300,000-pound boring machine called 'Mackenzie' to build new stormwater tunnel along Lake Erie

CLEVELAND - 'Mackenzie' is massive.

'Mackenzie' will also hopefully make Lake Erie safer.

'Mackenzie' is a 350,000 pound, 500-foot long tunnel-boring machine, unveiled Friday morning by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

The massive machine will build a new, nearly three-mile long sewer tunnel from Bratenahl to nearly Euclid called the "Euclid Creek Tunnel." The tunnel will hold 52 million gallons of combined stormwater and wastewater until it can be pumped out and treated before entering Lake Erie. That will hopefully prevent local beaches from being closed due to high bacteria levels following summer storms.

The massive project begins early next week. Once 'Mackenzie' is lowered by crane down a shaft, 200 feet underground, she won't be seen again until the project is completed in 2014.

Not only does the tunnel-boring machine move dirt, it also builds the pipe as it goes through the 27-foot diameter tunnel.

'It is a single pass tunnel-boring machine, which basically means that as the mining begins the machine is actually going to be building the pipe segments behind it as it goes,' said Kellie Rotunno, director of engineering and construction with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

The Euclid Creek Tunnel is the first in a series of storage tunnels being constructed as a part of Project Clean Lake, the Sewer District's 25-year, $3 billion program to drastically reduce the amount of combined sewage entering local waterways annually.

The Euclid Creek Tunnel will start in Bratenahl, south of Interstate 90, and continue northeast to the district's Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant. There, the tunnel will continue under Lake Erie for about 3,000 feet and pass under the shoreline near Green Creek at East 152nd Street. The tunnel will then head east, following Lake Shore Boulevard and Nottingham Road, and end at St. Clair Avenue.

The Euclid Creek Tunnel will be located 190 to 220 feet below ground. The tunnel will be 18,000 feet long, with a diameter of 24 feet.

The estimated cost of construction for the Euclid Creek Tunnel is $198 million.

Greater Cleveland's earliest sewers (primarily within the city and its inner-ring suburbs) are combined sewers. Built around the turn of the 19th century, these sewers carry sewage, industrial waste and stormwater in a single pipe.  During heavy rains, there is a dramatic increase of water flowing through the combined sewers. When this happens, control devices may allow some of the combined wastewater and stormwater to overflow into area waterways-such as Lake Erie and Euclid Creek-to prevent urban flooding. This event is called a combined sewer overflow, or CSO, and harms our clean water environment.

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