City workers got an unpleasant surprise when they dug 14 feet under Craig Street in search of a break in a sewer pipe this fall.
They thought they were dealing with a small break. But after they tore up an entire block of roadway, dug around a Verizon vault and got to the pipe, they discovered the problem was much larger than they expected.
The whole pipe — 187 feet long — needed to be replaced. It was such a large task that city workers had to rebury the pipe and make the road passable again until they had time for the lengthy job.
They have now dug up the street again and closed it off to traffic. This time, it will remain closed until the pipe is replaced.
Workers have another four to five weeks of work to do, Commissioner of General Services Carl Olsen said.
If the weather holds out, they will get it done by mid-January, but bad weather would delay things further, he added.
The project will cost $250,000 to $300,000, he said. He has an emergency budget line that will cover the expense.
When workers discovered the severity of the problem in September, Olsen said he knew he wouldn’t be able to fix it until December. So he decided to rebury the pipe and put down temporary paving, even though that would slightly increase the total project cost.
“I couldn’t leave [the street] closed for that long,” he said.
Before the dig, workers tried to send a robot camera down the pipe, but it couldn’t get into the area. Workers thought the pipe was plugged and tried to unplug it with other machines, to no avail, Olsen said.
So they had to dig it up to find out what was wrong.
“Unfortunately, in those situations, you don’t know what you’re going to get,” he said.
The road will repaved in the spring. Until then, Olsen will put down temporary paving.
“The road will be passable,” he said.