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Ship Canal Water Quality Project Reached a Major Milestone!

The Ship Canal Water Quality Project has been under construction since late 2018. On June 15 at 10:18 am, the project reached a major milestone – our 18-foot diameter tunnel boring machine, MudHoney, completed tunneling all 13,946 feet from Ballard to Wallingford!  

We couldn’t actually see MudHoney exit because the Wallingford shaft had to be filled with water to keep groundwater from rushing into the shaft. But the team was visibly excited (and relieved) as they saw the water churn at the ‘moment of breakthrough’. 

Workers in yellow high-visibility vests and white hardhats peer down into a large round concrete shaft with water churning at the bottom.
The moment of breakthrough – June 15, 2023.

Now that MudHoney has finished tunneling and installing the last few tunnel segments, the shaft has been emptied and crews will start taking apart our trusty tunnel boring machine. Our contractor is planning to sell MudHoney back to its manufacturer in Germany that has a process to refurbish it or at least reuse major pieces on future tunnel boring machines.  

MudHoney breaks through! SPU Project Executive Keith Ward describes MudHoney’s milestone tunneling breakthrough in Wallingford.

This project is a partnership between Seattle Public Utilities and King County Wastewater Treatment Division to build an underground storage tunnel to significantly reduce the amount of polluted stormwater (from rain) and sewage that overflows into the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Salmon Bay, and Lake Union from our sewer system. 

The Mudhoney tunnel-boring machine sits half-submerged in water at the bottom of a large round concrete shaft.
MudHoney has arrived in Wallingford.

Watch Seattle Channel’s video to learn about the 2.7-mile-long underground train ride along the 18-ft diameter tunnel built by MudHoney from Ballard to Wallingford. Check out the project website and SPU’s Flickr albums to get project updates.  

A large, round, red and white striped cutterhead is lowered onto the front of the Mudhoney tunnel-boring machine.
The MudHoney cutterhead was lowered into the Ballard shaft in 2021.