A look 140ft. below the City of Charleston at Market Street drainage project

Published: Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:03 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:04 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The multi-million dollar project to fix the flooding on Market Street is two months ahead of schedule.

The City of Charleston invited media down into the tunnels to see what they've been working on all these years.

At the start of our journey we were lowered down the entrance of the tunnel systems, 140 feet below the City of Charleston.

The tunnel entrance is at the intersection of Market and Concord Streets where we got our first look at what crews have been working on.

Cliff Kassouf, a contractor for Triad Midwest Mole said, "We brought our tunnel machine to the site and started down in this direction. This is the Concord run down this way. This tunnel goes 28 hundred feet or half a mile and ends at the pump station right next to the Dock Street Condominiums."

All of the storm water in the Market Street area will be funneled through the massive tunnels.

Crews dug 12 feet diameter tunnels and the finished pipeline will be 9 feet in diameter.

"So they'll be an approximate one foot thick wall concrete tunnel poured down this run," said Kassouf, "the finished product all you'll see is a concrete circle all the way to the other end."

Surprisingly the temperature was comfortable because of an air conditioner up top.

Pointing to the ventilation line, Kassouf said, "We force air into the work area for the men."

The group took a train along temporary tracks under Market Street to see the specially made tunneling machine that has been moving all the dirt.

Kassouf said, "The tunneling machine has a big wheel that turns in the dirt and bring spoils up in buckets and dumps it on that conveyor. That conveyor then transports it back."

Crews are two months ahead of schedule and the tunnels will be ready by August of 2014.

"Everyday's a challenge underground, but things have gone very well here," said Kassouf.

All of the current work is phase 2 of the project. Workers will soon construct tunnels where Anson, State and Church Streets intersect Market Street. Those tunnels will link up with the current Market Street tunnel.

The entire Market Street drainage project is set to be done late 2016, early 2017.

"The reason is, because we can't tear all the Market up in one time. We are going to have to work in sections so we don't disturb the businesses to much. But when we're done, we'll have power lines out underground, new sidewalks, new curbs, so a real facelift for the Market," said Laura Cabiness, City of Charleston director of public service.

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