ASCE has honored Michael A. Mooney, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, with the 2024 Martin S. Kapp Foundation Engineering Award for innovations in forward prediction of tunnel-induced ground deformation and tunnel boring machine cutting-tool wear applied to overcome very complex urban conditions on the Northeast Boundary Tunnel (NEBT) project in Washington, D.C.

The NEBT is a tunnel constructed in the heart of Washington from 2020 to 2022. Two major challenges facing the project were ground deformation / infrastructure damage and tool wear. There was considerable risk that tunneling would cause damage to existing infrastructure, and with this uncertainty it was unclear whether the planned tunnel boring machine (TBM) would cause damaging deformation. In addition, TBM cutting tools wear down and require periodic replacement. The only reliable way to track tool wear is to visually inspect the tools. Stopping the TBM to perform compressed air interventions beneath critical infrastructure in fully water-saturated ground is risky and very costly. 

Mooney and his team implemented prediction tools on the NEBT project to address these challenges. He and the team implemented a novel ground deformation prediction tool and a TBM cutterhead tool-wear-prediction model. Underpinning both was a geostatistics-based ground model developed for the project by Mooney and the team using the project's 103 boring logs. This model quantified the spatial uncertainty of key geotechnical parameters needed to predict tunnel-induced ground deformation and tool wear. 

Mooney is highly regarded in the underground construction and tunneling industry as an innovation leader and is deserving of this award in recognition of his innovative contributions to the industry.

The Martin S. Kapp Foundation Engineering Award recognizes contributions to design or construction of foundations, earthworks, retaining structures, or underground construction.  Emphasis is placed on constructed works in which serious difficulties were overcome or substantial economies were achieved.