August 23rd, 2019

Fall completion still plan for First St.

By GILLIAN SLADE on August 13, 2019.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

The city says it still aims to have construction on First Street SW complete this fall.

As work has progressed, reopening the intersection at Division Avenue and First Street took a little longer than expected. Crews are now working in the next block heading west.

“The water and sewer installation is largely complete. They have a few metres left at the First Avenue intersection, which we’ve allowed them to close as well as half a block of the 100 block,” said Cody Hyam, construction superintendent for environmental utilities.

This will facilitate the sanitary sewer installation that is significantly deeper than the water pipes, said Hyam. The sanitary sewer is about five metres deep and the water pipes about three metres deep.

“As we proceed west the sanitary line gets shallower … it makes work easier,” said Hyam.

Before waterlines can be considered complete they are tested and certified as potable water, said Hyam.

There have not been any major rain delays and even though there has been hot weather it has actually been cooler on First Street.

“The tree coverage is really exceptional. So it’s roughly five degrees cooler on First Street than it is on Fifth Street where we have other projects,” said Hyam.

The heat can still be an issue when it is more than 30 C, but is is more manageable with plenty of shade, he said.

All the pipe work replacement has been necessary due to the age of the pipes and also “settlement” of them in some places, said Hyam.

While the city is planning to use cured in-place-pipes (CIPP) for some projects this would not have been appropriate on First Street. CIPP means pulling a lining through the inside of existing pipes. This lining then hardens and avoids having to dig up roads for new pipes.

Hyam says there are a number of areas where sections would have required repairs and digging regardless. The water pipes are also small-diameter, 100-year-old cast iron, which needed to be replaced with a larger diameter.

One of the challenges during a project like this, when the whole road is dug up, is maintaining access for residents. On First Street the houses on the river side have no back lane to gain access. As each block is worked on, pedestrian access of those houses is maintained.

In projects likes this, particularly where there are apartments and therefore higher density, crews try their best to give reasonable access to emergency vehicles and crews.

Ham says the city is mindful of the disruption to local residents and Hatters driving in the area.

“I continually appreciate the conversations I have with residents on site,” said Hyam. “I know that it is inconvenient … Everyone I talk to always qualifies that by saying they understand that this needs to be done.

“To me that is the greatest thing I can hear from affected residents.”

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