Gainesway project to temporarily close roads as Lexington making progress on sanitary sewer improvements

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Residents in the Gainesway neighborhood are just a few months away from completion of a long-term sanitary sewer project on Greentree Road, part of a massive overhaul of the city’s sanitary sewer system that began in 2011.

“Getting through projects like this one can be a little painful for neighbors,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “It’s important to remember that we are protecting the environment, and cleaning up our city. That’s worth some short-term inconvenience.”

So far, the Division of Water Quality has completed 52 of the 80 projects that are part of the sanitary sewer system overhaul. Fourteen more projects are currently active, in locations all over Lexington. 

With the Greentree project, the city is replacing and upsizing the sanitary sewer line that runs from Armstrong Mill Road to New Circle Road. 

Motorists are encouraged to detour around the area to avoid closures related to the project, which began in early March. The road has been closed to through traffic from Centre Parkway to New Circle Road, including the intersection of Gainesway Road and Greentree Road. 

Initially the intersection of Gainesway Road and Greentree Road will have intermitant closures, with flagmen to help direct traffic. 

Later this month, the intersection will be fully closed for approximately one week for pipe installation. The intersection will reopen by March 31, but Greentree Road will remain closed to through traffic from Gainesway Road to New Circle Road until the end of April. 

Before the Gainesway intersection is closed, Greentree Road will reopen in both directions from Armstrong Mill to Centre Parkway.

Councilmember Fred Brown encouraged neighbors to be patient. “Try to find an alternate route that works for you,” Brown said. “This is a major project that will be a major improvement.”

Charles Martin, Director of the Division of Water Quality, said the project will abate two sanitary sewer manhole overflows that have occurred on Greentree Road nearly 150 times since 2011.

“We know it’s been tough for the neighborhood, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We will be off their street in just a few short months,” Martin said. 

Lexington’s sanitary sewers transport wastewater from homes and businesses to one of the city’s two wastewater treatment plants. Normally, the water is cleaned before being released from the plants into local creeks.

However, sanitary sewer overflows from sewer manholes can occur when rainwater enters the sanitary sewer system, overloading its capacity. The manholes overflow and sewage runs into the streets or into streams.

“Increasing the size of 6,000 feet of pipe during this project will prevent manholes from overflowing and releasing untreated sewage into the environment every time we get a lot of rain,” Gorton said. 

The Greentree project is part of the federal consent decree requirements for Lexington to improve its sanitary sewer system. The agreement, which was finalized in 2011, requires Lexington to implement a number of construction and maintenance projects to fix the sanitary and storm sewer systems. Lexington completed its stormwater obligations in 2021. 

Overall, the projects completed so far have come in under budget. The expectation was that the city would have spent nearly $470 million to get to this point, but the expenses currently come in at $372 million. The total estimate for all projects was projected to be $600 million. 

While the original consent decree completion date was 2026, supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic have slowed progress. Lexington has asked for an extension to 2030 to ensure that pipes and other supplies will be available to complete the projects. Despite experiencing supply-related construction delays, Lexington has significantly improved its sanitary sewer system over the past several years. 

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