Posted 7/07/15 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
It’s going to get a bit messy this summer, but once Ray’s makeover is done, it should be a significant improvement.
“They’re doing patches of work all over,” said Jim Dickey, Ray’s public works director.
The town has been under the weight of crumbling streets, sewer, water, and storm drain infrastructure -- much of it several decades old -- for some time now. Besides frequent water main breaks and rough roads, some residents had orange water coming out of their taps from the aging cast-iron pipes.
The town has been in the process of replacing a lot of its sewer mains, and some of this year’s projects are continuations of a project, which is through a contract with Utility Systems of America.
Last year, sewer lines on Main Street south of U.S. 2 were replaced, and this year, the contractor is continuing the same work on Score Street from U.S. 2 to Fourth Avenue, and on Main Street from Third Avenue to Seventh Avenue.
The east side of town is getting lots of attention too. Along Fourth Avenue, from Main Street to the east end of town, contractor Northern Improvement is replacing the water mains.
The road is closed for the duration of the project, while the workers tear up the pipes underneath.
The same water main replacement work is being done on East Street from Fourth Avenue to Seventh Avenue. In that case, they were able to use the west ditch to put in the new pipes, so the pavement remains undisturbed.
There will be some road repair this building season as well. Seventh Avenue will get covered in chip seal. It’s a process that is cheaper than repaving, meaning taxpayer dollars can maintain more miles of road in town. The chip seal not only smooths the worn pavement, it protects it.
“It will shed off some of the water from the roadway,” said Dean Pederson, an engineer with Interstate Engineering.
Chip seal coating begins by laying down a sort of oily, liquid asphalt. That is then covered with gravel, which helps provide some traction.
“You’re basically rejuvenating the pavement,” said Interstate Engineering Vice-President Lonni Fleck.
Fourth Avenue will not get paved this building season. Pederson said this is by design. The trenches that are being dug now for the water and sewer lines will be covered up. Through a freeze and thaw cycle, those trenches will settle. The road can then be graded and paved with less sinking later.
Residents will, however, be able to use the road through the winter. The pavement that was dug up for the water and sewer project will be pulverized and laid over the top of the dirt.
“It will be put back in a different state,” said Fleck.
Main Street from U.S. 2 to Third Avenue will receive a mill and overlay. The top portion of the road is ground off and then pavement is laid over it.
“What we’ll see when it’s done is new pavement curb-to-curb,” Fleck said.
East Street from U.S. 2 to the railroad tracks will also get the same treatment. State surge money will fund a quarter of this project, with the county pitching in the rest.
The state Department of Transportation will be repaving Williams Co. Road 17 from U.S. 2 to Wildrose.
In addition to the repaving of Fourth Avenue, projects will continue into next year’s building season. Sewer and water mains are planned to be replaced on Third and Second Avenue east of Comford Street. Ray is also planning on replacing another 20 or more blocks of water mains on the west side of town.
So, when will this year’s projects be complete? The exact dates vary from project to project, and there are many unknowns that can change those. Everything has to be done by the freeze this winter, so residents can expect some semblance of normalcy to come around late fall.
That is until the construction starts again next spring.
“Please be patient,” said Ray Auditor Kim Steffan. “It’s going to be so nice when it’s done.”