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Willmar may scale back Lakeland Drive sewer and roadway work

The city of Willmar is considering scaling back on plans for replacing the sanitary sewer line and reconstructing the roadway on Lakeland Drive. Further study has found the sewer to be in reasonably good condition. Sewer replacement could be delayed and a street overlay undertaken rather than reconstruction. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR — City staff and the consultant designing the Lakeland Drive roadway and sanitary sewer project will be asking the Willmar City Council if the council wants to scale back some of the initially proposed work because it may not be needed right now.

The consultant and staff working on the project decided to take a second look at what work was actually needed after original cost estimates for replacing the sanitary sewer line and reconstructing the roadway rose more than anticipated, said Bruce Peterson, city planning director and acting public works director.

In order to determine the condition of the sewer line, the consultant and staff agreed to have the city contract with a company to "televise" the sewer line with a little camera on a creeper that crawls through the line and takes pictures of the pipe.

It found that the sewer line is in overall reasonably good condition and is not at capacity, but that the flow is impeded in several places by debris, which can be removed by cleaning.

If cleaning is successful, the line would not need replacing in its entirety. There would then be no need to proceed with the complete reconstruction of Lakeland Drive. An overlay on Lakeland could be considered until such time that the sewer is replaced and the roadway is rebuilt, says Peterson.

The original belief that the larger project was needed stems from a sewer plan that said the lift station at the MinnWest Technology Campus was old and not functioning correctly. The lift station serves Country Club Drive and Eagle Lake.

The plan said the force main, which brings sewage from the lift station to where sewage can flow by gravity to the south, is also in bad condition.

Also, the study raised questions about whether the Lakeland Drive sewer had capacity and condition to function for the future.

Predicated on some beliefs at that time, the thought was that the Lakeland Drive sewer should be replaced with a larger interceptor line.

The project that the council contracted engineering services for last spring included not just designing the lift station and the force main but also anticipated reconstruction of all of Lakeland Drive to accommodate a new sewer line, said Peterson.

But after the original cost estimates rose, the group went back to the drawing board and reevaluated whether all the work was needed, said Peterson.

"Everyone in the group agrees that the sewer line needs to be replaced whenever Lakeland Drive is reconstructed,'' he said. "Until that time, we'll do some cleaning and remove the impediments that exist in the line because it's way below capacity. The flow appears to be pretty decent through that line. Because it does not make sense at this point to totally replace that line, it also doesn't make sense to completely reconstruct Lakeland Drive.''

What remains in the project is replacing the MinnWest lift station and the force main, both located at the northerly end of Lakeland Drive.

Peterson said the primary concern is the lift station.

"We need to make sure that lift station is functioning,'' he said.

The design process is going well and should be completed in time to include the lift station and force main in the city's list of 2014 projects.

The plan envisions keeping the recreation trail and railroad crossing quiet zone and possibly adding turning lanes in congested traffic areas between High Avenue and Trott Avenue.

Peterson updated the council's Public Works/Safety Committee on the project Aug. 27. Staff will return to the committee and ask what the council wants to do and readjust the scope of the project to reflect the council's desires, he said.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150