Work nearing completion on downtown Johnson City interceptor project

Gary B. Gray • Nov 23, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Johnson City’s $3.9 million Downtown Brush Creek Sanitary Sewer Interceptor Project is now about 95 percent complete, and downtown streets are expected to be repaved and ready for the Dec. 8 Christmas parade.

Parts of downtown have been pockmarked with orange barrels and detour signs for about one year now, but Thomas Construction Co. is stitching up a large piece of the project at the intersection of East Market and Commerce streets. Neal Whitten, the city’s Water and Sewer Services assistant director, said East Market would be open to traffic on Thanksgiving Day.

“The company has finished installing the sanitary sewer line there, and all the pipe installation downtown is now complete,” Whitten said Wednesday. “They are backfilling a large trench at that intersection and installing an asphalt binder. Following that, a final topping of asphalt will be applied. That is an area where there has been a connection of an existing sanitary sewer pipe to a new interceptor that runs parallel with Commerce.”

There still is work to be completed on a portion of North Commerce in front of WW Cab Co. and U-Haul, and that section will remain closed this weekend. When workers return, they will begin the same procedure initiated on Market, Whitten said.

The project began near the end of December, and the projected completion date was about two weeks ago.

“They are a couple of weeks behind,” he said. “But considering the complexity of this project that’s still pretty good. I believe they will be done by the time the Christmas parade comes around. The project is about 95 percent complete, but there still is restoration work to do, such as fixing streets, sidewalks and curbing.”

The company has, from time to time, had to use explosives to blast away extremely dense rock along the way, and downtown business owners have commented about how the ground will shake from time to time when the explosions take place.

That too has concluded.

An interceptor is a large-diameter sewer designed to catch flow in a large geographic area. And in the end, this major undertaking will increase capacity captured from the East Tennessee State University/Johnson City Medical Center area and update lines to help flow to the Brush Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

These areas are served by two major wastewater interceptors that converge into a single line in the downtown area. The present line serving this is undersized and in need of replacement, especially in conjunction with the proposed drainage improvements in the area.

“The sanitary sewer line is complete from Founder’s Park to Elm Street, and the company has completed the bore under the railroad tracks next to State of Franklin Road to tie into other sewer lines,” he said. “Another one of these will be done on State of Franklin between Sevier and Ernest streets.”

Identified in a 2008 study as a priority for the city, the project is not connected to the city’s stormwater plan, but it does need to be done before any major stormwater work begins so construction can be out of the way. This is the third major phase of interceptor replacement that’s been taking place over the years, and the city continues to plan future phases.

The next phase starts east of Broadway Street and continues all the way to the Brush Creek Wastewater Plant.

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