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"Big red machines" in Brooklyn: Mystery solved

by: RITA A. LEONARD - The Big red 'Sewer Hogs' at S.E. 16th and Center Street was brought in, in July, to clean out the large-diameter underground pipes.In seeking to discover what the “big red machines” were doing at S.E. 16th and Center Street, at Brooklyn School Park, for a week this summer, THE BEE learned that Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) was engaged in cleaning and maintaining the sewer system there.

The underground pipe work was concurrent with nearby activity on the MAX light rail project a block east on S.E. 17th Avenue.

Since S.E. Center Street was at the time also a temporary bus detour through the Brooklyn neighborhood, a portable speed tracking unit with digital readouts was placed at S.E. 15 & Center Street by the PDOT.

TriMet’s Community Affairs Representative, Jennifer Koozer, a Sellwood resident, explained that these activities were actually separate projects, and that routine sewer maintenance had already been planned for the length of S.E. 16th Avenue.

Stephen Hawkins, of BES, added, “We’d scheduled cleaning out the large-diameter underground pipes in the Southeast area with an annual contract through Iron Horse Construction, but at the end of July we had to divert equipment to work on the Southwest Interceptor. We’ll probably be back in Southeast sometime next year."

The large red equipment at the corner of Brooklyn School Park, made by Brenford Environmental Services, included a machine trademarked a “Sewer Hog”, billed as “the world's most powerful jetting system to clean closed-loop systems and large diameter pipes.”

Brooklyn was a busy place all summer, with projects by TriMet, BES, and the PDOT all converging on one block, in addition to all the light rail demolition along S.E. 17th and at Holgate Boulevard.