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A diagram of where upcoming water line work will take place on Main Street in Brattleboro.

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Workers to dig against clock

Vernon excavation firm awarded bid for rapid repairs to antiquated water system

BRATTLEBORO—A project to replace an 8-inch water main and repair a portion of damaged sidewalk in downtown started this week.

Workers from Zaluzny Excavating Corporation of Vernon are racing to beat a May 17 deadline for the project to wrap before the annual Strolling of the Heifers parade in early June.

Construction will be on the easterly side of the street starting at 133 Main St. and moving north.

The Department of Public Works staff warned drivers and pedestrians that Main Street traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction. Parking will also be limited on both sides of the street near the construction area.

Pedestrian access to all businesses will remain open.

Bidding process expedited

On April 2, Director of Public Works Steve Barrett received authorization from the Selectboard to dig up a section of Main Street to replace approximately 300 feet of water main.

Typically, the board waits to hear which bid a department recommends before authorizing a project.

But in this case, the Selectboard “authorized staff to award the bid for the water main replacement project to expedite the schedule,” Barrett wrote in an email.

Barrett said that the town received one project bid from Zaluzny for $178,143.

“We accepted the bid and Zaluzny will start preparing logistics on Monday [such as] marking out underground utilities, signage, materials, saw cutting pavement,” wrote Barrett.

More water for fires

Barrett added that the new 12-inch water main will serve the town’s drinking water, fire hydrants, and sprinkler services.

He noted that the water system’s piping is interconnected, which allows DPW staff to supply water to different parts of the system when necessary.

“For example, if there was a fire on Putney Road requiring a large volume of water, a network of water mains would help supply the volume of water needed from our water treatment facilities and storage tanks,” Barrett said.

According to Barrett, the project will upgrade the new pipe from what is currently an 8-inch water main to one that is 12 inches.

The larger pipe will improve capacity, he said.

“When the original water system was constructed, the existing 8-inch water main supplied a few hydrants in the downtown area,” said Barrett. “Now the system averages 1.5 million gallons per day and services over 3,500 connections.”

That said, Barrett doubts residents will notice a difference.

“We will see the difference when we conduct fire flow tests, the users probably won’t,” he said.

In a previous interview, Barrett said that project funding will come from the utilities fund. The revenue stream going into that fund comes from water and sewer fees rather than property taxes.

Emergency repairs prompt project

A ruptured sprinkler line valve precipitated the project.

In February, a valve broke, sending 160,000 gallons into the basement of the Brattleboro Bike Shop, 165 Main St., and the basement offices of the Strolling of the Heifers, 157 Main St.

According to Barrett, the broken sprinkler valve was brand new in the 1890s. Staff have also identified a second valve that needs replacing.

The project will include removing a section of 8-inch pipe, installed around 1890, and replacing it with a 12-inch water main, Barrett said. Crews will also repair a portion of sidewalk near 167 Main St. that was damaged during the flood and subsequent repairs.

If there are any questions or concerns, contact Barrett at sbarrett@brattleboro.org or call 802-254-4255.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #505 (Wednesday, April 10, 2019). This story appeared on page A1.

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