The City under the City

5:57 PM, Jul 27, 2007   |    comments
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St. Paul's underbelly is under scrutiny on Friday because two men are missing. "It's huge; we are talking about probably 1,300 to 1,400 miles of sewer under there that vary in size," St. Paul City Engineer John Maczko said today when talking about the underground world, under St. Paul. By now fire officials say they have combed the pipes three times. Not just the direct route the men may have been on but the nooks and crannies. "There are several different branches on the tunnels themselves," Maczko said. Now, all eyes are on the Mississippi River. "Everything (from the tunnel) goes to the river," Maczko said. The St. Paul lines in question aren't very old, the main tunnel was built in the 1960s and the St. Albans tunnel, the one the victims went in, was constructed in the 1980s. St. Paul's city engineer guesstimates there are at least a dozen points of entry and exit along the way. "It's a vast infrastructure we have," Maczko said. It is in reality another St. Paul just below the city everyone knows. And while its vertical dimensions are walkable its width is lacking, making it risky to navigate in the best of circumstances. When water rushed into the sewer Thursday afternoon it may have just been too much water in too short a time. "The drainage area that the catch basin drains into all goes to a separate central pipe location, in a lot of ways it's like a flash flood," Maczko said. And like flash floods above ground, the water moves much, much faster than anyone expects.

By Jana Shortal, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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