08/19/14 — Sewer repairs to take months

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Sewer repairs to take months

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on August 19, 2014 2:08 PM

Here's how to miss the delays: Avoid driving on the 1200, 1300, 1400, 1500 and 1600 blocks of Mulberry Street. Drivers can take Ash or Walnut to go to and from downtown, and can use North Andrews or North Lionel to go between Ash and Walnut.

Several blocks of Mulberry Street will be closed in the coming months as Keen Plumbing works under contract with the city to repair the sanitary sewer line under the street that has broken or eroded in several areas.

Director of Public Works Jose Martinez said city crews found the initial blockage while conducting routine maintenance on the line.

"We got stoppage and couldn't get through," Martinez said. "So we cleared it and kept going and hit stoppage again, which is when we realized the entire pipe might have some issues."

City workers dug down to inspect the line after encountering the blockage and discovered that a section of pipe had eroded.

The culprit responsible for the erosion was hydrogen sulfite gas, which eats through concrete at varying rates depending on the concentration of the gas. The damaged pipe has been in use for 60 years.

Keen Plumbing received the contract from the city after entering the low bid for the project at $340,010.

Situations like this usually allow for an emergency contract, Martinez said. To save taxpayers' dollars, however, the city waited to ask for the bids until after creating the design plans and then sought the lowest cost to do the work.

"Right now they're mobilizing their equipment and have already saw cut the road," said Marty Anderson, city director of engineering.

Keen Plumbing, which received the contract on Aug. 4, has 90 consecutive calendar days from that date to complete the project.

Both Martinez and Anderson said the work on the sewer line will not cause any issue for residents along Mulberry Street, other than having to work around the repair work to get into their driveways. Flow of the sewer line is not good at the moment, but is also not overflowing, Martinez said. The affected areas of the street will be the 1200 through 1600 blocks.

Martinez said the state has been notified of the problem, as required by law. To avoid the construction on Mulberry, Martinez recommended staying on Ash Street or Walnut Street.

When construction on the line begins, the city will pump the sewage out to another manhole section or remove it by truck to complete work on the pipeline.