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Contracts let for Meinecke, Ruby sewer projects

Work is meant to alleviate flooding, basement backups

March 2, 2011

The city embarked on its largest sewer improvement program in decades Tuesday night, approving contractor bids for work that's meant to reduce street flooding and basement backups.

The Common Council agreed to hire a team of two firms to work on designs for the sanitary and storm sewer work in the Meinecke Avenue neighborhood.

"Due to the sheer size of this project there was no single engineering firm that proposed taking on project alone," City Engineer Bill Wehrley said.

The entire project is anticipated to cost about $3.5 million. This project aims to bring relief to homeowners who have seen significant property damage and lost belongings following numerous heavy rainstorms during the past several years. They remain at risk for one more summer as construction is not expected to begin until fall.

The other project deemed a priority during capital budget deliberations Tuesday was the neighborhood around Ruby Avenue. Design work on the sanitary and storm sewers has been finished. Bids are coming in on the reconstruction, which will cover Ruby Avenue from 100th to 106th streets and Congress Street from 106th to 108th streets.

Meanwhile, a second part of the project requires storm sewer work on 100th Street so the Ruby Avenue drainage flows to Grantosa Creek. A contract with AECOM was confirmed Tuesday.

As part of the bid, the same firm also was approved to do a separate project on Courtland Avenue, where the storm sewer is not big enough to handle heavy rainfalls, Wehrley said. A low point in the road at Parkside Drive pools three to four feet of water, then floods onto Highway 100.

The city also will move forward on additional sewer dye testing in the East Tosa area. That means after the snow melts away, more green dye will be flowing through the system, Wehrley said.

Working with R.A. Smith, the city will try to identify why the amount of water flowing into the system during major storms exceeds Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District standards. Initial testing last year between 61st and 66th streets and on Center Street and North Avenue lines showed leaks coming from private properties. The testing will be expanded west to 76th Street and south to Martin Drive, with results expected this summer.

The results will help city staff members provide recommendations about how to fix the problems, which due to the size of the area could require several projects over time to correct, Wehrley said.

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