I've blogged before about how great it would be to have a city with underground bike paths, replacing cars for most purposes. Almost everyone would ride a bike if they didn't need to worry about weather and traffic and hills. Even senior citizens would tool around in 3-wheelers with little effort.

It would also be great to have underground package delivery to your home via robots. Just order your groceries and whatnot via the Internet, then get an e-mail alert when the robot has delivered your goods beneath your home, in a sort of basement area that connects to the vast underground grid.

As you know, underground spaces stay at a consistent temperature, which allows you to put pipes in the ground and use the difference in air temperature compared to the surface for cheap heating and cooling.

In other words, there's a gold mine to be had underground. The big problem is that tunneling is expensive and dangerous and takes a long time. But what if we went at it another way. Instead of tunneling, we build our tunnel structures above ground and then pile mountains of garbage on top of them, for years, until the tunnels are totally buried. Then we build our city on top. No tunneling or ditch-digging needed. And that garbage had to go someplace anyway.

I'm assuming we have the know-how to keep the garbage smell and poisonous gas seepage from being a problem to the city dwellers above.

Worst idea ever?
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Aug 4, 2014
Mt Trashmore, Virginia Beach, VA

Aug 17, 2009
As opposed to garbage, maybe it should be human excrement. Such a nasty word. Lets use 'poop' instead.
Poop can take the form of whatever you place it around. It eventually hardens,and becomes fairly rigid. Not only that, you would get a fantastic base for future plant growth... once it decomposes a little. And, everyone living within the community could contribute. Instead of poop going down the toilet, like it does now, a pump would just shoot it out into the air, and it would disperse on top of all the other poop helping to form the tunnels. Plus, there's the added benefit that it is warm, so it would actually provide heat, after it comes out, so maybe it should sit around in a heat exchanger for some time before being blasted upwards. And if it's combined with urine (pee-pee), it's even more useful. then it can fill those cracks better, because it becomes more liquid. And we drink lots of water, so there is lots of pee-pee generated. Pee has the added benefit that we could water our crops with it. Plants like pee-pee.
Aug 17, 2009
That's fantastic. Today, people complain about living on what used to be old landfill sites, and having weird things leak into their basement, and gases bubble up from their lawn.

Imagine actually living within that toxic mass. Black goop dripping from the roof, noxious smells wafting through 1 foot concrete walls, seagulls everywhere. Isn't this really just a plan to speed up human evolution even faster? You want three eyed one horned burrowing purple people eating at McDonalds (because you would have to have an underground McDonalds).
Aug 15, 2009
I don't know if anyone else mentioned this, but ask Seattle how building on garbage as landfill worked. The fill will still be compacting for another 50 years or so, and it was done over a 100 years ago. Back then, they asked people to throw whatever they wanted into the fill in order to build up the land as you moved away from the Puget Sound, in order to lessen the steepness of the cliff that used to be there.
Aug 14, 2009
The wild garbage disposal days are over my friend. The advanced landfill techniques allow the garbage to be processed in anaerobic digesters and the resulting methane is used for electricity production. So when we have a solution for the garbage we have it doesn't make sense to build a tunnel and put garbage on it. I don't even start talking about methane production and possible explosions of garbage.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 14, 2009
Future enterpreneurs ought to be reading this.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 13, 2009

You have to think like an engineer. Landfill cells are not geologically stable and landfill liners are imperfect. In other words, if your goal is a tunnel and basement with huge cracks which leachate will infiltrate through due to uneven settlement, this is an excellent plan. Stick to economics, monkey brain.

I like Roy_001's idea better. Incinerator ash is pozzolanic: Just add water and it basically turns into cement. With proper layering, the base would be stiff enough to support structures but probably soft enough to make creating tunnels, even after the fact, fairly easy.
Aug 13, 2009
That seems like the least stable foundation possible. You're talking about building large buildings on top of loose garbage on top of empty tunnels. Usually we put the base of large buildings in thick, heavy soil or rock. I wouldn't want to live some place where a small earthquake could sink the entire city.
Aug 13, 2009
Yea, not a good idea. Put the roads/transportation system underground. I read a book (can't remember the name now) where the transportation system was catenary shaped, evacuated (no air), nearly frictionless, tunnels. Basically the vehicles fell to their destinations via a kind of pendulum action with small energy inputs to overcame whatever friction still existed. 'All' we need is some cheap tunneling technology and there you go. Save the topside for the cyclist and pedestrians. Motor assited bikes with energy storage in the frame should take care of topographical changes in altitude.
I'll get right on it.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 13, 2009
funny... WIRED has an article about small tunnels that delivers stuff to your house... http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/08/someday-a-tiny-subway-will-deliver-your-groceries/

zeitgeist or just another proof that we're actually all computer programs?
Aug 13, 2009
Not the worst, perhaps. Garbage will become valuable pretty soon. The amount of hydrocarbons and steel, aluminum should soon lead to re-excavation and recycling. I mean on a historical time frame, of course.
Better to just use robot tunnelers, if that's what you want to do. Excavation and tunneling is very dangerous work, so cost would come down with robots.
Aug 13, 2009
Aj city built on garbage? Well, I live in NY, so at least I know it's possible in theory.

Worst idea ever? No, actually, I think it's kind of cool, but others who are better at expressing themselves than I am have come up with some important flaws that would need to be addressed. (And after all what new idea DOESN'T have flaws to be worked out?)

These thought exercises are fun, maybe tunnel-dwelling can be incorporated into Cheaptopia.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 13, 2009
Excellent, I hate looking around at the citiscape and all the people in it... many of them are not aesthetically pleasing. An cool dim underground tunnel would be much better. Much better to ride underground and admire a wall of warm trash.

See "Shampoo Planet" by the "Generation X" guy. He proposed garbage dump tourism.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 13, 2009
Scott says:
"It's ridiculous to say tunnels are intrinsically more dangerous than roads. And you could have security cameras on every inch"

Tunnels are intrinsically more dangerous then roads because of the danger of flooding, lack of oxygen, and fires.

I have done engineering for two tunnels, and there is a lot of effort in the safety precautions. Every once in a while a truck catches fire in a tunnel and there are way more casualties then there would be on a road:
http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=accident tunnel fire

Why not build the houses under the ground instead of the roads? No heating or cooling necessary. Friends of ours have a bedroom and an office room in the cellar, there is allways a good climate in there.

[I was referring to crime in tunnels versus roads. But now that you mention it, has anyone died in a tunnel built in the past 100 years in the United States because of flood or earthquake? -- Scott]
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 13, 2009
Careful - The Mole People won't stand for much more encroachment on their environment before they revolt!
Aug 12, 2009
I thought the whole idea of cycling was to get outside - to get some fresh air and take the time to at least see the flowers even if you can't smell them. This is yet another post that demonstrates your aversion to pratically anything outdoors or anything natural - which is, in a way, ironic for a vegetarian.
Aug 12, 2009
I'm pretty sure you predicted this in the Dilbert Future Book


Not the first prediction you've gotten right either.
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 12, 2009
You're too late, Scott! The Middle East has been living on/in mounds of garbage for years.

Only, here they're not called "tunnels" -- they're called "cities".

Aug 12, 2009
The tunnels would quickly become filled with trash, broken whiskey bottles, and the smell of urine. Muggers and assorted bad guys would lurk at every bend.
Aug 12, 2009
I think we need tunnels for the cars and burying them in garbage is a great idea. A utopia of peace as all the impatient, rude, and careless drivers would be out of site and out of mind.and every once in a while a tunnel could dip down in beside the cars with a glass window so we can ride beside them and shake our heads at the poor ignorant souls talking on there cells to the car two blocks in front of them honking horns and picking their nose.
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