By Alex Bridges
Work on the next phase of Strasburg's utility replacement begins in about a month and officials warn it may affect businesses and residents.
Strasburg officials will hold an open house at Town Hall from 5-7 p.m. Monday to give residents and business owners a chance to ask questions and relay concerns about the upcoming work.
Director of Public Works Mark Gundersen said Friday the next phase calls for the replacement of water and sewer lines along King Street from Capon Street and the area of the M&R Mart to Fort Street. Workers will close part of West King Street as well as adjacent sections of Capon Street and Fort Street.
Work is scheduled to begin July 21 and conclude at the end of October, Gundersen said. Beginning next week, workers will begin to trim trees along the section of King Street In preparation for the utility project, Gundersen said.
When work on the project begins late next month, plans call for workers to take the same approach they did with the first phase. They will do most of the work from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Set-up begins around 4 p.m. each day. Paving will be done from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.
Town workers will set up the automated flagging devices used during the first phase of the utility project, Gundersen said. The devices helped control traffic in the construction zone. Gundersen said the devices also helped to keep several workers on the site out of danger when a suspect in a vehicle led law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit through town.
"I'm very happy with that," Gundersen said. "I lost one cone."
During the construction of the next phase, Gundersen said workers likely will have to close entrances to some of the businesses along the route.
"With our operations obviously we're going to do our best to get around that," Gundersen said. "We're going to try to keep those closures to a minimum."
Businesses likely affected by the work include the M&R Mart, HandyMart, Cristina's Café and others along the section of King Street.
"Unfortunately, it's going to affect everyone, so please just bear with us," Gundersen said. "We can work through these issues."
Gundersen advised business owners and residents who may have concerns to come to the open house on Monday or call the town.
Crews completed the first section of the utility project -- Holliday Street to Fort Street -- a couple of months ago and more than two weeks ahead of schedule in spite of several days when it snowed. Work on the second phase would not be threatened by snow, but Gundersen noted that the work schedule includes time built in for any other kinds of weather events.
"We'll move as quickly as we can and that's again why we're doing night work -- to minimize traffic, to minimize closures for businesses and residents and inconveniences," Gundersen said.
Unforeseen issues may arise given that much of the utility pipes date to the 1920s and 1930s.
"We just don't know what we're going to hit," Gundersen said.
The town plans to replace aging utility pipes before moving forward on the first phase of the downtown streetscape enhancement project. Officials also will be at the open house to discuss the first phase of the streetscape project that spans Holliday Street to Fort Street.
Gundersen noted that work on the first phase of the streetscape will affect the same area as the utility project. Residents and businesses as well as motorists can expect road and lane closures.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board on Thursday awarded $491,257 to Strasburg to go toward the streetscape project. Town Manager Judson Rex explained the amount serves as the state's match of 80 percent. The town covers the remaining 20 percent.
The first phase of the streetscape project is estimated to cost $1.4 million. The town will serve as project administrator with the assistance of the Virginia Department of Transportation and the contractor. The town has not yet awarded the contract for the project's first and second phases.
Town officials scheduled the week after the July 4 holiday to receive bids for the enhancement project. Rex said the town may extend the submission date. VDOT then must approve the bids submitted. Gundersen said the hope is to begin construction of the streetscape project in September, though the timeline depends on the bid approval process.
Work on the utilities on King Street north of Holliday Street won't begin until fiscal 2015 at the earliest, Gundersen said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org