LYNN — Construction continues at the intersection of Commercial Street and Bennett Street while the water and sewer commission undergoes work on a 15-year-long $200 million endeavor to separate the city’s stormwater pipes from its sewage drainage line.
Construction is blocking half the intersection’s roadway as contractors jack a 54-inch stormwater pipe 16 inches underground. The water main will separate sewage from storm water in West Lynn to prevent waste materials from flooding during flooding events.
“During wet weather events, when the old sanitary sewer is surcharged with too much private and public inflow, it relieves itself at Summer Street by the GE field — a lot of sewage goes out there,” said Water and Sewer Commission Executive Director Daniel O’Neill. “We’re separating 300 acres of system to take out those catch basins that handle that public inflow and put them in into a separate drainage line.”
The separation project, O’Neill said, started back in 2017 when the water and sewer commission signed the Department of Justice’s third modified consent decree under the Clean Water Act, forcing Lynn to combat Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) in its water and sewer systems.
Currently contractors are working to run the pipe from the intersection of Commercial and Bennett Streets down to the Department of Public Works Yard at 250 Commercial St.
Simultaneously, city contractors are building a 100 million-gallon water pump station at McManus Field meant to pump storm water through the newly-installed pipe, and out to the ocean.
“It’s going to handle 100 million gallons of flow — it’s the largest storm water pump station in New England,” O’Neill said. “The pump station is going to pump the flow through this 54 inch pipe out to the ocean. We’re jacking the pipe while we’re building the pump stations, so those two will be going on simultaneously and ultimately we’ve got a lot of work to get done.”
The Commercial Street pipe jacking and pump station construction should be complete by the end of the year, O’Neill said. He said that the project, funded entirely by ratepayers, will be divided into seven years in West Lynn, and another seven or eight years doing similar work in East Lynn.
“We haven’t designed that yet, that’s the next phase,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill added that while excavation work at the intersection of Commercial Street and Bennett Street might be a slight traffic nuisance, the alternative would be much worse for commuters.
“If we dug up the roadway, Commercial Street is going to be messed up, Alley Street will be messed up, the Lynnway, and Lynnfield street would be messed up for a year — we couldn’t have that. The alternative to disrupting traffic from Commercial and Bennett all the way across the Lynnway to the DPW yard was to jack a pipe, and that’s what we’re doing,” O’Neill said.