East Side Big Pipe Project
The City of Portland broke ground on the East Side Big Pipe project in 2006. It is the largest sewer construction project in Portland history. The $464 million East Side Big Pipe was the last in a series of projects dating back to 1991 to control combined sewer overflows (CSOs) to the Columbia Slough and Willamette River.
The joint venture Kiewit-Bilfinger Berger (KBB) was the city's contractor on the East Side Big Pipe Project. KBB used a 300-foot long tunnel boring machine with a 25-foot diameter cutter head to construct the nearly 6-mile long tunnel. The tunnel parallels the east bank of the Willamette River from SE 17th and McLoughlin to Swan Island at an average depth of 150 feet. The interior of the finished East Side Big Pipe is 22 feet in diameter.
The machine began mining in June 2007 at the Opera Shaft near the Portland Opera Building on SE Water Avenue, which is also the East Side Big Pipe Project construction headquarters. The tunnel boring machine reached Swan Island to complete the north drive in October 2009.
The project contractor removed the machine from a tunnel shaft on Swan Island and barged the machine upriver back to the Opera Shaft to begin its south drive to a tunnel shaft at SE 17th and McLoughlin. The tunnel boring machine completed tunneling in October 2010 and the city activated the East Side Big Pipe in fall 2011.
The project included construction of seven tunnel access shafts, new connecting pipelines and the Portsmouth Force Main, which will convey sewage from the Swan Island Pump Station to the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant.