Deep rock tunnel cutterhead lowered

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Fort Wayne, Ind. — Construction crews at the working shaft of Fort Wayne’s deep rock sewer tunnel lowered the first piece of MamaJo, the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), into the ground today. The cutterhead was hoisted down the 220-foot working shaft. At 200 tons and16 feet long, the cutterhead is one of the many pieces that will make up the TBM.

Standing at a diameter of more than 19 feet and stretching more than 400 feet in length, Mamajo will begin her journey on one of the most significant public infrastructure projects in the history of Fort Wayne. She will grind through bedrock to build a five-mile-long sewer tunnel, more than 200 feet under the earth’s surface, with an interior diameter of 16feet.

The deep-rock sewer tunnel is a significant portion of the effort to clean-up Fort Wayne’s rivers and protects neighborhoods from basement back-ups and street flooding. The project also supports the community’s renewed interest in riverfront usage and development. When completed, the tunnel will reduce, by more than 90 percent, the amount of combined sewer overflow going into our rivers. That’s a reduction of more than 850 billion gallons on average each year.

 Crews will continue lowering pieces and connecting them underground over the next two months. Full assembly of the TBM should finish by early spring of this year.

Completion of the tunnel boring is expected by 2021, and the intricate connection to the many neighborhood sewers in 2023.  The tunnel will be operational in 2023.

The name MamaJo takes the first two letters from Fort Wayne’s three rivers, the Ma from Marys, Ma from Maumee and Jo from Joseph. MamaJo seems only fitting for a project that’s had an engineer’s working title of the Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Reduction Tunnel (3RPORT).  And so MamaJo has become the protector of our rivers.

Residents can learn more and get tunnel updates at fortwaynetunnel.org.