LEWISTON Nichols Street isn’t quite so green, as city crews make room for a storm sewer separation project later this month.

Crews were scheduled to remove as many as 10 maple trees along the western side of the road between Campus Avenue and Vale Street this weekend. The trees were being cut in preparation for the sewer work, scheduled to be completed later this summer.

New trees will be replanted after the project is done, but they will be smaller than the ones currently there, according to city officials.

It worries neighbor Ariel Kernis of 130 Nichols St.

“A tree-lined street is really beautiful,” she said. “Whatever they do, when they cut them down, it’s really going to impact the neighborhood. I, for one, will miss listening to the chickadees in the trees every morning.”

Kernis said neighbors first learned that the trees would be removed last week when they noticed red ribbons tied to them. They began checking around, talking to city public works officials.

The city is building a parallel storm sewer to carry away runoff from the Nichols, White, Davis and College street neighborhoods.

“They’ve had some real problems with basements flooding in that neighborhood, and that’s what we’re trying to alleviate,” said Richard Burnham, city engineer.

Kernis said she also understands why the new storm sewer needs to be built.

“I did have my basement flood about a month ago,” she said. “We had quite a bit of water come up through our basement.”

The neighborhood is one of many originally built with a single sewer system to carry both household sewage and storm runoff from street drains. In most situations, the sewage is treated. But during heavy rainstorms, runoff can overwhelm the system, backing up a combination of household sewage and rain into the streets and residents’ homes.

A 1990 federal rule required cities to do away with combined sewers. City crews have been building parallel storm sewers in the city since 2003. This year, they’re focusing on the neighborhoods surrounding Bates College.

“We’ve never had the money to do all of the projects at once,” Burnham said. “But we’ve done both sides of College Street. Now we’re focusing in on the center.”

The terrain on Nichols Street makes planning the storm sewer difficult, he said. Crews normally try and place the storm sewer in the middle of the street.

“But we can’t do that here because Nichols is part of a low area,” he said. “When we have a street like that, with a low spot in the middle, we end up burying the sewer pipe too low. And then it can’t meet the higher spots.”

Burnham said the project is also complicated by the amount of buried utilities already in the ground in those neighborhoods. The trees that were scheduled to be cut were located on the best place for the sewer line.

“So we can’t go down the middle of the street,” he said. “The only choice we have, in some cases, is to go onto private property. If the grade requires it, we have to go onto private property and even between houses. But we really try to avoid it.”

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