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Public tour to star tunnel digger MamaJo

September 8, 2018

The site of Fort Wayne’s Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Reduction Tunnel will be open to the public Sunday for those who want the chance to see MamaJo : the city’s tunnel boring machine : up close. 

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine, experts will be on hand to answer questions about the tunnel and the 400-foot-long, 20-foot-in-diameter machine. The machine was named MamaJo, an amalgamation of the first two letters of the names of each of the three Fort Wayne rivers, through a public poll. 

“It really is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity tosee a tunnel boring machine up close,” City Utilities’ Frank Suarez said.  

Visitors will be directed to park near the city’s water pollution control facility. Trolleys will transport guests to and from the site, Suarez said. Staff will take photos of visitors with MamaJo, which will be available for download on the city’s website. 

Excavation of the tunnel will start this fall and run five miles through the city to Foster Park. Once complete, it will reduce combined sewer overflows into the city’s rivers by about 90 percent.

The boring machine was constructed in Germany, shipped across the ocean to Indiana and will be assembled once it is lowered more than 200 feet into the working shaft at Dwenger and Glasgow avenues. Once underway, the machine will tunnel at 3 feet per hour, said TJ Short, City Utilities’ senior program manager for the project. MamaJo will run 24 hours a day, five days a week with scheduled maintenance on the sixth day. The goal is to average 71 feet per day. 

“We want people to see this,” Suarez said. “While the machine is owned by the construction company, it’s part of the project.” 

dgong@jg.net

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