Massive machine to soon begin building sewage treatment tunnel in Cleveland

'Mackenzie' to be lowered into tunnel

CLEVLEAND - Let the drilling begin! On Monday morning, crews with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) began lowering "Mackenzie," a 320,000 pound, 500-foot long boring machine, in place to drill a new three-mile long sewer tunnel.

It took several hours to position the machine down the 200-foot shaft to prepare it to begin on the Euclid Creek Tunnel.

Once completed, the tunnel is expected to hold 52 million gallons of storm and wastewater before that water is treated and sent into Lake Erie.

"After it's in place, Mackenzie will be attached to the main drive unit of the tunnel boring machine and then it will be moved into a starter tunnel, before being ready for operation," explained Doug Gabriel, Construction Program Manager for NEORSD in a news release.

That tunnel boring machine will dig about 50-75 feet per day. Using more conventional drilling methods, that amount of distance would take about a week. 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 NEORSD.

This is the last time the public will see Mackenzie until 2014, when the tunnel is scheduled to be completed at E. 185th Street and St. Clair.

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 E. 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 190-220 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.

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