‘Lady Bird’ tunnels below Washington

The journey begins

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At the base after a slow elevator descent.

Darr Beiser, Natalie diBlasio and I descended 100 feet below the ground in southeast Washington recently, then traveled over a mile on rail to reach the tunnel-digging phenomenon "Ladybird." The 440-foot long, alien-like machine is worming a 26-foot diameter hole beneath the Potomac River that will handle storm overflow to aid in cleaning future generations of D.C.'s rivers.

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