Fresh from Bass Avenue sewer work that tangled East Gloucester traffic for days — and with motorists still confronting a National Grid gas main project tying up parts of lower Washington Street — the city is gearing up for another big infrastructure project — replacing more than a mile of water main in Magnolia.
But Gloucester Public Works Director Mike Hale is assuring residents and visitors that the latest project, still months away, will not bring any of the disruptions drivers have faced in recent weeks.
City Chief Financial Officer John Dunn has requested borrowing $1.8 million to cover the up-front costs of a 6,000-foot water main replacement that looms as part of a divided project, with residents of the private streets involved paying for the cost of paving the connected streets under a city private road partnership program. The city, however, would replace the water main beneath the streets first so as not to literally undercut the paving project.
The borrowed cash, the latest in a series of short-term loans taken out to pay for water and sewer improvement projects across the city, would be used to cover water main work beneath the length of Englewood Road, along with Lake and Maple roads and the ocean side of Village Road and Norman Avenue. The proposal was referred last week from the City Council to its Budget and Finance Subcommittee.
While the locus for the project is expansive, Hale points out that these roads typically see much less traffic than major thoroughfares such as Bass Avenue and Washington Street.
The impetus for this project is also similar to the other two infrastructure upgrades. In each case, the projects are designed to replace existing underground utility lines that date back 80 years or more.
The water mains beneath Englewood Avenue were installed in the 1920s or 1930s, Hale said, describing this work as "critical." There are several dozen homes in the immediate project area.
"It needs to be done, and it helps us manage construction so that the entire (city water) system works the way it should," he said.
As for traffic, "it will impact the abutters," Hale said, "but other than knowing it is happening, most people in the community wouldn't come across it in their daily travels. We're going to be in a neighborhood that's local access only."
The project is tentatively slated to be bid and finished by November. Hale noted the work was triggered by neighborhood residents seeking to undertake the paving portion as part of an area betterment project for private roads. The paving work will then be expected to hold up for 20-25 years with the new utility line below.
The project also includes replacing and installing several new fire hydrants in that area, as well as numerous 6- and 8-inch water valves.
"November is an aggressive schedule, and I'm talking water works, adequate fire protection, all facets of the system," Hale said. "It's a good project and one we want to get done."
Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or via email at email@example.com.