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Akron, Ohio

Contest Announced to Name Giant Tunnel Boring Machine


Historically, Machines Named after Renowned Women in the Community

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of stephanie york
Published: 05-21-2015

            Akron, Ohio (Saturday, May 9, 2015) - Akron Waterways Renewed!, the City of Akron’s  billion-dollar initiative to address the City’s combined sewer overflows, today announced that it will hold a contest for Akron residents to name the giant Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) that will excavate a 27-foot diameter, mile-long tunnel under downtown Akron.

            The project includes two large tunnels, ten storage basins, seven sewer separation projects (four of which have been completed), and improvements to the Water Reclamation Facility.

            The largest individual project will be the construction of a $300 million 6,000 foot long Canal Interceptor Tunnel between the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath and Exchange Street.

            The initiative is the largest single investment in City infrastructure in Akron’s189 year history, has the potential to restore Akron waterways, the health of its environment, and the protection of its water to a level not seen in six generations. 

            “We hope the citizens of Akron will engage with us in making this a fun part of the project,” said Mayor Don Plusquellic. “Wherever I go around the world, these large tunneling projects have names for their machines that recognize local icons or the community’s historic individuals.”

            According to tunneling tradition, a TBM cannot start work until it is given a name. This tradition is carried out throughout the world and a TBM is generally named after a lady as a sign of good luck for the project ahead.

            For example, Seattle names its giant boring machine “Bertha.”

            Washington, D.C.  named its first machine “Lady Bird," a second one "Nannie" for its Anacostia River Tunnel, and recently announced that a third TBM will be named “Lucy,” after  the first dean of women at Howard University.

            Cleveland’s tunnel boring machine is “Mackenzie,” and “Marsha is the name used in Columbus.

            In St. Petersburg, Russia, the Tunnel Boring Machine was named “Martina.”

            In London, the TBM’s were Elizabeth and Victoria, with the Thames Tunnel being dug by machines named Mary and Sophia.

            “We want people to think about this being the largest construction project in Akron history, and come up with a name that is meaningful and that will honor someone who has meant something to this City,” said the Mayor.

            The announcement of the contest took place at the Blue Heron Homecoming, at Akron’s Water Reclamation facility today, where a mock-up of the 30-foot Tunnel was installed so that people could see how big the tunneling operation will be.

            The event featured more than 20 environmental hands-on exhibits and plant tours for families, in addition to welcoming back the flock of great blue herons that have populated the heronry at the sewage treatment facility since 1990..

            The Akron Waterways Renewed! Project Management Team will publish details of the contest on its website,

            Since 1987, Akron has spent over $300 million to improve its sewer system, including millions of dollars on engineering studies of the sewer system and the receiving streams to meet EPA requirements, including upgrades to Akron’s wastewater treatment plant, the Akron Water Reclamation Facility in the Cuyahoga Valley.

            Akron’s current Consent Decree requires a $1.4 billion dollar investment in the City’s environmental future, the largest single expenditure in its 189 year history, by remediating its combined sewer overflows. About 20% of Akron’s sewers were designed to carry both storm water and sanitary wastes in one pipe, and during a rain event, when the storm water contribution exceeds the capacity of the sewers, sewage overflows to streams or rivers.

            Akron’s Long Term Control Plan will improve the system by attempting to achieve zero untreated overflows in the typical year, improving water quality.


For further information, contact:
stephanie york
communications director
Phone: 330-375-2345
E-mail: [email protected]

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