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NW Thurman Sewer Reconstruction Project

Sewer And Stormwater
Environmental Services continues construction on a project to reconstruct the public sewer system in NW Thurman Street and the Willamette Heights Neighborhood. Sewer and stormwater improvements will increase capacity of the 100-year-old sewer, relieve sewer backups, and reduce street flooding.
Construction will continue through early 2022.
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Project Area

The map below illustrates where this project will construct sewer improvements. The primary construction method for each pipe segment is noted.

Map of pipe work locations for NW Thurman Sewer Reconstruction Project

What's Happening Now

Over the next few weeks, crews are scheduled to work at the following locations:

NW 32nd Avenue at NW Franklin Court—The rest of this week:

  • Remove three ADA curb ramps at the intersection of NW 32nd and NW Franklin, at request of the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
  • Construct three new concrete ADA curb ramps at the intersection of NW 32nd and NW Franklin.

NW Aspen Avenue at NW Savier Street—The rest of this week:

  • Remove three ADA curb ramps at the intersection of NW Aspen and NW Savier, at request of the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
  • Construct three new concrete ADA curb ramps at the intersection of NW Aspen and NW Savier.

NW Savier Street between NW 34th Avenue and NW Aspen Avenue—The rest of this week and looking ahead:

  • Install sewer laterals that connect adjacent properties to the public sewer.
  • Construct manhole channels at two manholes (the channels are constructed through the base of a new manhole to guide the sewage flow from the incoming pipe to the manhole and then to the out-flow pipe).
  • Demolish temporary pavement and grade the street the week of May 17 to prepare for final pavement restoration, which is tentatively planned for either May 26 or June 4.

NW Franklin Court between NW 34th Avenue and NW Aspen Avenue—The rest of this week and looking ahead:

  • Trim street trees in public right-of-way to create clearance that will protect them from construction equipment.
  • Install short run of sewer pipe in NW Franklin from NW 34th moving westward.
  • Install manhole in NW Franklin.
  • Install long run of sewer pipe in NW Franklin from just west of NW 34th to NW Aspen the weeks of May 10 and May 17.

The look-ahead schedule is approximate, and the dates of particular activities may change due to weather, conditions underground, subcontractor schedules, materials and labor availability, and other factors.

At other locations, you may see crews conducting pre-construction activities a few weeks or days before sewer construction begins there. Activities may include inspecting pipes and manholes, marking underground utilities with paint on the street or flags in the ground, trimming trees and installing tree protective fencing, setting up traffic controls, installing vibration and settlement monitoring equipment, setting up erosion controls, staging equipment and materials, and other activities.

Pipe Replacement Added on NW Franklin Court

The location of NW Franklin Court between NW 34th Avenue and NW Aspen Avenue has been added to the project. After a garbage truck sank its wheels into the pavement several weeks ago, City Maintenance crews discovered evidence of a cavity, or void, underground along the alignment of the existing sewer pipe. They then performed a spot repair on a broken section of pipe. However, the cavity still exists, and we do not know why. It may be unrelated to the sewer pipe.

Therefore, to eliminate more sink holes along the alignment, our contractor will dig up this section of sewer pipe in NW Franklin Court between NW 34th Avenue and NW Aspen Avenue and replace it with a new pipe. After installing the new pipe, they will ensure there is good backfill and soil compaction before applying a temporary asphalt patch.

We Want to Hear from You

Please let us know if you have a concern or question about a pipe repair near you. Be sure to include your name, property address, and project name (NW Thurman) in your voicemail and email so we can provide you more details about what to expect in front of your property. Also, please write “NW Thurman” in the subject line of your email.

Environmental Services is working with our contractor to do all we can to minimize construction impacts on the neighborhood. Construction is noisy, dusty, and causes vibration. It will be disruptive.

Vehicles Stored on the Street

With more people getting vaccinated to help protect themselves and others against COVID-19 and with the weather becoming warmer and drier, we anticipate that people will be making plans to travel this spring and summer. This may mean that more vehicles will be parked on the street around the clock for days or weeks at a time. Please plan ahead and arrange to store your vehicles off the street if possible, especially where construction is scheduled to occur and where crews are staging equipment and materials. If you do plan to store your vehicles on the street, please check in about the tentative schedule for construction on your street. We want to make sure you keep your vehicles safe and our crews can do their work. Thank you.

Construction Methods

The contractor will use open trench excavationcured-in-place-pipe lining (CIPP), and jack and bore to construct sewer and stormwater improvements. See the map above for the construction method at each location. Most of the mainline public sewer pipes will be replaced with the open trench excavation method. 

This project will also include the following construction elements:

  • Abandon sewer pipes and manholes under the Balch Gulch Bridge and divert sewer and stormwater flows away from the bridge to the existing system at the intersection with NW 30th Avenue. The project will upsize the sewer line north on NW 31st Avenue and east on NW Vaughn Street to NW 30th to accommodate the flows from this diversion. This improvement will avoid compromising the integrity of retaining walls, a water line, the bridge abutment, and bridge pier supports, and improve future access to the system for maintenance.
  • Remove buried trolley track rails and ties to install new sewer pipes.
  • Extend the public sewer in NW Aspen Avenue just north of NW Savier Street to resolve nonconforming sewer connections and provide properties an independent connection to the public sewer.
  • A second sewer extension in NW Aspen Avenue just south of NW Belgrave Avenue is still being designed. Whether it will be constructed as part of this NW Thurman project is still uncertain. Environmental Services is working with individual property owners to obtain necessary easements and approvals. 
  • A third, more urgent, sewer extension in NW Aspen Avenue at two properties north of NW Franklin Court completed construction in June 2020 separately from the NW Thurman and NW Aspen projects. 

What to Expect

The contractor will develop detailed traffic control plans before construction begins at a location. You can expect the following activities and impacts during construction:

  • Noise, Vibration, and Dust: Construction creates noise, vibration, and dust and disrupts normal neighborhood activity.
  • Equipment Storage: Equipment and materials may be stored on streets overnight.
  • No Parking: Little or no on‐street parking will be allowed in and near work zones, especially during work hours. On days when crews will be working in front of your house or nearby, please plan ahead. If you park your vehicle on the street, plan to move it off the street by 7 a.m. and return it at 6 p.m.
  • Traffic Delays: Expect traffic delays in and near the work area.
  • Lane Restrictions: At least one lane with two-way traffic on NW Thurman west of 31st will be maintained, with flaggers during work hours to assist traffic and pedestrians.
  • Street Closure: The work at NW Thurman and 31st may require a temporary street closure of NW Thurman. If so, a signed detour will be in place and work hours will be restricted.
  • Cross-Street Closures: Work at intersections on NW Thurman may require temporary cross-street closures, with local access the next block up from the closure on that cross street.
  • Pedestrian Access: If temporary crosswalk and sidewalk closures are necessary, signage will indicate the alternate way for pedestrians to proceed.
  • Services Maintained: Sewer, water, and other utilities are expected to remain in service during construction.
  • Garbage Pickup: Access to garbage and recycling bins for haulers will always be maintained.

We are also aware that more residents will be home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working with our contractor to ensure they provide a safe, healthy, and clean work zone throughout construction. Moore Excavation Inc. has a COVID-19 safety plan in place, and they are following CDC guidelines for social distancing. The job site has an appointed social distancing representative to ensure that people are following the rules, and our city inspectors will be on-site to enforce them.

The construction contract has specifications about work zone cleanliness, erosion and dust control, the installation of steel plates over open trenches, and other measures to reduce dirt, dust, safety hazards, and idling trucks.

Vibration Monitoring

A geophysical consultant conducted a vibration monitoring test during the week of November 16, 2020.

Crews set up vibration monitoring equipment in NW Thurman Street near NW 31st Avenue and then conducted a vibration monitoring test. The test occurred in the public right-of-way only, not on private properties.

Sewer construction causes noise, vibration, and dust. This project includes not only sewer construction but also buried trolley track removal so that the new sewer pipes can be installed in NW Thurman Street. Residents will hear the pavement demolition, track removal, and sewer installation activities, and will feel the vibrations associated with these activities. However, none of these activities is expected to produce significant ground vibrations. The vibration monitoring test confirmed this.

To help verify that the vibration levels from these activities are safe, a geophysical consultant conducted a vibration test during removal of a test section of buried trolley track in NW Thurman Street at NW 31st Avenue. Removal of the buried tracks required sawcutting the pavement, followed by removing the pavement to expose the tracks. Crews used an excavator to remove the pavement and tracks. They also needed to break concrete and rock.

The consultant placed sensors in the planting strip (public right-of-way) at various distances from the intersection of NW Thurman and 31st. They measured the vibrations associated with various demolition and construction activities. They also measured vibrations during periods when there was no demolition or construction activity so that background vibrations could be evaluated.

The geophysical consultant concluded that the data shows no damage is expected to structures that are more than 12 feet away from excavation activities. No homes are within this footprint. Residents can expect to feel the vibrations, especially if your home is closer to the work. 

How to prepare for construction

If you have a concern about any items or features inside your house or other structures that you think might be vulnerable to construction vibration, we recommend that you secure them before construction begins at your property. Secure hanging items like photos, china dishes, or ceramics, or remove them temporarily before construction begins. Items on shelves may rattle and move, so take precautions you think are necessary. We also recommend that you take photos and/or videos to document pre-existing conditions inside your house, including existing cracks on ceilings, walls, and floors. Be sure photos and videos are date-and-time-stamped for verification. 

Project Background

The purpose of this project is to relieve basement sewer backup risk and reduce street flooding in the project area. To that end, this project will upsize or repair portions of the public sewer main line to increase its capacity to handle combined sewer and stormwater. Engineers have also designed ways to reduce rocky debris in stormwater that drains from Forest Park into the combined sewer in NW Thurman Street. This, too, will help increase the capacity of sewer pipes and reduce basement sewer backup risk.

The project is designed to accomplish the following sewer and stormwater improvements:

  • Relieve basement sewer backups at 31 properties.
  • Reduce the risk of street flooding at 16 locations based on the 25-year Design Storm.
  • Replace or repair 4,800 feet of public sewer mainline pipe, ranging in size from 8 inches to 14 inches in diameter.
  • Construct or replace 95 sewer service laterals that connect private sewer lines to the public sewer in the street; this will involve 1,500 feet of lateral sewer pipe.
  • Construct or replace 32 manholes, of which 1 (one) is a sedimentation manhole.
  • Replace 14 storm drain inlets and construct 280 feet of inlet lead pipe.

Sign Up for Updates

Sign up for weekly updates at the NW Thurman Sewer Reconstruction Project

What We've Heard from You

On-Street Parking Concerns

The city’s contractor for this project has posted NO PARKING signs in and around areas where crews are working and staging equipment and materials. The signs apply to all of the spaces at the curb and in front of your driveway. Please do not move or alter in any way the signs and barricades. While we understand that on-street parking is limited in the neighborhood and temporary removal of spaces is inconvenient, the spaces are necessary for crews to do their work. Moving these approved signs can create safety hazards, and having to replace them delays sewer construction.

Some spaces may be signed NO PARKING during daytime construction and open up at night. You may park your vehicle in these spaces overnight during non-construction hours as long as you move your vehicle by 7 a.m. and return it at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Failure to move your car by 7 a.m. may result in your vehicle being towed to a nearby on-street parking space, not a tow yard. 

On days when crews will be working in front of your house, nearby, or where you park your vehicle on the street, please plan ahead. Plan to move your vehicle off the street by 7 a.m. and return it at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Keeping your vehicles parked on the street puts them at risk of being towed, delays the work, and extends the inconvenience. 

Thank you for your cooperation.

Pavement Restoration

Environmental Services has a lot of sewer reconstruction work to do yet before final pavement restoration will be done on NW Thurman Street and several other streets in the project area. Given the winter weather season, crews have applied a thicker temporary asphalt patch over trenched areas than is standard—three inches rather than two inches.

The patches will remain in place while inspectors conduct tests to ensure that the work was done properly, the new pipes and manholes are functioning properly with good connections, and that the work passes inspections. In addition, crews need to complete a substantial amount of work before they can do final pavement restoration on NW Thurman, or they risk having to dig it all back up as they move from one section of the street to the next.

In sewer construction projects where crews dig into city streets, Environmental Services is required to follow specifications set by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), who owns the street and manages the public right-of-way. PBOT dictates what restoration a project must do. The job of the Bureau of Environmental Services is to maintain the public sewer, not to use sewer and stormwater ratepayer dollars to rebuild streets. But our projects are required to restore and repave the sections of the street that they disturb during construction. Usually that means restoring just the trenches, or what are called "trench widths" on the street where crews had to sawcut and remove pavement to install new sewer pipes and manholes. Crews also restore any curbs and sidewalks they damage.

Environmental Services is aware of the poor condition that some streets in the neighborhood were in prior to this project's sewer construction work. And the project team is aware that sewer construction further impacted the streets. Therefore, our project will be restoring sections of some streets somewhat beyond the trench widths, according to how PBOT directs. Our project will not, however, be repaving streets from curb to curb. Crews will grind down the temporary asphalt patches they applied over sewer trenches to remove any cracks, ruts, and imperfections. Then they will place a three-inch layer of asphalt paving on top of the surface to fill any holes and level it off. Crews usually place a two-inch layer of asphalt. So, the extra inch will provide extra thick pavement. When paving crews are finished, the broad trenches where crews had to dig in the street will have a fresh new asphalt surface.

If Transportation determines that any street needs to be rebuilt or resurfaced curb to curb based on the condition of the base of the street and the pavement even before we began our sewer construction project, they will have to plan how to do that with their resources. Our project has already rebuilt the sections of street that crews dug up. Crews backfilled the trenches, compacted them appropriately, and applied a temporary asphalt patch. Crews will return to those locations as soon as possible to complete final restoration.

Garbage and Recycling Service

Garbage haulers are required to provide service even when construction or other activities in the public right-of-way may make their route more challenging. They should still pick up your garbage, recyclables, and yard debris every week as scheduled. Our contractor is willing to assist the haulers to get them through and around the work zone, and to ensure that containers are serviced and returned, but it is the responsibility of garbage and recycling haulers to stop and provide service. They should not just be driving on.

We recommend that you call your garbage hauler the day before scheduled service to notify them of your concerns and to ensure that service will still be provided during construction.

Find your garbage company

Avoid Private Contractor Conflicts

Private contractors have placed dumpsters, equipment, and vehicles in the street public right-of-way, which have hindered delivery trucks, garbage haulers, leaf pickup crews, and other service providers from getting onto streets to conduct necessary business. The city's sewer construction contractor will continue to assist everyone as much as possible.

Please plan your private contractor work around sewer construction to avoid conflicts and to prevent further hardship on you and your neighbors. There just is not enough room on the street for additional contractors. If you have questions about our construction schedule, please call or email.

If private contractors do not have the necessary permits to be in the public right-of-way, and if they park in spaces signed NO PARKING for our public sewer work, they will be subject to permit enforcement fines and vehicle tow fees.

We appreciate your cooperation.

Other Work in the Area

Public utility companies, private contractors, and the City's Maintenance Department may be conducting other work nearby, where they, too, need to post NO PARKING signs for their work.

In addition, other capital improvement projects are occurring around your neighborhood. To learn more about these projects and to sign up for project updates about them, click on the following links: