Digging Deep in Indianapolis

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Each year, TBM: Tunnel Business Magazine in conjunction with the Breakthroughs in Tunneling Short Course, presents the Tunnel Achievement Award for Project Excellence. Established in 2012, the Tunnel Achievement Award recognizes projects that are successfully completed and demonstrate innovation and teamwork, and provide benefits to the community.

This year the award winning project in the DigIndy Tunnel System, a CSO reduction program being built by Citizens Energy Group, a public charitable trust that provides natural gas, thermal energy, water, and wastewater services to about 800,000 people and thousands of businesses in the Indianapolis area.

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The DigIndy Tunnel System is a 28-mile long network of 18-ft ID deep rock tunnels being built 250 ft beneath the city. The $2 billion program, which includes tunnels and plant upgrades, will reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) by up to 99 percent. DigIndy consists of six interconnected tunnel projects, each mined with the same 20-ft, 2-in. OD Robbins Main Beam TBM and lined with 1-ft thick concrete walls. All of the tunnels were also completed by the same contractor, a joint venture of J.F. Shea and Kiewit. Shea-Kiewit was contracted to construct the first leg, the Deep Rock Tunnel Connector, in 2011, constructed the Eagle Creek Tunnel via a change order, and was then hired to construct the remaining four segments: the White River, Lower Pogues Run, Fall Creek and Pleasant Run tunnels.

To date, five of the six tunnels are completely excavated, with the final tunnel, Pleasant Run, is about 25 percent 25 complete. The entire system is scheduled to be online by 2025.

Tunnel Achievement Award winners are honored at the annual Breakthroughs in Tunnel Short Course, which is set for Sept. 13-15 at the University of Denver in Colorado. Details can be found at TunnelingShortCourse.com. Unlike last year which was held as a virtual event due to the COVID pandemic, this year’s course is scheduled as a live event.

For a complete report on the DigIndy Tunnel System, see the article in this issue beginning on page 18.

RETC in Las Vegas

It was great to get out of home office for the first time in more than a year to attend a live event! The Rapid Excavation and Tunneling Conference was held in June at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas (luckily, Caesars is like an indoor city so I didn’t have to venture out too much in the 115 degree desert heat!).

Considering the lingering pandemic, restrictions for international attendees, and company policies concerning travel, attendance was strong with a lot of new and familiar faces at the event. All in all, everyone I spoke to was pleased with the turnout and the content and quality of the conference.

Here’s hoping to a return to normal for UCA’s North American Tunneling Conference in 2022! (NAT 2022 is scheduled for June 19-22 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Details can be found at NATConference.com.)

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