Boston's Backup Water Supply

by Lawrence J. Bergen, Project Manager; Sverdrup Civil, Inc., Boston, Mass,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 3, Pg. 66-68

Document Type: Feature article


For fifty years, Boston's sole real source of water has been the Hultman Aqueduct, but now final design is almost complete on the MetroWest Supply Tunnel, a new, larger conduit that will provide a redundant supply and allow long-needed repairs to the aging system. Construction of the 14 ft diameter, 17.3 mi long, $350 million line is scheduled to begin late this year and continue into the year 2000. Although it will be built several hundred feet underground, the designer Sverdrup Civil, Inc., Boston, found this was more economical than other alignments. Underground, the line is free from the complications that a surface line would face, as the planned pipe would pass through many different commercial, residential, agricultural, historical and recreational properties. But moving underground created new questions, all of which had to be answered before the design could be considered complete: where should the shafts rise to the surface, how will the contractor proceed through some of the hardest rock in the U.S., should the tunnel be lined or unlined and finally, how to dispose of 1.4 million cu yds of rock spoil without tying up traffic.

Subject Headings: Water supply | Surface properties | Rocks | Aqueducts | Conduits | Underground construction | Scheduling | Economic factors | Boston | Massachusetts | United States

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