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Gainesville to abandon sewer line
Line runs underneath building
Workers repair a sinkhole Tuesday along Bradford Street. The sinkhole was found while the workers were in the process of a sewer line replacement project.

Gainesville’s public utilities department is wrapping up a sewer project that involves abandoning a decades-old line that runs underneath a building.

“Back years ago, they didn’t scrutinize permitting ... quite as closely as we do today, and people would put buildings on top of sewer lines,” said Myron Bennett, engineering/construction division manager for the public utilities department.

“And obviously, it’s pretty hard for us to maintain a sewer line when ... we have no accessibility to it.”

The $128,000 project calls for the replacement of 250 feet of 12-inch clay pipe, with a portion of that running from Bradford Street to Northside Drive and under Ahava Full Services Salon, which is off Northside.

“Basically, we rerouted the sewer line and ran it through the parking lot of (Patton Land Surveying),” Bennett said.

Workers will install about 580 feet of 12-inch PVC pipe, a “more reliable (material) to use these days,” he added.

The city routinely replaces and repairs aging lines.

Officials were aware of the situation at Ahava and made the project a priority.

“It was a liability and maintenance issue for us,” Bennett said. “If we ever had to do any work on that sewer line, obviously it was untouchable.”

The city’s project also involves “cutting and plugging” the old clay line, then just leaving it in place.

“There’s no reason to try to go underneath that building and try to remove it,” Bennett said.

He said he wasn’t aware of any other places in the city with that type of sewer situation.

“It’s never good to find those,” Bennett said.

Jean Crowe, Ahava’s owner, said workers had been at her building, but she didn’t know much about the project.

“I’m thankful they’re doing the upgrade,” she said, upon learning the details. “I would not want a sewer pipe to burst under (the building).”

The project, under way for a couple of weeks, was close to being finished when workers found evidence of possible sinkhole.

Monday, “when they were doing their backfilling and preparing the road for repaving, they noticed some settlement,” Bennett said.

“That’s when (the city) took the precaution of closing (Bradford Street) and see(ing) what this settlement is.”

The problem stemmed from a storm drainage issue, with repairs expected to take a few days at a cost of $100,000, said David Dockery, Gainesville’s public works director.

The road should be opened to through traffic by sometime today, however.

“It’s not to the extent that it’s a major infrastructure issue,” Dockery said.