Thursday, July 20, 2017

Still no steam in the pipe

Maybe it is comforting to know that the multinational infrastructure giant Veolia cannot repair its blown up steam pipe much faster than the department of Public Works of Baltimore its sewer main collapses. But the result for the rest of us is the same: Closed off streets, dirt noise and disruption.
Eutaw Street remains closed at Lombard Street: Complete by mid-August?
(Photo: Philipsen)

Probably it doesn't make much difference who owns the pipe anyway, in either case on-call infrastructure contractors do the fix and either case they have to deal with old pipes and a bunch of interfering other lines, cables and pipes that are in the way of the repair.

The steam pipe blow-up happened on game night on June 19 and injured five people, lifted an at least  10" slab of concrete out of the street and ejected asbestos laden mud like a volcano and damaged 33 parked vehicles.

On July 19 it was game night again and the section of Eutaw Street between Lombard and Pratt remained hermetically sealed of with 8" chainlink fences with screens as if the secret tests would be performed behind the curtain. Initially Veolia had spoken from a few days needed for the repair, then a few weeks. Now it is a month.

The Veolia job site supervisor being asked about the status initially allowed only that "it is hot". Upon further questions he explained that the pipes in the section were from the 1940s but that repairs had taken place in parts before so that only short segments had still asbestos insulation at the time of the explosion. He noted that the entire old pipe was ductile iron and was being now replaced with a new insulated cast iron pipe. Ductile iron isn't as heat resistant as grey cast iron, but without more information its hard to know whether the old ductile iron pipe in itself caused the failure.
Asked why the 300' trench is being covered with steel plates every night, even though the fence secures the site the supervisor said: "Because the indigenous people get in anyway". Finally upon being pressed for some estimated completion day, he stated "sometime in August, maybe mid-August". An unofficial but presumably informed source, for sure.
After 5pm: The trench gets covered with steel plates (Photo: Philipsen)
 The Marriott hotel has access and one of the two sidewalks is open under a protective cover. Steam can be used for cooling and heating but is mostly used for heating in Baltimore, since there is an additional cooling system exists as well. No information was provided whether any steam customers are affected by the repair.

Meanwhile water has been gushing out of the inbound curb lane of newly paved Edmondson Avenue near Allendale all week. The lane has heavy bus traffic, could another sinkhole swallow a whole bus?  Let's hope the City will take a look at that water leak before it comes to that now after they are done on nearby Warwick Avenue, another street  recently closed for a broken water main.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

One of the damaged vehicles and the volcano the morning after the 6/19 pipe explosion (Photo: Philipsen)

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