A 20-ft diameter tunnel cutterhead that will be used to drill through bedrock was the backdrop for a press conference Nov. 27 announcing that Indianapolis’ largest public works project is well under way and could be finished a year ahead of schedule. Mayor Greg Ballard joined project owner Citizens Energy Group to make the announcement at the construction site for the Deep Rock Tunnel Connector on South Tibbs Avenue.
“By looking at the construction site today, it’s hard to believe we broke ground just six months ago,” said Carey Lykins, President and CEO of Citizens Energy Group. “If things continue as planned, the Deep Rock Tunnel Connector could be finished one year ahead of schedule.”
Construction at the Deep Rock Tunnel Connector’s job site began in April. Since then the launch shaft has been dug to a depth of 250 ft. Currently, the contractor is excavating horizontally underground in order to make room for the assembly of the tunnel boring machine, supplied by The Robbins Company for contractor Shea/Kiewit. Part of the machine, including its cutter head, arrived from Mount Pleasant, Pa., last week. The rest of the machine will arrive in mid-December carted by nearly 40 truckloads.
“The Deep Rock Tunnel Connector is the largest sewer infrastructure project in the city’s history,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “It is part of our Combined Sewer Overflow Consent Decree that we renegotiated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management, resulting in savings to Marion County residents of nearly $800 million. Now this project will bring cleaner water to residents even sooner than anticipated.”
Once the machine arrives, pieces will be lowered down the newly constructed launch shaft. Each piece will be bolted together to create a 450-ft tunnel boring machine. Boring is scheduled to begin in early January and will take 18 months to complete. The machine will bore nearly 100 ft each day. When boring is complete, the tunnel will be lined with concrete, a process that could take 20 months.
The Deep Rock Tunnel Connector is the first segment of a 25-mile underground tunnel system designed to store 250 million gallons of raw sewage and prevent overflows into area rivers and streams. This segment alone will be able to capture and store over 50 million gallons to be delivered for treatment at our Southport Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. After the Deep Rock Tunnel Connector is complete, construction will begin on the White River and Lower Pogues Run tunnels followed by the Fall Creek and Pleasant Run tunnels. The entire tunnel system will be complete by 2025.
“Standing here today, the year 2025 seems like the distant future. It will be here before we know it, however, and when this project is complete the citizens of Indianapolis will reap the benefits of cleaner water for generations to come,” said Lykins.
For more information about the Deep Rock Tunnel Connector or the underground tunnel system, visit IndyTunnel.com.