South Shores residents brace for congestion, noise as JEA lays new sewer main

South Shores residents brace for congestion, noise as JEA lays new sewer main
JEA diagram of where the new South Shores Force Main River Crossing Project will cross the St. Johns River.

Over the next seven months, South Shores residents may find their neighborhood noisy and congested as JEA installs a new sanitary sewer force main underneath the St. Johns River.

The new sewer line will extend from the north bank near EverBank Field to JEA’s sewer pump station on Utah Avenue in the South Shores neighborhood.

In a Feb. 4 meeting in the auditorium at Julia Landon College Preparatory School, Gregory Corcoran, JEA Manager of Community Involvement and Project Outreach, joined other project supervisors in outlining the sewer main project to approximately 20 residents. Speaking at the meeting were Tom Hamilton, JEA Project Engineer/Project Manager; Andrew Sears, JEA Senior Environmental Scientist; Fred Wagner, Director of Project Development from the Haskell Corporation; Jamey Wallace, PE, Engineer of Record with Jacobs Engineering; and Robert Bradley, Project Superintendent. Also attending the meeting was District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer.

During the meeting Corcoran showed a presentation outlining the scope of the project. Sanitary sewer force mains are a critical piece of JEA’s sewer collection system, said Corcoran, a St. Nicholas resident. The system is designed to transport high volumes of wastewater to one of 11 JEA wastewater treatment facilities, he said.

The existing sewer main is still in good shape and may last another 20 years, Corcoran said. The new sewer main will be used as a backup to the existing sewer main, which currently spans the St. Johns River 50 feet below the bottom of the river bed, Corcoran said. It will service 50,000 households in San Marco, San Jose, St. Nicholas, Southside and the Southbank, he said.

Through the $12 million project, JEA is “proactively” upgrading the sewer infrastructure, giving it the ability to use both the new and existing pipe and to allow it to be ready for future growth in the years ahead.

The existing sewer force main was constructed by the City of Jacksonville in the early 1970s, and the existing pipe currently transports more than 10 million gallons of waste water per day. The two pipes will be able to handle up to a peak flow of 16.7 million gallons per day, he said. The new pipe is expected to be in service for at least 40 to 50 years, he said.

The project will entail the installation of 4,200 linear feet (3/4 of a mile) of 42-inch steel casing and 36-inch high density polyethylene or HDPE carrier pipe 50 feet under the river bed utilizing the horizontal directional drilling method of construction. This kind of drilling is a steerable, trenchless method of installing underground pipes and is often used when traditional digging or trenching is not practical to install a pipe, particularly under a river.

The project began Feb. 24, when employees from the Haskell Company and Michels Corporation, contractors hired by JEA, mobilized the equipment and manpower required to complete the installation. The pipe is scheduled to be delivered in late March with horizontal drilling beginning in early March. In late May, “pipe pull back” is slated to begin, creating an intense 24-hour per day construction cycle. JEA plans to have the bulk of the project complete in August with final completion scheduled for September, prior to the advent of the Jaguar’s football season.

Two construction sites will be utilized – one on the Northbank at the west side of EverBank Field in Parking lots P and J, and the other at the Utah Avenue pump station in the South Shores neighborhood.

During construction, the P, J and R parking areas near the sports complex, as well as sections of Adams Street, Duval Street, East Beaver Street and Franklin Street near the parking lots, will be closed until August 4.

SM_Pipe_02The closures will impact traffic flow, pedestrian access and the number of parking spaces available for events such as the Gate River Run, Armada and Sun’s Games and other concerts in the area. JEA intends to work closely with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the city to seek alternatives. Ticket buyers and sports event patrons will be notified via email about changes in the parking plan or traffic patterns. Event alerts will be posted at

Thirty-five large tractor trailers will be used to deliver 105 “sticks” of 40-inch steel pipe. The total weight of the steel being installed is over 1,353,000 pounds. The pipe will be strung out and welded together near EverBank Field. Drilling will occur on both the north and south banks. Spoils and dirt from the hole will be loaded onto trucks and transported outside the city.

To ease congestion in South Shores, JEA plans to hold a staging area on its land on the Southbank where The District – Life Well Lived – Jacksonville is planned to be built, said Bradley. Trucks will travel from the staging area along Broadcast Avenue, Southampton Road, Alamo Street, to the station to pick up the debris before heading back along Utah Avenue and Bee Street and Southampton then taken directly to a disposal site.

“The trucks won’t block any road. There will be no two-way traffic with them,” Bradley said, adding that, in order to minimize the impact of truck traffic on the residential roads, JEA intends to bring them to the treatment plant site one at a time.

An average of six to eight trucks will travel through South Shores from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day through most of the construction, with the number of trucks increasing to 30 to 50 trucks 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the time the pipe is pulled back through the hole. The pullback is slated for late May to mid-June.

To muffle any noise, particularly during the pullback period, JEA intends to utilize a noise reduction plan in South Shores that will include the strategic positioning of equipment, mufflers, and 12-foot sound barriers around the construction site, said Sears. “The sound of a bus idling at a bus stop is the loudest people will hear,” Sears said. “Most of South Shores won’t hear much of it.”

Temporary living arrangements will be provided by JEA to residents living close to the action, Sears said, adding that Bradley will carry a cell phone so that residents can contact him 24 hours a day about noise or construction-related concerns.

“We know this will be an impact on you,” Sears said. “We will try to make accommodations.”

For further information, project updates or to watch a video overview of the HDD method of construction turn to JEA’s dedicated web page located at JEA’s Project Outreach team can be contacted directly at (904) 665-7500 or reached by email at [email protected] South Shores residents with concerns involving the project can contact a JEA on-site representative at (904) 274-0801 24 hours per day.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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