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Crews install1,800-foot bypass to repair damaged sewer pipe

Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter King County crews finish placing a sewage bypass pipe above ground near the Community Center at Mercer View so that they can repair the underground line along North Mercer Way and S.E. 24th Street. The 40-year-old pipe failed during the recent rain storms and caused part of S.E. 24th Street to buckle. The pipe is one of the Island’s main wastewater pipes that connects with the county sewage line that goes under the lake and connects on the Eastside with pipes to the Renton sewage treatment plant. For more details, see the story on page A4. -
Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter King County crews finish placing a sewage bypass pipe above ground near the Community Center at Mercer View so that they can repair the underground line along North Mercer Way and S.E. 24th Street. The 40-year-old pipe failed during the recent rain storms and caused part of S.E. 24th Street to buckle. The pipe is one of the Island’s main wastewater pipes that connects with the county sewage line that goes under the lake and connects on the Eastside with pipes to the Renton sewage treatment plant. For more details, see the story on page A4.
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A temporary, above-ground sewer pipe was installed last week so construction crews can begin replacing an aging sewer pipe on the North end of the Island near the community center and Luther Burbank Park.

Flows were diverted to the bypass pipe by Thursday afternoon after construction crews from Frank Coluccio Construction finished the installation. The new pipe runs along some blackberry bushes from the South parking lot entrance of Luther Burbank at S.E. 26th street all the way up 84th Avenue until it turns onto 24th blocking the exit of the community center.

Early last week, county community relations employees were alerting nearby residents of possible night work. Since minimal flows occur overnight, the county planned to transfer flows from the cracked pipe to its replacement to avoid any overflows into the lake. According to Annie Kolb-Nelson, a spokesperson for King County Wastewater Division, the night work was avoided because the flow transfer occurred around 4 p.m. on Thursday without any overflows.

The new pipe is 1,800 feet long and 18-inches in diameter. Most of it is above ground, though construction crews had to cut some concrete to preserve an entrance and exit to the community center.

Permanent replacement of the damaged pipe will begin in late January or early February and is expected to last for three months. The old pipe was built in 1968 and cracked in the severe pressures caused by the heavy rains on Dec. 14. The cracked pipe then leaked into the soil and saturated it so the roadway collapsed. Because the entire sewer line is worn, the entire pipe is getting replaced.

“Instead of just fixing this one section and having another part get damaged in the next storm, we want to fix the entire pipe,” said Monica Van der Vieren, a county wastewater community relations employee.

Road and lane closures will remain in place due to the weakened asphalt and for county inspectors and engineers to devise a replacement strategy. In addition to the emergency sewer repairs going on last Thursday, the North Mercer Park and Ride station had some concrete trucks come in, causing more delays and confusion on the North end.

Construction of the park and ride caused frequent interruptions along 84th and 81st Avenue S.E. around North Mercer Way. Various street and lane closures have alternated traffic numerous times between the two projects. Even though streets remained open to traffic, there have been intermediate closures with flaggers stopping traffic several times.

At the park and ride, concrete and construction trucks needed extra space to enter and exit the site. The large trucks along N. Mercer were needed in order complete concrete work on the east side of the Park-and-Ride project, Sound Transit stated in a press release.

The work intermittently shut-off the traffic light while a traffic flagger dictated the right-of-way. During this time, the sidewalk was closed and pedestrians were directed to the east side of 81st Avenue S.E. Also, several on-street parking stalls were closed for the day.

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