New Becks Road sewer line must be movedHundreds of feet of brand-new sewer line laid along Becks Road in western Duluth in 2011 will have to be dug up and moved to the other side of the road because of a shifting slope caused by last June’s massive rainstorm.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Hundreds of feet of brand-new sewer line laid along Becks Road in western Duluth in 2011 will have to be dug up and moved to the other side of the road because of a shifting slope caused by last June’s massive rainstorm.
The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District board on Monday night approved adding nearly $1.6 million to the total cost of the Scanlon Interceptor project to move the big line from a steep slope on one side of the road to a flatter area on the other.
The relocation project is expected to begin this summer and be completed by early autumn. Unlike the last two summers, the road will not be torn up or closed, and no detours are expected.
“There may be a few temporary delays, but nothing long-term,” said Marianne Bohren, WLSSD executive director.
Sewage flowing through all the project area will be pumped around the construction area in a temporary pipe and will be treated as usual.
The 36-inch-diameter pipe didn’t break or crack, WLSSD engineers found, but meters placed along the pipe showed a shift of a couple inches, removing any wiggle room for future movement, said Karen Anderson, WLSSD spokeswoman.
“The inclinometers showed the slope hadn’t moved at all before the storm and moved after, right up to the point where it might threaten the integrity of the pipe if it moved any more,’’ Anderson said.
The WLSSD was hoping for some flood-relief money to help cover the cost of moving the pipe. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned WLSSD down for a grant to move the pipe because it didn’t break in the flood. WLSSD has applied to the state for a grant under the program approved in a special flood aid legislative session last summer.
Meanwhile, WLSSD also approved engineering money to continue the Scanlon Interceptor project downstream, adding another $5.4 million to what has become a $17 million upgrade to move effluent from the Carlton County and western Duluth portions of the sewage district to the WLSSD’s Knowlton Creek pumping station near the zoo and on to the district treatment plant in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
The old pipe was installed when WLSSD opened in 1978 and, like much of the region’s water and sewer infrastructure, is showing its age.
The first two phases of the project, done in 2011 and 2012, covered 11,600 feet, or about two miles of pipe.
Work on Phase 3 of the overall pipe project, another 2,800 feet, is expected to begin this summer. The overall Scanlon Interceptor project now will top $17 million, and the WLSSD isn’t done yet. In future years, Bohren said the district hopes to re-line the entire pipe west of the Knowlton Creek pumping station.
Meanwhile, in addition to the pipeline upgrade, with a new lining installed rather than replacement, another $5.6 million to $8 million flood-repair project will start this summer to replace the bridge structure that carries the sewage pipe across the valley of U.S. Steel Creek in western Duluth, also near Beck’s Road.
That “pipe bridge’’ was heavily damaged by the June storm and ensuing flood. Federal and state flood relief will cover more than $5.6 million of the replacement cost. WLSSD officials hope to extend the repairs upstream and downstream, adding another nearly $3 million to the cost.
“It’s a big pipe that serves a big portion of our district,’’ Bohren noted, with much of the cost paid through the state’s revolving loan fund for utility improvements. That fund also gets money from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
For the portion of projects not covered by state or federal money, the WLSSD can either sell bonds paid back over time or, with shorter notice, can borrow money and repay loans over time. The borrowing is repaid with money from sewer fees paid by cities and industrial users of the WLSSD system.