The 300-foot machine that will dig the tunnel for the Blacksnake Creek Combined Sewer Overflow project was on display Wednesday at the project’s launch site.
The tunnel borer, nickname “Carrie” after the wife of one of the owners of the contractor that will be doing the work, was built brand new in China, shipped to Seattle over a month and trucked to St. Joseph over the last several weeks.
An open house was held Wednesday at the site, near the Remington Nature Center, where members of the public and city officials came to view it.
Site Superintendent Greg Rehak said contractor Super Excavators is preparing the machine to begin its 6,700-foot, subterranean journey.
“Right now ... we’re doing an assembly on top, tomorrow we’ll have a large crane come in and start setting the pieces and we’ll put it together,” Rehak said. “We’ll tie it together electrically and hydraulically ... and then we’ll begin our boring.”
The machine will dig and create a pipe that will eventually carry water from Blacksnake Creek to the Missouri River in order to prevent fresh water from getting into the city’s treatment plant, possibly causing overflows.
Rehak said the front of the machine is like a drill bit.
“That whole section spins and what that’s doing is it’s cutting the earth, as it’s cutting the earth we’re shooting out what we call ground conditioning, which is a foam we use to make the ground a little more fluid,” Rehak said.
He said the machine then feeds the earth through itself to be collected and taken out of the pipe in trucks. As the machine digs, workers will be installing the 108-inch diameter pipe behind it, which it actually uses to propel itself.
It will start boring under MacArther Drive in about three weeks, but won’t reach its destination near a drop shaft at Second Harvest Community Food Bank until February of next year.
The $67 million Blacksnake CSO project is part of a larger Longterm Control plan mandated by the Environment Protection Agency to limit water pollution.
Rehak said he believes in the project because it is good for the planet.
“This project is good because it’ll impact the environment by separating the sewers,” Rehak said. “It will cut down on the overflows in this area which is great for the environment.”