Onlookers watch sewer pipe being pulled through tunnel across harbour

People lined the security fences spread through James Bay on Tuesday as the process of moving a 940-metre sewer pipe into a subsea tunnel began.

The tunnel for the pipe runs between Ogden Point and the sewage-treatment plant being built across Victoria Harbour at McLoughlin Point. Both are part of the region’s $765-million sewage-treatment project.

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Sections of the pipe, which was placed on rollers, were welded together over the past six weeks, with Niagara Street serving as the main staging area.

“The cranes lift the pipe up at the Dallas Road end of Niagara Street,” said Elizabeth Scott, deputy director of the Capital Regional District’s sewage-treatment program.

“So it’ll stay on the rollers all the way along Niagara until it gets to the end and then it gets lifted upward so that they can angle it down into the tunnel.

“It doesn’t actually go into the water.”

Onlookers at Dallas and Niagara included a group of children from nearby James Bay Community School.

Also there was James Bay resident Dale Marchessault, who said he was enjoying the sight.

“I did 45 years in heavy construction,” he said. “This is mother’s milk to me.”

Any inconvenience from the pipe work is worth it to get a sewage-treatment system built, Marchessault said. “It should have been done 40 years ago.”

Scott said the process of moving the pipe into the tunnel could take up to three days. Dallas near Niagara will be closed during that time.

“It will be 24 hours a day because once we start the ‘pipe pull’ we don’t want to stop it partway through the tunnel.”

She said it will be “a big milestone” to finally have the pipe in place.

“We’re looking forward to getting this done and demobilizing the equipment and getting all of the safety fences down, and getting people’s neighbourhood back to normal,” Scott said. “We’ve been really, really pleased with the patience of the community because we recognize there are impacts.

“We’ve been just blown away with how accommodating people have been.”

The next major step starts this summer with pipe being place along Dallas Road from Ogden Point to Clover Point. It will be buried along the roadway.

“It will be more like two years worth of work because it’s a much longer section,” Scott said. “We’ll do it in sections with a view to minimizing the impact.”

Traffic will keep running for the most part, she said.

“There will be some road closures, but, generally speaking, we’ll be able to keep alternating, single-lane traffic.”

Also coming up is replacement of the Macaulay Point pump station. Work is already underway on upgrading the Clover Point pump station.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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