City invests additional $110K in infrastructure

Current street, sidewalk projects on schedule

Michelle Monroe

By Michelle Monroe

Executive Editor

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ST. ALBANS CITY — At their Monday night meeting, the St. Albans City Council agreed to spend $80,000 from reserve funds and $30,000 from the current budget on infrastructure.

The additional funding for sidewalk, sewer and water improvements comes as work is proceeding apace on the multiple construction projects around the city, including new sidewalks on South Main Street, the Fairfield Street project, and the building of a new hotel and street improvements on Lake Street.

One project has seen delays – the $2 million renovation of St. Albans City Hall. The project is now expected to be complete some time in June or July with the repaving of the city hall parking lot.

The delays don’t mean an increase in costs, according to city manager Dominic Cloud “We have a fixed price so we’re more concerned about quality than schedule,” he said.

There are another five to six weeks worth of work, Cloud said. That includes completion of the new entryway.

“We’re delighted,” Cloud said of the work so far.

Cloud also asked the council to approve additional funding for work on Houghton Street. Replacement of the water line along Houghton was the first of the city’s construction projects this spring.

The 150-year-old wastewater line at Houghton “began to crumble” during the work on the water line, said Cloud. He asked the council to approve the use of $30,000 in reserve funds to replace the wastewater line.

In addition, Cloud asked to use $30,000 from the current year’s sidewalk budget to build a new sidewalk on Houghton.

The sidewalk would increase the connectivity between two of the city’s largest employers – Mylan Technologies, Inc. and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Center – and downtown businesses, according to Cloud.

Because the area beneath where the sidewalk is to be constructed is already dug up for the water line, this is “a really cost-effective time to put a sidewalk back on top of it,” said Cloud.

Use of the funds would not divert money from current projects, said Cloud, because the sidewalk construction done last summer cost less than anticipated.

The council unanimously approved both requests.

Streets and sidewalks

The installation of new sidewalks and curbs on South Main Street is on schedule, according to Marty Manahan, the city’s director of business development.

Sidewalk has been removed along the west side of South Main from the city line to downtown. When work shifts to the east side, it will be concentrated in the space between the St. Albans Town Educational Center and Bellows Free Academy, Manahan explained, with work in front of the schools waiting until after the end of the school year.

When work is complete on South Main, construction will shift to North Main, starting at Hoyt Street and going north to the city line.

On Fairfield Street, a new sewer line has been installed between Lincoln and Barlow, along with a new catch basin. Work is underway on a new water line.

The city is in regular contact with the four businesses impacted by the closure of Fairfield Street. “We’re in conversations with them daily,” said Manahan.

The easternmost block of Lake Street is now one-way going west, and will remain that way until November at the earliest, and possibly into next year, according to Chip Sawyer, the city’s director of planning.

To compensate for the loss of on street parking on Lake, six spaces in the courthouse lot will be made into one-hour spots with signs identifying them as for the use of customers of Lake Street businesses, said Sawyer. The spaces are currently metered.

In addition to the hotel, the Lake Street construction includes the removal of old concrete beneath the street, the construction of new sidewalks, curbs and crosswalks, and the installation of the same streetlights as Main Street.

The only planned nighttime work on the Lake Street project occurred overnight Tuesday. In an email to the Messenger this morning, Sawyer offered apologies to anyone whose sleep may have been disrupted.

When the Lincoln to Barlow work is complete, construction will shift to the portion of Fairfield between Barlow and Northwestern Medical Center, he explained.

Councilor Chad Spooner expressed concern about the impact the work is having on traffic, particularly on South Elm Street.

“There’s a lot more traffic on streets that don’t normally see it,” agreed Manahan.

Cloud suggested watching how the traffic develops over the next few weeks as conditions change on South Main to see what impact that has on the streets to the west of South Main such as South Elm. City staff also spoke of possibly finding ways to shift traffic onto Market Street, which is not a residential street.

In addition, the council approved spending $50,000 from the water reserves to install and replace valves on the city’s water lines.

Also approved was a $5,000 façade grant for Main Street Graphics.