Fort Wayne breaks ground on $188M tunnel to clean rivers, relieve sewers

A tunnel running more than five miles in length, at least 12 feet in a diameter, and more than 150 feet below ground, will play the biggest role in Fort Wayne's effort to remove the amount of untreated sewage in the city's waterways. Construction on the tunnel is expected to begin in 2017.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –  A project that will take a tunnel 200 feet under the city’s surface and run it for five miles has broken ground. Mayor Tom Henry joined City Council members, construction contractors, city utilities staff and others for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Reduction Tunnel Thursday.

It’s the largest construction and public investment in Fort Wayne’s history. It will cost around $188 million and is designed with a life expectancy of 100 years. The deep-rock tunnel is a major portion of the effort to clean-up Fort Wayne’s rivers and protect neighborhoods from basement back-ups and street flooding. S.A. Healy and Salini Impregilo will construct the sewer transportation tunnel.

“The tunnel project will have significant environmental and economic benefits for generations to come,” said Mayor Henry in a press release. “To be a point of destination City, it’s critical that we invest in projects that will have a lasting and meaningful impact. A successful future for our community and region depends on safe, effective and efficient wastewater treatment facilities and best practices.”

The groundbreaking was held near the Water Pollution Control Plant. When construction is complete, a pump station associated with the tunnel operation will be located there. The building will be complete this fall.

The project will run a 16 foot wide tunnel from Glasgow Avenue to Foster Park. Every day it can carry 800 million gallons of sewage and storm water. It will reduce sewer overflows into the rivers by 90 percent. Work is expected to be complete by 2024.

Quick Facts

  • 5 miles – length of tunnel, stretching from Glasgow Avenue to Foster Park
  • 200 – 250 feet – tunnel depth below earth surface
  • 16 feet – tunnel finished interior diameter
  • 800 million gallons – amount of flow that can travel through the tunnel per day
  • 90% – percentage this project will reduce the number of combined sewer overflows on our rivers
  • 2017 – working shaft (the hole dug to send the Tunnel Boring Machine down to bedrock) construction will begin and will be completed by spring of 2018
  • 2018 (late summer) – Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) will begin the journey through Fort Wayne’s bedrock
  • 2021 – tunnel is expected to be completed by late summer/early fall of that year
  • 2023 – Tunnel pump station complete and tunnel put into operation