Berlin Water Main Upgrade OK’d

Berlin Water Main Upgrade OK’d
A mixed-use construction project is pictured on Gay Street. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN – Berlin officials approved plans to move ahead with a water main upgrade on Gay Street.

In order to accommodate new development, the Berlin Town Council voted this week to approve a $36,000 proposal from Davis Bowen & Friedel for design and construction phase services associated with water main replacement on Gay Street. The existing two-inch waterline, which is old and corroded, will be replaced with a six-inch line as street and sidewalk improvements are being made.

“It’s only a matter of time before that waterline fails,” said Jane Kreiter, the town’s director of water resources and public works.

Town staff realized the water main needed to be repaired as they were looking into the connections associated with the new mixed use building currently under construction on Gay Street. While there was already funding budgeted for street and sidewalk improvements on Gay Street, staff determined the aging water line needed to be addressed as well. The existing line, Kreiter explained, is corroded and provides poor water flow. In addition to being in need of repair, it doesn’t allow for the amount of water that would be needed for fire suppression at the new building.

Mayor Gee Williams asked whether the sidewalk would be depressed, to allow for vehicles to travel over it, or whether it would be a traditional raised sidewalk.

Officials from Davis Bowen & Friedel explained that they’d planned for a depressed sidewalk because installing a raised sidewalk would require a redesign of the street. Nevertheless, Williams encouraged them to take at least reconsider the possibility of a raised sidewalk.

“If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right the first time …,” he said. “This street is going to be another downtown gem. It’s already heading in the right direction.”

Councilman Zack Tyndall expressed concern regarding the construction cost of the project, which is estimated at $250,000. While the budget includes $40,000 for paving and sidewalk improvements on Gay Street, the remainder of the project’s cost is expected to come from the water fund’s $265,000 contingency.

Tyndall said he was worried that the Baker Street project, set to take place before Gay Street, could need that contingency funding.

Kreiter said she didn’t foresee any water infrastructure problems associated with the Baker Street improvements.

“We replaced all the service lines in the past 10 years on Baker Street,” she said.

Tyndall said he also hoped town staff could consider traffic flow on Gay Street as water and sidewalk improvements were made in the spring.

“In my mind, I see that’s a tight street,” Tyndall said. “Maybe we can make that one way headed south.”

Williams agreed.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “Obviously the (police) chief will take a look at it.”

The council voted 3-0, with council members Troy Purnell and Dean Burrell absent, to approve the Davis Bowen & Friedel proposal.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.