Road closure to allow paving after sewer line break

Inspection of other lines in the works

PORT TOWNSEND – Water Street between Gaines Street and Sims Way will be temporarily closed Monday and Tuesday for paving.

The work is the final step in the repair of a sewer line that failed on Dec. 27 near the intersection of Water Street and Gaines Street.

City crews saw water coming up through one of the maintenance holes on Water Street, Public Works Director Steve King said.

By 1 p.m. that day, they had installed pumps to bypass the break before the sewage overflow leaked into the bay.

The sewer main, which serves all of downtown and most of uptown, was repaired on an emergency basis, with Seton Construction fixing about 120 feet of pipe, King said.

“Now, weather permitting, the final step to completing this project is to pave the road,” City Manager John Mauro in a press release.

On Jan. 3, the Port Townsend City Council approved $150,000 to cover the cost of repairing the sewer main over the holidays.

Crews removed a considerable amount of debris, which likely was pushed into the drainage system by the king tide flooding that had occurred in the area the day before, according to King. They found that portions of the pipe, which was installed in 1966 and made of asbestos concrete, were deteriorated.

King said sewage can generate hydrogen sulfide gas which, when combined with moisture, can turn to sulfuric acid that will eat away at concrete.

“It’s specifically damaging to concrete pipe, and asbestos concrete pipe,” King said Friday.

King has consulted with RH2 Engineering Inc., of Bothell, who has worked with cities in Kitsap County that had experienced the same issue.

“Now that we know the cause, we’re going to hire a company that specializes in video inspection of those pipelines,” King said of the sewer line heading from Water Street to the ferry terminal.

The danger from asbestos — a fire-retardant material widely used throughout the 20th Century but now known to cause cancer — is mostly airborne, King said.

Much of the collapsed pipe was vacuumed out of the breakage.

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