Storm drains vacuumed, one repaired


Thursday was a busy day along Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. In addition to utility pole repositioning work, storm drains were cleaned out with a vacuum truck, and one collapsed storm drain was repaired in a project under the direction of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

“MassDOT is cleaning the drainage system within the limits of the Beach Road construction project. This includes cleaning catch basins and pipes that have become clogged over time,” Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) spokesperson Judith Reardon Riley emailed The Times. 

Outside the The Times building at 30 Beach Road Thursday, a vacuum truck worked in conjunction with a Jay’s Septic truck. A Jay’s Septic employee told The Times the truck was dewatering the drains so the vacuum truck could get all the silt and sand out. The employee said he planned to return the water once the vacuum truck was finished with its work. It’s unclear whether the septic truck had been sanitized prior to the work. However, Reardon Riley contradicted what the employee said, “The truck is not pumping water into the system, it is only removing stormwater from the basin.” 

MassDOT didn’t immediately respond to follow-up questions specific to what the septic truck driver told The Times. 

Traffic backed up in both directions on the road Thursday as police details alternated passage past workers. A steel plate spanned a collapsed drain across from Tisbury Wharf Thursday morning. A Lawrence Lynch employee (Lawrence Lynch is a contractor for MassDOT) told The Times the drain was old, and made of bricks. The replacement would be made of cast concrete. Both Reardon Riley and the Lawrence Lynch employee said the drain would be rebuilt later in the day Thursday, and it was. 

“It is common for older basins to have some deterioration, which may cause the block to fall in during cleaning operations,” Reardon Riley wrote. “This project includes rebuilding and adjusting of all damaged or deteriorated drainage structures prior to final paving.”

Asked how long the storm drains are expected to remain sand- and silt-free, Reardon Riley wrote, “This will depend on several factors, including weather events such as storms, and the amount of sand used during winter snow and ice events, as well as sand blown onto the roadway from the beach. Annual basin cleaning is a standard maintenance activity.”

Asked if another drain collapses further along in the season, MassDOT will repair it, Reardon Riley noted: “Beach Road is a state-owned and -maintained roadway, including the drainage system. MassDOT will remain responsible for any future repairs.”