MSD Waterway Protection Tunnel Project: Key piece of machinery’s name inspired by Muhammad Ali

Bumblebee will borrow through four miles of solid bedrock, 18 stories underground.
Bumblebee weighs more than 800,000 pounds.
Bumblebee weighs more than 800,000 pounds.(MSD)
Updated: Nov. 6, 2018 at 9:19 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Louisville Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District’s (MSD) Waterway Protection Tunnel Project can move to the next phase now that an important piece of equipment has arrived.

The arrival of a key piece of the 412 foot tunnel boring machine named “Bumblebee”, a 22-foot diameter cutterhead, was celebrated a ceremony on Monday. The machine’s name was inspired by Muhammad Ali’s famous quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” The name was chosen as a part of a naming contest MSD conducted among its employees.

Bumblebee weighs 885,000 pounds, has a cutter head 22 feet in diameter and has a machine thrust of 3,530,000 pounds.

“The Champ famously would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” Tony Parrott, MSD Executive Director, said. “And our tunnel boring machine similarly will move virtually unnoticed 18 stories underground while performing a big job for the community.”

The tunnel will stretch from 12th and Rowan Streets to Grinstead Drive and Lexington Road.
The tunnel will stretch from 12th and Rowan Streets to Grinstead Drive and Lexington Road.(Louisville Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District)

MSD said parts for the machine have been arriving in the Derby City over the last month. A crane will lower the parts into shafts at the construction site at 12th Street and Rowan Street. The parts will be assembled underground.

The excavation phase of the Waterway Protection Tunnel will begin later this month, according to MSD. The Waterway Protection Tunnel begins near 12th and Rowan streets, stretches east, generally along the river to Butchertown, where it will turn southeast and extend to near Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive.

The tunnel is expected to help keep sewage out of the Ohio River.
The tunnel is expected to help keep sewage out of the Ohio River.(Louisville Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District)

“Tunnel boring projects are wonders of engineering and technology, and we are excited to bring this type of solution to Louisville to help create safe and clean waterways, Parrott said.

Bumblebee will drill through four miles of solid bedrock, 18 stories underground.

Four storage basins will be replaced by the tunnel.
Four storage basins will be replaced by the tunnel.(Louisville Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District)

The $200 million Waterway Protection Tunnel is expected to keep wastewater and stormwater from overflowing during times of heavy rain, thus reducing pollution in Beargrass Creek and the Ohio River. MSD said it will be able to hold 55 milion gallons of wastewater and stormwater. The Waterway Protection Tunnel will help keep Louisville waterways safe and clean by preventing 439 million gallons of pollution from entering the Ohio River and Beargrass Creek in a typical rainfall year, according to an MSD press release.

The tunnel is set to be operational by the end of 2020.

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