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Work Begins on Largest Infrastructure Project in Alexandria

AlexRenew starts work on two-mile underground tunnel project.


AlexRenew and City representative officially break ground on the tunnel project. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

ALEXANDRIA, VA–Infrastructure is a hot topic across our nation right now, on both federal and local levels. One new Alexandria project is only making that topic hotter.

On Thursday, Sept. 30, Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew), Alexandria’s regional wastewater authority, broke ground on the largest infrastructure project in Alexandria: The RiverRenew Tunnel Project.

AlexRenew’s RiverRenew Tunnel Project is the largest infrastructure project in the City of Alexandria’s history. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

This tunnel system will capture, store, and transport millions of gallons of sewage and wastewater to a treatment plant where it will be cleaned and treated before being returned to the Potomac.

The excavator lies in wait for its call to break ground. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

The RiverRenew system will not only be large in terms of size (consisting of a two-mile long underground tunnel), but it will also be large in terms of impact, guaranteeing clean, safe water along the Potomac in Alexandria. Water affects everyone, but some more than others; and the most vulnerable to its effects will certainly feel the largest impact from this exciting and necessary project.

The City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums opened and closed the ceremony. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

The ceremony was kicked off at the Pendleton Street Outfall, 501 Oronoco Street, with a performance from The City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums and an announcement from the Alexandria Town Crier, followed by remarks from AlexRenew and City officials.

Alexandria’s Town Crier initiated the groundbreaking ceremony. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Karen Pallansch, AlexRenew General Manager, remarked, “When the work is done in 2025, this area will be a beautiful promenade, which will connect the Alexandria community to the cleaner Potomac River.”

Karen Pallansch, President AlexRenew. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

According to Pallansch, the goal of RiverRenew is to improve the health of waterways and meet the needs of neighbors.

Nancy Stoner, President Potomac Riverkeeper Network. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Nancy Stoner, President of Potomac Riverkeeper Network, elaborates, “We are proud of our role in bringing this great infrastructure investment to life. We were very involved with Virginia general assembly and have stayed actively engaged to ensure a standard of public service. This is critical infrastructure for protecting public health and making the Potomac swimmable again, and that is our goal.”

AlexRenew took ownership of the City of Alexandria’s combined sewer outfalls in 2018. With RiverRenew slated for completion by 2025, this project marks a milestone that will shower benefits reaped by our current generations and beyond.

Mayor Justin Wilson. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Mayor Justin Wilson noted the generational impact when he stated, “This is a home run. We are very excited. Throughout our history there has always been a tension between the short term politics and the urgency of tomorrow and long term investment in our basic infrastructure, but we are here to celebrate today the urgency of tomorrow prevailing, the need to make these large investments in not only our basic infrastructure but our environment, for our children, for our grandchildren, because this is a project that will have multi-generational impact.”

Members of City Council were also present for the occasion. Councilwoman Amy Jackson shares a laugh with the Town Crier. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Mayor Wilson is right. The effects of this project will not only be felt by our following generations, but will also strengthen over time. With the help of a $321 million low interest loan from the Environmental Protection Agency, the RiverRenew Tunnel Project is guaranteed to provide protection for Alexandria’s water for centuries to come.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you, AlexRenew, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, and Mayor Wilson, for making this enormous project happen. This is truly one of the long-term infrastructure projects that our community needs.

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