U.S. 13 sewer work on schedule: $8.4 million rehab project set to finish in late fall

Workers install two miles of new sewer pipe in the median of U.S. 13 Dover north. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — The extensive $8.4 million sewer rehabilitation project that started in July along U.S. 13 through Dover is an estimated 20 percent complete and remains, roughly, on schedule to wrap up in the late fall, Kent County Public Works Department officials said.

Years in planning, the project is addressing aging 1970s-era concrete sewer pipe that runs under the U.S. 13 median from Delaware Technical Community College’s Terry Campus south to Garden Lane by the Capital Commons shopping center, county public works director Diana Golt said.

Over the past five years the pipe had become an increasingly urgent concern for public works officials.

The hard-to-reach stretch of sewer line developed a crack several years ago, officials said. As a result, a portion of the county’s sewage has to be diverted through the city of Dover’s sewer infrastructure to avoid continuous spilling.

The project addresses the issue by slip-lining the entire 2-mile length of force main. With this method, a smaller pipe is slipped inside the damaged pipe to block the break. The repair is considered a “long-term” fix.

Beginning at the southern stretch of force main in July, work has begun to move north.

An aerial view of workers installing new sewer pipe along U.S. 13 in Dover.

“Currently, work is underway in Phase 1A and 1B (Townsend Boulevard to the south entrance of the Dover Mall),” said Ms. Golt. “We anticipate being out of Phase 1A in mid-September. The project is moving north along U.S. 13 up to West Denney’s Road.”

Traffic effects

County contractor George & Lynch, Inc., has been coordinating with DelDOT to ensure that lane closures cause minimal disturbance to traffic, DelDOT officials said. During certain holidays and events, lane closures are suspended.

“The project has been going well from DelDOT’s perspective,” said agency spokesman Charles “C.R.” McLeod. “They’ve coordinated with us and we’ve been taking turns with lane closures on the same section of roadway to accommodate ongoing DelDOT state contracts for pedestrian improvements and overhead utility work. Lane closures will not be permitted for this Labor Day holiday weekend, with work resuming on Tuesday.”

To date, no accidents have been reported as a result of the work zone and lane closures, said Mr. McLeod.

Ms. Golt says traffic does surge during peak times along the corridor, but she feels the county’s outreach efforts have helped mitigate frustration.

“Traffic is heavy during peak travel hours, as expected,” she said. “Motorists should look for signs placed in advance of work areas on U.S. 13 so they slow and merge right safely. The traffic disruption to local businesses has been minimized due to the extensive outreach program for this project. Outreach included advance door-to-door notices a month before construction start, an email subscription notification service and a dedicated project phone line answering service.

An inspector checks joints on new heavy duty PVC sewer pipe being installed for two miles underground in the median of U.S. 13 north Dover.

“The county has a dedicated web page where the ongoing notifications are posted. To date, minimal calls have been received by the outreach manager regarding traffic disruptions and the majority of those calls were regarding the Garden Lane closure, which is now open.”

As far as the expected completion date, there’s a bit of daylight between the state and the county’s expectations. DelDOT officials say they’re “hoping” work is complete in October, but the county is using the looser metric of “before Thanksgiving.”

“The project team is working well together to minimize the impacts to the schedule,” said Ms. Golt. “We encountered issues and construction work fell behind, but adjustments will allow faster completion in other areas. Pipe conditions may require additional work to prepare for slip-lining as we proceed north and impact the project’s sequence and schedule.

A backhoe operator getting a short break while waiting to lift the next section of thick walled PVC sewer pipe to be attached.

“Based on continual field communications, the schedule is reviewed on a week-to-week basis. Work progress is also weather dependent. The goal is to complete work on U.S. 13 before the Thanksgiving holidays.”

For more information concerning the ongoing project, residents can call the dedicated project phone number at (302) 318-1139 or email project.outreach@kci.com. Regular updates are also posted on co.kent.de.us/sewerproject. Residents can also sign up for a project notification email subscription by submitting the completed form found on the website.

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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