Though the 15-month project will likely cause traffic delays for motorists, city officials say the work will greatly alleviate overflow issues the current pipe has experienced in the past.
The project, dubbed the Reedy Creek Sewer Trunkline Project, has been in the city’s long-range plan for several years, with behind-the-scenes work taking place, such as planning and property acquisition. With a bond issuance expected to take place later this year, the trunk line project came before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday night.
What city leaders approved Tuesday night was awarding the contract for the work to Garney Companies Inc. (of Kansas City) and transferring the necessary money to fund the project. According to city records, the total cost of the project is roughly $6.8 million.
“It’s going to have a lot of impact and a lot of benefit,” said Ryan McReynolds, assistant city manager for operations.
Work will include replacing 6,000 linear feet of clay sewer pipes, 24-inch and 30-inch in size, with newer pipe, mostly 48-inch but also some 36-inch, McReynolds said. Pipe being replaced stretches from the wastewater treatment facility on Industry Drive, underneath the railroad tracks to near Sullivan Street.
The project will then go down Center Street to roughly Lomax Street, then over to the old Fairway Ford property and finally across Sullivan to Lovedale.
The existing pipe is buried eight to 10 feet below the ground. The new pipe would be dug deep, 20 feet down, McReynolds said, making it a gravity line to the sewer plant. As a result, the pump station behind the apartments on Lovedale would be removed.
More than a decade ago, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued an order for Kingsport to make certain corrective actions with its wastewater treatment process. Those actions have included a $20 million upgrade to the sewer plant along with this most recent replacement of the Reedy Creek trunk line.
What it all boils down to is the existing trunk line is too small and too old, McReynolds said. City officials estimate the pipe went in during the late 1930s or early 1940s.
During heavy rains, water seeps into the trunk line at its joints, thus overflowing the line. This sewer overflow then goes into the yards, the streets and parking lots and eventually makes its way into the city’s stormwater system, which then goes into the Holston River.
And therein lies the issue with TDEC. Of course, events such as these are rare, McReynolds said, and once the new line is installed, the problem is solved.
“Once implemented, the risk goes away, we’re in regulatory compliance and it allows for sustainable growth,” McRenyolds told the BMA.
The 15-month project is expected to begin by late fall and will have an impact on Center Street. Work will cause Center to be down to one lane in both directions with a detour for a short period of time, McReynolds said.