OCEAN CITY — Residents tired of dealing with ripped up roads, sunken patches and uneven pavement did not hold back Saturday when they heard about a new project to replace more than 20 blocks of underground sewer mains.
The Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority will begin a project Sept. 4 to replace two force water mains between Eighth and 31st streets along Bay Avenue. The nearly $7 million project will last through May, take a break over the summer and finish up the following fall.
“We’re sorry, but it has to be done. The alternative is not an alternative,” CMCMUA Chief Engineer Thomas J. La Rocco told about two dozen residents who came out to the Howard Stainton Senior Center for a presentation on the project.
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Residents were critical of the repairs, timing and coordination. One resident from Simpson Avenue, who declined to be identified, asked why the project was not coordinated with earlier road projects over the past five years, one of which just recently wrapped up three months ago.
The CMCMUA project does not affect residential connections to the sewer system, La Rocco said. Those connections and pipes that lead to one of four sewage pump stations along the island are owned by New Jersey American Water. The pipe that is being replaced are two mains that run from pump station to pump station and eventually to the water treatment plant.
Currently the CMCMUA operates one 12-inch and one 20-inch iron main under Bay Avenue. The project consists of installing a new 20-inch PVC main and slip-lining the existing 20-inch iron main with HDPE line to create three mains.
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According to La Rocco, the CMCMUA had a main failure in 2000 at 31st Street that resulted in 200 feet of the 20-inch iron pipe being replaced. He said that inside the old pipe they found corrosion that results from the mixture of oxygen and hydrogen sulfides, which is a gas produced by wastewater.
“That’s the rotten-egg smell,” La Rocco said.
Officials at the CMCMUA believed the issue to be isolated until another failure in 2017 at 25th Street where wastewater bubbled up from the ground.
“It became apparent that our problems were more extensive,” La Rocco said. “It was very disruptive.”
Four hundred feet of the 20-inch iron pipe there was replaced.
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In August 2017, the CMCMUA decided it had to make extensive repairs and began developing the current project. It went out to bid last year, and the contract was awarded to Lafayette Utility Construction, La Rocco said.
He said the construction will be minimally disruptive and that whole sections of road will not be shut down at one time.
He said the final paving will be required to match the existing grading on the road and that the asphalt will not be patch work.