Major Sewer Pipe Project To Disrupt OC Highway

OCEAN CITY — Once the Route 90 span gets fully repaired and reopened in mid-December, residents and visitors can expect another big project to begin shortly thereafter in the midtown area of Ocean City.

Yet, this project has nothing to do with bridges or roadways, rather it has to do with 1,000 lineal feet of sewer line running 25 feet beneath Coastal Highway at 64th Street.

Public Works Director Hal Adkins came before the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday to get the go-ahead to repair that main 48-inch intake wastewater pipe that handles the entire city’s sewer flows on a daily basis.

The total cost of the project which includes design, engineering, bidding, general construction contract and the construction inspection, is $600,000, although Adkins got approval, via unanimous vote from the council, for $63,000 of that budget on Tuesday, which was just for the engineering part of the project.

“Portions of the pipe are in a state of failure, and dare I equate it to the Route 90 Bridge project, but parts are very similar when you look at the deteriorating and spawling concrete and decay,” said Adkins. “We need to move forward at this time with preparing the specifications and bidding efforts to install a structural liner in the pipe. The best time to do it is in January and February when our flows are at an annual low.”

In the summer months, Ocean City’s wastewater flow is approximately 14 million gallons per day, but in January, it reaches its low point of 2.5 million gallons per day, which equates to about 2,500 gallons of wastewater per minute, according to Adkins.

Adkins joked that as the Route 90 Bridge project was nearing completion, he should be almost ready to get started on the vital sewer line project.

“I may just be moving the orange barrels that are blocking the entrance to the bridge and moving them to the street,” said Adkins. “Most likely, you will envision two lanes northbound and southbound on coastal highway with a reduced speed limit of probably 20 mph while we do this project.”

Adkins further explained the details of the project explaining that the altered traffic patterns in the midtown area of Ocean City will be only a few weeks time.

“We have one influent pipe to the wastewater treatment plant, and it runs from Coastal Highway back to the wastewater plant,” said Adkins. “The manhole is on the northbound lane of Coastal Highway, coming in from the north is a 36-inch sewer line, coming into that manhole from the south is a 42-inch sewer line, and an 8-inch inch line from the ocean block. I have to bypass all of those lines to fix this main pipe, so you are going to have a bypass system that will look like hoses on top of the ground with ramps guiding traffic over the hoses, in the vicinity of 62nd to 65th streets for a duration of about 3-4 weeks.”

Adkins said that the main 48-inch pipe is made of reinforced concrete and has been in service since 1969.  During an inspection in January of 2008, it was discovered that the pipe had a “substantial amount of concrete spawling, joint cracks and exposed rebar,” said Adkins.

“We felt the best solution is to bypass the sewer flow, clean the line and install a structural PVC liner inside the whole 1,000 feet,” said Adkins. “In essence in order to stop all flow into this manhole, the sewer flow coming from those three directions must be bypassed around the manhole via above-ground hoses. Picture a pump being placed in the manhole, bypassing the sewer flows through hoses coming up and running across the highway, which will entail protection of the hose(s), traffic control signage to warn motorists of the ramp and reduced speeds.”

Adkins said the traffic pattern changes will more than likely take place between mid-January and mid-February. He said the entire project would be done by early March.

“So, it’s coming above ground?,” queried Councilman Jim Hall. “Well, if that’s the case, that’s when I’m going on vacation.”