Tunneling machine completes 5-mile DC mission

A massive tunneling machine has done its job, digging deep below the District.

“It’s a monumental milestone for us,” said Carlton Ray, vice president of the Clean Rivers Project for DC Water.

The machine, named Chris, dug its way five miles from RFK Stadium up to Rhode Island Avenue, and then over to 6th and R streets Northwest.

“Chris performed flawlessly,” Ray said. “It mined as well as constructing the tunnel at the same time.”

The new section of tunnel, which is 100 to 160 feet below ground and more than 20 feet wide, will capture sewage overflows that would otherwise go into the Anacostia River, and will also reduce flooding in Northeast.

Digging on it began in 2018 and the section will go online in 2023.

In the meantime, Ray asks residents and businesses along Rhode Island Avenue to “please bear with us for a couple more years,” and also urges residents to continue supporting businesses in the area amid construction.

The tunnel-boring machine was named for Christopher Allen, the assistant director for the Clean Rivers Project, who passed away in 2017.

The work is part of a $2.7 billion program to improve the water quality of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and Rock Creek.

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