By WILLIAM PAINE
The Town of Pulaski in conjunction with Pulaski On Main cohosted an informational meeting at the town’s train depot this past Tuesday. The purpose of the meeting was to answer questions regarding the upcoming West Main Waterline Project.
The Town of Pulaski is set to replace the waterline servicing buildings on West Main Street between Washington and Jefferson Avenues. The project is set to begin in mid-November of this year and is expected to take four months to complete. As a result, West Main Street will be closed to vehicular traffic during the water line replacement project, which will mean West Main will likely be closed until mid-March of 2023.
West Main Street tenants and business owners, as well as their customers will have to find parking elsewhere during this period of construction. In anticipation of this, the town leased the Courthouse parking lot from the county and has done away with the two-hour parking restriction there and at the Courthouse parking lot on the corner of 3rd Street and Washington Avenue.
“The waterline being replaced is old and small and has the potential for breakage,” said Pulaski Town Engineer Bill Pedigo, who made the presentation at Tuesday’s meeting. “Anytime we can replace an older line with a new line, we’d like to try to do that.”
“We have a lot of interest in our town generally and specifically to the downtown for development,” said Town Manager Darlene Burcham. “And we want to make that development as easy as possible on developers. We’ve had seven buildings purchased in the downtown in the past eight months that we know people want to develop.”
The new waterline, made of 8-inch diameter PVC, will replace the older 6-inch iron water lines under West Main Street.
“The existing main is so small in diameter that there can be pressure drops during peak events,” said Matt Gross, the project’s Chief Engineer. “The larger diameter pipe that we’re replacing it with will minimize those drops, so that sprinkler systems can be more reliably designed.”
Both Pedigo and Gross assured building owners on West Main Street that their water service would be minimally affected by the switch over to a new line, with the interruption likely lasting only a matter of a few minutes.
The sprinkler system required for mixed use buildings is a major aspect of this water line project, as is the Streetscape Project.
Subsequent to the completion of the West Main Water Line Project, the town will begin the VDOT funded Streetscape Project, which will replace the sidewalks and gutters along this section of West Main Street.
Mixed use buildings are structures that generally have businesses on the bottom floor with residences above. To meet code, many of these structures will have sprinkler systems installed in the upper floor apartments. Since the Streetscape Project will replace the existing sidewalks anyway, it seemed an opportune time for the town to replace the existing waterlines. The West Main Waterline Project is being paid for using $650,000 in American Recovery Plan Act funds. The Streetscape Project is funded by two VDOT grants totaling $1,066,902.
If the Streetscape project were not to take place, the owners of these mixed use buildings would have to break through the sidewalks to access the waterlines in order to upgrade their sprinkler systems. According to Town Manager Burcham, this would be a prohibitively costly process. Instead, the West Main Waterline Project will give building owners easy access to town water for any needed upgrades.
Though the sidewalks will be replaced, both Pedigo and Burcham assured those present that no building entrances will be blocked during this process.
The water line replacement project will necessitate the repaving of West Main Street. Money to repave West Main will come from the town’s VDOT maintenance funds but there is currently no bid for that.
The Streetscape Project will begin once the water line project is completed and West Main Street will remain a gravel road until all sidewalks and gutters have been replaced. The new sidewalk will also include handicap ramps and a bus stop, though their locations are yet to be determined.
“There are safety issues with our current sidewalk,” said Pedigo. “The sidewalk has misaligned joints and the trees are overgrown. The trees will be removed and the grates will be replaced with stormwater friendly grates that take stormwater from the road and keep it in the tree well.”
West Main Street will remain a one-way street until it is graveled after the water line replacement is completed. Third Street, which is also set to become a two-way street, will remain a one-way street until both streets are set to handle two-way traffic.