Fort Wayne sewage tunnel project completes latest phase

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The largest construction project in Fort Wayne’s history recently struck a new milestone with the conclusion of boring for a new sewer tunnel.

City officials and residents on Wednesday celebrated the work of MamaJo — a tunnel-boring machine deriving its name from three Fort Wayne rivers — that dug through roughly 5 miles (8 kilometers) of bedrock since February 2019, The Journal Gazette reported. The community event featured T-shirts and rocks that MamaJo had bored through.

The tunnel connects with 14 neighborhoods, storing and transporting sewage during heavy rain and reducing overflows into local rivers.

MamaJo’s tunnel has been the largest part of the project’s scope, Deputy Director of City Utilities Matthew Wirtz said. The 14-year construction endeavor has been decades in the making. The tunnel is slated to be fully operational by the end of 2023.

Once completed, the Deep Rock Tunnel will be able to handle 850 million gallons (3.2 million liters) of combined sewage traveling through it each day, city officials said.

The increased sewer capacity is expected to result in cleaner rivers and protect about 45,000 residents and 15,000 properties from basement backups and street flooding. The $188 million investment is expected to serve the city for more than 100 years.

MamaJo’s name comes from the first two letters of each of Fort Wayne’s rivers: “Ma” from the St. Marys and the Maumee and “Jo” from the St. Joseph River.