Elm Fork sewer crossing project wraps up on time, under budget

Repairs were completed this month to the Elm Fork sewer crossing that had been damaged by storm debris.

A project to fix a broken sewer crossing and reroute a nearby part of the city sewer system wrapped up under budget, Gainesville Public Works Director Ron Sellman told city council members recently.

Replacement of a damaged sanitary sewer crossing at the Elm Fork of the Trinity River concluded with a total cost of $409,000, Sellman said in a presentation to the city council Tuesday, Nov. 19. That was under budget by about $20,000.

In July, the city had awarded the contract for $429,166 to replace the crossing to Sherman-based Lynn Vessels Construction LLC and redirect part of the sewer system north of it, the Register reported previously.

“We basically fixed one and eliminated two bad ones,” Sellman explained. The crossing that was replaced — near California Street — was expanded to accommodate flow from both the old one there and from another crossing farther north, near Scott Street, that was removed.

Crews were able to drill under the river to install the new crossing near California Street rather than digging a trench, Sellman said.

Usually directional drilling is more expensive than digging, City Manager Barry Sullivan pointed out. Sellman said it turned out to be about $24,000 cheaper in that case, likely because of the cost to redirect the river while digging.

“We did a really good job and I think we have something that’s in there that’s permanent,” Sellman told the council.

The crossing had to be replaced because a log in the Elm Fork damaged it. That crossing itself had been a temporary aerial one put in after the permanent one had washed out, Sellman said.

Sellman estimated both that old permanent crossing and the one that was removed near Scott Street were “at least 50 to 60 years old.”

After the log knocked the aerial crossing out of commission, city sewer workers plugged it to prevent leaks and were having to pump the manhole next to it regularly to keep the manhole from overflowing.

“This will end up saving us probably $40,000 overtime,” Sullivan said, since sewer workers no longer have to pump out the manhole.

The project was completed on schedule and paid for using available funds the city held in reserve for projects, according to Sullivan. He said no debt was incurred.

“That’s why we are fiscally prudent because sometimes you have these unexpected things jump up,” he told council members.

The new crossing was put into service Friday, Nov. 15, Sellman said.

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