BANGOR, Maine — The collapse of an ancient wooden culvert that swallowed a light pole and some paved walkway last month on the Bangor Waterfront must be fixed before sewage pollutes the Penobscot River, officials said Thursday.
The City Council voted 8-0 during a meeting on Wednesday to suspend its contracting rules and to allocate about $205,000 to pay Lou Silver Construction Co. of Bangor to replace the culvert. Councilor Sean Faircloth was absent.
Located about 200 feet south of Railroad and Front streets, the culvert collapsed on Nov. 16, creating the sinkhole. City workers filled in the 15-foot-wide and 8-foot-deep hole a day later.
But the patchwork is temporary, according to City Engineer John Theriault. Likely built in the 1800s, the culvert is part of the underground Davis Brook Storage Facility, which stores stormwater flows and sewer overflows from nearby Main Street and neighborhoods to the west.
Besides the pollution risk, Theriault said he fears the collapse of a nearby 42-inch concrete pipe that dumps stormwater and sewer overflow into the river. Replacing the pipe would be costly. Sewer lines along Main Street also could back up because of the collapse, he said.
Construction company owner Barney Silver said he hopes to start work next week.
“We have been working our way through all the issues that are here,” Silver said Thursday. “It is not a simple situation.”
The allocation will come from residual funds in city bond accounts, said Councilor Dan Tremble.
“This is an emergency situation, and it has to be taken care of,” Tremble said before he made the motions that led to the allocation.
Silver Construction will only be able to do the repair work at low tide. Its workers also must be careful not to disturb environmentally sensitive river areas that were paved over years ago, Theriault said.
Theriault said he hopes the repair cost estimate is accurate and that the work will be finished in about six weeks. The city has had a good relationship with Silver, he said.