Chicago Deep Water Tunnel

April 08, 2015

The Deep Tunnel

chicago deep water tunnelThe Deep Tunnel, or the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, is the largest public works project in Chicago’s history and one of the biggest in the U.S. The tunnel system is 130 miles long and each inch bored out of rock 350 feet below the surface. Thanks for letting us work on this project with you, City of Chicago. Cheers to a successful year!

Superlatives filled the air at the dedication of tunnels that had been constructed deep underground, the first section of a vast project to control water pollution and flooding in the Chicago area. “The Deep Tunnel is the largest undertaking of its kind ever attempted by mankind,” explains Jeffrey Currier, President of Great Northern Lumber, the lumber and plywood distributor of the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago, “the tunnel system, which is still under construction, will be 200 miles long when finished; its estimated cost is $3.8 billion.”

With the reversal of the Chicago River in 1900, the city’s sewage was directed away from Lake Michigan, its drinking water source. But during severe storms, sewage-tainted storm water still backed up into the lake. In addition, one of the consequences of the continued development of the flat metropolitan region was that storms frequently flooded basements—or worse. In 1954 and 1957, the Chicago River overflowed and flooded downtown Chicago.

The Deep Tunnel is designed to bottle a rainstorm by channeling storm water that overflows from sewers into the system’s tunnels, which are up to 38 feet in diameter. “The tunnels will connect with massive reservoirs,” explains Currier, “which are to be finished by 2025 and when complete, will have a capacity of 50 billion gallons.”

“I’ve always been driven by innovation and customer service,” declares Currier, “so in 1985, I saw an opportunity to take advantage of a total service concept that would incorporate distribution, manufacturing and re-manufacturing.” This idea gave the customer total control of ordering the exact quantity of lumber in the exact specifications they needed. Fast delivery was then provided directly to the customer by Great Northern Lumber’s truck fleet–and as a pioneer in “Just-in-time” delivery, Mr. Currier changed the way wholesale lumber entrepreneurs would do business—forever.