14th-15th St. sewer-line upgrade nears completion

       An 858-foot sewer-line replacement project that has impacted a number of homes in Old Colorado City homes off 14th and 15th streets is reportedly on schedule for completion at the end of March.
      The work involves replacing 8-inch clay lines that are more than 50 years old with 12-inch polyethylene lines. The lines in question had reached 80 percent capacity, according to Jon Newby of Colorado Springs Utilities. “When they reach 80 percent, we upsize them,” he said.
      A key day in the project was March 23, when 21 service lines were to be disconnected for about a day and a half to allow installation of a new line down the alley between 14th and 15th Streets and Kiowa Street and Pikes Peak Avenue. Using current technology for such work, Swerdfeger Construction (which is contracting for the work with Colorado Springs Utilities), has been essentially pulling the new pipes through the paths of the old ones -meaning they don't have to be dug up first and service lines disconnected longer.
      The project area has required both 14th and 15th streets between Pikes Peak and Kiowa to be closed off for several days.
      “People don't like this mess, but in the long run it'll keep sewage from backing up into their basements,” said Brandon Kochen, project foreman for Swerdfeger.
      A similar sentiment was expressed by a resident of the area, who told the Westside Pioneer the upgrade project was welcome. “If you flush something down, you like to know it's going to the right place,” she said.
      The issue of stoppages hit home to five residents in the 2100 block of West Bijou Street in January, when sewage from an estimated 600 “upstream” addresses got stuck in the main line and backed up through their service lines and into their houses.
      Related to that event, Colorado Springs Utilities has recently changed its policy on back-ups from the main line so that customers who can prove they've cleaned or replaced their service lines in the past two years will be reimbursed for clean-up costs in the event of such a calamity.
      The 80-percent-capacity finding was part of Utilities' ongoing Sanitary Sewer Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program (SSERP), of which Newby is the principal project manager.
      “We're in the process of checking the condition of all interceptors, trunk lines and major carriers in our system,” he said. He explained that these are the larger mains in the city, accounting for about 250 miles of the city's overall 1,500 miles of sewer lines.
      Larger mains are generally those 10 inches or larger. At 8 inches, the lines being replaced in the local project were not originally intended to be major carriers, but have become so because of growth in the area, Newby said.
      The city has been reducing the number of stoppages citywide in recent years, according to its figures, with Utilities officials saying its performance in that regard is one of the best in the country.
      

Westside Pioneer article