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Work on city's 8-mile sewage tunnel gets underway

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Work is starting on an 8-mile-long tunnel under the south side of Indianapolis that is the first major part of a $1.6 billion project aimed at reducing the release of raw sewage into the city's rivers.

The plan calls for crews to bore the 18-foot diameter tunnel about 250 feet underground between a sewage treatment plant on the city's far south side to a location near the White River near downtown. The work is expected to take five years and be followed by four shorter tunnels that will contain water from the city's combined storm and sanitary sewers after storms until it can be treated.

"Any time any significant rainfall occurs, even a quarter of an inch, we're putting raw sewage in the White River and Fall Creek — conditions that we can't tolerate," Carey Lykins, president and CEO of Citizens Energy Group, parent company of the city water utility, told WISH-TV.

Crews have started prep work on digging the shaft for the tunnel and drilling work is expected to begin by late fall after gargantuan boring equipment arrives on 40 semitrailers for assembly, officials announced Wednesday.

The project is required under a 2006 agreement between the city and federal and state environmental agencies to reduce sewage releases into the waterways by 2025.

Los Angeles-based Aecom Technology Corp. was chosen last September for a $25 million contract to manage construction of the sewage overflow tunnel and pump.

When complete, city officials say, the 25 miles of tunnels will be able to store 250 million gallons during and after rainstorms and reduce untreated sewage overflow by at least 95 percent.

Kevin Hardie, executive director of the Friends of the White River preservation group, called the project a significant step.

Money for the project is coming from recent annual hikes in city sewer rates, including a 10.8-percent increase this year and a similar increase planned for 2013.

The drilling work deep underground isn't expected to draw much attention as officials say slight vibrations lasting a few hours or a day are the only thing residents might notice immediately above any work area.

Mayor Greg Ballard said he believed the completed project would make the city's rivers much cleaner and more attractive for recreation and development.

"It's going to put a lot more activities at or near the waterways," Ballard said. "That's the intent so that we can really use it as an economic development asset."

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  • What are the risks to underground water?
    What safeguards ensure raw sewage from this eight mile long tunnel doesn't leach into the aquifer? Might this be a case of "out of sight, out of mind," for the immediate future?

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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