The Milwaukee Northwest Side Relief Sewer was recently named a Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association (APWA). The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, managing agency, along with primary contractor Shea-Kenny Joint Venture and primary consultant Black & Veatch Corp. will be presented with the award during APWA’s International Public Works Congress and Exposition held in September in Kansas City, Mo.
APWA Projects of the Year awards are presented annually to promote management and administration excellence of public works projects by recognizing alliances between managing agencies, contractors, consultants and their cooperative achievements. This year APWA selected 19 projects in five categories: Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair, Environment, Historical Restoration/Preservation, Structures and Transportation.
Awarded in the Environment category, more than $100 million range, Milwaukee needed to develop a solution for aging and undersized sewer and storm water infrastructure, with the resulting sewer overflows and basement backups during wet weather. In 1998, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District formulated a farsighted proposal to accommodate growth, protect water quality and safeguard public health within its 420-sq-mile service area. The Northwest Side Relief Sewer was the number-one priority capital improvement project in the District’s 2010 Facilities Plan, and its successful completion is a key achievement in realizing the plan’s goals.
It took more than $121 million, longer than a year to dig, a machine powerful enough to cut a 22-ft-diameter hole through bedrock and thousands of truckloads of concrete to complete the massive project. More than seven years of planning, design and construction went into the 7.1-mile sewer tunnel, which serves seven northwestern Milwaukee County Communities. The project demonstrates important strategies to confront capital-intensive sewer overflow challenges, where available funding often falls short and pressure to meet regulatory compliance is intense.