Much of what was discussed at the Monday, Aug. 18 city commission work session revolved around the work that may and most likely will be needed on the wastewater transmission line that runs beneath Wabash Street. The road is closed from South 5th Avenue to Idlewood Avenue. The closure is projected to last approximately six months.
Working with city staff and two contractors, a portion of the line (which runs east to west) was cleaned and inspected. It was discovered during that inspection that an iron, 24-inch line built in the 1970s had deteriorated and will need to be replaced.
“Given the condition of the west end of the line, comparable to some of the things we found on the east end, there is no reason to believe that the 2,500 feet between those two ends are any different,” said City Manager George A. Long. He left no doubt as to what would next be needed. “The transmission line needs to be replaced.”
However, Long said there was no idea at this time what the cost will be, and that whatever the cost it would also have to include — at least on the east end — a number of manhole covers. Regardless, he did say, “it is going to be a costly project.”
Long went on to say that the cost is one the city can bear.
“The city is in a position where it can fund it on its own, finance, or do a combination,” he said. Part of what could determine that direction, he added, revolved around what the general economy might be expected to do.
At this time, though, said Long, the city is at least 120 days away before it is ready to do a Request for Bids.
The transmission line is 16 feet beneath the road, which has been shut down on both sides of U.S. 17. The concern is whether part(s) of the road may have collapsed. Long said the city wants to avoid a situation in which it might be necessary to rebuild the road as well as install a new wastewater line.
“If we’ve had perforations of the pipe, there’s the possibility we could have lost road bed,” said Long. “The possibility is there.” However, he did not believe that possibility to be very high. Part of the reason, he said, is because the wastewater line is not one under pressure, but one that flows through gravity. “On the other hand, if base material is lost, it is creating a void underneath.”
Part of that might be attributable to heavy rains the past several weeks. Long said that if there is a void beneath the pipes, the potential is there for it to be increased.
Within the next 30 days ground-penetrating radar will be used to determine what the situation is regarding the condition of the transmission line and the road.
Meanwhile detours have been posted in this area, Police Chief Joe Hall said. He added during school hour drop-offs and pick-ups there will be congestion and the traffic is being re-routed due to safety concerns. Patience and planning are necessary, he said.