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SW Main-Taylor Sewer Project

Sewer and Stormwater
Environmental Services is designing a project to repair 10,765 feet, or two miles, of aging public sewer pipes in downtown Portland. Having provided 100 to 150 years of service, the pipes require repairs to reduce the risks of basement flooding and sewage releases to downtown buildings and streets.
Project design continues. Construction is anticipated to begin in early October of 2021 and take a year to complete.
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The existing pipes were built between 1867 and 1927. They are showing signs of cracks, breaks, holes, offset connections, and root and grease obstructions. Timely repairs now will make them last another 65 years, increase their resiliency to earthquake damage, and provide safe and reliable sewer service to downtown Portland.

Project Area

The project boundary is SW Main, SW Salmon, and SW Taylor streets between SW Naito Parkway and SW 13th Avenue. 

SW Main-Taylor Sewer Project map of pipe work locations and construction methods.

What’s Happening Now

The SW Main-Taylor Sewer Project is in the design phase. You may see crews in the project area conducting a variety of field activities. Learn more information about these investigative activities or continue reading below.

In addition, Environmental Services submitted a noise variance application on a proposal to allow the city's contractor to work both days and nights on this project. The official public comment period ended in late May.

Noise Variance Application

To reduce public impacts and complete the public sewer repairs as quickly as possible, Environmental Services is proposing to work both days and nights. Daytime construction hours will be between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays as needed. Nighttime hours will be between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. Work at each location is expected to take less than a week, including up to three nights to complete the mainline pipe lining work (Cured-in-Place-Pipe Lining method). 

Portland noise code allows construction from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Work after 6 p.m., before 7 a.m., and all hours on Sundays requires a noise variance from the Portland Noise Office. This project will apply for a noise variance.

The official public comment period for this night work proposal has ended. Your comments about the proposal to work both days and nights were valuable. However, at any time you may also call our downtown sewer repairs hotline at 503-823-5315, stating that SW Main-Taylor is your project of concern. Outreach staff will return your call by the next business day.

Field Activities

Engineers and field crews are conducting various investigations to collect information that will help them determine what pipes need to be repaired or replaced and what construction methods to use for each pipe.

Soil Sampling and Utility Locates

Crews are collecting information throughout the project area that will help engineers determine necessary pipe repairs, construction methods, and utility protection measures. Crews are locating and marking underground utilities and collecting soil and pavement samples.

This work will involve drilling small holes (6 inches wide) through the street pavement and into the soil beneath it, approximately 20 to 25 inches deep. The holes will be located as close to the curb as possible. Traffic controls, including temporary lane restrictions and on-street parking removal, will be necessary to stage equipment and establish a safe work zone.

Crews plan to complete two borings each day, with each boring location anticipated to take four to five hours to complete. This work will occur during daytime hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. 

Survey and Site Analysis

Crews are conducting a variety of activities throughout the project area, including the following:

  • Inspect mainline public sewers using closed-circuit television cameras and assess their condition.
  • Inspect manholes and assess their condition.
  • Locate sewer service laterals that connect properties to the public sewer, determine which laterals are active, and assess their condition.
  • Survey public right-of-way boundaries, utility vaults, and other landmarks.
  • Locate and mark underground utilities and coordinate with utility companies on how to protect them during construction.
  • Collect soil and pavement samples to understand underground conditions and help determine construction methods. 
  • Survey trees adjacent to sewer construction and develop a tree trimming and tree protection plan.
  • Remove roots and flush debris from sewer pipes.

These activities will occur over time, not all at once. They may temporarily disrupt and delay traffic in work zones.

To avoid circling around construction to find parking, please use SmartPark garages. The nearest SmartPark garages are illustrated on the project map.

Site Visits and Building Investigations

Environmental Services and its contractors may need to enter buildings in the project area to gather information that will help them design and construct necessary sewer repairs. They may need access for any or all of the following activities:

  • Locate, inspect, and evaluate sewer and stormwater pipes and connections, cleanouts, sump pumps, and other private plumbing facilities.
  • Determine basement and sub-basement layouts, utility vault locations and elevators, parking garage layouts, and other private property features.
  • Survey existing sewers on private properties.
  • Identify and mark utilities in areas surrounding the sewer.
  • Collect and analyze soil and water samples.

Environmental Services and its contractors will coordinate with building managers and property owners to schedule site visits, arrange access, and conduct investigations as needed.

We Want to Hear From You

During the design phase, Environmental Services will work with the community to provide information about the project and identify concerns. Downtown property owners, businesses, and residents can inform decisions and help the project team with the following:

  • Identify project stakeholders, including property managers, facility managers, and business operators.
  • Identify local issues, community concerns, special events, and access needs.
  • Develop reasonable solutions to community concerns and construction impacts.
  • Provide input on regular daytime (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and nighttime (6 p.m. to 7 a.m.) construction work hours.
  • Provide information about private property sewer connections and plumbing facilities.
  • Identify and meet the needs of individual downtown businesses, residents, property owners, and property managers.

Project outreach staff will be canvassing the project area to talk with the community about the project and gather input.

Environmental Services will inform residents and businesses about project activities and respond to questions and concerns in a timely manner. The following resources will help you stay informed and report concerns:

  • Questions: Call 503-823-5315, stating that SW Main–Taylor is your area of concern. Outreach staff will return your call by the next business day.
  • Nighttime Noise Complaint: Call 503-823-1338, stating that SW Main–Taylor is your project of concern. The noise hotline is monitored by site inspectors.
  • Sewer Emergency: In the event of a sewer backup or basement flooding, call the Maintenance hotline immediately at 503-823-1700. It is staffed all hours and all days, 24/7.

Construction Methods

Proposed Construction Methods

The city's goal is to repair the majority of pipes using trenchless methods, which will avoid having to dig deep and long trenches in downtown streets to replace whole pipes. The multiple underground utilities in the downtown area make open trench excavation almost impossible.

The proposed construction methods include the following: 

  • Cured-in-Place-Pipe Lining (CIPP) to install liners that seal cracks and restore the pipes to near-new condition.
  • Horizontal Directional Drilling to construct sewer extensions and service laterals.
  • Pipe Bursting and Pipe Reaming to upsize or relocate 1,000 feet of public sewer pipes in SW Main Street and SW 11th Avenue.
  • Microtunneling to upsize or relocate public sewer pipes in SW Main Street at two intersections where several other underground public utilities are in close proximity to the public sewer.
  • Open Trench Excavation to dig small trenches so that crews can replace short sections of broken pipe before repairing the entire mainline sewer pipe, and to install sewer cleanouts and sewer service lateral pipes.
  • Vactor Excavation to install sewer cleanouts so that crews can access sewer connections to buildings connected to the public sewer and maintain sewer service during repairs.
  • Grouting to inject grout into the soil surrounding a leaky sewer pipe and prevent water from getting into the pipe. 

Sewer Cleanouts

A sewer cleanout is a capped opening above the sewer service lateral that connects a building to the mainline public sewer. It enables crews to access and repair that connection. Cleanouts will be used to maintain sewer service during the pipe lining process, and to provide access for future maintenance.

Cleanouts are typically installed near the curb but may also be placed in the sidewalk or near the building. Sewer cleanout installation requires digging a hole where the cleanout will be located. This construction creates noise, vibration, and dust.

What to Expect

The SW Main-Taylor Sewer Repair Project is being designed to accomplish the following sewer improvements:

  • Repair 10,765 feet, or two miles, of aging public sewer pipes in SW Main, SW Salmon, and SW Taylor streets between SW Naito Parkway and SW 13th Avenue.
  • Upsize or relocate 1,000 feet of sewer pipes in SW Main Street to accommodate increased sewage and stormwater flows.
  • Clear roots and flush debris from approximately 11,000 feet of public sewer pipes.
  • Repair, replace, or add manholes as needed.
  • Install cleanouts on sewer service laterals to high-rise buildings to enable future sewer maintenance access.
  • Repair or replace active sewer service laterals for individual property connections.
  • Assist and support customers with nonconforming sewer connections to achieve the recommended sewer connection for their property.

In addition, Environmental Services will collaborate with the Portland Water Bureau where possible to replace their water lines with earthquake resistant pipe.

Project Background

Construction in downtown Portland requires coordination with multiple partners, including but not limited to the following:

  • Private Property Owners and Property Managers: We coordinate access to downtown buildings to investigate sewer and stormwater connections, determine basement layouts and utility vault locations, and install private plumbing modifications as needed to complete public sewer repairs.
  • TriMet: We ensure that our construction activities along MAX light rail tracks and bus routes do not conflict with public transit system improvements during the project.
  • Portland Bureau of Transportation: We apply for and comply with street use permits, on-street parking permits, approved traffic control plans, and construction contract specifications that reduce public inconvenience.
  • Contractors, Subcontractors, and Suppliers: We coordinate our work with contractors, subcontractors, and material and equipment suppliers, many of whom are serving multiple priority infrastructure projects for the City of Portland.
  • Downtown Businesses: Our goal is to reduce construction impacts to downtown businesses and their customers as much as possible. To avoid circling around construction to find parking, please use SmartPark garages. The nearest SmartPark garages are illustrated on the project map.
  • Downtown Residents: Our goal is to reduce construction impacts to downtown residents, hotel guests, and the houseless community.
  • Event Managers: Our goal is not to interfere with major downtown events.
  • Safety Officers: Our top priority is public health and safety—for our work crews and for the public—so we need to plan and schedule our work in a way that reflects that priority.

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