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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 613, Portland, OR 97204

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Downtown Urgent Sewer Repairs Project

COVID-19

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The City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services is continuing our work to repair and replace critical sewer and stormwater infrastructure. Environmental Services will continue to provide information and updates on construction schedules and activities during the COVID-19 emergency. 

Updated July 30, 2020

Environmental Services is preparing to construct urgent repairs to 3,600 feet of 140-year-old public sewer pipes in downtown Portland that are in very poor condition. At a high risk of collapsing, the pipes require immediate attention to protect public health, buildings, and streets from sewage releases and flooding.

Originally installed between 1867 and 1917, most of the pipes were built within two to three decades after Portland was founded in 1845. The collapse and failure of these pipes would have severe consequences to the Portland Downtown Neighborhood, the Central Business District, and the Downtown Core. Urgent repairs now will make them last another 65 years, increase their resiliency to earthquake damage, and help prevent sewage releases into downtown buildings and streets..

This project is part of the larger Downtown-Old Town Sewer Repair Program managed by Environmental Services to assess the condition of and repair the public sewer system serving Downtown and Old Town Portland. The program represents millions of dollars in investments. Ultimately, these improvements will extend the life cycle of downtown sewer infrastructure by more than 50 years.

Location

The project boundary is SW Ankeny Street to SW Market Street between SW Naito Parkway and SW 12th Avenue.

The bold lines on the map below indicate pipe work locations. They also show where the pipes are located in relation to the center of the street. For example, on SW Taylor Street between SW Park Avenue and SW Broadway, one pipe is north of the center line and another pipe is south of center.

Project Map

To avoid circling around construction to find parking, please use SmartPark garages. The nearest SmartPark garages are illustrated on the project map above.

Look-Ahead Schedule

Crews will spend another three weeks or so inspecting pipes, taking closed circuit television video of mainline sewer pipes and service laterals, and locating where adjacent buildings are connected to the public sewer. 

In August, crews will begin major pipe repair work. Before repairs begin, crews will install tree protective fencing, set up traffic controls, stage equipment and materials, and install sewer bypass systems to ensure uninterrupted sewer service to adjacent buildings.

The project is expected to be completed in early 2021. 

Sewer Pipe Video Inspections

To inspect the public sewer pipes, crews first flush the pipes with water to clear debris from them. Then they insert a video camera to document the condition of the pipe and locate sewer service lateral connections. Crews typically park trucks and equipment near manholes to do this work. You can expect minor traffic delays, on-street parking removal near manholes, and lane restrictions that last about a day at each location.

Sewer Service Lateral Locates

A sewer service lateral is a pipe that connects a building’s private sewer line to the mainline public sewer pipe. Knowing exactly where and how buildings are connected to the public sewer is important for conducting pipe repairs, and for providing a bypass system to ensure that sewer service is maintained during pipe repairs.

If crews cannot locate a building’s sewer service lateral, they will need to coordinate with building owners and property managers for access to the building. Building access will allow crews to investigate sewer and stormwater pipes, determine basement layouts and utility vault locations, and plan any necessary private plumbing modifications to complete public sewer repairs.

Work Hours and Duration

Crews will conduct the pre-construction video inspections during daytime hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday if needed.

When the pipe repairs begin in August, crews will work a combination of daytime and nighttime hours, Monday through Friday, and Saturday if necessary. Pipe repairs are anticipated to take less than a week at each location, including up to three nights to complete the pipe lining process.

Coordination with Multiple Partners

As with all sewer construction projects, work schedules may fluctuate due to weather, conditions underground, subcontractor schedules, availability of materials, and other factors. In downtown Portland, those other factors require coordination with multiple partners, including but not limited to the following:

  • Private Property Owners and Property Managers:  We need to coordinate access to downtown buildings to investigate sewer and stormwater pipes, determine basement layouts and utility vault locations, and install private plumbing modifications as needed to complete public sewer repairs.
  • TriMet:  We need to ensure that our construction activities along MAX light rail tracks and bus routes do not conflict with the Steel Bridge MAX Improvements that will disrupt all MAX lines and downtown bus routes in August 2020, and other public transit system improvements during the project.
  • Portland Bureau of Transportation:  We need to apply for and comply with street use permits, on-street parking permits, approved traffic control plans, and construction contract specifications that reduce public inconvenience.
  • Contractors, Subcontractors, and Suppliers:  We need to coordinate our work with contractors, subcontractors, and material and equipment suppliers, many of whom are serving multiple priority infrastructure projects for the City of Portland.
  • Downtown Businesses:  Our goal is to reduce construction impacts to downtown businesses and their customers as much as possible.
  • Downtown Residents:  Our goal is to reduce construction impacts to downtown residents, hotel guests, and the houseless community.
  • Event Managers:  Our goal is not to interfere with major downtown events.
  • Safety Officers:  Our top priority is public health and safety—for our work crews and for the public—so we need to plan and schedule our work in a way that reflects that priority.

Construction Methods

To repair most of the sewer pipes, the City will use Cured-in-Place Pipe Lining (CIPP). Working from a manhole, crews insert a flexible liner inside the old pipe. Crews then inflate the liner and use hot water, steam, or ultraviolet light to cure the liner, forming a rigid, smooth surface that seals cracks and restores the pipe to near-new condition. 

Much of the pipe lining work will be done overnight from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Some locations may be done during the day so as not to disturb people sleeping at night.

A few locations will require digging in the street to replace a broken pipe or to install a sewer access cleanout to complete the repairs. This noisier work will be done during the day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

More details about Cured-in-Place Pipe Lining and Open Trench Excavation are available at www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/methods.  

What To Expect During Construction

You can expect the following activities and impacts during construction:

  • Traffic Delays: Expect traffic delays, temporary lane closures, and other traffic controls in and near the work zones.
  • No Parking: Little or no on‐street parking will be allowed in and near work zones, especially during work hours.
  • Equipment Storage: Equipment and materials may be stored on streets overnight.
  • Noise: Vactor trucks will be in the area to operate vacuum pumps necessary to clean the pipes prior to the lining process and to maintain sewer service during the lining.
  • Services Maintained: Sewer, water, and other utilities are expected to remain in service during construction.
  • Daytime Work: Daytime work will include inspecting pipes and manholes, cleaning pipes, sawcutting pavement, and doing small repairs. Crews will also set up the bypass service that provides uninterrupted sewer service to adjacent buildings during pipe repairs.
  • Overnight Work: The pipe lining process may begin in the early evening and extend into the next morning as the new lining hardens in place. Then crews will reinstate the service laterals to buildings and remove the bypass system.

For More Information

Environmental Services will inform residents and businesses about project activities and respond to questions and concerns in a timely manner. The following resources will help you stay informed and report concerns:

  • Project Webpage: Use the shortcut www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/downtownurgent.
  • Email Updates: Sign up for weekly updates by clicking the SIGN UP button at the top of this page.
  • Questions: Call 503-823-5315, stating that Downtown Urgent Repairs is your area of concern. Outreach staff will return your call by the next business day.
  • Nighttime Noise Complaint: Call 503-823-1338, stating that Downtown Urgent Repairs is your project of concern. The noise hotline is monitored by site inspectors.
  • Outreach Staff: Email city outreach staff.

Sewer Emergencies

In the event of a sewer backup or basement flooding, call the Maintenance hotline immediately at 503-823-1700. It is staffed all hours and all days, 24/7.