Fort Wayne TBM Christened ‘MamaJo’

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No doubt, the hardest worker on Fort Wayne’s Deep Rock Tunnel project, at 24-hours a day, is the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). As of Aug. 7, that worker has a name, and it’s MamaJo.

Derived from taking 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 becomes the protector of our rivers.

Mining lore says that as far back as the 1500s, workers prayed to Saint Barbara for protection while working in the dark underground.  Since then it’s been tradition to name the tunnel boring machine.

“The naming of the TBM brings a little fun to an important community project that will serve our community well for generations to come,” said Kumar Menon, Director of City Utilities.  “This massive five-mile long sewer tunnel will protect our rivers, protect neighborhoods and help support thousands of good paying jobs over the next five years. It will support a renewed interest in riverfront development and business expansion, while engaging our schools and colleges in environmental improvements that will enrich our region for generations to come.”

Soon, MamaJo standing at a diameter of more than 20 ft and stretching more than 400 ft in length will begin her journey on one of the most significant public infrastructure projects in the history of the Community. She will grind through bedrock to build a five-mile-long sewer tunnel, more than 200 ft under the earth’s surface, with an interior diameter of 16 ft.

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“In six years when the tunnel is operational, we will see several benefits. The biggest benefit will be a 90 percent reduction in the amount of combined sewer overflow going into our rivers. That’s a reduction of more than 850 billion gallons on average each year,” said Matthew Wirtz, Deputy Director of Engineering for City Utilities. “Additionally, our creeks and streams will be cleaner as will waterways downstream and all the way to Lake Erie. We will also see a reduction in neighborhood street flooding and basement back-ups.”

Towles Intermediate School to come up with possible names for the TBM.  Students voted to narrow the list to four, and the community voted online to choose a winner. MamaJo was an overwhelming winner with more than 43% of the vote.

Residents of all ages are showing interest in the tunnel, so MamaJo will host tours on Sunday, September 9, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the working shaft site near the intersection of Dwenger and Glasgow Avenue.

MamaJo, built by Herrenknecht at its Schwanau, Germany, facility, is expected to start her journey and begin digging the tunnel later this year. Completion of the tunnel boring is expected by 2021, and the intricate connection to the many neighborhood sewers by in 2023. The tunnel will be operational in 2023.

The deep-rock 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.

For more information, visit the project website.

RELATED: Fort Wayne Groundbreaking Marks Start of 3RPORT Project

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