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Sewer tunnel project in Fort Wayne reaches halfway point

August 22, 2020 GMT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A massive machine that’s digging a sewer tunnel beneath Fort Wayne has reached the halfway point in the project that’s designed to capture sewage and precipitation runoff.

The machine, known as MamaJo, had carved its way through 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of bedrock by early Thursday, putting it halfway along its 5-mile-long (8-kilometer-long) route, the city’s utilities department said.

Once the $188 million tunnel is completed, it will be 20 feet (6.1 meters) in diameter and more than 200 feet (61 meters) beneath the northeastern Indiana city.

The tunnel will hold a billion gallons of combined sewage and runoff from rain and snowfall to prevent that waste from flowing into the city’s rivers, The Journal Gazette reported.

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The material excavated during its construction is being recycled and used for other projects throughout the city. The tunnel is the largest public works project ever undertaken in Fort Wayne, Indiana’s second-largest city.

It’s a key part of Fort Wayne’s $240 million long-term control plan to significantly reduce the number of combined sewer overflows that discharge into the city’s rivers. That control plan is part of an unfunded mandate by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce overflows by 90% by 2025.