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Five-year sewer project finally comes to an end

A construction site trailer at Wyman Park Drive and West 33rd Street is scheduled to leave Tuesday.

For all intents and purposes, that ends the 5-year, federally mandated Stony Run Interceptor sewer project.

"I think the neighborhood is relieved.

The trailer, with a sign that says, "Carp-Seca Field Office," has been onsite since 2008, but the project predates Carp-Seca Corp. The company, based in Staten Island, N.Y., is the last of three contractors since 2006, including Whiting-Turner, which constructed the Lower Stony Run Pumping Station at nearby 29th and Sisson streets.

The interceptor was part of Baltimore's $900 million, 16-year effort to upgrade the city's antiquated sewer system in compliance with the Clean Water Act, under a 2002 federal consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.

The leaky system was causing sewage overflows, including into the Stony Run in north Baltimore.

John Lancey, project manager for Carp-Seca, arrived Feb. 4, 2008. Carp-Seca's job was to construct the interceptor, a main pipeline that all neighborhood lines drain into, Lancey said.

The existing interceptor was made of clay and was 18 to 24 inches in diameter.

"It had to be every bit of 80 years old," Lancey said.

Carp-Seca installed a new, 60-inch fiberglass interceptor in a tunnel eight feet in diameter, bored through rock about 80 feet below ground level, Lancey said.

The line was up and running in April on a route that takes it through Wyman Park and under University Parkway, along and near streets including Tudor Arms and Beech avenues, Wyman Park Drive, Craycombe Avenue and Linkwood and Keswick roads, he said.

Carp-Seca has since replaced a grassy triangle at West 33rd and Remington streets and residents replanted a community garden there, Lancey said.

"We spent most of May restoring that triangle," he said.

Crews removed an access road in Wyman Park, repaved Wyman Park Drive and Gilman Terrace, restored a soccer field at Craycombe and Tudor Arms, and replaced curbs, gutters and sidewalks in the triangle area, as well as an oak tree. They gave the community plants for the new garden, Lancey said.

A final project to build two city baseball fields and a soccer field on the five-acre staging site at West 33rd Street and Wyman Park Drive is expected to be finished this week, although a construction fence will stay up until late this year to protect new mulch and grass seed on the fields, Lancey said.

The fields are much better than the rundown one that was there before and should be ready for public use next spring, Lancey said.

Carp-Seca's part of the project alone will cost $40 million, he said.

The official end date for Carp-Seca's contract with the city was July 19; the final city inspection was July 21; and the contractor now has a list of minor fixes to make, Lancey said.

He said the city engineer's field offic,- in a trailer next to Carp-Seca's, is expected to remain for several weeks.

For most residents, all that remains are memories — some bad but some good.

"I think the worst is over," said Wilmina Sydnor, who lives in the 500 block of West 33rd Street. Although Sydnor was expecting the project to take three years, not five, she liked that Carp-Seca and the city were responsive to residents.

"We didn't know what to expect," Sydnor said. "I think we learned very quickly that they were cooperative with us."

She has particularly good memories of work crews helping residents during the twin snowstorms of 2010.

"We'd give them hot soup and they'd dig us out," she said.

Talty said residents always understood the need for the city project, even as they were put out by it.

"It was something that was needed to bring the city into compliance with the (federal) Clean Water Act," she said. But she added, "It was a very protracted process. I think the residents are relieved. We realized it was a necessary evil."

Lancey said he was Carp-Seca's liaison with neighborhood associations and was especially sensitive to the imposition on residents, because at the height of the work, he was the president of his own community association, in Crofton.

Also impacted by the interceptor project were residents of Tuscany-Canterbury, including City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke. She worked closely with community groups in the project area and said Lancey was faithful about helping residents and attending community meetings.

She said Lancey even got a crew out during the snowstorms to dig out The Greenmount School, which was a repository for mounds of snow shoveled out in the immediate area.

There are still a few loose ends from the interceptor project, including claims of damage to a Tuscany-Canterbury house and a fight with the city over how many bollards, posts that regulate traffic, should be placed along Wyman Park Drive, Clarke said.

And she said no one has ever explained why it took the city many months to activate the interceptor.

But for the most part, people are eager for peace and quiet, to use the new ball fields, and for the area to look the way it used to, Clarke said.

"They've been like a construction site for so many years, they're exhausted," she said, noting that the unrelated but nearby Stony Run Stream Restoration Project was under way at the same time.

"Just let us play softball, and put in the bollards, and we'll be happy," she said.

Carp-Seca's crew is now down to 10 from a high of 65 and the company was preparing to move its trailer to a holding site in Dundalk, to await the next job.

Lancey said last week he considered his job here as done.

"The sewer water is out of the stream, the ball parks are here for people to use, and hopefully everybody will live happily ever after."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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