Crew making quick progress on Citizens Energy sewage tunnel

The giant sewage tunnel that’s behind an impending rate hike by Citizens Energy Group is ahead of schedule.

otr-deep-rock-tunnel-15col.jpg The $1.6 billion Deep Rock Tunnel is the largest public-works project in the city’s history. (Photo courtesy of Citizens Energy Group)

The Deep Rock Tunnel crew, which started work about a year ago, is boring about 100 feet more per day than was anticipated, Citizens spokeswoman Sarah Holsapple said. By May 31, the tunnel was under Harding Street just north of Banta Road.

While the speedy work puts Citizens closer to its goal of keeping raw sewage out of streams, it probably won’t lower the cost of the $1.6 billion project, Holsapple said. The first, eight-mile stage of the tunnel is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2017, but that date could move up if work continues at this pace, she said.

The Deep Rock Tunnel is the largest public-works project in the city’s history, and Citizens customers are already paying for the first phase, which cost $444 million.

Citizens has asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for permission to raise the average monthly water rate 10 percent, from $31 to $34, and wastewater-treatment rates 47 percent, from $30 to $44. The majority of the sewage-rate hike is tied to the tunnel.

Citizens hopes the IURC will rule in time for the new rates to take effect in 2014.

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