“Last Blast” deep tunnel event in Thornton on Sept. 23, 2013

Elected officials and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioners stand beside a fake dynamite plunger for a photo opportunity as they gather before the last blast signals the end of major excavation at the Thornton Reservoir. Photo by Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune.

Work will create reservoir to hold billions of gallons of stormwater, sewer water overflow

A small crowd gathered Monday at the lip of the mammoth Thornton Quarry, all eyes fixed on an outcropping of dolomite nearly 300 feet below the shoulder of the westbound lanes of Interstate 80.

A ripple shot through the two-story rock formation, and it collapsed amid a small, dusty landslide. And so construction of the largest portion to date of the decades-in-the-making Deep Tunnel floodwater control system began with a bang.

“That was fun,” said Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Kathleen Therese Meany, smiling broadly as she turned away from the detonator box.

When it goes online in 2015, the Thornton Composite Reservoir will hold 7.9 billion gallons of stormwater and sanitary sewer water from more than a dozen south suburban towns…. Please click here to read Andy Grimm’s full story in the Chicago Tribune, or related stories in the Times and Southtown Star.

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