Major sewer project to run through Excelsior

  • Article by: LAURIE BLAKE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 19, 2011 - 2:33 PM

The Met Council is promising to schedule around events and build block-by-block to avoid long open trenches during the project in 2013.

The small lakefront town of Excelsior is in the path of a giant regional sanitary sewer project that will tear up 24 city blocks over a 12-month period starting in 2013.

As part of a renewal of the metro-area sewer system, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services plans to install a new 24-inch sanitary sewer pipe alongside the 40-year-old sewer main that already runs through town.

The $10 million to $15 million project will follow a 2.5-mile route along George Street to Morse Street to Excelsior Boulevard, directly in front of homes and businesses including the well-known Maynard's and Bayside Grille restaurants overlooking Lake Minnetonka.

"This is really a big project and it's going to take a long time," said City Council Member Greg Miller. "It's going to disrupt all the homes along the line."

Over the next 10 to 20 years the Met Council is planning a dozen sewer projects in the west-metro area that will add capacity or renew aging pipes. The work in Excelsior is at the head of the line because the sewer running through town is a pressurized force main more apt to corrode than gravity-fed sewer pipes.

Putting in parallel force mains will "give us some reliability and flexibility," said Bill Cook, engineering services manager for the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services Division. "We will be able to sleep a little bit better at night."

Laying the new pipe alongside the old one also will allow crews to inspect the old pipe for cracks as the new one is built, Cook said. When the new pipe is in use, the old pipe will be shut down for camera inspections from the inside.

"These pipes should last 50 to 100 years. When they start to get into the 50- to 100-year range it's a good time to have options so you can do maintenance."

Because many Excelsior restaurants and shops do their peak business in the summer, when people flock to the lakefront city, the Met Council will attempt to minimize disruption at key times, Cook said.

"There are a few businesses that have requested that we do specific areas after New Year's and before the ice goes out on the lake."

Tom Stevens, owner of Maynard's, said, "We have been watching the project unfold for three to four years now. We are hoping for the best. They should do our street directly in front in one to two weeks. We'll see. Then there will be the other roadways torn up, so we are preparing for a business slowdown for a bit."

Construction also will be scheduled around Excelsior's many community events, Cook said.

"It's going to be a very challenging project to schedule and build with all these constraints. It's going to be complicated and difficult."

Using a backhoe to open up the street, the work will start at different locations and move through the city block by block, Cook said. "We will be starting and stopping in different places because of the constraints.

"The city was worried about 2.5 miles of trench. We require the contractor to rebuild the street right behind their activity. This is really a block of disruption that moves down the project."

Excelsior Mayor Nick Ruehl said the city and Met Council have discussed the project at length. "The idea is they will be very careful to open up the street, fix things and patch the street back up so there are not long stretches of open ditch."

The contractor will build a temporary road during work and follow up with new paving, curb and gutter. Excelsior will wind up with new streets along the length of the project, and the city may also take advantage of the opened street trench to put in some city storm sewers at reduced cost, said Public Works Superintendent Dave Wisdorf.

The sewer line that runs through Excelsior starts in Waconia and serves St. Bonifacius, Tonka Bay, Shorewood, Greenwood and part of Chanhassen, piping sewage through Chanhassen and Eden Prairie south under the Minnesota River to the Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant off Hwy. 101 near Valley Fair in Shakopee.

Laurie Blake • 612-673-1711

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