Who is MamaJo?

No words in hair name under
No doubt, the hardest worker on Fort Wayne’s Deep Rock Tunnel project, at 24-hours a day, is the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).  Today, that worker has a name, and it’s MamaJo.
Derived from taking the first two letters from Fort Wayne’s three rivers, the Ma from Marys, Ma from Maumee and Jo from Joseph, MamaJo seems only fitting for a project that’s had an engineer's working title of the Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Reduction Tunnel (3RPORT).  And so MamaJo becomes the protector of our rivers.
Mining lore says that as far back as the 1500s, workers prayed to Saint Barbara for protection while working in the dark underground.  Since then it’s been tradition to name the tunnel boring machine.
Soon, MamaJo standing at a diameter of more than 20-feet and stretching more than 400-feet in length will begin her journey on one of the most significant public infrastructure projects in the history of the Community.  She will grind through bedrock to build a five-mile-long sewer tunnel, more than 200-feet under the earth’s surface, with an interior diameter of 16-feet.

Fort Wayne Famous!

The day MamaJo was officially given her name, MamaJo became famous. She was featured on TV, radio, and in the newspaper! Here are some of the places where she was featured:

Visit MamaJo

Earlier this year, City Utilities worked with neighborhood leaders and students at New Tech High School and Towels Middle School to come up with possible names for the TBM.  Students voted to narrow the list to four, and the community voted online to choose a winner.  MamaJo was an overwhelming winner with more than 43% of the vote. 
Residents of all ages are showing interest in the tunnel, and so MamaJo will host tours on Sunday, September 9, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the working shaft site near the intersection of Dwenger and Glasgow Avenue.   Look for more information about the tours in the coming weeks.

Going to Work

MamaJo is expected to start her journey and begin digging the tunnel later this year.  Completion of the tunnel boring is expected by 2021, and the intricate connection to the many neighborhood sewers by in 2023.  The tunnel will be operational in 2023.
The deep-rock tunnel is a significant portion of the effort to clean-up Fort Wayne’s rivers and protects neighborhoods from basement back-ups and street flooding. 

Combined Sewer - Sewer pipes designed to collect both sanitary wastewater and rain water runoff.  Construction of combined  sewers was the accepted practice from the early 1900s until the early  1970s when the Clean Water Act was passed and the Environmental Protection Agency was created.
Combined Sewer Overflow - When it rains, combined sewers do not have enough capacity to carry all of the combined wastewater (sewage) and rain water to the Water Pollution Control (sewage treatment) Plant and/or the Plant does not have enough capacity to accept and treat all of the combined sewage.  The combined sewer system was designed so that in these situations some of the combined sewage could be discharged into the nearest body of water – in Fort Wayne’s case one of the three rivers – creating a combined sewer overflow (CSO).
Consolidation Sewer - A near-surface sewer that will be constructed to collect sewage from several existing sewers that will direct sewage to a drop shaft that connects to the deep rock tunnel.
Construction or Open Trench - An excavation typically deeper than it is wide, dug to allow a sewer pipe to be constructed.  An open trench is the typical construction method for near-surface infrastructure.  Once the sewer pipe has been placed in the trench, the trench is filled with material that will hold the pipe in place – often called bedding material.  Then the trench is filled with topsoil and planted with grass or restored to a condition similar to that which existed before the trench was dug.
Cutter Head - The round structure attached to the front of a tunnel boring machine that holds smaller cutting wheels.
Dewatering Pump - A pump that removes water.  In the case of the Tunnel Works, a 30 million gallon per day (MGD) dewatering pump station will be used to drain wastewater from the tunnel after the tunnel is used during a wet weather event.  During large rain events, most of the wastewater collected in the tunnel will siphon from the tunnel into storage ponds near the Water Pollution Control Plant.  The wastewater that cannot be pushed to the surface through the action of the siphon will be pumped to the surface by dewatering pumps.
Drop Shaft - A four to eight feet diameter, vertical shaft that will provide the connection between near surface sewers and the tunnel, allowing wastewater to drop to the tunnel depth.
Near Surface Sewers - The system of sewer pipes and related structures located underground that may be within a few feet of the surface or as deep as 20 to 30 feet below ground.  Other non-sewer infrastructure located near the surface may include water lines, gas lines, buried electrical lines, fiber-optic cable and other buried utilities.
Outfall - The location where a flow from one drainage or sewer system enters into a larger system or into a body of water such as a creek, river or lake.
Pump Station - A structure containing pumps and piping, valves and other mechanical or electrical equipment for pumping water, wastewater or other liquids.
Regulator - A configuration of pipes within the combined sewer system that directs sanitary sewage to the Water Pollution Control Plant when it is not raining.  When it rains, a sewer system regulator functions to direct as much combined sewage as possible to the WPCP for treatment while allowing some of the combined sewage to be diverted to a river (or to the tunnel in the future).  By allowing combined sewage to be discharged from the sewer system or directed to the tunnel in the future, regulators help protect the Water Pollution Control Plant from being overloaded and help to reduce the likelihood of street flooding and basement backups.  The regulator may consist of a weir in a sewer line.
Retrieval Shaft - The location where the tunnel boring machine will complete its approximate 5 mile-long journey and will be dismantled and brought to the surface.
Siphon - A means by which liquid is lifted from a lower level to a higher level using the pressure and weight of the liquid itself to push the liquid up.  Liquid moving by means of siphon action does not require a pump.
Tunnel - An underground pipe that provides transportation and/or temporary storage of wastewater.  Tunneling is a construction method that involves little surface disruption.
Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) - A steerable machine with a round cutter head on the front and conveyors inside that cuts through bedrock and allows the cut bedrock to be removed from the back of the machine.  The machine cuts a round tunnel through the rock that can then be lined with concrete or other pipe material.
Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) - Also referred to as the sewage treatment plant, it is the facility that cleans and treats sanitary wastewater and combined sewage using various physical, bacteriological and chemical methods.  The cleaned water that leaves the plant must meet a variety of federal and state water quality regulations.
Wet Weather Ponds - Multi-million gallon constructed ponds where wastewater from the existing combined sewer system, and from the tunnel in the future, can be stored during wet weather.  When the wet weather ends, the combined storage that has been stored in the ponds can be pumped into the Water Pollution Control Plant for complete treatment.
Weir - a dam-like structure inside a combined sewer pipe located where two or more sewer lines come together that helps direct the flow of wastewater.  When it is not raining, the level of wastewater in the pipe is below the top of the weir and wastewater flows to the WPCP.  When it rains and the sewer pipe fills up, wastewater goes over the top of the weir.  The flow that overtops the weir is directed into a second pipe and may be discharged to a water body as a combined sewer overflow.  Once the tunnel is constructed, weirs will help direct sewage into the tunnel during most wet weather events.
Working Shaft - The location at the water Pollution Control Plant where the tunnel boring machine will enter the ground to begin its five-mile underground journey.

Read all  Fast Facts about the Tunnel Works Program here.

Find Questions and Answers about Tunnel Works Program here.

Check out the Tunnel Works route map here. 

Tunnel Graphic


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What are CSOs and where are they located?

Some cities, such as Fort Wayne, collect both rainwater runoff and sanitary wastewater in the same set of sewer pipes. These are called "combined sewers." Sometimes when it rains, combined sewers do not have enough capacity to carry all the rainwater and wastewater (sewage) to the Water Pollution Control Plant and/or the Plant does not have the capacity to accept all of the combined flow. In this situation, the combined wastewater then overflows from the collection system into the nearest body of water -- in Fort Wayne's case, into one of the three rivers -- creating a combined sewer overflow (CSO).
Combined Sewers serve many communities especially in the northeast and Great Lakes region of the United States. Fort Wayne has a typical combined sewer system. In Fort Wayne, combined sewers are found most in the older part of the City. Fort Wayne has 44 combined sewer overflow outfalls locations going to the three rivers and their tributaries.

combined sewers graphic


How do CSOs affect the Fort Wayne Community?

During dry weather, combined sewers that serve the older part of Fort Wayne carry sanitary sewage from homes and businesses to the Water Pollution Control Plant without incident. However, when it rains, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) happen due to the volume of water entering the pipe system thus pushing it past its capacity. As a result, river quality may be impaired by the untreated wastewater that discharges from combined sewers into the City's three rivers at overflow locations.
The main pollutants in CSOs are untreated human and industrial wastes, toxic materials like oil and pesticides, and floating debris that may wash into the sewer system. These pollutants can affect your health of anyone recreating in CSO-polluted water. The pollutants in CSOs can impair use of the rivers and cause a variety of bacteria-related illness. CSO pollutants are not just a human health concern, they also damage the environment of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic life.

How is the City managing and decreasing the impact of CSOs?

City Utilities is committed to updating and improving its sewer system to meet federal mandates and protect river water quality by significantly reducing the number of combined sewer overflow events (CSOs). Sewer system improvement plans are described in several documents that have been prepared by City Utilities and reviewed and approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) includes general descriptions of projects the City Utilities will construct to reduce the amount of combined sewage being discharged to the St. Joseph, St. Marys and Maumee Rivers during rain fall and snow melt.

The Capacity Management, Operations and Maintenance (CMOM) program is an outline of how City Utilities will maintain and operate the sanitary sewer systems.

The LTCP and the CMOM have been incorporated into a Consent Decree - a legally binding document entered into by the City Utilities, the US EPA, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the US Department of Justice. The Consent Decree may be enforced by a federal judge and it contains provision for City Utilities to be fined and penalized for failure to carry out the LTCP and the CMOM. The Consent Decree also outlines steps City Utilities will take to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows.


City Utilities also operates the combined sewer system according to a Combined Sewer System Operation Plan (CSSOP). This document was created to comply with the US EPA's Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy and specified many of the activities City Utilities undertakes to operate the combined sewer system.

 December 16, -- Workers completed the 1000th concrete ring.  You can see the connected concrete liner rings beind them in this photo. 

100th Ring


November 19, 2019 -- At the retrieval shaft near Foster Park a dusty road get's swept and a second dewatering tank arrives and is placed in the construction zone. That tanks assist with groundwater in the shaft. 

76003 2019 11 19 RS Mess on Old Mill Road from Bunn hauling shot rock pic 2 76003 2019 11 19 RS Dust off Street Sweeper

76003 2019 11 19 RS Another dewatering tank arrived on site at 944 AM 76003 2019 11 19 RS Second dewatering tan placed on site                 


Novemeber 18, 2019 -- Man basket and pump ready for lowering at retrieval shaft.

76003 2019 11 18 RS Preparing to lower man basket and pump into the shaft at 906 AM

November 6, 2019 -- Mamajo made 3/4 of a mile and is at the first drop shaft located at East Central Park. Photo shows Rock Bolt installation at Retrieval Shaft. 

MamaJo reaches DS 12 3 4ths of a mile2019 11 06 RS Rock bolt 14 in Row 9


October 31, 2019 – Equipment being lowered into the Retrieval Shaft to assist with pump installation.

 2019 10 31 RS Stiffler and Tuwah being lowered into the shaft to install a larger pump at 833

October 23, 2019 – Crews build security fencing on the north side of the Retrieval Shaft.

2019 10 23 RS Chain link fence being installed on north side of the site

October 16, 2019 – Workers at the Retrieval Shaft (Foster Park)  are drilling a hole for dewatering services. 

 2019 10 16 RS Contract Dewatering Services drill hole for H Pile at 934 AM on north side of site

October 9, 2019 – Worker securing a rock bolt at the Retrieval Shaft.

2019 10 09 RS Pressurizing Swellex Rock Bolt 11 in Row 8


September 10, 2019 – Work continues at the Retrieval Shaft (Foster Park) as it continues its downward construction. Photo shows worker examining the progress at an elevation of 650.5 above sea level.


August 14, 2019 – Work is progressing at locations throughout the route.  The night photo shows crews at the pump shaft (Dwenger & Glasgow) hanging pipe brackets down the wall.  Inside the tunnel crews continue to work as MamaJo moves forward. 

2019 08 14 tunnel cutting away the brushed under segment AB at ring 3152019 08 14 tunnel cutting away the brushed under segment AB at ring 315


August 8, 2019 – Work continues at the neighborhood drop shafts, the shafts will intercept flow that currently goes to the river and drop it down to the tunnel.  In this photo, grouting work is going on at drop shaft 6 near the Camp Allen Drive at West Main Street.

2019 08 14 tunnel cutting away the brushed under segment AB at ring 3152019 08 14 tunnel cutting away the brushed under segment AB at ring 315

July 25, 2019 – MamaJo under the Maumee near the Hosey Dam today.   Several members of the media visited to observe the progress.

WPTA Chad Video IMG 6265 WANE and NPR reporters July 25 Stephen july 25 2019

July 13, 2019 -  Above ground photo shows concrete liners in the distance and inside MamaJo you can se the liners going in place.

76003 2019 07 12 main site picking segments to lower into working shaft 76003 2019 07 13 tunnel assembling ring 214 

July 9, 2019 - Worker being lowered into the 65-foot diameter pump station shaft and photo of Mamajo's used cutterheads and new ones that will be used to continue cutting through the bedrock. 

76003 2019 07 09 pump shaft electricians hanging new electrical cables down the side of the shaft 76003 2019 07 09 tunnel new and removed cutter wheels

July 8, 2019 -- Rock removed after blast at retrieval shaft in Foster Park.

76003 2019 07 08 RS Shotrock removed from the Retrieval Shaft 3rd round blast

July 5, 2019 -- Photos below show sections of the concrete liner in place, pieces of liner ready for installation and a view inside MamaJo. 

From the catwalk looking down the line with TJCU of concrete liner connection rev lining pieces Looking down Mamajo Aisle


June 26, 2019 -- Work is simultaneious throughout the route of the tunnel.  From working shaft at Dwenger Avenue to the drop shafts along the five mile route to Foster Park -- site of the retrival shaft pictured below. 

June 26 RS Conditions at the bottom of the Retrieval Shaft at 707 AM

June 25, 2019 -- Installing rail system extension. 

June 25 tunnel bolting in a new rail assembly section

June 24, 2019 --  As MamaJo moves further away from the Working Shaft --  the rails system is essential to take workers to their daily job. The bottom photo shows a flatbed with concrte tunnel lining segments. 

June 24 train in tunnel

June 24 lining pieces on flatbed

June 22, 2019 -- Photo below is looking down the drop shaft located at Headwaters Park West.  There are 7 dropshafts along the five mile route of the tunnel.  Drop shafts will deliver combined sewage to the tunnel where it will flow to the wastewater plant for treatment. It keeps the combined sewage out of the river. 

June 17 ds9 shaft water

June 20, 2019 -- Follow MamaJo's story on the new Story Map. Cleic this link MamaJo Story Map

June 18, 2019 -- What does the reconstruction of Huffman Street, just off Wells, have to do with the tunnel?  The stone crushed and pulled out of the tunnel by MamaJo is the perfect fill for a road project and prevents us from spending extra to buy the fill rock. Huffman had a sewer separation project and this week; crews are reconstructing the street that was torn up for restoration. The first photo is looking west from Wells Street, and the second is looking east from Short Street.

 Huffman sewer sepaaration restore w tunnel stone 1

Huffman sewer sep restore w tunnel stone 2 looking east

 June 14, 2019 -- Photos show the additional slurry circuit installed and the segments being delivered via rail car into the tunnel for unloading. 76003 2019 06 14 Draining trombone to add additional slurry circuit pipe 4 76003 2019 06 14 Pushing the segments on rail car into the tunnel for unloading 3

June 13, 2019 -- Permeneant vent line was installed and is now connected to the gantry 12 (end of MamaJo, the Tunnel Boring Machine).  

76003 2019 06 13 Permenant vent line installed and running and connected to gantry 12 1

June 6, 2019 – MamaJo workers are extending the slurry lines and isecond photo looks down working shaft as final piece of MamaJo is in place. (photos at working shaft - Dwenger Avenue)

76003 2019 06 06 tunnel extending the slurry lines 76003 2019 06 06 working shaft gail end of gantry 12 visible in shaft


June 4, 2019 - Worker inside MamaJo installs segment ring in tunnel at Dwenger Avenue.

76003 2019 06 04 tunnel intalling a segment for ring 68

June 3, 2019 – First holes being drilled at Foster Park retrieval shaft.

76003 2019 06 03 First holes being drilled in the Retrieval Shaft for blasting


May 30, 2019 Lots of work going on around town -- below truck dlivers equipment to retrieval shaft at Foster while  crews are lining the drop shaft at Camp Allen, just south of Main Street in second photo.

76003 2019 05 30 RS Bunn Trucking delivering equipment to the Retrieval Shaft site Camp Allen Drop Shaft being LIned


May 29, 2019 - Workers scaling retrieval shaft walls at the Foster Park location.

76003 2019 05 29 RS Scaling Retrieval Shaft walls at bottom of Retrieval Shaft

 May 9, 2019 - Work continues as MamaJo moves forward to continue adding on the additional gantries. This week's photos show crews connecting Gantry 6 and the unloading of additional liner segments. 

76003 2019 05 08 Gantry 6 Working on Electrical Connections 1 76003 2019 05 08 Unloading Segments


April 19, 2019 -- MamaJo's first cut into bedrock.  Click on this link to see sheared rock coming out. MamJo's first cut into bedrock April 19  Click on this video for animation Animation shows cutterhead working


April 15, 2019 -- Gantries move the concrete liner pieces forward on a conveyor.  Each piece will be attached amd connected to make a ring.   Click on this link to vide annimation of how it works. Animation - How segments connect

2019 04 15 Gantry 4 Segments Staged 1a

April 1, 2019 -- View of iner pieces #2 and 3 are attached. These are the precast concrete ppieces we tshowed in earlier photos. Once attached, they have an inside diameter of approx. 16-feet. 

2019 04 01 Ring 2 and 3 are connected

March 27, 2019 -  Photo below shows first liner pieces being connected. Crews are working in the Tunne Boring Machine. 

1st liner pieces installed l3 27 19

March 20, 2019 -- Photo below shows the gantries placed in the pump station area.  The pump station is just east of the working shaft where parts of Mamajo are already connected. Gantries house the segment feeder to transport the concrete liner pieces forward for installation.  Gantries also house the slurry pump, control cabinet, the bentonite supply system and hydraulic pumps.

2019 03 20 Pump Shaft Gantries in Standby 1

March 12, 2019 -- Photo below shows three parts of Mamjo connected and preparing for the five mile journey. 

Mamjo showing length in Tunnell Mar 12 2019

February 11, 2019 - Last week two pieces of Mamajo were send down the working shaft.  The photo below shows the machine after some of the connections were placed. 

Shot looking at connections Feb 5 2019

February 4, 2019 -- Construction crews began lowering MamaJo through the working shaft on Dwenger Avenue.  High winds and sub-zero temperatures delayed lowering Mamajo, because of the weight of the cutterhead – 200 tons.  Finally, Mamajo was lowered down the 220-foot working shaft.  Here are two videos of the lowering and a photo below.  Click: MamaJo lifted to begin journey  Click:  Mamjo sits over Working Shaft before lowering

TBM Lowered into WS April 4 2019

December 18, 2018 -- Work continues on getting Mamajo ready to dig.  This photo shows the concrete linner pieces that will be instlaled as Mamajo progresses. The 5X7 foot pieces connect to become the tunnel liner. 

Linter pieces Dec 18 2018

October 25, 2018 -- Work continues at the working shaft and pump station shaft as well as the neighborhood drop shafts.  All but one of the drop shafts are under construction.  This photo shows the equipment in place at the intersection of Berry and Thieme.

.West Central 2

September 21, 2018 -- Work is beginning on the drop shaft in west central this week. Six of the seven neighborhood drop shafts are now under construction.   CLICK here to see VIDEO of recent MamaJo tour 9-9-18


September 10, 2018 -- A message from MamaJo:  "Thanks to all of you who came out to meet me on Sunday, September 9 -- and gosh there were a lot of you.  I'll NEVER remember all your names. You might have had to wait a long time to see me, but I hope it was worth it and that you didn't get too cold.  I've heard it can get really cold here in the winter so I'm looking forward to going underground before winter weather hits.

If you had your picture taken with me, please click here to download photos.  Our photographers are uploading the photos today and it may take a little time, so please be patient.  Thanks again for visiting me and I'm looking forward to keeping you updated as I prepare for my undergound journey." 

Jacobs teamJoe and AM

September 7, 2018 -- MamaJo is ready for visitors on Sunday May 9 from 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The tour takes about 35 minutes. Please -- no flip-flops. The tour will be by trolley with three stops. It takes about 35 minutes.  Parking is in front of the Pollution Control plant near the trolley boarding area. 

MamaJo WS a

August 31, 2018 -- Tour MamaJo on September 9.  Crews are working to get her ready for your visit.  Also, crews are busy working on drop shafts near Headwaters Park West and near Guildon park. Clik on the links to view videos. 

Prepping Mamajo,  Drop Shaft at Michaels Ave - Gilden ParkFlyover view of MamaJo

August 7, 2018 - Today City Utilities unveiled the name for the 400-feet long Tunnel Boring Machine – MamaJo! Voting was cast earlier this year and the name, MamaJo won with more than 43% of the vote. In addition, you will be able to see MamaJo in person! On Sunday, September 9, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the working shaft site near the intersection of Dwenger and Glasgow Avenue, City Utilities will be hosting tours of the site. More information to come.

July 26, 2018 - The working shaft is down about 220 feet this week and pump station shaft about 190 feet.  The neighborhood drop shafts are seeing a lot of acitivity and will be busy next week. At  Hale Avenue crews will begin phase III lining,  Camp Allen is at phase II - augering thorugh rock and the steel casing insertion will continue at East Central Park. View work at shaft site
July 18, 2018 - This week the tunnel working shaft is about 198 feet down and the Pump Station Shaft 173 feet down this week. The final destination is around 220 feet down. Work continues at a third neighborhood drop shaft near the intersection of Coombs and Cochran Street where a 50-ton steel casing (drop shaft liner) spanning 80 feet in length and 12 feet in diameter was delivered late last week.  Click to see casing crossing Tecumseh Bridge
July 18, 2018 - This week the tunnel working shaft is about 198 feet down and the Pump Station Shaft 173 feet down this week. The final destination is around 220 feet down. Work continues at a third neighborhood drop shaft near the intersection of Coombs and Cochran Street where a 50-ton steel casing (drop shaft liner) spanning 80 feet in length and 12 feet in diameter was delivered late last week.  Click to see casing crossing Tecumseh Bridge
July 11, 2018 --  Work will begin next week at the drop shaft just south of the Maumee River at River City.  The working shaft is about 180 feet down and the Pump Station Shaft 160 feet down this week. Click on this link Cutterhead in action -- to see the Tunnel Boring Machine being tested at the manufacturing plant in Germany.
Rock Pile July 10 2018
Rocks pulled from the tunnel drop shafts
June 29, 2018 -- Tunnel segments were constructed to build the first test ring for inspection.  This will be the 1-foot diameter interior wall of the tunnel. 









June 22, 2018 --  Progress continued at the two neighborhood drop shaft sites and at the working shaft sight.  Late in the week, heavy-rain slowed the project.  Click for aerial view of work near Water Pollution Control Plant.
June 15, 2018 -- The Drop Shaft at Camp Allen, near Main Street and the St. Marys River, is moving along.  This week a 50-ton casing was installed. Click here for video of Camp Allen Casing
TBM Police Escort 2
Pieces of the Tunnel Boring Machine arriving with police escort
June 8, 2018 --The working shaft and the pump station shaft are progressing on Dwenger Avenue.  The working shaft is at about 130 feet and pump station shaft is about 120.  Click on this link showing aerial video of the progress.
The Drop Shaft on Brown Street is under construction. Click to see the 50-ton, 70-foot casing at Brown Street.  It will collect combined sewage and drop it to the tunnel -- keeping it out of the St. Marys River. 
Work at Foster Park will begin again in September.  Equipment being used at the Pump Shaft will be moved to Foster for that work.

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