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Award-Winning Sewer Design Stops “Dancing Manhole” in Fall River

Award-Winning Sewer Design Stops “Dancing Manhole” in Fall River

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Rhode Island recently announced the City of Fall River earned an Engineering Excellence Award for a major sewer system rehabilitation project that used innovative construction methods to minimize disruption above and below ground in the heavily congested Globe Street Four Corners area of the City.

The Globe Street Four Corners intersection has underground infrastructure dating to the early 1900s. The antiquated brick sewer system was inadequate to accommodate the combined sewer and stormwater flows resulting in repeated nuisance flooding in the neighborhood. During intense rain events, the Globe Street sewer surcharged with enough pressure to cause one particular manhole cover to “dance” off its frame.

An innovative $3.4 million sewer rehabilitation project corrected the flooding problem without interrupting critical underground infrastructure, and with minimal traffic disruption.

According to the City’s Deputy Administrator of Community Utilities, Paul Ferland, “The City has had flooding in this area and issues with one particular manhole for years, it was such a challenging interconnection. Because the project site was on Globe Street, one of the busiest intersections in the City with high traffic volume and critical underground utilities, fixing it required out-of-the-box thinking. Wright-Pierce engineered a successful sewer rehabilitation solution that mitigated the problems and did it with minimal pain points.”

A unique design was used that tripled the capacity of the century old 33-inch diameter brick sewer while maintaining live sewer and stormwater service through the pipe during construction. The top of the brick sewer pipe was cut and removed. Precast concrete open-bottom “doghouse” culvert sections were installed over the brick sewer. The doghouse-shaped sections enlarged the combined sewer and linked the upstream 66-inch diameter sewer to the City’s combined sewer overflow (CSO) storage tunnel. The conduit’s lower vertical profile, compared to traditional round pipe, enabled the sewer to be built below most existing utility crossings, allowing uninterrupted sewer, water, gas and electrical utility function. By maintaining the bottom of the existing brick sewer throughout construction, the need for a costly and risky bypass pumping system was eliminated.

Pictured left to right: Andrew Smith, Project Engineer, Wright-Pierce and Paul Ferland, Deputy Administrator of Community Utilities, City of Fall River, recently accepted the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Rhode Island Engineering Excellence Award for a major sewer rehabilitation project in the Globe Street area of the City.