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Waller Creek Tunnel Project Hits More Design Issues, Cost Overruns

Price of improvements balloons again, this time to $161.3M

The long-anticipated Waller Creek Tunnel project, for which voters first approved funding in 1998, will require another cash influx due to just-discovered design flaws, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday. Originally approved for $25 million in costs, the project is now expected to cost $163.1 million, the paper reports.

The project was initiated to address chronic flooding issues on the creek, which runs through the central part of town, including downtown, just west of I-35. It's intended to be one part of revitalizing the creek and the areas around it; Waller Creek Conservancy has been working with the city on fundraising and creating a system of parks along the creek and across the river.

Central to the plan is an intake facility at Waterloo Park/East 12th Street to divert water from the stream to a tunnel that empties into Lady Bird Lake, while two more inlets (between Fourth and Fifth and Eighth and Ninth streets) will pull water downstream, the Statesman reports.

Despite the fact that the inlets are not yet up and running, water is now flowing through the tunnel.

The city has had several setbacks and approved mounting expenses due to what it calls major flaws in the original design, as well as some minor ones that have recently been discovered; their timeline is at the bottom of their story here. Although the City Council has determined it should pay one of the contractors for cost overruns caused by some design mistakes, there is still disagreement over whether or not Espey Consultants and Kellogg Brown and Root, the two engineering firms that designed the tunnel system, should shoulder much of that cost, the story added.

The City Council will deliberate the matter at its meeting Thursday.

Costs for Waller Creek Tunnel may rise to $163 million [AAS]