Big project coming to Walnut St.
Sure signs of spring: red-breasted robins, green grass and orange cones. And these days, all three of them can be spotted around Farmington.
The cones are already up along Highway 3, marking the place where Farmington's largest road construction of the year is beginning. The Walnut Street reconstruction project began this week.
The project is a complete reconstruction of the road and infrastructure. By the time it is done, new water main, storm sewer and sanitary sewer lines will be installed and the lines will all be covered by a new road that is free of cracks and potholes.
Planned in three phases, the reconstruction project brings new storm sewer from Elm Street to Walnut Street, placed in the ditch between Eighth Street and Highway 3. The orange cones along the highway are paring down the southbound lanes from two to one in that area to allow crews to replace the storm sewer, according to city engineer Kevin Schorzman. That part, he said, will take about a month to complete.
The second phase includes everything within the project area west of Sixth Street. Work in that area is expected to begin this week, starting with the milling off of all the blacktop and the installation of dewatering wells. Schorzman expects the reconstruction - which includes the replacement of water main, storm sewer and sanitary sewer lines - to start the week of April 26.
The third phase is expected to start in late May or early June, depending on the contractor's schedule. That portion will cover the section of Walnut Street from Sixth Street to Highway 3.
Most of the sewer lines are made of old clay-like tile, Schorzman said. Those lines will be pulled up and replaced by plastic pipe. Some sections of the piping will be increased to a larger size to accommodate future use.
Schorzman said the cost is estimated around $2.6 million, which includes all costs like the design, construction, and testing. It's not cheap, but it is long overdue, he said.
Long time coming
There is a very real possibility crews will bring up part of Farmington's history when they start digging, because most of the road and infrastructure in the area is from original construction.
That means portions of the infrastructure are almost a century old. Depending on what section of Walnut Street is under construction, crews could find water lines that are made of cast iron, which was what was used for early water lines in Farmington.
"We'll run into that out there," Schorzman said. "That existing infrastructure was built between 1920 and 1960, depending on where you are."
The road itself has never been fully replaced. Built up over time, it has had some work done to maintain it, but for the most part, it's still in its original condition, Schorzman said.
Records show the city considered a similar reconstruction project in the mid-1990s, but the city council at that time felt it was too expensive and chose not to go ahead with the project. The road's condition never got any better, so it was placed on the city's capital improvement plan in 2001.
The cost of the project never got any better, either. Of that $2.6 million, the city will carry a good portion of the financial burden, but homeowners in the area are being assessed approximately $6,000 each. That amount can be paid in full, or rolled into the homeowner's taxes to be paid over a 15-year period.
Schorzman expects the entire project to be completed around Labor Day. Notices regarding the project will be posted on the city's web site, www.ci.farmington.mn.us, and Schorzman invites residents to contact him with questions or concerns.