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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The sewer under PGE Park

The re-renovation of PGE Park -- which has already started, despite the lack of any entry permit from the city to Little Lord Paulson, who's doing it -- has raised questions about the Tanner Creek sewer, which runs under the playing field, the existing grandstands, and the area that's about to be developed into new stands:

Checking over on PortlandMaps, we see that the city sent out a special crew in early November to check on the sewer, apparently by running a TV camera through it. The work order and the results are both available for our perusal.

Two lengths of pipe were checked: one, the 240 feet from the manhole on 18th Avenue at the Max tracks into the stadium; and the other a longer length, 580 feet, from the manhole in the stadium outfield to the one out in front of the facility on Morrison Street. Both stretches of sewer are listed by the city as being made of "variable material," and installed in 1916.

The inspection results on the first length, from 18th into the stadium, were "FAIR CONDITION: LT - MED DEBRIS, PIPE SHAPE CHANGE AT 196'." In 2004, this stretch of sewer was apparently included on a "candidate list" for replacement as part of the sewer bureau's capital improvement program. A 1997 inspection showed: "THE PIPE IS IN GOOD STRUCTURAL CONDITION WITH A LONGITUDINAL CRACK ALONG THE CROWN AND EXPOSED AGGREGATE ALONG THE SIDEWALLS. THE PIPE IS IN FAIR OPERATIONAL CONDITION WITH MINERAL DEPOSITS AND GRAVEL/ROCK DEBRIS ALONG THE INVERT."

The latest results on the longer length were "FAIR CONDITION: TAPS W/DEFECTIVE PLUGS LT - HVY DEBRIS IN WYE'S." In contrast, a 1997 inspection summarized the pipe's condition thusly: "THE PIPE IS IN GOOD STRUCTURAL CONDITION WITH MINOR MORTAR LOSS ALONG THE INVERT AND MINOR EXPOSED REBAR. THE PIPE IS IN GOOD OPERATIONAL CONDITION WITH MINERAL DEPOSITS NOTED." Unlike the shorter stretch of pipe, which was rated as in fair operational condition in both the 1997 and 2009 inspections, the longer stretch of pipe saw its operational condition downgraded from "good" in 1997 to "fair" in 2009.

The latest inspections assigned a "root rating" and "structural rating" of 1 to each of these sewer segments. In the 1997 inspections, both received a "root rating" of 1 and a "structural rating" of 5. We're not sure what these numbers mean, but perhaps a reader with knowledge of sewer matters can edify us.

Certainly the city is concerned about what the renovation project might do to the pipe. It doesn't even want Little Lord Paulson's contractors parking on top of it as part of their so-called preliminary work. In the permit that the City Council's scheduled to vote on today, it states:

Permittee [Paulson's new company] shall cordon off the alignment of the Tanner Creek sewer as it runs underneath the park using barricades, cones or other devices. This is being required to minimize vehicle movements over the top of the alignment and to prevent the parking of vehicles or equipment over the sewer alignment. Permittee shall protect the sewer alignment when vehicles must cross the alignment by overlaying the alignment area with plywood or metal plates.

Permittee will also video camera the Tanner Creek sewer line under the Property following completion of the Scope of Work. Permittee shall coordinate the video requirement through Bret Winkler in the Bureau of Environmental Services ("BES"). Permittee will provide BES a copy of the video tape.

Is it fair to ask why we're going to spend tens of millions to build new grandstands over a 94-year-old sewer pipe that's been deteriorating and listed as a candidate for replacement for years, without first replacing that pipe? Can you imagine how expensive it's going to be to fix that pipe once new grandstands are built on top of it? And of course, you know who will be paying to do the replacement work. Hint: It won't be Henry III.

Comments (9)

"why we're going to spend tens of millions to build new grandstands over a 94-year-old sewer pipe that's been deteriorating and listed as a candidate for replacement for years, without first replacing that pipe?"

I don't know if they'd have to spend that much (they can get away with liners cheaper.) However, going thru the trouble of making sure no one drives over it just in case it breaks and then ignoring it makes you wonder what else they're avoiding doing to save Paulson money.

The current bunch of rogues in City Hall have no grasp of doing it right the first time as a means of long term savings. Because the renovation is done and then has to be ripped apart later, it will cost a lot more than doing it right the first freaking time.

If the pipe does erupt, I'm sure there is a clause in there that says LLP gets to do all the excavation and repair on a no-bid basis and make millions more on a problem they created in the first place. That's how the Paulsons work, you know...

If it breaks during a sporting event, will the sh*t hit the fans?

From my limited understandings of sewer systems (worked a few summers for a small city public works dept in college a couple of years ago) a root rating has to do with tree roots causing damage to a pipe, and the lower the root rating the better. If I rememeber right structural ratings are either 1 - 5 or 1 - 10, with higher the number the better.

If the sewer isn't in good condition this would be the perfect time to fix it, but that would be spendy. I could see the city possibly changing the route of the sewer someday if there is a problem...probably running it under nearby streets, but that would be VERY spendy as well.

Once again, ScamRand will just make up the rules as they go.

WOW, that's one hell of a piece of research on this post!

Ah, yes -- Paulson, Adams, Leonard, Saltzman (PALS) mainlining Portland taxpayers' money right down the drain.

Great work, Jack!

(and your brownies, too).

(or, rather perhaps, your vodniks -- dzieki!).

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