Located about 150 feet below Foster Avenue on Chicago’s North Side, the 5,800-foot Albany Park Storm Water Diversion Tunnel was designed to carry storm water from the north branch to the north channel of the Chicago River through a series of tunnels and shafts. The passive system uses gravity to carry the storm water overflow away from Albany Park.
“The tunnel was designed to resolve the river flooding disasters for the Chicago Albany Park neighborhood,” Jaramilla said.
WSP served as construction manager for the project, working on behalf of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). Construction of the tunnel began in April 2016 and was put into operation in May 2018.
Plans for the $62.8 million tunnel were unveiled shortly after a second 100-year storm struck the area in a five-year span, bringing substantial flooding and property damage in the process. The first storm hit the region in 2008, followed with a similarly powerful storm in 2013.
After construction crews completed blasting a 150-foot-deep shaft in River Park, a tunnel boring machine (TBM) was assembled underground, followed by work on the concrete lining of tunnel and shafts, completion of hydraulic structures and two full Chicago Park District restorations at River Park and Eugene Park.
The tunnel was mined by a 20-foot diameter TBM, comprising two hydraulic structures and shafts, with a mile of connecting tunnel through dolomite limestone beneath Foster Avenue.
As construction manager, WSP oversaw the installation of the inlet and outlet hydraulic structures, excavation for overburden at both shafts, controlled blasting for rock excavation, TBM mining operation, tunnel and shaft concrete lining and tunnel contact grouting.
The project also included a pump station with a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) surveillance system.
The tunnel demonstrated its value very soon after it became operational. “In May and June, the tunnel was operated multiple times to reduce the risk of the Albany neighborhood flooding from significant weather events,” Jaramilla said. “The Albany Park neighborhood did not flood.”
Surface restorations and park openings, including a new baseball field, were completed in August 2018.