A section of Bethlehem's aging main sewer line is crooked and buckling, forcing the town supervisor to declare an emergency to repair the 800-foot pipe.
Jack Cunningham said Clough Harbor and Associates engineers have been hired to replace the existing 30-year-old pipe through which 4 million gallons of raw sewage flows each day.
We have seen an increase in the movement of the pipe so we are moving ahead to replace the pipe, said Cunningham, who, along with Public Works Commissioner Oliver Holmes, has alerted the members of the town board that the work must get done as soon as possible.
Because it has been declared an emergency, the usual bidding process to hire an engineering firm has been bypassed so work can be finished sooner.
"We are seeing progressive movement of the pipe, and it could start leaking as early as this fall," Cunningham said.
The project cost is estimated at $800,000 to completely replace the pipe located next to the town's sewer treatment plant on Dinmore Road. The Bethlehem Town Board looked at several alternatives that would temporarily solve the problem, but each option was costly. The board is expected to pass a resolution regarding the replacement of the pipe at its Wednesday, June 13, meeting.
"The cost of constructing scaffolds around the existing pipe's joints was about $130,000," said Cunningham.
The new pipe will be built next to the existing pipe and will be buried under the ground to keep the surrounding temperature consistent.
"The current pipe wasn't buried and was supported by concrete piers above the ground," said Holmes. "The piers have since taken on some movement along with the pipe."
The new line will be 1,000 feet long and 36 inches in diameter, compared with the current 33-inch diameter.
"By putting the pipe underground and relocating this line, we are also taking advantage of the terrain," Holmes said.
The old sewer line will operate through the summer until work on the new line is complete by the end of August. Engineers have already wrapped insulation around the existing pipe to prevent the joints from expanding in the summer heat.
The town will pay for the project from money in the sewer capital reserve fund.
Meanwhile, surveyors have been periodically checking the pipe's movements, and Cunningham said the sewer line continues to shift.""