ST. ALBANS CITY — Today is the start of another summer of construction for St. Albans City residents. The work will stretch from the top of Fairfield Street west to the city line on Lake Street.
Among the projects is the construction of a new hotel, streetscaping on the easternmost block of Lake Street, and new sidewalks and curbs on Fairfield, Lake and Main streets.
“We’ve got quite an agenda this summer for construction projects in the city,” said Peter Cross of Cross Consulting Engineers. Cross is coordinating the various contractors on behalf of the city.
The largest and most disruptive of the projects will be the reconstruction of Fairfield Street. The city will begin removing pavement from the city line in front of Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) to Church Street this week.
While the pavement is being removed the street will remain open, but parts of the street will be reduced to one lane with flagmen managing traffic, said Cross.
The following week, the stretch of Fairfield from Lincoln to Barlow will be closed during the day with one lane eastbound open at night.
Traffic will not be able to turn from Brown Avenue or High Street onto Fairfield while the street is closed, said Cross.
Detours around the closed area will be marked with signs, with special provisions for trucks, according to Cross.
The closure should last until mid-June, Cross said. The street is closed because the city will be putting in new water and sewer pipes. “We’re going to have some deep trenches there,” said Cross.
The city is also replacing approximately a dozen catch basins, which currently send stormwater into the city’s sewage system. Removing that water from the sewage system will reduce operating costs at the plant and the risk of overflow during major storms, engineers have previously explained.
The city will also replace the curbs on Fairfield Street and most, but not all, of the sidewalks, said Cross.
Fairfield will re-open but remain one lane from mid-June to mid-September while the road is rebuilt. The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) will do the final repaving of the street in September as part of its repaving plan for state highways.
“We are going to work closely with everybody,” said Cross. “It’s a big communication challenge.”
The city has already held meetings with affected institutions, including NMC, AmCare and Bellows Free Academy, according to Marty Manahan, the city’s director of business development.
“We’ll put out weekly, daily updates,” Manahan said.
To allow for passage of buses along alternate routes, no on-street parking will be allowed on Upper Welden and Lower Bishop streets and one section of Lincoln Avenue, according to Manahan. “We’ve started putting pamphlets on windshields” to let people know of the impending closure, he said.
Main and Lake streets
Sidewalk replacement will begin on Main Street this week, as well. The city is replacing curbs and sidewalks from the city line near the intersection of Main and the I-89 Access Road north to Stebbins Street.
When that work is complete, the city will move to Hoyt Street and begin replacing sidewalks and curbs north on Main Street to the city line, said Cross.
In August, the city will replace sidewalks and curbs along Lake Street from Russell Street to the city line at Adams Street.
“The street’s wide enough it shouldn’t impact traffic … but it will impact parking,” said Cross.
The sidewalk and curb work will precede repaving of those streets by VTrans. In the case of Lake Street, the repaving will be done next spring, according to Cross.
During the streetscape project, the upper block of Lake Street will be one-way westbound. The exact date that work will begin is not yet set, but Cross is projecting April 20.
Lights at the Lake, Fairfield and Main intersection will continue to operate normally, said Cross.
Construction of the hotel at 43 Lake St. will take place in conjunction with the streetscape project. The goal is to have the hotel open in mid-April of next year, said Manahan.
To keep residents updated on what is happening with roads, detours and construction, the city will have information on its Web site and Facebook page, and city staff will be in direct contact with residents and businesses in the affected areas.
Manahan said anyone with concerns should contact him directly or Cross.
“It’s kind of like Main Street streetscaping,” said Manahan. “It was painful going through it, but it was worth it in the end. We expect the same on Fairfield.”
Throughout the summer, the Messenger will run a map of the city showing closed streets and detours.
In addition to the work in the city itself, the city will also be installing new filters at the Fairfax water plant, which will be closed while the work is completed. The closure will mean all of the city’s water will be coming from the Maquam Shore water plant, explained Allen Robtoy, the city’s director of public works.
Finally, the city will be installing a new water main on Houghton Street to improve water service to the north side of town.