Waynedale Political Commentaries


Construction crews lowered the first piece of MamaJo into the ground on February 4, 2019.

Progress continues on Fort Wayne’s deep rock sewer tunnel project. The deep rock sewer tunnel is a significant portion of the effort to clean Fort Wayne’s rivers and protect neighborhoods from basement back-ups and street flooding. The project also supports our community’s renewed interest in riverfront usage and development. When completed, the tunnel will reduce, by more than 90 percent, the amount of combined sewer overflow going into our rivers. That’s a reduction of more than 850 billion gallons on average each year.

Construction crews at the working shaft of the sewer tunnel lowered the first piece of MamaJo, the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), into the ground on February 4th. The cutterhead was hoisted down the 220-foot working shaft. At 200 tons and 16 feet long, the cutterhead is one of the many pieces that will make up the TBM.

Standing at a diameter of more than 19 feet and stretching more than 400 feet in length, MamaJo will begin her journey on one of the most significant public infrastructure projects in the history of Fort Wayne. She will grind through bedrock to build a five-mile-long sewer tunnel, more than 200 feet under the earth’s surface, with an interior diameter of 16 feet.

Crews will continue lowering pieces and connecting them underground over the next two months. Full assembly of the TBM should finish by early spring of this year.

Completion of the tunnel boring is expected by 2021, and the intricate connection to the many neighborhood sewers in 2023. The tunnel will be operational in 2023.

The name MamaJo takes the first two letters from Fort Wayne’s three rivers, the Ma from Marys, Ma from Maumee and Jo from Joseph. Residents can learn more and get tunnel updates at www.fortwaynetunnel.org.

To continue on the topic of cleaner water, I am honored to have received the 2019 National Environmental Achievement Award for Local Public Service from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for efforts to protect water resources, clean our rivers and reduce energy costs.

The award recognizes public officials at the local, state and federal levels of government who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to service in their community and protecting the environment. This year, NACWA honored five public servants with the award, one at the federal level, two state leaders and two local leaders from across the country.

NACWA officials cited that the award was based on efforts that have made a difference in neighborhoods throughout the community through efficiencies by creating non-traditional sources of revenue through the methane power generation program, success in bringing affordable, quality water to all residents through acquisition and consolidation, and improvements that have spurred interests in riverfront development.

My support of City Utilities initiatives have led to the updating of aging infrastructure, protecting our water resources, reducing runoff pollution from our waterways, recapturing waste to create energy, and building improvements to protect neighborhoods from street flooding and basement backups. Environmental stewardship at our plants saw the installation of power efficient lighting and HVAC systems.

These environmental achievements will serve the community today and for generations. They bring quality, reliable water, and sewer services to residents, support economic development and job creation and are leading to riverfront renewal.

Eco-friendly improvements are an investment in our future with many of them resulting in not only environmental protection but cost savings that have a downward effect on rates. As an example, the savings netted through the methane generation to power portions of our Water Pollution Control Plant, top more than $1.2 million in our electricity bill.

The Fort Wayne UNITED Late Night Basketball League will return for its spring session for teens and young adults, ages 16 – 25. The program runs from 8 -11 p.m. each Saturday evening February 16 through March 23. The Fort Wayne UNITED Late Night Basketball League is held at the Renaissance Pointe YMCA, 2323 Bowser Ave. Sponsors are the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, City of Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Police Department, Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Papa John’s, Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast, and Parkview Health.

The league focuses on providing teens and young adults with a positive, structured and safe environment while exposing them to much more than basketball.

Fort Wayne UNITED is a Mayoral initiative that places two national efforts, Cities United and My Brother’s Keeper, under one umbrella. It is designed to answer the call to enhance opportunities, advance youth advocacy and help create a safer city for all, but more specifically for black men and boys. By bringing together a group of passionate and committed leaders, the initiative will educate, inform and engage the community in an effort to make positive change one neighborhood at a time.

Fort Wayne UNITED’s vision is for every black male in Fort Wayne to be respected and valued with an opportunity to reach their full potential. The mission is to advocate for and implement policies, practices and procedures to ensure equity and opportunity for black fathers, brothers and sons at home, work, school, and the community through collaborative efforts.
For more information, visit www.FortWayneUNITED.org.

Tom Henry - Fort Wayne Mayor

A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer