When the BBC Plata docked at the Port of Cleveland this week, she was carrying a cleaner Lake Erie in her cargo hold.
This week, the Port of Cleveland welcomed a ship from Dalian, China containing the pieces of a disassembled tunnel boring machine, known as a TBM, that will mine our Westerly Storage Tunnel starting later this year, the latest Project Clean Lake tunnel in the works.
Four of its largest pieces — a 29-foot wide cutterhead and three large shields that will encase it when fully assembled — were loaded onto a barge and shipped up the Cuyahoga River September 5 to the shaft where the TBM’s journey will begin. It was a sight to behold as the massive plastic-wrapped components meandered their way along the crooked river towards the University Road shaft site.
Besides the barge, an additional 40 truckloads of equipment will be hauled to the same location to begin the TBM’s underground reassembly where it will become the 265-foot long, two-million-pound behemoth it was built to be.
The $135 million Westerly Storage Tunnel will be more than two miles long and 27 feet wide when finished in 2020, capable of storing more than 300 million gallons of sewage and stormwater for treatment in a single year, thereby preventing combined sewer overflows from polluting Lake Erie.
It’s the first Project Clean Lake tunnel constructed on Cleveland’s west side, but the fourth tunnel constructed as part of the 25-year, $3 billion investment in our region’s sewer infrastructure.
These tunnels are designed to reduce pollution, but these projects are also job creators: The tunnel’s prime contractor, Jay Dee-Obayashi JV, has committed nearly $21 million to our local subcontracting community, not to mention hundreds of construction workers from right here in Northeast Ohio.
Over the last two months, the BBC Plata navigated from Dalian, China to Cleveland, Ohio with several stops along the way. The time it will take to reassemble the TBM before its new underground journey begins is about the same. Eight weeks.