The Pipe-Umbrella Box Jacking Method

Xi Jiang, Xuehui Zhang, Xiao Zhang, Luyuan Long, Yun Bai, Baoshan Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


The development of modern cities has often led to increased traffic congestion and limited usable space. One effective solution to these problems is to construct roadway tunnels, which can expand urban space and alleviate traffic congestion. However, building large underpass tunnels in urban areas, especially in soft ground, presents technical challenges owing to its extensive environmental disturbance. The pipe-umbrella box jacking method offers a promising solution to these challenges as this method does not require breaking the ground from the surface or disrupting surface traffic. This study reviews the key techniques of the pipe-umbrella box jacking method for constructing large rectangular tunnels with small burial depths in soft ground. The study focuses on three main technical issues: pipe umbrella installation, soil face excavation, and box jacking control. Furthermore, two tunnel projects in Shanghai, China, are presented as case studies to showcase the construction challenges and countermeasures during box jacking tunneling with pipe-umbrella. Practical construction experience has revealed that the installation of the pipe umbrella before box jacking serves as an effective method of ground pre-support. However, its performance can be influenced by factors such as pipe installation deviation and inter-pipe connection design. Both open-face steel grid extrusion (SGE) shields and closed-face earth pressure balanced (EPB) shields can be used for soil excavation during box jacking, with different work modes resulting in distinct ground deformation patterns. Additionally, lubrication grouting has been found to effectively reduce friction resistance and affect vertical ground deformation. The study also examines the lessons learned from case studies and proposes optimization measures. This study can serve as a valuable reference for the tunneling industry, providing insights into the pipe-umbrella box jacking method and its application in constructing large rectangular tunnels in soft ground.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransportation Research Record
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Box Jacking Tunnel
  • EPB Shield
  • Pipe Umbrella
  • SGE Shield
  • Soft Ground

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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