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Sewer projects abound in Inner Southeast

by: Eric Norberg, This 50-foot-tall pile-driving and excavation machine, obviously named Malcolm, was seen towering on the skyline for several blocks around the north end of Westmoreland through February 14th. It departed the work site on Valentine’s Day.

At S.E. Insley at 20th in Westmoreland, a giant blue tower reached 50 feet in the air. It was part of a huge machine prominently named Malcolm, which had been engaged in the early part of the excavation of the intersection, as part of the Big Pipe city sewer project. In January and February, the neighbors around that intersection either have been living with the construction noise, or are spending time in motels.

But that's not the only sewer project in progress in Inner Southeast.

As February began, a lengthy sewer rehabilitation project was getting underway (close to a month late) opposite the entrance to Reed College on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard. The Bureau of Environmental Services discloses that the project, which also extends south on Reed College Place, could last up to 150 days, but had been promising that at least one lane would be open at all times.

Contradicting the promise was signage mounted on Woodstock the week of February 12th announcing that the boulevard will be entirely closed during the weekday work hours, and directing motorists northward to S.E. Steele, as a detour between 28th and 39th Streets. The project closing the street, and still being in progress when Reed College commencement occurs in May, are two issues about which the college is in discussions with the Bureau of Environmental Services.

An 'emergency manhole repair' has been taking place fitfully on S.E. Harold at McLaughlan, with the excavation being covered by steel plates in between work sessions.

And, the B.E.S. has announced major sewer upgrades in Sellwood over the next few years, which will involve increasing the size of the sewer pipes and adding a pumping station, while upgrading another. The upgraded station will need to expand to fill the space currently occupied by the Sellwood Community Garden, which is on B.E.S. land.

With the imminent loss of that garden, efforts have increased by SMILE, the area's neighborhood association, to consummate acceptance of a new community garden spot at the south end of Westmoreland Park, offered a couple of years ago by the owner of the apartment houses there, subject to being surveyed and certain conditions.