By MIKE WILLIAMS
Work began this week on the Town of Pulaski’s West Main Street Water Line Project – which is actually three projects in one.
The downtown portion of West Main – from Jefferson Avenue to Washington Avenue – was closed last Wednesday (Nov. 30) in preparation for work on the project to begin. That work got underway at mid-week.
During its meeting Tuesday evening, Pulaski Town Council received a report on the project from Town Engineer Bill Pedigo and newly-hired Project Manager Scott Aust.
Pedigo explained the West Main project is actually three projects – “the Main Street water line to improve water service down Main Street; streetscapes, which includes sidewalks, curbing and gutter, and eventually paving.
Aust explained to council the water line work has begun. Along with that, he said, “starting around the first of the year the traffic signals will be turned to flashing, followed 30 days later by bagging which will lead to four-way stops at both intersections – Main and Jefferson and Main and Washington.”
He said those changes can be done while the town is waiting on VDOT and Federal monies to be approved for the streetscape and sidewalk project – north and south – on Main Street.
Paving will follow, Aust said.
On two-way traffic, “we’re going to try and integrate that during the sidewalk upgrades. We’ll have one side of Main Street shut down while they’re doing one section of sidewalk (north side), we’ll turn around and open that side back up and have the south side shut down and do the sidewalks on that side.”
“Once that is complete, we can institute two-way traffic on Main Street as well as Third Street, and as you know the ‘Y’ intersection at Third Street and Main, which will also have to have some adjustments. That design is in process and nearly completed and hopefully we’ll have that for you shortly,” Aust added.
In response to a question from Councilman Michael Reis, Aust said the traffic lights at the two intersections (Main and Jefferson and Main and Washington) will be flashing red for a four-way stop.
“So everyone can get used to that new way of driving that’s coming,” Reis said.
“That new four-way stop that’s coming,” Aust replied.
Again in response to a question from Reis, Pedigo said plans for the streetscape / sidewalk work are nearly complete.
“I think people would get more excited about it if they could see what our options are,” Reis said.
Reis also noted he believes people would also like to see the plans for the ‘Y’ intersection and how that would work.
Aust said that design is close to being completed, and Pedigo said it could be brought to council at their next meeting in two weeks.
“The issue of going with two-way traffic is it really needs to be done all at one time,” said Pedigo. “You can’t take just a block and make it two-way.”
“The biggest concern and the delay that we see in the management of three projects is that the streetscape, because it involves federal and state money, is taking much longer to have the review conducted at the state level,” said Town Manager Darlene Burcham.
“Once they have given their blessing at the state level for the streetscape plan, it still has to have a blessing at the federal level. So, while we had hoped to immediately start the streetscapes as soon as the waterline was replaced, that’s not going to be happening as quickly. So, we wanted the council to be aware of that.
“But at the same time, we’re going to continue those elements of all three projects so that we can move as quickly as possible and have people see things on the ground, you know, that are really happening because it has been a couple of months since we announced several of these projects. I’m sure as soon as people see the road being pulled up on West Main there’ll be some more excitement about that water line,” Burcham said.
Burcham asked Pedigo to explain to council how the water line project presents an opportunity to the property owners downtown.
“This is an opportunity for the businesses to save considerable sums,” she noted.
“The idea behind the Main Street waterline improvement is to get better water service down Main, not only for domestic, but also for fire flow. So, what this will do is allow a building owner – if they want to do a mixed use group – say a restaurant on the first floor and housing on the second, the key to make that happen is sprinklers. So this will open up the availability for fire water for the buildings. If there is an apartment structure and the owner would like to have four meters put in, now would be the time to do that. Make application for new service and we can take care of all that,” Pedigo explained.
“Because the road’s already going to be tore up,” Reis said.
“So, I guess the question is between when that water line install is done and the streetscape starts, will that road be available for driving,” Reis asked.
“It may be that we open it back up,” Pedigo responded.
“We will make it passable. It will not be a good surface, but we will make it passable – as well as the sidewalks, and the sidewalks are still open,” he added.