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Sewer Rehabilitation Project in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park (SC977) - Update #4

1 Nov 2020 10:08 AM | Anonymous

[4th in a series on this DPW project]

The monthly Progress Meetings for the DPW Project SC977 are being attended by Chris Wharton (FOGFLP Board) and Dave Hollander (Windsor Hill Conservation Trail). They have not reported any issues of concern arising at the meetings.

Since the last update of June 9, 2 site tours involving FOGFLP have taken place. On August 26 Jack Lattimore toured the site alone. 2 issues were noted:

First, an open, ground level sewer vault was seen at the north end of the temporary access road.

The second issue was rutting along the temporary access road. 

Both issues were reported to James Hurley, the Project Manager.

The site appeared to be in good order. The rutting that was reported from the August tour has been repaired by the installation of timber matting along the wettest area of the temporary access road. The open sewer vault still has not been addressed and Mr. Hurley said he would see to it. There are a number of manholes that have not been repaired. These manholes may be listed on another concurrent project (SC955) that has work in the same area. Mr Hurley said he would check it out but assured us that all the manholes in this section of the sewershed would be repaired and have leak-proof and locking lids installed before the projects are closed out. We were pleased to find out that DPW was able to create a new terminus for the temporary access road which means that at least 3 large, mature trees were saved.

We were surprised to realize that the permanent access road for project SC955 is to be built less than a 100’ from the temporary access road that was cut for this project, SC977. Over 80 mature trees were removed to create the temporary access road. Yet another access road will require removal of many more mature trees. Apparently the EPA consent decree that is behind the sewer upgrades requires a permanent road for future inspections. We could not understand, however, why yet another road is needed. Why not just harden the temporary road already built?

In addition, an abandoned section of the old Gwynns Falls Parkway that appears to be in stable condition is only yards away from the planned permanent road. Why not use that section of abandoned roadway? It seems like a waste and yet another assault on Baltimore City’s premier forest by the Department of Public Works. Mature urban trees are not commodities to be cut down to make 2x4’s, only to be replaced with saplings that will take decades to provide the same ecological services. These assaults on our park and forest must stop!

Mr. Hurley described the inspection of a large concrete sewer vault in the middle of the stream just south of Windsor Mill Road, known as the “battleship.” Workers had to first wade through the stream to reach the vault. When the lid was removed it became clear that stream water was infiltrating into the sewer line inside the vault. This is one of the big problems of the old sewer system, built between 1910 and 1930. When large amounts of water rush into the sewer lines during storm events it causes the lines to overflow out of the manholes onto the surrounding area - a pollution event and definite health hazard.

Sewer lines in the sewershed are being inspected using video technology. In late November or December, after most of the feeder lines and manholes have been repaired the “main event” of this project will take place. The 30” sewer line actually in the steam will be repaired. Much of the pipe will be re-lined. However, badly damaged pipe within the stream will need to be replaced, which requires a combination of diverting the stream and pumping the sewage through temporary pipes. Stay tuned!

Submitted by Jack Lattimore, October 24, 2020

Where is the park? 

On the western edge of Baltimore, right where Interstate 70 terminates.

39° 18′ 23″ N, 76° 41′ 27″ W
39.306389, -76.690833

Mailing Address:

Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park
1920 Eagle Drive
Baltimore, Md. 21207

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