2,500-ft. sewer fix near LBP ongoing

Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Work continued on the sewer line construction along 84th Ave. SE near Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island Monday. -
Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Work continued on the sewer line construction along 84th Ave. SE near Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island Monday.
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Construction of a new sewer line near the community center and Luther Burbank Park will last until the end of April and the “messiest portion” of the work is about to begin, county officials told 15 neighborhood residents last Saturday morning.

Pat Borchers, the county’s manager of the emergency sewer line replacement project, and representatives from Frank Coluccio Construction, the company the county contracted to do the work, told the crowd that the pipe replacement would begin by today.

Borchers also explained the method the crews would use and some of the impacts the replacement project would have on the neighborhood.

“We decided that it was not good business practice or helpful to the community to replace the broken part and leave the rest to just wait to see what happens to it,” Borchers said. “So we will be replacing the entire run, which is almost 2,500 feet.”

The method construction crews will use is called pipe bursting. Borcher said they decided this method over the other alternative because it is faster and requires less digging. Pipe bursting breaks the old pipe while the new pipe follows, forcing it into the same track.

Pipe bursting isn’t any cheaper than the alternative, however. The replacement of the 2,500 feet of damaged or weakened sewer pipe would cost the county $3.25 million, Borchers said, whether they dug up the old line or burst it. The King County Council has yet to approve the funds, but Borcher said she didn’t expect any problems getting money for an emergency fix of a damaged sewer line near the shores of Lake Washington.

Construction crews have been working since December to install a temporary bypass line and prepare to replace the sewer line.

The pipe was damaged from a 4.3-million-gallon surge of water and sewage during the power outage of the Dec. 14 rain and windstorm. Three breaks occurred in one section of the pipe under 84th Avenue S.E. and several severe cracks were found in other portions of the aging fiberglass pipe.

The city engineer, Patrick Yamashita, told the residents that the city was collaborating with the county to ensure the newly paved street outside the community center would be repaved over the summer. He promised that the wetlands damaged at Luther Burbank Park due to the construction would be restored.


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