Work to begin soon on replacing major section of Springfield’s aging sewer system in Doling Park-Pea Ridge Creek areas

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 7:30 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The city of Springfield has over 1,200 miles of pipe and over 28,000 manholes in its sanitary sewer system where the wastewater collected goes to one of two treatment plants and then is released into both Wilson’s Creek, which ends up in Table Rock Lake, and the Sac River, which goes into Stockton Lake.

While the expected life span of a sewer system’s infrastructure is 50 years, significant portions of Springfield’s system are over 100 years old. But the move to replace and upgrade the network takes a significant step forward this summer when the city begins the first-of-two projects in the north-and-central parts of town.

The main goal of the work is to reduce the number of sewer overflows that cause pollution and increase the size and capacity of underground sewer pipes to keep up with future growth and development in the area.

The two projects, with an estimated $9.5 million cost combined, will start around the end of June or early July north of Doling Park and involves boring underneath I-44 and Norton Road. Labeled the Doling Park project, that work will replace 6,900 feet of existing sanitary sewer main with larger diameter pipe.

Sometime around August, the second project, the Pea Ridge Creek improvement, will connect to the north section of the Doling Park Project and follow along the north fork of the Pea Ridge Creek between Heritage Avenue and National Avenue. That project will replace 5,500 feet of existing 12-inch sewer main with a new 24-inch main, and 1,200 feet of 18-inch main will also be added to run parallel to an existing pipe to help add sewer capacity.

So why should you care?

Well, water is the very essence of life. And clean water is our most precious commodity. But when wastewater escapes from our sewer system before its treated, it can get into our lakes, rivers, and streams and cause hazardous pollution. And when extensive rain causes manholes to overflow, untreated wastewater is sent onto our city streets, causing a health risk to those living there.

“A lot of our sewer has been in the ground upwards of 80-100 years,” said Project Manager Tim Schoenhoff. “And we have a high rate of rain runoff that gets into that system that’s old and has a lot of leaks. We don’t have the capacity to hold all that rainwater, so the sewage starts backing up, and it comes out into the creeks, which is not where we want it. We definitely want to keep our waterways clean, so that’s why we want to get this done. Obviously, new sewer pipes will leak a lot less. They’ll handle more capacity. This area we’re about to work on has a lot of backups and sewage coming out of the system. So it’s a top priority, and that’s why it’s getting highlighted first.”

Work in the northeastern portion of Doling Park is not expected to occur until the winter of 2023 or spring of 2024. When construction begins, the walking trail loop located north of the pond may be closed for a time, and the southeast parking lot and sidewalk in the area may be impacted. The public will be notified of construction impacts as the project progresses.

The boring that will take place beneath I-44 and Norton Road will not affect traffic there except for the possibility that Norton Road may be closed for a 1-2 day span while equipment is being set up.

As for other road closures?

“We’re looking at a construction window of about 15-18 months for both projects barring any issues,” Schoenhoff said. “As that goes along, we will be closing down Vernon Road and National Avenue at some point, probably in late winter or early spring, for 2-5 days.”

And this is just part of an overall plan to replace and improve Springfield’s sewer system that is part of an ongoing Overflow Control Plan the city has put together to meet state and federal mandates that eliminate sewer overflows and improve water quality.

“We find ourselves slightly behind the curve right now,” Schoenhoff said of meeting the state and federal standards. “So we’ve planned out for the next 15 years to get to a point where we can replace aging infrastructure before it becomes a hazard and won’t have any sewage overflow during most rain events.”

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