Storm sewer project continues at 1st Avenue and 1st Street NW; Discoveries, challenges with replacing 100-year-old infrastructure extend project time frame

To there, from here ... Photos above show the ending and starting points of the current storm sewer replacement project taking place on 1st Avenue NW and 1st Street NW in Waukon. Each photo (from the project’s early stages) shows not only the more modern concrete box culverts that will be reconnected by the project, including the source flow area of the project on 1st Avenue SW and the receiving flow area of the project on 1st Street SW, but also shows the openings of the section of older storm sewer being bypassed, originally created in a laid-up rock arch format more than a century ago. Those century-old openings of the storm sewer line that has run under the two-story building and property that formerly housed the McMillan 66 gas station on the southwest corner of that intersection will be capped off as part of the project, with the new pre-cast concrete storm sewer instead being rerouted underneath the direction of each street involved, heading east underneath 1st Avenue SW to its intersection with 1st Street SW (as depicted in the lower photo of the excavated area), where the line will then head south to complete the replacement project connection in an effort to improve storm water flow from northwest Waukon. Skyline Construction, a division of Bruening Rock Products, is the contractor for the project, which has been taking place since the beginning of August and is expected to continue for at least another month into October. Standard photos by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

Waukon City Manager Gary Boden provided an update to The Standard relating to the storm sewer replacement project taking place on 1st Street NW and 1st Avenue NW. This ongoing work is visible to the public just a block north of Main Street in downtown Waukon near McMillan Muffler, The Standard Newspaper, The Copy Shoppe, Side Street Cycles and Kurth Plumbing and Heating, among other area businesses.

Boden shared with The Standard that the storm sewer project is progressing, with some slow-down resulting as necessary excavation and planning adjustments are taking place. Boden noted some challenges relating to this project including some difficulty in locating a water main among other variables as 100-plus-year-old infrastructure is being replaced.

Boden further noted that this project relates to the replacement of a portion of arched limestone storm sewer, over a century old and nearing the end of its lifespan, with sections of pre-cast concrete storm sewer as a durable material expected to serve equally as long or longer as a permanent replacement. Boden advised that the path of the underground storm sewer in this area will be rerouted to follow the street, to the intersection of 1st Street and 1st Avenue NW and then south on First Street NW, rather than the original path which travels diagonally under the former McMillan 66 private property on the southwest corner of that intersection.

Boden noted that some delays have been experienced and that challenges exist due to some of Waukon’s infrastructure not being well mapped, with the City’s engineering firm, Fehr Graham Engineering, and Water and Sewer Department Superintendent Jim Cooper making progress in mapping infrastructure throughout the city as this and other improvements and repairs are being performed.

Relating to the storm sewer replacement on 1st Street NW and 1st Avenue NW, Boden noted that about three to four weeks have been added to the original estimated project duration with some additional excavation and engineering being required, likely bringing the project’s completion date into October. Boden advised that the remaining limestone storm sewer traveling under that former McMillan 66 private property will be capped and will no longer connect to the City’s storm sewer system.

Boden noted that this necessary infrastructure upgrade will better connect to the storm sewer system and the water retention basin located in the northwest portion of Waukon, a recommendation provided by Fehr Graham Engineering, for improved storm water flow, longevity and access for future maintenance.

From a budget standpoint, Boden advised that this project was originally anticipated at a cost of $644,840 with additional changes, excavation and engineering currently placing the project expense at an estimated $773,313. Boden noted that much of the project cost will be paid through Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and water utility/sanitary sewer utility surplus funds being options to fund overages. Boden clarified that no bond issue or additional taxes will be necessary in funding this planned project.

Boden further noted that he will be providing a more detailed report and update relating to capital improvement expenditures and budgeting at the Tuesday, September 5 Waukon City Council meeting following the Monday, September 4 Labor Day holiday. Coverage of the Tuesday, September 5 Waukon City Council meeting will be included in the Wednesday, September 13 print and e-edition of The Standard.