‘Robbie’ the TBM

Category: Engineering

Written By: Nicole McBride

Date: November 13, 2018

‘Robbie’ the TBM cover image

The Robertson Umbenhauer Water Treatment Plant, also known as the Canal Water Treatment Plant, is located between the Rio Grande River and BNSF Railway yard. Parkhill is a design partner on the Design/Build team contracted for the Canal Street Tunnel project. The project addresses the aging infrastructure’s potential issues by replacing existing transmission lines. 

The new 48-inch transmission line from the Robertson WTP crosses the BNSF rail yard and Paisano Drive and will tie into an existing 48-inch line on San Antonio Avenue in Downtown El Paso. The tunnel casing pipe is 66-inch Permalok steel-casing pipe. The new pipe was installed by a tunnel boring machine which El Paso Water nicknamed “Robbie” at the beginning of the project. 

After discussing several names, El Paso Water decided on Robbie in honor of the Robertson WTP’s 75th anniversary. Robbie is a 66-inch tunnel boring machine manufactured by Akkerman and was operated by our Design/Build partner BRH Garver. 


The El Paso Water Canal Tunnel project received a Gold Medal in the ACEC Texas Engineering Excellence Awards.