"Boring" project to make waterways cleaner - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

"Boring" project to make waterways cleaner

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INDIANAPOLIS -

One of the biggest construction projects in Indianapolis history is ahead of schedule and under budget.

You probably didn't even know it was happening, even though its been happening right under our noses for the past four months.

Getting to the action requires a trip in a metal basket 250 feet into the ground. That's where contractors are digging eight miles of tunnel under the city in a project that will eventually keep raw sewage from going into our streams and rivers whenever it rains.

It's a dirty job - in fact, it's all about dirt, limestone, and whatever else gets in the way.

A massive cutter blade is drilling an 18-foot wide channel that will eventually run five miles from downtown to the Indiana State Fairgrounds. It's a painstaking process, but it's going better than expected.

"So far, we've gotten between 200 and 300 feet a day, but we've had some days that are better than that, but overall, it's been roughly around 250," said Tim Shutters, Citizens Energy.

One day, they even did over 400 feet - a new world boring record. That's "boring" as in cutting a hole in the ground - not as in dull, repetitious or uninteresting.

In fact, back up on the surface, Mayor Greg Ballard says this project is life-changing.

"For too long, the neighborhoods industry has kind of turned their back on this issue and now they realize that our waterways will be something to build upon, not build around," Ballard said.

When the entire tunnel system is done around 2025, it will hold overflow raw sewage until water treatment plants can handle it. That will make local waterways cleaner and bring the city into compliance with federal environmental standards.

The 2025 completion date is a target - right now, contractors say they are on track to complete it a year ahead of schedule.

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