Federal Street Pipe Project Underway

A St. Johnsbury Dept. of Public Works crew begins a project on Federal Street in St. Johnsbury on Monday, July 26, 2021, to install new piping in an area where a broken wastewater pipe was located but determined to be too close to a four-unit apartment building. (Photo by Dana Gray)

ST. JOHNSBURY — Crewmen from the town’s Department of Public Works began a wastewater pipe project on Monday that will end multiple months of frequent sewer sucking on Federal Street.

At least twice a week since April the town has deployed its vac-con truck to the stormwater catch basin in the lower back parking lot of The Caledonian-Record to suck the wastewater no longer flowing through a functioning pipe.

Work on Monday included identifying the excavation area, cutting through concrete and pavement and using an excavator to pull up a section of sidewalk.

Public works personnel determined where the line was broken - just over 30 yards below the catch basin - but the trouble is the century-old pipe runs beneath the front porches of a four-unit apartment building owned by Bill Thurston. Town Manager Chad Whitehead said they won’t excavate so close to a building, fearing that it could weaken the integrity of the structure.

Unable to access the one failed portion of the pipe, the crew is forced to introduce a new line of 13-foot pipe sections that runs away from the building, near the Federal Street sidewalk. Project Foreman Ruben Serrano said 14 sections of pipe will be needed between connection points at the catch basin and the ground beneath a driveway past the apartment building.

The project is expected to take multiple days. The public works crew asks that no through-traffic use Federal Street. People needing to access properties along and off Federal Street will find one lane open in the area of the fix.

The town is working through a stormwater, sewer separation upgrade, but the fix needed on Federal Street will not include that upgrade, Whitehead said. There is a plan for those upgrades, and the Federal Street area is lower on the list of separation priorities.

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