Bids opened for Fort Wayne’s $200M sewer overflow tunnel

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The bidding table has been opened for what will be Fort Wayne’s largest and most expensive public works project ever. City Utilities on Thursday publicly opened bids for its Deep Rock tunnel construction project at a meeting.

The Deep Rock tunnel is the largest clean water investment in the history of Fort Wayne. When completed, it will reduce the amount of combined sewage overflowing into the city’s rivers by 90 percent or 900 million gallons a year. That’s enough water to fill about 1,300 Olympic-size swimming pools and about three and one-fourth Empire State Buildings.

The design of the deep rock tunnel is about one-third complete
Fort Wayne City Utilities opened bids Thursday for the deep rock tunnel, the biggest public works project in the city’s history.

Five companies made a bid for the tunnel project at Thursday’s meeting. The bids are listed below.

  • Kiewit-Seli – $229,889,934
  • S.A. Healy-Salini Impreglio – $187,963,000
  • Shea-Jay Dee – $205,998,194
  • Strabag-Walsh – $224,983,000
  • Traylor-McNally – $225,694,734

City spokesman Frank Suarez told NewsChannel 15 the project will be awarded within 2-4 weeks. The bids must be taken under advisement, and they are required by law to choose the lowest bid that meets the project’s specifications, according to Suarez. City Council then will have to approve the bid before a contract is awarded.

Currently, the city’s sewage system is unable to handle great amounts of rain storm water. When storm water overwhelms the city’s sewer systems, the combined flow of storm water and sewage water causes overflows into local rivers.

The tunnel, which will run along the Maumee River, will be five miles long, 16 feet in diameter and goes 200 feet below the ground.

City Utilities Director Kumar Menon said this is the beginning of the end of a 15 year effort to clean Fort Wayne’s rivers.

(“This is the linchpin,” he said. “This is the crux of our entire program. This is the biggest investment that we have ever made in public infrastructure in our city in it’s history and it represents decades of interaction with the federal government with local, state government and the EPA and other regulators. So for our community what it means is more relief from street flooding, less pollution in our rivers, and a cleaner environment for all of us.”

City officials have said the project will improve river quality, reduce basement back ups and street flooding, and boost the local economy.

Suarez said construction on the project could begin in late May or early June. The tunnel is expected to be completed by 2021.