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Trinidad is being proactive, dealing with aging infrastructure now

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — This is it. This is the project that will give the City of Trinidad new pipes, new infrastructure, both water and sewer, and street work. And it will take 20 years to 30 years to complete, according to statements made during a meeting between city staff and the World Journal, at an estimated cost between $30 million to $40 million.

The City of Trinidad is faced with a complex and necessary task, City Manager Gabe Engeland said. “We learned with the sewer main collapse (on West Main two weeks ago) that our sewer system and water system will be replaced. We can replace it at $1,000 a linear foot if we let it collapse. Or if we fund and complete the projects intelligently we can complete it at $68 a linear foot. Either way it’s getting replaced.” The project, because of its cost and size and with most of the infrastructure in the main areas of the city needing replacement or extensive work, will be done in several phases.

Phase one is tentatively scheduled to begin in about four to six months. This allows for the $1.5 million Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant contract to make its way though the various bureaucracies and for engineering to be completed on the water mains. After the contract is approved, the city will put up a $1.5 million match to the DOLA grant and the project will begin.

The first phase will be a 40 block swath in the core area of town stretching south from Main to 4th and west to east from High to Oak. Around 600 homes will be affected during the construction phase.

Trinidad crews and workers will replace 13,500 linear feet of water main after engineering studies determine the extent of work needed. After the water mains have been installed, the system will be chlorinated and samples sent to the lab to determine potability. When the water is declared clean and potable it will be restored to the city’s customers. Water will be off for about two days.

The sewer mains, all 27,000 linear feet, will be worked from manhole to manhole using an epoxy impregnated sock which will be fed into the mains and then inflated. It will have to set and cure forming a “pipe within a pipe.” Then a robotic camera fitted with a cutting tool will be sent through the sewer line to cut open the feeds, restoring service. This will take about a half a day to accomplish per section.

The City of Trinidad has been aware for years that the infrastructure is in need of repair and replacement, with evidence showing that the city is losing nearly 40 percent of its treated water because of leakages. The water pipes are old with close to 60 percent having been installed between 1890 and 1950. Most of the sewer mains date back to before 1960. Both systems are on the verge of collapse, as evidenced by the sewer main collapse under West Main Street two weeks ago.

Add to that many of the streets, almost 40 percent, in Trinidad are close to defunct with a life expectancy of five to six years left.

The City of Trinidad will hold a public discussion on Monday, May 2, 6 p.m., in the Trinidad Community Center at 1309 Beshoar.