By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post
The process has been ongoing and the complaints have been heard for a long time, but plans have been set to fix the stretch of road from the North Putnam Street intersection to West Church Street. City Councilman of four years Kent Hall said, “It is the street we hear the most complaints about. I am glad we are getting it fixed.”
The request for approval to seek bids for the West Church Street project was pitched by Scott DeVries at the City Council meeting on April 13. DeVries has been the city engineer and director of public works for five years and persuaded the council to unanimously approve the request.
DeVries explained that the engineering company finished its surveying and design process, thus the time has come to move forward with the project. The water main in front of the Brookshire Inn, small pieces of the sanitary sewer and asphalt from the North Putnam Street intersection to the water main connection on West Church Street will be replaced.
The project has two options, according to DeVries. The first is to remove a few inches of the road, placing asphalt on top of that. The second, more complete option is to entirely reconstruct the base of the road. This would mean digging deep into the ground and would extend the surface life of the road by five to 10 years. The board choose option number two.
“It is only about 100 or so yards long that is just absolutely terrible. The city engineer says the pipes underneath are worse than the road, so that’s why we voted for the major overhaul,” said Councilman James DeForest, who has been on the council since 2011. “It is not just a break off the top and repave a couple of inches like we did on South Putnam two summers ago. We will take care of the whole darn thing.”
The estimated cost according to DeVries is around $268,000, this includes reconstruction of sidewalk, repair of the sanitary sewer and any other expense the project may entail. DeVries said the new road will have an estimated surface life of 25 years with proper care and the project will take about a month to a month and a half to complete. It will start after school gets out and will be finished before school starts up again to avoid major traffic issues with Williamston High School. A detour to take traffic to Zimmer Road will be put in place.
“If you look at the cost-benefit of how much you are spending versus the benefit of the longer surface life of the road, option number two is a better move as long as we can afford it,” said Devires.
Many are concerned with how the construction will affect local businesses. Councilwoman Sandy Whelton of four years expressed her concern, specifically for the Brookshire Inn. This particular business is located at 205 W. Church St., which is in the middle of the construction.
“This project concerns me a lot. The summer will be a very busy time of the year, but I guess we have to do what we have to do to fix the roads,” said Whelton. I just hope that the Brookshire Inn doesn’t lose business. They are very popular in town and it could be hard on them.
“Scott (DeVries) is pretty good about taking care of projects like this. They will just have to detour. That’s all they can do if they are going to dig it up. It bothers me, but we can’t do anything about it. It has to be done because it’s the worst street in Williamston.”
DeVries said steps will be taken to work with the Brookshire Inn throughout the project.
“I have been in contact with the owner of Brookshire and he is fully aware of the project and issues it could cause,” DeVries said. “He understands that with construction there is some pain that goes along with it, but it will be worth it considering the current road condition.”
For more information on the council visit its website.
For more information on the Brookshire Inn, click here.