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One northbound Aurora lane closed until collapsed sewer is fixed

One northbound lane of Aurora Avenue, between Ward and Comstock Streets, will remain closed for up to two weeks as Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) works to repair a broken sewer line. All southbound lanes are now open, day, for the duration of the project.

Night time—after 7 p.m.—lane closures will be announced as the repair work progresses.

All repairs had been expected to be finished this evening; but SPU crews, who have been working since Monday to fix the sewer, have unearthed a collapsed section of pipe, along with grout and sludge.

“We had hoped we could clear the line without digging, but the problems we have been finding are making this repair job considerably more challenging,” said Jeff Fowler, construction management director for SPU.

Fowler said the sewer line appears to be more than 50 percent blocked and sewage is overflowing. Crews have been placing pump and bypass equipment in the center lanes on Aurora. The pump is sucking sewage from the broken and clogged pipe and divert it back into an unobstructed part of the system.

“I certainly understand the frustration of motorist trying to get through the area. We are working to clear the blockage and repair the pipe as soon as possible. The last thing we want is for sewage to start backing up into homes,” Fowler said.

SPU crews investigating a sewer overflow on November 13 determined that the overflow was the result of a blockage in the line along Aurora Avenue, leading in turn to the current repair work. The cause of the collapsed section of pipe, and the source of the slurry and sludge remain under investigation.

Workers had been attempting to remove the grout and sludge from the sewer, using a sharp tool inserted through the maintenance hole, but the discovery of the collapsed section of pipe means they will have to excavate to and replace the existing pipe, instead.