Closures to change as waterline work continues


JASPER — Cones, road closure signs and big equipment have become familiar sights on streets in downtown Jasper.

Cars may be slowing down when they enter the construction zone, but work is speeding forward on the city’s U.S. 231 water supply and pressure improvement project.

At Monday night’s Jasper Utility Service Board meeting, a project manager with VS Engineering estimated that work will be between 25 percent and 30 percent complete before crews begin a holiday hiatus on Friday.

“Traffic is always going to be a problem when you do a project like this, but we’ve had some good help within the city of making sure that information is getting out as quickly as it can be,” said Nick Jahn, project manager. “So, we’ll continue working through those type of things. But it’s been good.”

When asked about what alternate routes residents should know to avoid the traffic, Jahn explained they’re hard to pinpoint because roads will open and close as the project advances.

“It’s a rolling operation, so it’s not a static operation,” he said. “Closures are different on a daily basis, weekly basis, so I would recommend to continue looking out for the city’s website and the storybook they put together for the information that each person can make decisions based on the information that’s available.”

That information can be viewed here. It includes detailed section breakdowns that highlight lane closures that will take place during the project and the cross streets that will be affected by the work.

Crews with contractor Ragle Inc. began work in Mid-October on a now-finalized stretch of Sixth Street from Bartley Street to Clay Street. The focus shifted to a stretch on and around Newton Street from Second Street to Sixth Street last month.

After the holiday shutdown, work will resume on Monday, Jan. 7, when crews will continue pushing north on Newton to 15th Street. The final stretch of work will span a stretch on Newton Street from Matthew Avenue — which is located near the city’s water tower — to Lottes Drive, near 30th Street.

During the upcoming hiatus, the only lane closure that will remain in effect will be the southbound, outer lane on Newton Street between Sixth Street and Ninth Street.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, the service board approved a change order that will shave off about $9,100 from the total price of the originally $4.6 million project — and possibly speed up work even more. (The project is funded by a $1.38 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant and city utility funds).

Instead of cutting out the remaining pipe through the surface of the ground, the vast majority of it will be replaced in 400-foot chunks with a machine that pulls lines out through the ground in a less-invasive manner.

“And if it makes it safer for the contractor and less disruptive to traffic, then there’s value outside of the dollar amount that is realized as well,” Jahn said.

All work on the project is slated to wrap up at the end of July. Approximately 13,000 linear feet of waterlines that are, on average, 80 years old, will ultimately be replaced. In 2019, the Indiana Department of Transportation will begin its own project, consisting of the milling and resurfacing of U.S. 231.

In the meantime, Jahn encouraged those driving through the area to remain vigilant and aware that workers are present.

“Just make sure everybody gets home safely every night,” he said.

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