Emergency sewer repairs have made a patch of Lincoln Street a dangerous ride

There’s an accident waiting to happen on Lincoln Street.

A section of roadway in the 800 block of this west Dover street is so rough and uneven that cars and buses driving over it run the risk of damage -- or worse.

Someone could get hurt, said neighborhood resident James Wilmore.

“For me, it’s a safety hazard. I’m worried about people,” he said.

Therefore, Wilmore sounded pleased Friday after Public Works Director Sharon Duca announced her division would take action.

But Duca cannot yet smooth over the bumpy roadway: that will have to wait until November and the completion of a project to repave Lincoln Street.

But the division can and will put up new signs warning drivers about the bumpy roadway.

The new signs can’t come soon enough, Wilmore said.

“I think that it’s a fix, for now, safety-wise,” he said. “At least everyone will know there is a bump there and they’ll have to slow down.”

Emergency repairs

The problems on Lincoln Street began around September 2016 as the city was preparing a repaving project for the west Dover roadway. The work is scheduled as part of the city’s 2017 streets program, Duca said.

But before any repaving work is done, the division first checks infrastructure under the roadway, including water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer piping to see if any repairs are needed. They also noted a sinkhole was developing in the road, she said.

These checks beforehand prevent the need to dig up a newly paved roadway to fix something underneath, she said.

After sending a camera through the sanitary sewer pipes, they found the source of the problem, Duca said.

“We found two sections that had issues relating to the sewer that we needed to address,” she said. “There were concerns there could be a failure during the repaving work or immediately thereafter.”

Operating under a $63,000 emergency contract, crews dug up the roadway, replaced the failing sewer pipe and installed a temporary asphalt patch pending startup of the repaving project.

But the city also needed to repair and replace another sewer section about 300 feet to the west, near the intersection of Lincoln and Reese streets, she said. That part, however, was not in as bad a shape and would be fixed under a normal, non-emergency contract.

Both projects were to be done before the paving would start.

The city, however, ran into problems at that site as there were worries the work could contaminate ground water, Duca said. It would require a dewatering permit from DNREC before work could continue there, she said.

Because of the time it took to get the permits, the temporary patch close to Wilmore’s home had to remain in place longer than originally intended, she said.

A time frame

Members of Dover city council are due to discuss the contract for the sewer repair work at the Lincoln/Reese street intersection during their June 24 meeting. If approved, contractors will set to work.

“The sanitary sewer repair work should be complete by the end of August, barring weather delays and field complications as long as it is approved by council,” Duca said.

Once the sewer work is done, the separate milling and repaving work will commence, which should take a maximum of three months.

“As such, it is estimated Lincoln Street will be complete the end of November,” Duca said.

Wilmore had no quarrel with the need to replace the sewer pipes or to repave his street. However, he grew more worried as the temporary patch began to deteriorate.

The Dover Post visited the scene July 11, just as a city bus came down the road. The large bus quickly slowed down as it came to the patched surface, and then crept across the undulating roadway at almost a walking speed.

“That’s what I mean,” Wilmore said at the time. “The buses come through all the time and they always have to slow down.”

Until the signs are installed, however, and even afterward, drivers will have to be vigilant, Wilmore said.

“We have a time frame now,” he said.