Go inside the giant tunnel now being dug under Southwest D.C.

November 26, 2013

Since July, a 442-foot-long machine named “Lady Bird” has been chewing through clay deep underneath the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant in Southwest Washington. It’s the first segment of 13 miles of 26-foot-wide tunnels set to be bored underneath the Anacostia River to keep sewage and storm runoff out of the waterway.

D.C. Water released has released a video looking at the earliest stages of drilling the tunnel, the most ambitious public works project that’s been undertaken in the city since Metro was built. Thus far, Lady Bird has moved about a quarter-mile up the river, and once a conveyor system is installed behind the machine to quickly move earth to the surface, she’ll dig about 40 feet a day northward. Soon, a second boring machine will start work, moving south from near RFK Stadium to meet up with Lady Bird’s tunnel at Poplar Point.

The Anacostia tunnels are set to be completed in 2022, with further wastewater relief for the Potomac River and Rock Creek coming after that, at a total cost of $2.6 billion. The project remains on time and on budget, D.C. Water General Manager George S. Hawkins told city officials today.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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