LIMA — More than a year after a sewer collapse halted progress on a $3.9 million sewer project underneath Jameson Avenue and High Street, work continues without an estimated completion date as city contractors run into issues re-lining the sewer.
“The contractor we’ve had had a lot of issues,” Lima Utilities Director Mike Caprella said. “It’s a confluence of contractor and materials. It’s just been a whole series of problems we had. Some pieces we put in, we had them fall apart. We had five or six spots in that one section that needed to be repaired.”
Caprella said the current contractors on the project, MG Underground, are using a “spiral wound” pipe process to re-line the system, where sewers are fed a spiral length of piping that can be reconstructed underground with plastic welds.
Normally, the process is an easier way to re-line older sewers, such as Lima’s underground infrastructure, without needing to tear up streets, but Phase 1 of Lima’s larger sewer re-lining project hit snags when the relined material failed to create a tight enough seal and grout leaks resulted.
The city has since made the decision to continue with a different contractor, SAK Construction, for the next phase of re-lining scheduled for this summer. The pipe manufacturer, located in Australia, has also agreed to ship newly made construction materials for the next phase in order to ensure it doesn’t run longer than expected.
As is common with government contracts, the city chose MG Underground due to its identification as the lowest bidder for the Phase 1 project, which encompasses much of the major sewer running under High Street just west of Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center.
In total, the city is expecting to five to six total phases to reline portions of Lima’s aging large-diameter sewers, and each phase will be bid separately, Caprella said.
Without taking the time to reline the sewers, age and decades of use can eventually cause leaks which can lead total collapse. The sewers under Jameson Avenue, for example, are expected to be close to a century old.
Prior to the High Street sewer collapse in December 2018, a similar event happened on Grand Avenue in February 2018 when a large-diameter section collapsed and the city had been stuck with an unexpected bill. At the time, that sewer had been pegged as a Phase 2 project after the city had examined large-diameter sewers to prioritize repairs throughout the city’s underground sewer infrastructure.
“The ground moves over time,” Caprella said. “Some of its the age. Whatever adheres the tiles slowly disintegrates and pieces of the interior pipe fall down. If most pieces come off, you can have a sewer collapse.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.