Home Commentary A Message from City Hall: Work to be Done

A Message from City Hall: Work to be Done

Many spring and summer activities are getting ready to launch. I’m sure most of us are looking forward to the return of vitality after a couple of years of limited options. 

The approved city budget this year contained a great deal of funding for infrastructure projects, from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), various approved bonds, city capital fund reserves, and the annual capital budget. Here is a summary of the city’s project plans. All of this is subject to contractor availability and final pricing.

East State Street: The project team has come up with a phased approach to allow for the project to advance this summer. The engineering consultant proposed a standalone project that would separate the stormwater from the sewer by installing a pipe along State Street and through the Rialto Bridge abutment utilizing trenchless technology. In addition, the first portion of the project will include all work within the immediate proximity of the East State Street and Main Street intersection. We are currently anticipating the project to follow the below timeline: 

Phase 1 – 2022: Separate sewer and stormwater at the bottom of the street. Install all required utility improvements to complete work that would impact the intersection of East State Street and Main Street. This project would include resolving the sewer odor at the lower end of East State Street. 

Phase 2 – Summer, 2023: Begin installing new water, sewer, and stormwater utilities from Main Street to Hubbard Street. Work would also include reconstruction of the roadway. 

Phase 3 – Summer, 2024: Resume construction of water, sewer, stormwater, and roadway reconstruction from Hubbard Street to College Street. 

*The current design also includes green stormwater infrastructure to be installed in the Pitkin Court parking lot.

Grout Road Bridge: This project is funded by a Class II town highway structures grant in the amount of $175,000 and a FY23 improvement bond of approximately $225,000. The Department of Public Works engineering staff has asked for a proposal from VHB, the engineering firm who completed the initial design, for a proposal to complete the necessary contract documents and to obtain any permits required for the project. The completion of this project is expected prior to the winter of 2022. 

LED Street Light Conversion: Initially this project entailed converting all the lights in the downtown to LED and fixing major wiring issues, poles, bases, and performing long deferred maintenance. This winter, twenty-seven of the lights were not functional in the immediate downtown. Due to safety concerns, a contractor was solicited to evaluate the lighting, and it was determined that non-functioning lights along with the remaining downtown lights could be converted to LED through the much lower cost of bulb replacement. This project will now be expanded to also convert lights along Bailey Avenue, the bike path between the Montpelier High School and the Water Resource Recovery Facility, Stonecutters Way, Pioneer Street bridge, and the routes 2 and 302 roundabout, as well as correct any structural issues of the pole bases and rewiring as needed based on field testing. After completion of the LED conversion of street lights, any remaining bond funds would be used for improvements to signalized intersections. 

Marvin Street Slope: The slope along Marvin Street between College Street and Bingham Street has been slowly dropping toward the ravine on the north side of the street. The Department of Public Works has been monitoring the slope for approximately five years. After consultation with a geotechnical engineering firm, it was determined that the most economical solution to the issue is to stabilize the slope using a non-intrusive method of installing soil nails. This type of work is ideal for this location and will allow for the contractor to perform all work from the existing paved road with support from Public Works. Public Works anticipates completing the project in the summer of 2022. 

Paving Program FY23: This year’s paving program will include two new processes that will help Public Works to preserve and improve the overall condition of the Montpelier street network. The first new process is known as FOG seal, which will preserve and extend the life of the pavement an additional 3 to 5 years. Although it may be counterintuitive to invest in streets that are not in poor condition, it is an important component in pavement management and will reduce the cost to taxpayers over the long term. Streets scheduled to be treated with the FOG seal are College Street, National Life Drive, Northfield Street and the parking lot at the Water Treatment Plant.

The other new treatment scheduled for this year is known as cold-in place recycling, which is similar to the traditional mill and fill (grind and pave); however, it allows for the entire pavement depth to be restored. The existing pavement is ground up and used to create the rehabilitated roadway by adding asphalt liquids to create a new pavement. After the process is complete, each street gets overlayed with a thin layer of asphalt. Streets scheduled to be treated with the cold-in place recycling are Main Street from the roundabout to Towne Hill Road, Phelps Street, Wheelock Street, Roberts Street, Pleasantview Street, Valerie Avenue, and Blodgett Avenue. Work will begin after the July 4, 2022 holiday with completion prior to the winter of 2022. Other streets that may be included with the contract but are dependent on bid pricing received include Hillside Avenue, Cliff Street, and Cummings Street. 

Paving Program FY22: Westwood Drive is scheduled to be reconstructed via a reclamation process of grinding the existing asphalt into gravel subbase, with new asphalt installed over it. This project is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. The contractor for this project is ECI, which was the low bidder for the FY22 paving program. The work is scheduled to start in the spring of 2022 with a completion date prior to July 1, 2022. 

State Street CSO: The Department of Public Works has hired the engineering firm Dufresne Group to finish the design plans to eliminate a siphon within the sewer main along State Street between the courthouse and the Department of Motor Vehicles building. The design is nearing 50% completion with the project to be bid by the end of May. Bids will be opened by June, with construction slated to start after the July 4, 2022 holiday. The project will also remove approximately one acre of stormwater that directly enters the sewer system. By removing the siphon and eliminating the amount of stormwater entering the sewer system, the staff anticipates a significant reduction in the frequency and volume of CSO overflow events at CSO-01, located at the intersection of State Street and Taylor Street. Work is scheduled to be completed prior to the winter of 2022. 

Phelps Street Sidewalk and storm drain improvements: Prior to and in conjunction with the cold-in place recycling project, Phelps Street storm drains and sidewalks will be replaced. The storm drains on this street are in extremely poor condition. The Department of Public Works will contract out the replacement of this section of storm lines using ARPA funds prior to July 1, 2022. Once the storm drain improvements have been completed, DPW will reconstruct the sidewalks with new asphalt curb and sidewalk. After the completion of both the storm drain project and the sidewalk replacement, the street will be scheduled for repaving. All work is scheduled to be completed prior to the winter of 2022. 

Montpelier Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) – Phase 2: Public Works is working with the engineering firm Brown and Caldwell on the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) for the second phase of improvements at the Water Resource Recovery Facility. These reports evaluate alternatives for equipment and identify any potential environmental impacts. The PER is expected to be completed in mid-April, and final design is planned to begin toward the end of May, 2022. The project includes drying of biosolids, which will reduce landfill disposal costs, rehabilitation of the secondary clarifiers (settling tanks), and new odor control equipment. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2023 with project completion in the summer of 2024. 

Please feel free to contact me or your elected officials with questions or comments about the city government. I can be reached at wfraser@montpelier-vt.org or 802-223-9502. Other city officials’ email addresses and phone numbers are available on the web.