By CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — As students head back to school, their parents and bus drivers will have to navigate around several lingering street construction projects.
Public Works Director Larry Seals said the summer's projects are wrapping up, though some delays have pushed a couple into the school year.
The city's asphalt street repair program continued this summer with work completed less than two weeks ago on Vanness Avenue from North Jefferson Street to North Court Street, Bonita Avenue from North Court Street east, Meadowdale Street from East Elmdale Avenue to Bonita Avenue, Birchwood Lake Knoll from Birchwood Drive to city limits and several alleys surrounding Camille Street.
But the Marilyn Road reconstruction project, just behind Eisenhower Elementary, isn't quite finished. Crews are in the process of completing the school drive, the entrance for teachers, faculty and parent drop-off.
"They've done 25 percent of the driveways, so the contractor is going to work around traffic," Seals said.
The project's concrete work is expected to take another two weeks.
"They're far enough along with it that it's going to be minimal impact," he said. "We try to work with the schools to schedule them. The contractor got a bit of a late start ... which put us just a little bit behind, but I'm pretty pleased with the way it's progressed."
Drivers also need to take their time driving around construction on East Fourth Street next to Ottumwa High School.
"We're putting in a new water line on Fourth Street," said Ottumwa Water Works and Hydro general manager Mike Heffernan. "That section we identified last winter as an area where we had a lot of breaks and ... as a section that we wanted to get replaced."
Construction began at the beginning of July, and all that's left is connecting services, which could take around a week. Heffernan doesn't expect the construction to interfere significantly with school traffic.
Following completion of that project, Water Works' contractor will move to repair water mains on Grant Street, then East Court Street and finally to Quincy Avenue.
Old age and pressure changes contributed to water main breaks at Fourth and Grant streets, Heffernan said.
"Both go downhill and anytime you have that big a drop in elevation, the pressure increases, so they're subject to more breakage," he said.
Milner Street is also torn up at the moment and is closed from Mary Street south 480 feet for full-width, full-depth PCC reconstruction, water main replacement, construction of a new sidewalk and widening the street. Crews were expected to start work on replacing the water main on Tuesday. The project is supposed to take four to five weeks, Seals said. The project bid for more than $200,000.
Another project will begin today: East Court Street from North Court Street to North Green Street, totaling nearly $500,000. The project is expected to take several months to complete. Construction will begin at North Court and East Court streets with crews working their way up the hill. They will then jump down to North Green and East Court streets and work their way to the top of the hill again.
"That's a storm, water, sanitary and full-width, full-depth reconstruction," Seals said.
Crews are still working on storm and water lines on the $710,000 East Maple Avenue project from North Jefferson Street to North Court Street, which began on July 15. The city is hoping the project will be finished by November, said city engineer Dan Sturm.
The start date for construction on North Court Street from Albany Street to Maple Avenue depends on the East Maple Avenue project, Sturm said. Since both projects are under the same contractor, they'll be timed against each other.
"We'll coordinate the two together so as they finish the storm on one, they'll jump up to the other to do the necessary groundwork," Seals said. "They'll coordinate paving to where they pave the first phase of Maple, then jump over to North Court."
The North Court Street project bid out for nearly $200,000. The street has battled water main breaks for years, most recently at the southeast corner of Hillcrest Park.
Instead of scheduling construction projects during one particular season, Seals said public works spreads them throughout the year in order to have enough staff to cover every project so they move along quickly and efficiently.
Patching and pothole repair continues throughout the entire construction season, he said.
"We do keep track of material and we have an idea, but we don't count potholes," he said. "There's so many of them it would take more time to track them paper-wise than it would to fill them."
This year, crews expect to repair 2.34 miles of Ottumwa's streets, he said.