Crews work to fix old problems at Hendersonville High School

New sewer and storm utilities will be installed around the Stillwell building at Hendersonville High School. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Crews began work earlier this week on the first stage of renovations at Hendersonville High School.

The project is expected to take about five years at a cost of around $60 million.

During the next six to eight weeks, crews will be working to fix a problem that began decades ago when buildings were constructed on top of underground utilities, namely stormwater and sewer lines.

Jarred Deridder, project manager for the utility work, said maintenance on the lines is difficult when they're underneath existing structures.

"Maintenance crews aren’t able to get to the lines to maintain them," Deridder said. "So, the existing sanitary sewer goes underneath the cafeteria and the vocational building to the football field. Same thing with the existing storm."

New lines will be built around the Stillwell building, which will remain in place through renovations, connecting to city utility lines under adjacent streets.

Deridder said moving the lines will help with the remainder of construction, since facilities will be built where current lines exist.

While checking the lines before work began, crews used a few interesting tools to map the lines and look for hazards, according to John Mitchell, Business and Community Development Director for Henderson County.

"One of the pieces of equipment we used this time was a robot, which actually got into the line and camera’d it," Mitchell said. "Now while were we out there, we found one of these lines actually crossed through another one."

Footage from the robot shows a sewer line cutting right through the much larger stormwater pipe.

Once construction is complete on the new utilities, the old lines will be removed. If crews had to fix the lines, it would have much more complicated.

"Having those utilities moved is going to prevent us from having surprises down the road," Mitchell said.

The utility work is expected to cost about $1.35 million and is on schedule to be finished before students return in the fall.

The old vocational building is also becoming a makeshift cafeteria, since the old cafeteria building is scheduled to be torn down in early 2020.

Mitchell said they're still working to finish the zoning process with the city, but he expects that to be complete by August.

Bids for the remainder of construction will be considered this fall and winter.