Bumps & detours

Sewer construction, broken pipe make going tough

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Gov. Francis Farms residents have been taking their lumps and now delays, and a detour depending on the time of day is in store for those using Sandy Lane. Both are sewer projects – one planned and the other an annoying and costly surprise.

The lumps and bumps on Squantum Drive are all part of Phase 3 of Governor Francis sewers. They should be planed level later this week, says Janine Burke-Wells, executive director of the Warwick Sewer Authority. She reported that the installation of sewer lines is completed, although some service connections have yet to be done. That work is projected to come to a halt by Dec. 15 as attention focuses on the pumping station to be built at the southerly end of Lansdowne Road. She said that the $5 million project that will provide sewers for 270 property owners is slightly ahead of schedule, meaning the project will be fully completed by May of next year. The repaving of roads will be the final step.

If only work on Sandy Lane, where a broken pipe caused sewer backups to 11 homes the day before Thanksgiving, was running as smoothly.

When D’Ambra Construction crews reached the pipe 16 feet below the road, they expected to find a RCCP (reinforced concrete cylinder pipe). Instead they thought they had unearthed a steel pipe, said Burke-Wells. What they had found was all that was left of a RCCP that had been eaten away by hydrogen sulfide gas and the flow of wastewater.

The sewer authority knew it had issues by RCCP in the area, especially after a pipe break on Cedar Swamp Road not all that far away last summer, and had plans to replace it. Now, rather than scheduling the work, the authority is faced with the cost of operating a bypass, overtime and, most noticeable to motorists, interfering with one of the city’s major arteries.

Burke-Wells expects the tab to hit $500,000.

While initially it would take three weeks to replace 154 feet of pipe, Burke-Wells said the high water table, sandy conditions and water and gas lines in the same area have significantly slowed progress. She’s hopeful the job is completed in another two weeks. Meanwhile, Sandy Lane in the area of the break at Armory is limited to westbound from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. There is two-way traffic, although reduced to narrow lanes, on the weekends and other non-construction times during the week.

Burke-Wells said the authority is using the break to assess the condition of pipe beyond the section being replaced and has found “some of it looks good,” and other portions “not so good.” How this will be addressed is being studied.

Governor Francis Phase 3 hasn’t been without some surprises, too.

CB Utility, contractor for the job, encountered ledge where there wasn’t supposed to be any, prompting a change order of about $280,000. However, there are some savings, she said, that will help offset the additional cost. Burke-Wells said authority engineers have found a way of operating the pumping station on single-phase electricity at a projected $100,000 savings from having to bring in three-phase power. Also, she said as it appears there are no plans for development of two lots on Manor Street and that, in fact, there may be made available as open space to the city, there is no need to extend pipe there.

Burke-Wells has found some humor to the curveball thrown the authority. She notes she plans to get the game “Don’t Step in It” for her nieces this Christmas, adding with a laugh that maybe there should be others on her list.

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