Despite hiccups, waterline work ahead of schedule


JASPER — Despite the recent blast of wintry weather — and a mistake that temporarily displaced a handful of Jasper residents — the city’s U.S. 231 water supply and pressure improvement project is still moving along at a fast clip.

Work has pushed up to the area on Newton Street between 13th and 14th street, and will continue northward to 15th Street in the near future.

Mike Runion, Ragle Inc. project manager, said that this second section of the project will hopefully be complete by mid-February. According to Nick Jahn of VS Engineering, work is currently trending a couple weeks ahead of schedule, with the potential for more ground to be gained.

“We are progressing well,” Runion said in an interview following Tuesday night’s Utility Service Board meeting. “For the most part, the weather’s been cooperating. You heard in this meeting we had one little setback this last week, but (we’re) reviewing our safety policies, procedures, getting with our crews again prior to boring and establishing what our steps and training has taught us.”

That setback occurred on Jan. 17. Project crews hit two sanitary sewer lines, causing the main line to back up and about an inch-and-a-half of water to be shot into single-story duplexes near the intersection of 13th and Newton Streets.

Residents living in the buildings were booked in hotels and offered per diem for food. Ragle is currently working with the owner of the properties to restore the insides by replacing carpet and wood flooring, cabinets and more.

“Anything that was damaged by the water, we’re going to make right,” Runion said. “Both these units are beautiful. It’s great craftsmanship from a local guy, and it’s his investment. So, we want to make it right with him. We want him to have a just as good — if not better — investment than before this happened.”

He continued: “Whatever we can do to make these residents whole or close to whole, that’s what we want.”

Jahn said the contractor’s team responded to the issues at the homes quickly. He added that “the response from Ragle was exactly the way it should be and what we would expect out of our contractor.” He also said he has faith that corrective measures will be taken to ensure something similar doesn’t happen again.

Runion explained that accidents are part of the nature of the work that his company is completing, but he does not anticipate any more damages to occur during the project. He also said that what occurred Jan. 17 should have and could have been avoided.

“Ragle’s a family-owned company,” Runion said. “They treat me like family as being part of their company. So we want to treat our owners and our clients as family as well.”

He later added: “We want to be synonymous with a good steward of the communities that we work in.”

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

Crews wrapped up the opening leg of the U.S. 231 water supply and pressure improvement project — on Sixth Street from Bartley Street to Clay Street — in November. The final section 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.

An interactive map of the project can be found on the City of Jasper’s website. It includes detailed section breakdowns that highlight lane closures that will take place during the remainder of the project and the cross streets that will be affected by the work.

Runion encouraged drivers to remain aware of their surroundings when driving through the area.

“Just keep an eye on the guys out there,” he said. “They’re working hard to get this project done as efficiently and as fast as possible, and it’s a busy road out there. So be safe.”

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