Fort Wayne breaks ground on project to clean up river, protect n - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Fort Wayne breaks ground on project to clean up river, protect neighborhoods

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

Fort Wayne will be digging down to clean up its rivers and protect residents from flooding.

The City of Fort Wayne broke ground Thursday on the largest construction and public investment project in the City’s history. 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. 

“The tunnel project will have significant environmental and economic benefits for generations to come,” said Mayor Henry. “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.”

Already-approved sewer utility rate hikes will pay for the $188M tunnel designed with a life expectancy of 100 years.

ABC21 previously reported on the project, getting an inside look on what the tunnel will look like. Indianapolis started work on a sewage tunnel in 2011 to better handle sewage overflows during heavy rain events. 

READ MORE: A glimpse at what Fort Wayne's tunnel project might look like

Matthew Wirtz, Deputy Director of City Utilities, said the project should greatly reduce the amount of combined sewer overflow going into the rivers.

“We know that in four to six years we will see a 90 percent reduction in the amount of combined sewer overflow going into our rivers – a reduction of more than 850 billion gallons on average each year. That will benefit the entire community and our waterways as well as those downstream all the way to Lake Erie.  We also know that in the next four to six years we will see a reduction in neighborhood street flooding and basement back-ups. The tunnel will directly help 30 neighborhoods, 15,000 properties and around 45,000 residents,” Wirtz said.

The project is beginning with the building of a construction building. The building is expected to be completed this fall. The working shaft will begin in Spring 2018. In the summer of 2018, pieces of the Tunnel Boring Machine will be delivered. It will be placed in the ground after assembly and is expected to begin its journey in late summer 2018. The project will also include nine drop shafts in several neighborhoods. 


  • 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
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