The Tunnel that Cleaned Up Chicago

by Rita Robison, Assoc. Ed.; Civil Engineering—ASCE, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1986, Vol. 56, Issue 7, Pg. 34-37

Document Type: Feature article


The 1986 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award went to Chicago's Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) Mainstream Tunnel and Pumping Station. The $975 million project is part of the larger TARP project that intercepts stormwater in deep tunnels, stores it, then sends it through an existing treatment plant. In the first year of operation, the Mainstream Tunnel eliminated 80% of the combined sewage pollution proble ms throughout Chicago and 15 nearby suburbs, a 204 sq mile area. The 31 mile long Mainstream Tunnel, 13 to 33 ft in diameter, is the largest hardrock system on record. The pumping station is the largest ever built underground, with twin chambers 270 ft long, 64 ft wide and 90 ft high. Phase II of TARP will further solve water problems by controlling the flooding that occurs during heavy storms, channeling the water into surface reservoirs. TARP is owned and operated by the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago. Harza Engineers are principal consultants.

Subject Headings: Pumping stations | Stormwater management | Tunnels | Consulting services | Reservoirs | Awards and prizes | Existing buildings | Sewage | Chicago | Illinois | United States

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