Tunnel Works & MamaJo

The Tunnel Works Program represents a major part of Fort Wayne’s efforts to implement the 2008 Long-Term Control Plan and associated Consent Decree with the US Environmental Protection Agency. The premier project—the deep rock tunnel—is currently being constructed in the bedrock deep below the city. The tunnel will collect and transport sewage from the combined sewer system to the sewage treatment plant. This sewage would otherwise discharge (overflow) into the rivers when it rains.

Who is MamaJo?

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.


MamaJo Tunnel Boring Machine

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:

MamaJo Tunnel Boring Machine Side View

Visit MamaJo

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, so MamaJo will host tours. Look for more information in the coming weeks.

Going to Work

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 protect neighborhoods from basement back-ups and street flooding.

Want to know more about Fort Wayne’s Tunnel Works? Email us at FortWayneTunnel@cityoffortwayne.org.