On December 22, DC Water celebrated the completion of tunneling for its First Street Tunnel project. Skanska/Jay Dee Joint Venture’s 21ft (6.4m) diameter Herrenknecht TBM, named Lucy, took five months to mine the 2,700ft long tunnel alignment under First Street, NW, from Channing Street to Rhode Island Avenue. This tunnel segment will ultimately connect to the five-mile-long Northeast Boundary Tunnel in 2022.
“We are pleased to reach this important milestone in the project and are grateful for the continued patience of the impacted community,” said DC Water CEO and General Manager George Hawkins. “We will continue to work with the neighborhood to complete this essential project as soon as possible to provide flood relief for residents.”
From 2016 to 2022 the First Street Tunnel will store and then pump combined sewage up into the existing sewer system during and after rainstorms to keep it off of streets and out of basements. The First Street Tunnel is designed to mitigate flooding from undersized sewers in the Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park neighborhoods. It is part of the DC Clean Rivers Project aimed at significantly reducing combined sewer overflows to District waterways.
DC Water awarded the $157 million construction contract to Skanska/Jay Dee in 2013. Lucy was christened in a ceremony in April 2015 and began mining in the summer. Scott Hoffman, Skanska/Jay Dee Project Manager for the First Street Tunnel said the joint venture team was committed to this project and the challenge of conducting heavy civil work in a densely populated urban area. “We’re proud of the end result, and the positive impact it will have on the community,” Hoffman said. “It’s a great accomplishment to have Lucy finish the tunneling portion of the work just in time for the holidays.”
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Lucy was named honoring Lucy Diggs Slowe (1895-1937), a District of Columbia local and the First Dean of Women at Howard University in 1922. There, she established a women’s campus and influenced the appointment of women’s deans throughout the country. Prior to that, Diggs Slowe founded — and served as principal for—Shaw Junior High School in 1919, the first junior high in the District of Columbia school system. In addition, she was a decorated athlete, winning the American Tennis Association’s first tournament in 1919, making her the first African-American woman to win a major sports title.
This is the second DC Water TBM to complete its mission. In July 2015, Lady Bird completed a two-year, 4.5-mile trek to dig the Blue Plains tunnel segment.
Now Lucy will be dismantled and 99% of her parts will be recycled, while the tunnel is prepared for use. Work also continues to connect the existing sewers along First Street, NW to the new tunnel.