Taneytown plans to replace its sewers

January 13, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Taneytown will rebuild its outdated sewers in hopes of eliminating problems the city has had with the system in recent years.

Four severely damaged sections of the system, which is more than 40 years old, are scheduled to be replaced in the spring.

"The decision to do all four has not been reached yet," said Laverne E. Smith, the city code enforcement officer. "It will be based on the availability of funds."

City officials have sought to solve problems, such as infiltration into the sewer pipes, for the past year.

The sewer line reconstruction project was divided into four contracts by city engineers, who advertised specifications for each project several months ago.

The contracts call for the removal and replacement of sewer pipes on Route 194, Baltimore Street and Antrim Street. The fourth project involves replacing the interceptor, the main pipe that carries sewage from all over town to the city's treatment facility.

"Each section is as bad as the next. They've been in bad shape for a long, long time," Mr. Smith said. "They are all either cracked, busted, offset, have roots in them or something."

The City Council authorized Camp, Dresser and McKee Inc., the city's engineers, to send the lowest bids on each project to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) for review. The review process will take about two weeks, said Dennis Michael, a project manager with Camp, Dresser and McKee.

If each of the low bids is accepted, the city will spend more than $1.7 million in grants, loans and municipal funds to repair the damaged parts of its sewer system.

"It's in line with what it costs for projects of this kind, but it's certainly not cheap," Mr. Michael said from his Pennsylvania office yesterday. He told Mayor Henry I. Reindollar Jr. and the council Monday night during the monthly council meeting that the bids had come in higher than expected.

The city has received several grants and loans to help offset the cost of the extensive renovation. The council decided during the meeting Monday to seek an additional $500,000 from MDE.

Mr. Michael said contractors figured into their estimates the precautions they would have to take not to damage or interfere with building foundations and utility lines.

"The thing that makes it most difficult is that, in a lot of the areas, the pipes are under the sidewalk and the buildings are built right up on top of the sidewalks," Mr. Michael explained. "There's maybe a 6- to 8-foot sidewalk and then there's a building."

The first two contracts are most heavily influenced by the positions of commercial and residential structures, Mr. Michael said.

The segment of Route 194 that will be replaced runs from the city's pumping station on York Street, crosses over Route 140 and ends near St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Frederick Street. Much of that strip of road is lined with houses and shops.

The Baltimore Street segment, from the railroad tracks near the Southern States Cooperative to the Taneytown Shopping Center, is even more densely developed.

The third and fourth segments, the Antrim Street and interceptors projects, are less troublesome because the sewer lines are under the road or in the middle of farmland.

A completely different problem surfaces with the interceptor work, Mr. Michael said. City officials believe the main flow pipe -- which runs under the street, under Piney Creek and through farmland off Route 194 before it reaches the treatment plant -- is in a wetland area.

"We can't even award that one [the interceptor contract] until a wetlands study is done," Mr. Michael said. The council voted Monday to have the study done, with the cost not to exceed $2,000.

"It's not what we might consider a wetland, but the MDE has different definitions sometimes," Mr. Smith said. "We have to make the study and get MDE approval to disturb that wetland. We have to wait to get that approval, but I can't see how they can disapprove it when [failure to do the work] could affect the health and welfare of many citizens."

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