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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- This tunnel boring machine standing at more than twenty feet tall and stretching more than four hundred feet in length will grind through bedrock to build a five mile long sewer tunnel under the earth's surface ultimately preventing sewage from getting into the local rivers. It's new name, Mama Jo, comes from the first two letters of the three rivers.
"It starts here at the wastewater treatment plant which is at the corner of Dwenger and Glasgow, and it goes mostly west along the Maumee River, St. Mary's River, and then south all the way to Foster Park,"project manager T.J. Short said.
It's going to take 18 months to complete but short said they are right on schedule for the tunneling part.
The rock they're removing now won't be going to waste.
They've found another use for it that will also help save money.
"One of the nice things we do is recycle this rock. We're going to take it to a storage yard that we have. Pile it up. We have some equipment on hand to where it crushes the rock further and put it through a sieve and we can use different gradations of rock for bedding and backfill for pipes like sewer pipes and water lines," Short added.
Project manager Manfred Lezhner's worked on tunnels internationally and said this is something you usually see in much larger cities.
"It's also challenging because of the big amount of groundwater that they have that is expected during tunneling, which we already have during the shaft excavation. It's a challenge not every project has,"Lehzner said.
The deputy director of engineering for city utilities explained the biggest benefit will be 90 percent reduction in the amount of combined sewer overflow going into the rivers, and they're all excited for the public to get acquainted with Mama Jo.
If you would like to check out Mama Jo, you can tour the tunnel boring project on September 9th from 11am to 3pm.