The city of Shawnee has been replacing old sewer lines since Monday in a process called “pipe bursting,” which is exactly what the name implies.


The city of Shawnee has been replacing old sewer lines since Monday in a process called “pipe bursting,” which is exactly what the name implies.

The company overseeing the project runs new poly piping with a giant “bullet” at the tip and runs it through the old line. The bullet is larger than the old line, so when it runs through it, the line essentially bursts and is shredded to pieces as the new line snakes through the existing path, utility inspector Jeremy Brown explained.

“Essentially it is replacement of the old line,” Brown said. “And then they go in and dig up the services and attach the services to the new line.”

Broadway and Beard streets between Pulaski and Georgia Streets were blocked off Monday through Tuesday evening, but they were opened back up on Tuesday. The city does not plan to close any more streets for the rest of the pipe bursting projects.

“Generally on the bursting ... we’re able to get into the areas where we don’t need to block off the roads,” Brown said. “This was an emergency situation ... that was in an area that unfortunately needed that.”

There may be other pipe bursting projects that warrant street closings in the future, but the city tries to provide plenty of notice to residents and leave residential access as unobstructed as possible, Brown said.

Workers have spent most of the week on the same line, which is a 500-foot sewer line. It takes approximately three to four days to complete a line of that length, depending on the weather.

The line sizes vary from 200 to 1,000 feet and the city is looking to complete about 14 lines, but have put others on the list because they were “emergency repairs,” Brown said. A line replacement is considered an emergency if homeowners call about sewage problems like lines backing up into their homes, or pumping waste into the yards. This usually occurs after a pipe is broken in half or a tree root has grown down into the lines, Brown said.

“They’ve been troubled lines and we’re just now finding them,” he said.

The city keeps a running tab of sewer lines and picks the worst from the list to replace.

It is an annual procedure to replace outdated and old sewer infrastructure. City workers are not working on the line replacement. The city awarded the project to Tri Star Construction of Kansas. The project began on Monday and it is a 180-day contract.

The city has $500,000 budgeted for the pipe bursting project this year, Brown said.