Work Proceeding on Waller Creek Tunnel
It was a full house this morning for an Urban Land Institute meeting on Waller Creek. The design competition for the above-ground portion of Waller Creek, including an inlet at Waterloo Park, an outlet at Lady Bird Lake and the creek itself, is nearly over. But below ground, there’s still plenty to do.
The tunnel being excavated under Waller Creek downtown will keep water at a steady flow and lift 28 acres out of the floodplain.
Joe Pantalion, deputy director of the city’s Watershed Protection Department, says the tunnel is 60 percent excavated.
“It’s not like cutting through butter, but pretty close,” Pantalion said.
He credits Austin’s chalk limestone for the excavating ease. It’s all the more impressive considering the 30-foot height of the tunnel
“Think about when you’re driving on MoPac or I-35, the clearance under the overpasses is on the range of 15 or 16 feet,” Pantalion said. “We’re almost twice that tall in the tunnel.”
Most of next year will be spent reinforcing the tunnel structure by lining it with concrete. But as of now, everything’s on track.
“We hope to have all the pieces connected — the inlet, the tunnel, the outlet — all by the end of 2014,” Pantalion said.
Above ground, the winning design for Waller Creek will be announced Oct. 16.