DC Water completes tunnel project aimed alleviating Northeast flood problems

Construction is finally complete on a tunnel that D.C. leaders say will help alleviate severe flooding throughout the District.

it's the Northeast Boundary Tunnel – a possible solution to clean water – and flood mitigation.

Keeping the Anacostia River clean is one of the main goals for this project but for many residents and businesses who live in the city they hope it’s a solution to the decades of flooding they experience when it rains. 

Just south of RFK Stadium is the start of the tunnel project and about five miles away on Rhode Island Ave. – a severe flood-prone area that has been looking for relief through this project – is where it ends. 

"You see places are blocked. You hear about the runoff effect of the rivers. That’s what I’ve heard more than anything," said Tad Bell, who lives off of Rhode Island Ave. 

After five years, the massive 27,000-foot-long, 100-foot-deep tunnel, which cost more than $580 million, is complete. 

DC Water says the completion will lead to a 98% reduction of overflow into the Anacostia River and in a social media post, they said the tunnel is in service and ready to store 90 million gallons of stormwater. 

"[I’m] excited about not having flooding like you had right there on Road Island and areas," Bell said. 

The flooding problems in the Rhode Island Ave. area came under scrutiny just last month after the doggie daycare District Dogs experienced severe flooding that left 10 dogs dead.  

"You saw all the cops, all the fire departments. The windows clearly had been pushed in by the water," Bell said.  

DC Water said they fast-tracked the project after major flooding in 2012 but it technically didn’t have to be completed until 2025. They said the pandemic and severe weather did impact the project, pushing the expected completion date to September. 

The project’s completion is a positive step forward but one that came too late for District Dogs, which is now closed. Following the tragic incident, city leaders said they were evaluating having businesses operating in the area due to the flooding dangers. 

It’s not yet clear how the completion of the tunnel project could impact any decision-making there.