Water main work that clogged streets near PSU during the month of December is now complete, but more construction is in the works during coming months. Streets near Portland State should remain clear until the spring, when the Portland Water Bureau has tentatively scheduled to begin work on removing more water mains on Southwest Broadway, north of Southwest Harrison Street.
Water main work that clogged streets near PSU during the month of December is now complete, but more construction is in the works during coming months.
Streets near Portland State should remain clear until the spring, when the Portland Water Bureau has tentatively scheduled to begin work on removing more water mains on Southwest Broadway, north of Southwest Harrison Street. The Water Bureau began replacing deteriorating water mains in May with newer, more durable and safer water mains.
The most recent work on Southwest Broadway south of Southwest Harrison finished last week.
The overall scope of the project includes an $8 million contract with Moore Excavation and other contractors, and while no official delivery date for work near PSU has been posted, the citywide water main improvement is expected to wrap up sometime in late August of this year.
“It’s been very busy downtown with these two major projects,” said Tim Hall, senior community outreach coordinator to the Water Bureau. “All the new stuff has made for some changes, but we’re moving along quite well.”
Now, the Portland Water Bureau is focusing work slightly farther from Portland State on water mains down Southwest Columbia Street between Southwest Broadway and Safeway on Southwest 11th. The Southwest Columbia project had an initial completion date of Jan. 5, but that was moved back until mid-January because of the simultaneous work on the Portland Transit Mall project, work that will add the new Max Green Line and increased public transit throughout the entire downtown area.
Work on the new Green Line is still clogging some streets near Portland State, with workers preparing for the Green Line turnabout on Southwest Jackson Street between Southwest Fifth and Sixth avenues. A group of houses, a parking lot and possibly the Mexican cuisine restaurant Cha Cha Cha on the Southwest Jackson Street block will be torn down to make place for the turnabout.
Moore Excavation is just one of the many contracted vendors that the City of Portland and the Water Bureau have collaborated with to oversee the improvement and replacement of water mains that are more than 60 years old, with most of those older mains and utility lines located around Portland State’s campus.
“The workers have all been great,” said Tricia Knoll, public information officer for the Water Bureau. “Over the holidays, we even had engineers joking about making the fencing around the job sites a little festive. When you hear that sort of thing come up around a project, it feels good to see spirits high, especially when the job is getting done efficiently.”
Knoll said that there have been few complaints about the construction work on Southwest Columbia Street, though in recent days, the construction has shut down parts of the street between Southwest 10th and 12th avenues.
The water main work involved has included digging six-foot trenches in the asphalt and then lowering newer and larger water mains into the existing line, mains that were constructed to be both durable and safe. There have been some minor delays in this process, while crews have also been realigning utility lines and conduits, including a steam line on Southwest Third Avenue that was not on the city plans and has since been removed.
Knoll said that after a water main near the Hawthorne Bridge burst, instigating construction work, workers unearthed old trolley rails that were not on city plans.
“There’s been plenty of unexpected stuff,” Knoll said. “When the trolley line was decommissioned, it must have been paved over and assumed a dead issue. It’s all been pulled out and the water main improved, however.”
The additional water main work on Southwest Broadway will be occurring between Southwest Columbia and Harrison, though the Water Bureau is currently expected to schedule that segment of the project closer to spring break to avoid inconveniencing PSU students.
“Another key point for the Harrison intersections has been paying mind to the Portland Streetcar,” Hall said. “The light rail system is very intricate and we’ve had to bore through the street to get underneath them. That’s part of the reason that work on Broadway didn’t just start on Columbia, because of the light rail line on Harrison.”
Despite Mayor Tom Potter having issued a construction moratorium-an order that allowed for no major construction during the holiday shopping season-prior to the PSU winter break, the Broadway water main improvement took place almost exclusively during the last few weeks of December.
“I’d like to thank Portland State for encouraging the city to allow our work during the moratorium,” Hall said. “The university’s cooperation has been phenomenal.”
The segment of work on Southwest Broadway between Southwest Harrison and Southwest Jackson Streets was delivered on schedule last Friday, followed by a planned flush-out of the water network in that area. Because of the flush-out, a fire hydrant on the southeast corner of the Southwest College and Southwest Broadway intersection was opened to allow for the flush on Saturday.
“I didn’t know what it was at first,” said Ian Blake, 18, a PSU student and Broadway resident.
There is also work planned near the freeway entrance on Southwest 5th Avenue, where a connecting vault for the pipes along Jackson will be installed. Most of that work is expected to take place during the evening and a meeting is being held at the Water Bureau this week to determine the schedule and operations.
Additional information about the water main construction can be found on the Water Bureau’s blog at www.portlandonline.com/water and updates about downtown construction are posted regularly at the City of Portland’s community outreach website, found at www.portlandonline.com/keepportlandmoving.
“There are lots of folk driving, commuting and walking to and from campus,” Knoll said. “We want to keep students and everyone else in the area informed, involved and safe.”