Racks to remove large debris from Waller Creek tunnel get their first test

Waller Creek (KXAN Photo)
Waller Creek (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As heavy rains move in overnight Monday, the Waller Creek tunnel project will be using a new feature to help storm waters flow easier into the tunnel.

The tunnel itself has been operational since 2015, but there are still parts of it that need to be completed.

Last spring, there were some trash racks that removed large debris from entering the tunnel that were still not operational, but Monday night will be the first night to test it against a large rain event.

In terms of the entire tunnel project, the Fourth and Eighth Street inlets that would help divert water are still finishing up construction and cleanups.

At the Waterloo Park inlet, where the tunnel begins, electrical work is still being finished. That work will eventually allow the trash racks that remove debris to function normally.

“When it rains and the creeks starts rising it’s going to carry a lot of floatable — some trash with it and these are the things that would normally block or clog the bar screens,” Ramesh Swaminathan, managing engineer says. “Previously since we did not have the bar skirts we didn’t have them to remove the floatables away, now that we have that it’s going to allow the water to go inside the bar screens.”

The new trash racks will again allow water to flow more freely. The whole tunnel project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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