Renewable Water Resources has asked the City of Greenville for a noise variance that would allow around-the-clock work on its Dig Greenville underground tunnel project.

But the utility says residents near Cleveland Park project’s starting point will hear more nighttime noise from another source.

“They’ll get more noise from the zoo,” said Jeff Wells, a Greenville-based associate vice president for Black & Veatch, a global firm that has overseen tunnel projects all over the world.

Working around-the-clock would trim six months and $1.4 million off the price. City Manager John Castile will decide whether to grant the variance.

Bids are being sought from eight pre-qualified contractors for the $46 million Dig Greenville project that ReWa officials say will meet the demand for sewer in the Reedy River basin from downtown Greenville up to Travelers Rest for the next century. They expect to award the contract this fall.

Without the additional sewer line, the current sewer system for the Reedy River will run out of capacity and development would grind to a halt, he said. In addition to providing capacity for future growth, the project will meet immediate needs by providing an additional buffer against sewer surcharges due to inflow and infiltration during rainy weather.

Construction will begin in January when a parking lot will be built on the Washington Street side of the Cleveland Park playground to replace part of the parking lot off Cleveland Park Drive that will be used as a construction staging area during the project. After the 30 month long construction project is completed, that parking lot will be restored, resulting in more parking for Cleveland Park and the Greenville Zoo.

A drill like this will be used to bore a tunnel under downtown Greenville.

The project will have open cut construction near the Zoo and on Westfield Street near the Kroc Center where the tunnel will connect with the existing sewer system.


ReWa studied 18 options for the line before deciding on the tunnel, the largest underground tunnel project in Greenville’s history.

“Certainly going through the park was considered, but it was quickly dropped,” Wells said. “We would have been run out of town.”

Access shafts will have to be constructed at each end of the tunnel, expected to take one year. Blasting of rock will occur at each end of the tunnel. Blasting will be limited to once an hour from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The tunnel itself, which will be about 100 feet underground, or roughly the height of a 10-story building, is constructed without blasting by utilizing a tunnel-boring machine that cuts the rock as it moves along the 1.3-mile long tunnel alignment.

Once the boring starts, work will go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week if the variance is granted. The 20,000 to 25,000 cubic yards of rock will be removed by mine rails and dumped in the construction staging area. Trucks will remove the rock. ReWa is working with the city on the truck routes, likely on Washington Street and Laurens Road.

The contractor will be required to adhere to the 60-decibel limit if the variance is granted, Wells said. If the contractor violates the noise level, the project could be stopped and the contractor removed, Wells said.

In addition to the noise ordinance, the contractor will also be required to keep granite dust and particulate matter below industry standards.

“This is a much less impactful project than the Greenville News project,” Wells said. Camperdown is a multi-use development that includes retail, office, and a hotel on the former Greenville News site across from the Peace Center.

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