Project hits rough spot
A project to replace water mains in Marion hit a wall on Elm St. when rock layers stymied workers’ drill bits.
“They couldn’t control where the tip was going and it was beginning to wander,” engineer Darin Neufeld told the city council Monday.
Workers with Ditch Diggers were able to bore right on top of the rock shelf the first two blocks of Elm St. which gave the water main 30 inches of coverage engineers were shooting for, he said.
Drilling atop the rock yielded only 24 inches of coverage in the final block of Elm St., so they had to bore into the shelf.
“We didn’t want a waterline that shallow,” he said. “It would have made it tougher to get services on the other side of the street.”
They were drilling about 5 feet deep near the final block on Elm St. when the bit started wavering and they had to stop and switch to another.
“That’s why it has been taking so long,” he said.
The jagged rocks have been seen piled along with dirt on the side of the street. Most of the stone is breaking up into 12-inch chunks.
Bigger boulders are hauled to the city’s rock pile, unless someone finds a use for them.
“A homeowner next to the project wanted them placed in a ravine to help control erosion,” Neufeld said.
Leaks in the old line have also stalled progress on Elm St., he said. They have had to place several patches where it has split apart.
The company’s workers aren’t drilling anywhere near the old line, but the extra ground movement is causing it to fall apart.
“The old service line popped off — just literally broke and sheared off right next to a house the Presbyterian Church owns,” he said. “We don’t need water to that house right now, so we will just leave it unconnected and hook it up to the new main.”
Neufeld said he expects similar trouble on Marion’s south hill.
“We will probably have a bunch of leaks when we put in the new main, but that is the nature of why we are doing the project,” he said.
Neufeld expects Elm St. lines to be finished in a few weeks as progress has been steady in other areas of the city.
Water lines on Maple from 3rd to Lincoln Sts. are all in place and connected but have not been tested yet.
New lines on 1st and Miller Sts. are finished and have been tested, but houses on these streets are still served by the old mains. A subcontractor will switch them over in a few weeks.
“We have two mains working right now,” Neufeld said. “An old one and the new one. Once we switch services over, the old lines will be abandoned.”
Last modified March 25, 2021