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Sewer Project to Affect Traffic in Bellevue for Months

Traffic will be changed in Bellevue for many months ahead as a massive sewer project is set to begin.

Just how the traffic will change, though, is not entirely known.

The site of the Sanitation District 1 project is a 500-ft. section of Riviera Drive, a heavily trafficked connector between Fairfield Avenue to Donnermeyer Drive. Motorists and pedestrians have probably noticed the strong foul odor that emerges from the nearby trees where a temporary pipe is transporting waste. There are three sections of pipe underneath the ground in poor condition. In fact, SD1 sent a camera down there to evaluate the situation and the pipe fell in around it. "It completely collapsed," said Ralph Johnstone of SD1.

The pipe runs across the creek and discharges near the Party Source.

"Because of budgets, we're focusing on the middle section which is the biggest problem with the camera being stuck," Johnstone said. Contractors will dig a tunnel and put liner plates in to replace the sewer. At some point the full 24-inch pipe will need to be upgraded to a larger side. In the middle section, a 54-inch pipe will be installed.

Of immediate concern is the traffic pattern along Riviera. City officials asked SD1 to hold off on the work until after the Major League All-Star Game which was played in Cincinnati last week and drew loads of guests to both sides of the Ohio River. With that now complete, work should begin soon. Originally it was believed that there would be only one lane of traffic on Riviera, operated by temporary traffic lights. The city and SD1, however, reacting to the concerns of nearby business owners, have created a plan to maintain two lanes, but details are still being finalized. 

"Our goal is to maintain two-way traffic instead of one-way signalized to support business and the community. SD1 is working really hard to make that happen," said Jody Robinson, assistant city administrator. Part of the temporary lanes that will be created to maintain two-way traffic will utilize part of the Frisch's restaurant parking lot, and also calls for use of the shopping center's parking lot. The shopping center's owners have not yet given their blessing, Robinson said.

Johnstone said that SD1 can still maintain two-way traffic without using the shopping center's property, but sidewalks would not be maintained the entire length of the lanes. With the shopping center's support, sidewalks would also be maintained.

The original plan of keeping one traffic lane with signals may have adversely affected businesses while also backing up traffic to I-471, Robinson said, noting that SD1 was quick to respond to those concerns, adapting the utility's plan to accommodate two lanes. "The lanes will still be maintained so bus service will go but a barrier wall will go in and barrier walls make people uncomfortable, so the lane is still the same size but the barrier wall will make it feel tight," she said. "I'm optimistic that we'll be running two-way traffic and everything is going to be great."

The project could take five to six months, Johnstone said. The contractors will begin the digging portion of the project by working one 10-hour shift, and after that initial work, the contractors will move to two 10-hour shifts. There is an incentive clause in the contractor's agreement to expedite the work, Johnstone said. 

$361,000 has already spent by SD1 on the project with $2 million budgeted for it this year. The incentive clause, SD1 hopes, keeps the cost in the $1 million to $1.5 million range. More work will be needed in the future in the area, but due to budget constraints, the utility is focusing on the immediate area of the middle section.

"Once we've been able to determine how the project is going it will likely have to go back to the (SD1) board to talk about additional money," Johnstone said. "There is basically three sections. Two are 500-ft. sections and one is 355-ft. So it's possible with the existing budget to do an additional 355-ft. Basically, we're going to reassess it after we've done the 500-ft. section whether we can financially continue the project."

Story & photo by Michael Monks, editor & publisher