CLAREMONT — A sewer main that carries two thirds of the city’s waste under the Sugar River was exposed by erosion during an ice jam last winter. DPW workers used an excavator to clear the ice jam, and later reinforced the riverbank with tons of rock. The Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing more permanent plans to safeguard the sewer line.
The work is required to prevent sewage being discharged into the river. Another ice jam could crack or break the line.
“If that broke we would have an environmental disaster,” said Superintendent of Public Works Victor St. Pierre.
The 36-inch pipe crosses under the river near the intersection of Sullivan Street and Twistback Road. The erosion control project is deemed the most urgent capital improvement project needed by the city; with an estimated $19 million worth of urgently needed projects, city councilors were asked to rank the three most urgent. Using a ranking of 1-10, the Twistback Road project received a rank of 15.
The estimated cost of the project is $150,000, but without hearing from the Army Corps of Engineers that number is uncertain.
“We don’t know how much it’s going to cost us,” said St. Pierre. “Normally they’ll make us go six feet below the bottom of the river.”
The city has a long list of urgent capital improvement projects, including repairing the leaking roof of City Hall, Tremont Street sidewalk drainage on Opera House Square, Pleasant Street revitalization and making City Hall handicapped accessible.
The Police Department has requested replacement of its radio console and repeater to keep communications serviceable and reliable for police, fire and ambulance services. The cost of this project is estimated at $350,000.
The fire department has requested traffic light upgrades, at a cost of $100,000, noting the 20-year-old systems at the oldest intersections. This project would fix the lights at four intersections, doing one every two years, at a cost of $25,000 per intersection.
The department of public works submitted a Charlestown Road project for state funding. At a cost of $6 million, this project includes restoring the road, drainage and sidewalks. The drainage pipes are undersized, so water draining from the Ledgewood Road area has nowhere to go but in the road.
Other public works projects: Sugar River Drive — slope failure between the road and Sugar River near the Newport town line. Tyler Brook Corridor — undersized and failing culverts from Myrtle Street to the railroad. Washington Street — failing culverts. Paving and roadwork throughout the city; and the Twistback Road sewer line protection project.
Parks and recreation has three projects on the list: Arrowhead Community Center parking lot needs to be reconstructed with new material and better drainage; Barnes Park needs handicap accessibility to the grandstand and ADA compliant bathrooms; and tennis courts at Monadnock and Moody parks need to be repaired or replaced by new courts.