New $45.5M Pipeline to Replace Damaged, Leaky One

The pipeline runs along Bair Island and urgently needed repairs.

The South Bayside System Authority will be replacing an old sewage pipe with a new 2.5-mile pipeline starting in spring 2013.

The 18-month project comes as a necessary improvement to the old pipe built in 1971 that has a history of leakage and damage. The $45.5 million endeavor is part of the Authority’s $390 million Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to replace and upgrade aging infrastructure.

The improvements will increase the reliability of the pipe’s operation and reduce the likelihood of spills and discharges of untreated wastewater to the environment. In 2012, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave wastewater—one of eight categories rated— a C+ grade in the California Infrastructure Report Card.

“Fixing infrastructure in America is always talked about but seldom performed,” said Duane Sandul, Communications Consultant for the Authority.

“Candidates—at the state and federal level—always talk about putting people back to work by building infrastructure,” he added. “Now here’s the chance.”

The pipe portion comprises less than 25 percent of the total nine mile pipe that runs from the Menlo Park pump state to the Authority’s wastewater treatment plant, but has been involved approximately 75 percent of the past leaks. The original plant was designed for limited movement and is located almost entirely within soft bay mud that creates unstable conditions.

The leaks were always repaired before any serious ecological damage occurred, Sandul said. But particularly with the restoration of Bair Island, where the pipe will flow through, updates have become more urgent.

The Authority—which owns and operates the regional wastewater treatment at the eastern end of Redwood Shores—will install the pipe adjacent to the old one, which begins on Maple Street in the Inner Harbor—or Docktown—area and then runs underneath Redwood Creek along Inner Bair Island. It continues under Pulgas Creek and along Skyway Road, west of the San Carlos airport. The final section is within Monte Vista Drive to the San Carlos pump station.

Because the portion along Bair Island Road in Redwood City will be a microtunnel underground, there will be no road closures. See the attached photo for a graphic of microtunneling. However, the Authority does anticipate increased truck traffic and the parking lot will not be available between spring and fall 2013.

Because the launch point for microtunneling will occur on Maple Street in front of Docktown, through traffic to the end of Maple Street will be routed via a temporary roadway just south of the location and result in some one-way controlled traffic throughout 2013.

Part of the pipe construction on Monte Vista Drive in San Carlos will likely be narrowed to one-lane traffic. Residents will use a temporary construction traffic detour on Skyway Road in front of the Skyway Building property starting late spring 2013 until summer 2014.

The public review period for the environmental review process will occur in late summer 2012 and be completed no later than December 2012. The Authority is finalizing the design of the pipe this year.

A History of Lacking Infrastructure

The estimated investment to improve deteriorating wastewater infrastructure just in the Bay Area is $80 million per year over the next several years. The annual statewide capital expenditure for sewer systems, pump stations and wastewater treatment plants is estimated to be $4 billion per year for the next 10 years for a total of $40.5 billion.

In 2006, the California Infrastructure Report Card said $370 billion over the next 10 years was needed to bring up California’s grade to a “B”. In 2012, the 10-year total unfunded infrastructure investment required has increased to $650 billion.

The entire force main system is scheduled for repair and replacement since the entirety has demonstrated weakness over the past 30 years.

“The SBSA Commission was way ahead of the curve and took responsibility and political will to address our deteriorating facilities and infrastructure,” Sandul said. “And the city councils in Redwood City, San Carlos, and Belmont, and the directors in the West Bay Sanitary District – our owners – also demonstrated leadership by putting financial programs in place to support the improvement projects.”

To receive project updates, send your e-mail address to: sbsanews@yahoo.com For questions about the project, contact: Duane Sandul, representing SBSA, (650) 585-2181.

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Steve Hayes July 03, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I get the feeling we are paying for a gold plated sewer treatment system.To that point, why not run the pipe straight across the island or around the top of the island? - that would cut the distance to less than half and presumably save $20-$25 million.


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