Sometimes digging in the dirt is a bit like a treasure hunt.
Spokane Valley project manager Pete Fisch knows this first hand. The already complicated Sprague Avenue reconstruction project between Evergreen and Sullivan roads has been delayed after a too-shallow natural gas line was discovered last week under the road.
Gas lines are usually buried about 3 feet deep but some portions of the line were only 6 inches under the asphalt, Fisch said. For this project, the contractor is digging down 14 inches to replace the road bed and pave it over. The city sent out notices about the project to all utilities, but apparently no one realized the line was so shallow.
“We didn’t know until we peeled up the asphalt and started digging around,” Fisch said. The line is on the far edge of the eastbound side of the road and it wasn’t under the road when it was first put in years ago, he said. “The road is wider than it used to be.”
At first Fisch thought the current construction phase would be delayed two weeks, but now expects it to be only a week. A deal was worked out to allow a subcontractor already on site to dig the trench and Avista crews are moving the gas line.
The extra work is expected to be completed today, but another delay may be looming. No one knows how deep the gas line is buried between Adams and Evergreen. Avista will be checking on the depth of the gas line this week to see if it will need to be relocated as well. “It could probably be another two-week delay,” Fisch said. “It all depends on what they find.”
Business owners have been notified about the delay and work crews are maintaining access to business driveways, Fisch said. Work on the current phase should be complete by July 10. Work on the section from Adams to Evergreen is now expected to be finished in late August.