The soundtrack of this project is the “beep beep beep” of heavy equipment backing up

They start each weekday at 6 am, the workers who are laying sanitary sewer pipe in my neighborhood. It’s a darn good thing I’m already up then, because I couldn’t sleep through all the noise they make.

This is what they’re laying in the street. Did you know that the French word for sewer is égout? Well, now you do, and it is thanks to the bilingual stamping on these pipes.

The work involves pulverizing the road surface, digging deep, laying the pipe, filling the trench with dirt, and packing it in tight. When they’re done, they’ll repave all of my neighborhood’s streets.

They’re also laying what they call “laterals” into each yard. Mine’s where the green marker is sticking out of the ground. Later, the city will spread grass seed and straw where they’ve destroyed my yard, but it’ll be up to me to water and tend it. When the pipe’s all laid and connected to the sewer mainline, I’ll hire a contractor to run pipe from the lateral my house and connect it to my plumbing. That will tear up my yard even worse than this, but all the contractors who’ve given me estimates want to leave repairing my lawn entirely to me.

The workers are gone for the day by the time I come home. They do a pretty good job of tying up loose ends before they leave, but there are surprises every day. Sometimes a street is blocked and I have to find a way around. Sometimes giant heavy equipment is left parked in front of my house. One day I found this stuff sitting in my yard. I feel lucky my lawn was not one of those chosen to hold a huge pile of crushed rock.

Overall this project hasn’t been unbearably disruptive, though I’m ready for it to be over just the same. The worst of it was the other day when I had to find someone to move the dump truck from in front of my driveway so I could drive to work. And because my neighborhood’s roads are all dirt and gravel right now, my car is always covered in dirt so thick you can write your name in it. It would be a waste of time to run it through a car wash, as it would be filthy again by the time I got it home.

I’m not, of course, looking forward to writing the checks associated with all of this; it is anything but free.

I bought this place after my divorce. It helped me finally reach my new normal. Read that story.


13 responses to “The soundtrack of this project is the “beep beep beep” of heavy equipment backing up”

  1. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    You guys are in septic tank land at the moment? :) I understand that has its own lovely challenges. I guess I’m just glad wherever I’ve lived, the whole putting-the-sewer-in thing was done in advanced, sometimes by several decades. Seems strange to me they’d go through all this trouble of putting in a trunk line but leaving it up to people to hook up.

    1. Jim Avatar

      The city can do whatever it wants on public property and in its easement on my property, but they can’t do anything more than that. Nor would they want to; holy cow, the liability if they screw something up on my property. So they have us contract privately once they place the lateral and connect to the main sewer trunk. Then if the private contractor screws something up, I can sue only them. See?

      1. Lone Primate Avatar
        Lone Primate

        Now it makes sense why it can’t make sense. I can see clearly now; the rain is gone… :)

  2. davidvanilla Avatar

    Not free, but it will be much appreciated. Street perpendicular to ours up the way is torn up for installation of storm sewer line to separate storm water from sewage disposal, and about time it is, too. And yes, we are paying for that.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yes, especially given that my septic system is original to the house, which was built in 1969 — sooner or later, I was going to have to replace it, and that would have been more expensive than what I face now.

      May your new storm sewer line be sufficient to handle the biggest Indiana gullywasher.

  3. ryoko861 Avatar

    They were forcing people to do this in the town I used to live in and it wasn’t what you would call even a middle class neighborhood. Some of these people were dirt poor. But the town insisted they run the sewers but it would cost anyone who wanted to hook up $10K. Oh the upheaval it caused! And this was back in the late 80’s!
    I hope it’s all worth the dirt, nose, and inconvenience for you.
    I so HATE those back up beepers!

    1. Jim Avatar

      There are two separate charges here: about $2500 to the city, and another $2-3k to the private contractor. For the city part, the city is offering assistance to people who make below a certain annual salary — you still have to pay the entire amount, but it’s broken up and placed on your sewer bill over the next umpty-ump years. I don’t qualify for this, so I’ve been saving up for a couple years now to pay this.

      1. ryoko861 Avatar

        So much for your Hawaiian vacation, huh? LOL!

        1. Jim Avatar

          This would go a long way toward paying for my next car. I’ve promised my current car to my son when he gets his license next year.

  4. Ted Kappes Avatar

    At least one upside to all this dry weather in the Midwest is that there are many weather interruptions to construction this year. Hopefully that will make work in your neighborhood move more quickly. And I imagine that in the long-run this should add to the value of your house.

    1. Ted Kappes Avatar

      Guess I meant to say there are not many construction interruptions.

    2. Jim Avatar

      They’ve been in my neighborhood for about a month now! But yes, it would have taken much longer if the weather had not been so dry.

  5. Delta Avatar

    Hey Jim, how do I reach you by email address to request permission to use one of your photos? Can’t seem to find your email addy on your blog.

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