Central Ave. project to get going next week
Construction biggest in Downtown Staunton since the Big Dig
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The City of Staunton announces the launch of a major downtown construction project, the largest such undertaking since the Big Dig 10 years ago. The ten-month project will install a new sewer line along Central Avenue from the Wharf Parking Lot to Pump Street. DLB Inc. from Hillsville is the contractor that has been selected for the project.
The project is expected to begin the week of Jan. 18, and DLB will begin staging equipment on the East side of the Wharf Lot the week of Jan. 11. The East side of the lot will remain partially open for customer parking through Jan. 17, after which it will be closed through phase two of the project. The West side of the lot will not close.
The $1.5 million project will involve burying an 18-inch sanitary sewer line some 15 feet below the street. This deep excavation requires the streets to be closed to through traffic to allow room for work and equipment. The new line is expected to pass under existing utilities and no power, phone, water or other interruptions are expected.
The new 18-inch sanitary sewer is essential to relieve an undersized line and to improve the health of Lewis Creek. The current line, a 14-inch line placed in 1938, runs through the tunnel that carries Lewis Creek along Central Avenue. Backups or overflows in that line now spill into the stream.
“We badly need this new line, but we are also well aware that it is a major project right through the middle of downtown,” said City Manager Steve Owen. “We know it will disrupt businesses, residents, parking, and traffic flow downtown, but we are absolutely committed to working with those affected to minimize problems and find ways to maintain access, to meet special needs, and to keep those involved fully informed of progress.”
City Engineer James Davis said: “We know there is never a good time for a project like this, but we have scheduled this essential project at a time that will allow work in the Wharf parking lot to be complete prior to spring and summer events and all work to be complete before the 2010 holiday season.” Davis continued, “My staff and I will remain available to the businesses and residents along or near the project during construction. One of our staff will be assigned specifically to work with those who have issues or needs that arise during construction. We will do all we reasonably can to help out. We understand the importance of deliveries, parking and access, and we will do what we can to make those things easier.”
Davis mentioned that the idea of doing construction at night to lessen local impact had been considered but found to be ineffective and too expensive. He said streets would still have to remain closed during the day because of the deep excavation, and costs would be higher. “Nightly construction noise would disrupt downtown residents,” Davis said. “We are working around and under a lot of utilities here. If we have questions or need action, we would have difficulty reaching some of these companies at night,” Davis added.
Although the project will last approximately ten months, construction will be undertaken on a block-by-block basis. Construction will begin in the Wharf lot and work its way to Central Avenue, then up Central Avenue to Pump Street. Although changes are possible, current plans call for five phases of construction. The table below attempts to provide a construction schedule and corresponds to the attached map; however, it should be noted that bad weather and other issues can cause delays even after work has begun.
“Things happen,” Davis said. “That’s why we plan to stay in close contact with the SDDA and affected merchants during this process. When something changes, we want them to know as soon as possible.”
In all phases, the part of Central Avenue involved in the construction will be closed to through traffic. In some cases local traffic and deliveries may be possible, depending on the timing of such deliveries and the work being completed.
Throughout construction, a map detailing available parking, street closures and detours will be available for download on the city website at www.staunton.va.us and the SDDA website at www.stauntondowntown.org.
The Staunton Visitor’s Center located at 35 South New Street will have maps and information and act as the concierge for visitor questions and concerns.
The SDDA will release e-mail updates to registered constituents on Thursdays.