City to purchase more property for tunnel project

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After more than 10 years of negotiations and a final agreement signed in 2008, the big tunnel project in Fort Wayne could move forward soon.

“For years people have wanted to do something about the rivers. There’s a lot of interest in our rivers now. We see developers interested in it and certainly the community has come together to really embrace our rivers,” Frank Suarez with Public Works said.

Long before the 5 miles of tunnel can be built 200 feet below ground, the city needs this space for a crucial part of the project.

“The property will include two shafts along with pump station, electric buildings and other maintenance type of structures there,” TJ Short said. Short is the senior program manager for the project.

One shaft moves overflow from heavy rain falls to the waste water treatment plant. Another, is a pump station shaft. It’s a big part of the court ordered project aimed at cleaning up the rivers.

“The right thing to do has always been to try to look at how we can enhance our rivers and clean them up and this project will have a big impact on that,” Suarez said.

Once it’s done, the amount of combined sewage overflowing into our rivers will be down by 90 percent. Specifically, it’s predicted that that number of overflows will go from 71 down to just 4 times a year.

“This is going to be a landmark project. A probably once in a lifetime project for this city,” Short said.

Construction on this part of the project could start by the end of spring or early this summer. The entire tunnel project, which is said to be a benefit for generations to come, is set to wrap up in 2021.

Council will vote on the project Tuesday March 14.