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Drill digs hole marking start of Deep Rock Tunnel project

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Work on the biggest utility project in the city's history officially started Tuesday morning.

A large drill broke into the ground, creating a hole 75 feet deep near the intersection of Glasgow and Dwenger Avenues, east of downtown.

"We're actually going down," Program Manager TJ Short explained. "Up to this point we've been moving dirt around to get everything spread out, leveled, and prepared."

"Today, they're actually excavating through the soil portion, which is about 70 feet and then we're excavating about 5 feet into the limestone bedrock," Todd Webster from CH2M Hill added.

After the hole is cleared and reinforced, the attention turns to the machine that will create the 5-mile long Deep Rock tunnel. That tunnel will collect 90% of sewer overflow that otherwise goes to the St. Marys and Maumee Rivers. It will run from Foster Park to the Water Pollution complex at an angle so the water will flow one direction.

The goal of the project: cleaning up river water and prevent flooding in streets and homes.

It will take years to complete, but there is now proof work is underway.

"It's exciting," Short said enthusiastically. "You know, construction... it's the most fun part of the project. It's the most exciting part, no doubt."

The word "exciting" was expressed by many at the project site Wednesday. The workers know it's the biggest project in the city's history and are aware of the effect it will have on the community.

"It's exciting," Webster also said. "The whole goal again is improving the environment, improving the water quality of the rivers, so we're excited to be a part of that."

Tunneling will begin in 2018. The system is expected to operational in 2023.

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