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The Journal Gazette

More downtown detours for sewer work

– If you thought the nightmare of downtown road closures was done for the winter, you may be in for a surprise.

Crews are closing Main Street today between Ewing and Harrison streets so they can continue their work installing storm sewers.

The project builds upon an earlier one that built a massive storm sewer trunk line down Ewing Street, from Brackenridge Street to the river.

This project – called the Ewing Street East-West Storm Sewer – will build branches on that trunk, carrying stormwater down Berry, Main and Pearl streets to the trunk line under Ewing that will take it to the river.

In all, crews are installing more than a mile of up to 30-inch pipe.

Much of the project is done, including work on Main Street between Broadway and Fairfield Avenue, and on Fairfield between Pearl and Wayne streets.

But work remains.

Pipe still needs to be installed under Main Street between Webster and Harrison and on Harrison between Main and Pearl. Crews are also installing new water and sanitary sewer lines along Pearl Street.

“The project is moving on schedule,” Public Works spokesman Frank Suarez said. “It’s going well.”

Main Street is scheduled to reopen Dec. 20, weather permitting, and all the pipe is due to be installed by March.

In the spring, crews will remove the temporary asphalt they used to fill in streets they tore up and install permanent pavement.

Of course, Phase 2 will be starting by then. And the traffic nightmares caused by Phase 2 will make Phase 1 seem like a daydream. That project is due to start in February and will install lines on Washington, Jefferson and Fairfield. It won’t be complete until fall 2014.

Board of Public Works members Wednesday approved a $13,300 contract for subsurface utility exploration for the project.

The sewers downtown are combined sewers, meaning they carry sanitary sewage and stormwater from street drains. During heavy rains, stormwater overwhelms the system, washing millions of gallons of sanitary sewage into the rivers.

These projects will install new dedicated storm sewer lines, so street drains that go into the current system will instead go to the storm-only system, where stormwater can be safely carried to the river without causing pollution.

When complete, the system will carry the rainwater from about 30 acres of hard surface, reducing sewage overflow into the rivers by almost 7 million gallons a year.