Michigan Ditch tunnel hits daylight

Boring machine photo via City of Fort Collins.
Boring machine photo via City of Fort Collins.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

The rotating cutting wheel of a custom-built tunnel boring machine began to slowly emerge from a mountainside around 5 a.m., said Owen Randall, chief engineer with Fort Collins Utilities.

The breakthrough was an exciting moment for crews that have been working on the 760-foot-long tunnel near Cameron Pass since June…

Crews still have four to six weeks of work to wrap up the project, which will carry Michigan Ditch and its valuable water to city-owned Joe Wright Reservoir.

Dismantling and removing a tunnel boring machine from the mountain will take three to four days. Hydraulic and electronic equipment used to operate the machine will be stripped from the tunnel before a 60-inch diameter pipe is installed to carry the water.

Weather could be a challenge as crews hustle to wrap up the project before heavy snowfall comes to the area. A few inches of snow fell last weekend, Randall said, but has since melted away…

Crews have been working on the project 24 hours a day since mid-September to make up for delays caused by equipment problems and the challenge of cutting through exceptionally hard rock.

Michigan Ditch provides the city with 2,000 to 3,000 acre-feet of raw water a year. The water is used to meet return flow obligations on the Poudre River mandated through various water-exchange agreements.

The market value of water supplied through the Michigan Ditch-Joe Wright Reservoir system is about $180 million, according to the city.

The tunnel project is in response to a slow-moving landslide that has been affecting the ditch for several years. Damage was especially severe in 2015.

City officials decided to protect the piped ditch by sending it through bedrock that the slide can’t affect. The project is expected to cost Fort Collins Utilities about $8.5 million.

For more information on the project, see http://fcgov.com/michigan-ditch-tunnel.

Joe Wright Reservoir (Courtesy of Dick Stenzel at the Applegate Group) and the City of Fort Collins.
Joe Wright Reservoir (Courtesy of Dick Stenzel at the Applegate Group) and the City of Fort Collins.

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