Storm sewer project now complete and streets are open again ...

The storm sewer replacement project that began in the early summer of this year involving the intersection of 1st Street NW and 1st Avenue NW in Waukon has now been brought to completion, allowing for the opening of both of those roadways (as evident in the photo above by Standard Assistant Editor Joe Moses) Friday, December 15 for the first time in approximately six months. The project involved the bypassing of a portion of arched limestone storm sewer, over a century old and nearing the end of its lifespan, with sections of pre-cast concrete storm sewer as a durable material expected to serve equally as long or longer as a permanent replacement. The original arched limestone sewer ran diagonally underneath the former McMillan’s 66 property visible in the photo at right on the southwest corner of that intersection. That arched limestone sewer was capped off as part of the project and the new pre-cast concrete sewer structure was rerouted to follow the two intersecting streets, connecting to the previous storm sewer system, which carries stormwater flow from the northwest quadrant of town, near the middle of that 100 block of 1st Avenue NW and running east to the intersection with 1st Street NW (pictured above), where it then heads south down 1st Street NW to again connect with the existing storm sewer near the midpoint of the initial block of that street.

Originally anticipated to be completed during the summer months, the project experienced numerous delays that, instead, ultimately pushed its completion date into December, with a relatively mild start to the winter season allowing for the project to be completed. Among the delays experienced was the difficulty of locating an existing water main running in the area of the project, along with other underground infrastructure not being very well mapped, but that mapping issue being remedied as the project progressed. Replacement of sections of water and sanitary sewer main were also necessary along 1st Avenue NW from the west side of the box culvert east to the intersection of 1st Avenue NW and 1st Street NW, as was the connection of the drainage systems of some of the buildings adjacent to the project that had been previously tied into the older arched portion of the old storm sewer system that has now been bypassed with completion of this project.

Another unexpected delay was the discovery of an underground tank within the First Avenue NW portion of the project that had not previously been documented. Not only did that discovery add time to the project due to the process involved in removing and disposing of the tank according to Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulations, but soil sampling, testing, mitigation and replacement also needed to be completed according to federal and state regulations.

The ultimate goal of the project was to improve storm water flow, longevity and access for future maintenance with better connection to the City’s storm sewer system and the water retention basin located in the northwest portion of Waukon, a recommendation provided by the City of Waukon’s engineering firm, Fehr Graham Engineering. Waukon City Manager Gary Boden had previously noted that much of the project cost was to be paid through Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and water utility/sanitary sewer utility surplus funds being options to fund overages. He further clarified that no bond issue or additional taxes would be necessary in funding this project that had been previously planned and budgeted for.