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THE GARDNER NEWS
By Stephen Landry / firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Aug 7, 2019 at 8:13 PMUpdated Aug 8, 2019 at 9:37 AM
GARDNER — The first phase of an $11 million, multiyear project to overhaul the city’s water mains is about to get underway.
Phase 1 of the plan, which will replace approximately 22,000 feet of underground water pipes, is expected to be completed sometime next year. Officials say that some of the mains beneath the city’s streets can be dated back to the 1800s and early 1930s.
Mayor Mark Hawke said the tentative start date will be the third week in August, and that residents will notice paint marks in the streets very soon — these are Dig Safe markings that are required to notate all underground utilities. He said the expected delays and disruptions will be similar to when Unitil excavated a section of downtown roadway to repair a service line three years ago.
“They’re expecting to get about 60 to (100) feet (of work) done per day — that’s a pretty good pace,” Hawke said. “The residents and businesses in the downtown area may see some infrequent water shutoff issues, and some parking will obviously be interrupted, but it’s sort of like a Band-Aid — we’re trying to get all this work done at once and rip the Band-Aid off as quickly as possible.”
The contractors will begin work on Main Street at Willow Street and work their way up to Central Street and Maple Street, with sewer work and water installation eventually taking place on City Hall Avenue. Also included in Phase 1 of the project are Vernon Street, Clark Street and Acadia Road. Officials said they will work closely with the Police Department to keep all downtown businesses open throughout the project, and asked the public to remain patient as officers work to keep traffic flowing into and out of the area.
During construction, there will be periods when water will have to be shut off, but officials said these times will be limited to just a few hours. They said businesses will also get at least a day’s notice about when their water would be shut off. The contractor will notify the Gardner Fire Department when water shutoffs are necessary, and officials said temporary water for domestic use and fire safety will be made available during those times.
Hawke noted that there will likely be times when traffic will have to be rerouted and vehicular traffic will be unable to reach certain downtown businesses. He said police details will try to keep these periods limited, and that all businesses will remain open to pedestrian traffic during construction. He said the contractor is expected to work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
Completion of the entire multiyear project will depend on the cooperation of Mother Nature, according to Hawke.
“It’s really dependent on when winter arrives,” he said, adding that water will have to be made available to all residents and businesses throughout the project. “All of that water has to be run above ground, so as soon as we get into temperatures that are too cold, we obviously can’t do that anymore.”
Hawke said contractors hope to get the majority of the work finished before the arrival of winter.
“And whatever doesn’t get done will be finished the first thing in the spring.” He said trenches will be paved temporarily for the winter, then permanently in the spring. He expects the roads to be paved gutter to gutter during the summer of 2020.
Hawke said that although the work may cause some inconvenience for residents, the work of repair the city’s water lines is an extremely important project. He cited the fact that there have been water main breaks in the downtown area during the previous two winters.
“Some of these water mains are over 100 years old and they need to be replaced, so why not do it while the streets are getting ripped up for the gas main works and do it all at once? It’s painful, but we’ll be able to get through it, and hopefully we won’t have to do it for another 100 years.”