On the whole, there has been a lot of progress on the Soapstone Valley sewer rehabilitation project, which began in March 2022. Stream restoration, intended to protect the streambed and sewer infrastructure from erosion, has been completed. And on the 114-year-old main sewer line, all segments except one, parallel to Connecticut Avenue, have been relined.
Still on the rehab to-do list are that last sewer main segment, three ancillary sewer lines, and 20 manholes.
The remaining sewer lines
Relining the segment of the main sewer line called “Shot 10” has been delayed as the contractor needs to get an excavator from the staging area behind Park Van Ness across the stream, and an access path must be constructed. DC Water project manager Peter Tinubu told me in an email that contractor IPR proposed using load mats (an example here) to minimize impact, but the National Park Service wanted a temporary bridge at the site.
When I asked Nick Bartolomeo, NPS resource manager for Rock Creek Park, to confirm the request, he made no reference to a bridge. Bartolomeo wrote: “The contractor, IPR, is currently developing the plan, but elements likely to be included are the use of load matting on the stream and along access paths.”
As for the three ancillary lines, one connects Park Van Ness and Park Connecticut to the main sewer, another goes to Lenore Lane, and the third is on Audubon Terrace.
Issues delaying work on the Lenore Lane and Audubon Terrace ancillary sewer lines include the conditions of the aging pipes.
Tinubu said camera checks of the Lenore sewer pipe last March found it to be in “terrible condition.” And at the ANC 3F meeting on November 28th, meeting, Tinubu said DC Water’s structural group, designer and contractor IPR had devised a solution, but needed to finalize it.
At Audubon Terrace, the issues include bad pipes, and that 11 of the laterals connecting houses to the Audubon sewer line do not have cleanouts. The cleanouts are necessary for required air quality monitoring, and also for plugging pipes to prevent gases from traveling up the laterals into the homes. This segment of DC Water’s March 2023 public meeting explains the plugs and monitoring plan.
The manholes rehabilitation project
DC Water has said very little publicly about the manholes rehabilitation in its periodic project emails and at ANC meetings. Even at the last ANC meeting, there was no mention of this part of the project, and the agency has not responded in much detail to our questions about the nature of the repairs or what is involved.
Peter Tinubu did tell me in August that ten of the manholes between Broad Branch Stream to Audubon Terrace had been repaired, but I saw that work on these manholes continued throughout the fall. Tinubu acknowledged in a November 30th email that a subcontractor had to redo the work. An additional seven manholes have been worked on and still need to undergo quality control testing. That leaves 20 awaiting repairs.
Spring 2024 completion date
Tinubu also stated that these issues should not cause an overall delay, and DC Water still expects the project to be complete by spring 2024. This includes removing the temporary roadways and bridges, and planting new trees and native plants throughout the project site.