Larry Lang Excavating Inc. mobilized on Post Street Thursday in Marietta, methodically moving to repair critical damages to a failed sewer line behind Front Street businesses.
“Our biggest concern as we’re here is safety,” said foreman Chris Berg, as a bicyclist rode off of the Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge and down through the work zone Thursday afternoon. “Please stay on the trail and out of the work zone, please don’t ride your bikes or walk through where we’re working.”
The section of sewer line collapsed on Feb. 15, reportedly due to damages sustained during 2018 flooding.
Wastewater Superintendent Steve Elliott explained that the repairs, which will run through next week, are to the 27-inch diameter East Muskingum Sanitary Sewer Interceptor which delivers sewage flow from both northern Marietta and Devola through the city.
“When this line was put in it had to be buried so deep to catch the flows that used to just go to the rivers. But then those started being regulated more and the state and federal (Environmental Protection Agency) said you can’t be doing that anymore, that has to be treated. They had to come up with a system to reroute it to a treatment plant,” City Engineer Joe Tucker explained of the interceptor line while at the site Thursday. “With a city as old as Marietta, and the old infrastructure, this interceptor line that runs along the Muskingum and then turns and runs along the Ohio River was the better option than tearing up every single line. But it also means that this line is so deep you need special training and special equipment to make repairs.”
The repairs are to be paid for through previously unappropriated funds within the sewer fund, he said, with current estimates of cost reaching $155,665, and engineering for the emergency repairs coming from Pickering Associates.
Elliott explained to council last week that the project had to be contracted out because of the needed equipment and experience for the excavation of the 19-foot deep pipe surrounded by underground water and natural gas utilities and storm sewer lines.
He said that twice the failure has caused additional health concerns, where raw, untreated wastewater from the manhole near the intersection of Post and Butler streets overflowed onto the River Trail, city streets and sidewalk, and down the road into a nearby storm sewer and the Muskingum River.
“The untreated sewage is a health risk to the public health and safety,” Elliott wrote.
The city’s sanitarian Barb Bradley also encouraged urgency in the repairs, noting the cause of both failures.
“Since the bypass pump has been in use, there (have) been two times that the system has failed,” she wrote in a letter to the mayor, council and city law director. “One, the pump was shut off and the other the bypass hose was disconnected which allowed raw sewage to be pumped onto the surface of the ground, exposing the public.”
She noted that raw sewage can carry many deadly bacteria, viruses and other health risks.
Barber Jeremy Barton, who works on the block of Front Street affected by the Post Street closure, said the smell of sewage above ground hasn’t affected his business, though other business owners and patrons have noticed.
“Mostly people have been inconvenienced by the parking spots being removed, but they’re parking at Jimbo’s lot for now,” he said.
Jim Wark, project manager, explained Thursday that the site is also tricky because of the overhead high voltage electric lines.
“That’s why AEP moved some of the lines over and has insulated others with those yellow sleeves,” he explained.
Lang will remove the concrete above the failed section, excavate the section and replace up to 40 feet of pipe with 27-inch in diameter pipe.
Tucker said this is the first of two projects to occur on the interceptor line below Post Street. the second will line the new pipe with a membrane internally to extend the life of the line by potentially another 50 years.
That project is estimated to cost at minimum $464,730, though it could include additional needed repairs in Harmar for an additional minimum cost of $214,183.
Tucker said plans to pay for the membrane and repair work are in the works with an emergency loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority. Bids for the second project will be opened on April 24.
At a glance:
• A sewer line beneath Post Street between Butler Street and the Ohio River collapsed on Feb. 15.
• Marietta City Council authorized an emergency repair by Larry Lang Excavating Inc. of Beverly on April 4.
• Ordinance 194 authorized city administration to contract for a price not to exceed $155,665.
• Council also appropriated $160,000 out of the city’s sewer fund to have funds ready to pay for the project.
• The project is estimated to be complete by the end of April.
• The project will then be followed by a larger pipe-lining project funded through an Ohio Water Development Authority loan, tentatively scheduled for late spring/early summer.
Source: Marietta Wastewater Superintendent Steve Elliott and City Engineer Joe Tucker.