Main Street work is coming

Published 2:26 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Utility work will disrupt traffic

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

 Smithfield is moving ahead with plans to dig up and replace its 100-year-old waterline on Main Street this January, a project that will involve shutting down thru traffic and likely cause a disruption of the bustling commercial street.

Construction is scheduled to begin soon after Jan. 1 and will involve the replacement of the main line, as well as upgrades of service lateral lines that connect the main line with buildings on the 100 and 200 blocks of Main Street in downtown Smithfield.

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Stacy Lewis of Lewis Construction of Virginia, which will be conducting the line replacement, said at a Water and Sewer Committee Meeting Monday that if all goes as planned, the main line could be replaced in a month, with lateral lines taking an additional two weeks to complete. However, Rick Bodson, the volunteer manager of a business group known as Smithfield 2020, told the committee he thinks the work will take at least 60 days, provided all goes smoothly and there is no severe weather during the construction period. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The construction will occur in stages, according to Lewis, with crews finishing one block before moving on to the next. It has not yet been decided which of the two blocks construction will begin on, or the exact date that construction will begin after Jan. 1.

As for traffic on the street, Lewis said that there were talks about leaving one lane open on the road just for the business owners and deliveries.

“Just for safety reasons it would be better if we closed the road for thru traffic,” Lewis said to the council.

The construction is also slated to work during the night on lateral lines of businesses that rely heavily on water for their business during the day, such as the Smithfield Inn or Signature Styles Hair Salon, according to Lewis.

Asked about the difference in cost for night work by Council member Connie Chapman, Lewis said that artificial lighting would affect the price, and production at night is typically cut down by 15 percent.

“It doesn’t sound like much but it does cut down production,” Lewis said. 

As for things that could go wrong during the work, Lewis said there is some uncertainty as to exactly what all lies beneath Main Street.

“Unfortunately, with the age of the street, there’s probably going to be things in there that none of us know about,” Lewis said.

The road is scheduled to be marked soon after the Smithfield Christmas Parade on Dec. 17, according to Bodson.

According to Town Manager Peter Stephenson, Columbia Gas Company will also seize the opportunity to perform some surface work on the road done while it is being dug up.

As for the overlay of the street, holes dug will be patched as construction moves along, and the street will be repaved after construction and in the spring, according to Stephenson. The material it will be repaved with is still to be decided.

Lewis and business owners on Main Street will hold a meeting to discuss the construction after Jan. 1.

Bodson, who has been working with businesses on the street regarding the waterline project, told the council that there should be an open-house information session for businesses on the street in early January.

“Only one business owner beat up on me,” said Bodson. “Let’s keep them on our side by keeping them informed.”  {/mprestriction}

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