4-mile MSD tunnel project makes major ‘breakthrough’

4-mile MSD tunnel project makes major ‘breakthrough’
MSD is constructing a tunnel to carry the city's sewage and prevent overflows into the Ohio River and Beargrass Creek. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
MSD is constructing a tunnel to carry the city's sewage and prevent overflows into the Ohio River and Beargrass Creek. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The MSD Waterway Protection Tunnel started at 123th and Rowan streets. It will extend to Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive.
The MSD Waterway Protection Tunnel started at 123th and Rowan streets. It will extend to Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive. (Source: Vincent Bradford, WAVE 3 News)
A 900,000 pound tunnel boring machine, named “Bumblebee” in honor of Muhammad Ali, finally finished its 4-mile journey 200 feet underground
A 900,000 pound tunnel boring machine, named “Bumblebee” in honor of Muhammad Ali, finally finished its 4-mile journey 200 feet underground (Source: MSD)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A MSD project has hit a major milestone.

The excavation of the tunnel ripping through 625,000 tons of rock underneath the city of Louisville is complete, and the path is clear for MSD’s Waterway Protection Tunnel.

A 900,000-pound tunnel boring machine, named “Bumblebee” in honor of Muhammad Ali, finally finished its 4-mile journey 200 feet underground, before reappearing at the MSD site near Grinstead Drive and Lexington Road.

A marvel of construction machinery, the Bumblebee has spent 20 months cutting a path for the tunnel that will provide an additional 55-million gallons of storm and wastewater storage.

In the next couple of months, MSD will just be focused on getting Bumblebee out.

“We’ll take it apart piece by piece and bring it to the surface and then haul it away,” project manager Jacob Mathis said. “It will take approximately 55 semi tractor-trailer loads to haul Bumblebee away from this site to its next destination.”

The tunnel project is now about 3/4 of the way finished. Concrete tunnel walls will be the next addition, but MSD said the tricky part is over.

“When you’re excavating 200 feet below ground,” Mathis explained, “not being able to see in front of you, you never know what you’re going to encounter.”

Other than a potentially dangerous gas pocket crews encountered toward the end of the excavation, they said it went smoothly, but it did take a little longer than anticipated.

The full project is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

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Get the WAVE 3 News app on ROKU, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. (Source: WAVE 3 News)