Blue Plains Tunnel Project


The Blue Plains Tunnel Project received the Engineering News Record (ENR) 2016 Best Project Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region for Water/Environment. The project was selected by industry judges that evaluated a large number of projects according to overcoming challenges, contribution to the industry and community, safety and quality.


The Blue Plains Tunnel was the first of DC Water's large tunnel contracts to go to construction. "Lady Bird" Tunnel Boring Machine, the First Lady of Clean Rivers, constructed 24,300 linear feet of reinforced concrete tunnel as part of the project.

Check out this great video of "Lady Bird" building the Blue Plains Tunnel.



"Lady Bird" Tunnel Boring Machine

"Lady Bird" Quick Facts Performance

26 feet, 4 inches diameter

Total length of 443 feet

1,323 Tons (equal to approximately 7.5 Boeing 747s)

Earth Pressure Balance Machine

Manufactured by Herrenknecht

Approximate $30M cost

Named after after Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson, First Lady and wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson

Christened with DC Water tap in a ceremony with former Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, US EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, District City Administrator and DC Water Board Chair Allen Y. Lew and DC Water General Manager George S. Hawkins

Mining start: 7/29/13

Mining end: 7/25/15

726 calendar days

24,300 foot drive

Bolted and gasketed concrete steel fiber reinforced segments

Mined successfully beneath sensitive structures

Mined predominantly through stiff clay

Moved approximately 13 million cubic feet of soil for this project - enough material to fill the reflecting pool 14.5 times

Moved 72,500 truckloads of soil

Project Location Map


clean river
Clean Rivers

The Clean Rivers Project is DC Water's ongoing program to reduce combined sewer overflows into the District's waterways - the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and Rock Creek. The Project is a massive infrastructure and support program designed to capture and clean water during heavy rainfalls before it ever reaches our rivers.

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April 24, 2023

Monday 9:00 AM

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