Streets, sidewalks and public utilities are vital to our daily lives – they are how we get to school or work, receive our online deliveries and stay healthy. In 2015, City residents passed a ballot proposal to allow the City to collect 2.0 mills for street and sidewalk improvements. Since then, we have worked aggressively to upgrade the 50 miles of street and 80 miles of sidewalk within our community.
This year’s signature project was the rehabilitation of a 100-year-old water main under Wealthy Street in Gaslight Village as well as repaving the road. When city planners sat down to determine how to complete this project without completely disrupting business, they had to get creative.
“This water main had been in our capital improvement plan and we wanted to address replacing or rehabilitating it before more maintenance or failures occurred,” said Assistant City Manager Doug LaFave. “However, shutting down the Village completely for a few months to excavate the road and completely replace the water main would be detrimental for many of the businesses.”
The City decided to partner with Toronto-based Fer-Pal to utilize a pipe lining technology called “cured-in-place piping” that would essentially create a new main without complete excavation. To gain greater control over the project timeline and avoid delays, City crews were utilized for pre-work, including digging the access pits needed to insert the technology. Once the site was prepared, Fer-Pal crews came in to begin the process, which begins by lining the pipe with a specialized fabric before curing it into essentially a new pipe.
“A normal water main replacement project can take three or more months and requires the road to be completely torn out – we did this in just over one month and all business were able to stay open,” LaFave said.
In September, paving crews came in to repave and remark the road during off hours to limit the interruption.
This project is a great example of being proactive in replacing infrastructure instead of waiting until it fails – and causes a major problem, explained LaFave.
Other proactive work this season included improving sidewalks throughout the City. Crews used a grinding method to smooth out bumps, making them safer to navigate. This past year, crews worked primarily on the southern end of the City.
While streets and sidewalks are easily visualized, water and sewer mains hidden beneath the ground play just as vital role in providing quality service to residents. To help determine priority in water and sewer infrastructure moving forward, the City contracted with a company this summer to televise more than 75 miles of underground infrastructure.
“People don’t always think about where the water pouring from their tap comes from, but it takes a lot to get to their home,” LaFave said. “We have been maximizing the dollars we receive from our water and sewer rates to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure that safely brings water in and takes waste out.”
While the past two years have featured large projects on major thoroughfares, greater attention will be focused on local street updates this spring.
“We know that street and sidewalk construction is an inconvenience for our residents, but it’s vital in keeping our community a great place to live” LaFave said. “Just know that our team is working hard to honor the 2015 millage and are maximizing every dollar spent to improve the streets and sidewalks in East Grand Rapids.”
For more information on construction, including weekly updates, visit www.eastgr.org/construction.