A theory about Bethel Avenue’s roughness

The in basket: Charles Dick has a theory about why Bethel Avenue, now undergoing a maintenance project by the city of Port Orchard, is so terribly rough.

“Just after the county installed the new sewer line,” he said. “There was an earthquake that caused a lot of the man holes to sink.  They have been a problem ever since, with many repairs, but to no avail.  The earthquake probably separated the pipe joints, allowing soil to seep into the line, thus causing settling around the manholes.

“The road is really bad throughout the whole of the northbound lane,” he said. “It would seem that any repair will be major, in order to fix those man holes and pipe joints before the road base is repaired.  Has anyone looked into that problem and do you know of any plans to fix them?”

The out basket: The sewer lines and manholes are the property of West Sound Utility District, which says the mains are fine, and that the poor condition of the manholes has nothing to do with an earthquake.

Brett Winters, operations manager for the district, says, “West Sound Utility District installed the sewer main on Bethel Road in 1999. The sewer main and manhole locations are based on the proposed road improvements by Kitsap County.”

Since then, Port Orchard has annexed the road and its surroundings and that’s why it’s the one making pavement repairs on a portion of it this summer

“The manholes are normally placed in the center of the road to avoid traffic driving over them,” Brett continued. “The center of the proposed road placed the manholes temporarily in the wheel path of northbound vehicles on the existing road. The high volume of traffic driving across the manhole covers has caused the adjustment rings between the top of the concrete manhole structure and the cover at the road surface to break down. The cover then sinks below the surface of the asphalt as the adjustment rings degrade.

“The district has replaced the adjustment rings on the manholes several times over the years but the long-term fix is to move the manholes out of the wheel path of vehicles. We are working with the city of Port Orchard during their planning process to improve the Bethel Corridor. The alignment of the driving lane should move the wheel path off the manholes providing a long-term fix for the problem.

“The District has an aggressive sewer maintenance program that provides for inspecting all manholes, televising, inspecting and jet cleaning all sewer mains,” Brett said. “The pipe and manhole structures are in excellent condition and we are confident that the realignment of the driving lanes will stop the rapid deterioration of the adjustment rings.”

Mark Dorsey, Port Orchard’s public works director, said the work going on now is what he calls “mills and fills,” in which degrading pavement and subgrade are ground out and replaced between Mitchell Avenue and Vallaire Court on Bethel Avenue and between Cathie Lane and Carl Pickel Drive on Lund Avenue, with a new overlay of the Lund/Bethel intersection itself. The subgrade repairs can be more extensive and include use of a geotextile fabric, he said.

More mills and fills along the rest of the Bethel corridor are planned in 2016 and 2017.

The city must redesign the long-term improvement, which it will begin doing in 2018. “The actual Bethel Corridor reconstruction project is currently scheduled for 2025,” Mark said.

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