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Like a Cicada, Chris the Tunnel Boring Machine Emerges

Image of the tunnel boring machine cutterhead.
May 04, 2021

After a three-year, five-mile journey below the District, “Chris” the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) has finished excavating the Northeast Boundary Tunnel. 

Now crews will break him into 20 smaller pieces and use a crane to lift him to the surface at the R Street, NW construction site where he will be transported away. This process will run between May and June 2021 following three years underground – not as long as a Brood X cicada but still a long time away from daylight. 

Each truck transport will carry one or two parts of the TBM’s cutterhead and middle shield sections and there will be some traffic impacts during these late night hours. Up to two deliveries will be scheduled per evening between 11 PM and 3 AM. The remaining parts of the TBM will be moved through the Northeast Boundary Tunnel to the shaft near RFK Stadium, where Chris’s work began. 

The first removal of the TBM parts will occur on or about May 6, 2021. The parts will be hauled on a flatbed truck and escorted by vehicles and flaggers to help navigate turns, if necessary. Short duration road closures will occur along the haul route and temporary detour routes will be in effect until the truck passes. 

The truck route begins at the R Street construction site at Rhode Island Avenue, NW near 6th Street NW, heads south on Florida Avenue, NW to New York Avenue, NE. The truck will merge onto I-295, exit on East Capitol Street, SE and stop at the project construction site near parking lot 8 of RFK Stadium.  

Map: The dotted blue lines represent the truck haul route from the R Street NW to CSO 019 near RFK Stadium. 

Project Details 

The Northeast Boundary Tunnel (NEBT) is the largest component of the Clean Rivers Project. It begins south of RFK Stadium and extends north to Rhode Island Avenue NE and west to 6th Street NW. The tunnel was excavated by “Chris” the tunnel boring machine (TBM). Its five-mile journey began in 2018 at the CSO 019 construction site located south of the RFK Stadium. It reached its destination in the Shaw neighborhood in April 2021.  Once the NEBT is connected to the other Clean Rivers tunnels, combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia River will be reduced by 98 percent. In addition to controlling combined sewer overflows, the construction of the Northeast Boundary Tunnel will reduce the chance of flooding in the areas it serves from approximately 50 to 7 percent in any given year. 

For more information, please contact 

Email: dccleanrivers@dcwater.com 

24/7 NEBT Hotline: (800) 988-6151 

Northeast Boundary Tunnel Project Website: dcwater.com/NEBT