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July 31, 2017

MAC Visits Bellwood Quarry Tunnel

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On Tuesday July 25, members of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s policy team visited the Bellwood Quarry, which when completed will act an emergency water reserve for the City of Atlanta. The Bellwood Quarry, which is still being excavated, is almost 400 feet deep and will be able to hold 2.5 billion gallons of water once filled[i]. Under business as usual operations, this amount of water would provide the City of Atlanta with water for up to 30 days. However, if the city begins utilizing conservation methods, the Bellwood Quarry could provide clean water for 90 days. The Quarry will also be the site of one of Atlanta's largest greenspaces, thanks to Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

On the tour were:

  • State Senator Frank Ginn, Chair, Senate Natural Resources & Environment Committee
  • State Representative Lynn Smith, Chair, House Natural Resources & Environment Committee
  • Martin Wattenbarger, Office of Congressman Rob Woodall
  • Jud Turner, Gilbert, Harrell, Sumerford & Martin, PC
  • Brad Currey, WestRock/Rock Tenn (retired)
  • Mike Alexander, Center for Livable Communities Director, Atlanta Regional Commission
  • Dave Williams, VP Infrastructure & Government Affairs, Metro Atlanta Chamber
  • Natalie Simpson, Project Manager, Metro Atlanta Chamber
  • Heather Johnston, Sustainability Intern, Metro Atlanta Chamber
  • Megan Middleton, Intergovernmental Affairs Manager, City of Atlanta
  • Paul Morris, President & CEO, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
  • Jill Johnson, Government Affairs Director, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

Construction on the Bellwood Quarry officially began with blasting, the use of explosives, of existing rock in 2016[ii]. The Bellwood Quarry crew has finished blasting and is currently constructing a tunnel from the quarry to the Chattahoochee River, using a machine affectionately referred to as "Driller Mike," after Atlanta artist Killer Mike.

The tunnel excavation process utilizes a railway system, allowing the drill and carts to move along the tracks. Once tracks have been laid, Driller Mike can move deeper into the tunnel until more tracks are needed. The debris that is created is removed by carts and then emptied into the deepest points of the reservoir using the machine pictured below. 

The machine clamps onto each cart and flips it upside down, emptying its contents into the deepest part of the reservoir. Photo by Heather Johnston, MAC

 
Metro Atlanta Chamber members were fortunate enough to see the tunnel’s inner mechanisms. The tunnel features electricity running on the right side of the tunnel, which allows the crew to operate the drill’s computer system, the tunnel’s ventilation, and the lighting from within the tunnel. Each shift consists of only eight workers; the day shift focuses on maintenance checks and servicing, and the night shift focuses on mining. The project is slated for completion by next year[iii].
 
 

The inside of the tunnel that will connect the Bellwood Quarry to the Chattahoochee River. Photo: Dave Williams, MAC


More information about the Bellwood Quarry, such as the quarry’s master plan, can be found on the Atlanta BeltLine Inc. website

 

Sources:

[i] Regan, Tom. “Former Rock quarry to become new reservoir.” WSBTV.com. 22 June 2015.

[ii] Williams, Dave. “Blasting to signal start of Bellwood Quarry project.” Atlanta Business Chronicle. 1 April 2016.

[iii] Samuel, Molly. “Work Begins on Reservoir, Near Site of Atlanta’s Future Biggest Park.” Wabe 90.1. 4 April 2016.