Major CU project to replace water, gas lines starts soon

Rountree residents need to prepare for some disruption of utility service and traffic, as well as the loss of some mature trees, as part of a major upgrade to gas and water lines in the area.

City Utilities is preparing to update natural gas and water lines that are up to a century old in some places as part of a major, $2 million project to upgrade a total of about two miles of pipes. CU representatives gave an overview of the project at last month’s RNA meeting. The project will likely start in mid-December and will take about six months to complete by an outside contractor, not CU itself. The prep work (marking, etc.) could start as early as this coming week. It will be done in five phases, and only two phases will be active at any one time. Much of the work will take place along Delaware from Cherry to Grand, and along Madison from Kentwood to Fremont, however, these are not the only areas that will be affected. Here is a breakdown of the phases from CU:

PHASE 1 – Slated to begin mid-December. Work will be done on Madison (on south side) from Kentwood to Fremont; and on Fremont, from Madison to Monroe. Details about trees along the south side of Madison:

  • Delaware, west to alley – No tree removal. Will most likely be cut back, however.
  • Alley to SE corner of Madison and Weller – All trees removed.
  • Weller, west to alley – All trees removed.
  • Alley to Pickwick – All trees removed.
  • Pickwick, west to alley – Landscaping remains. Second tree west of Pickwick remains, all others removed.
  • Alley to Fremont – All trees removed.
  • Also, on the east side of Fremont from Madison north to Monroe – All trees removed.

PHASE 2 – Madison to Cherry on Delaware, with Monroe and Monroe Terrace.

PHASE 3 ­– Madison to Grand, on Delaware.

PHASE 4 – Grand to Catalpa on Delaware as well as Catalpa, Weller to Kentwood.

PHASE 5 – Madison to Grand on Fremont.

CU requires contractors to notify residents 24 hours in advance of any work that will take home utilities out of commission. Most will be out for about a few hours at most. If they are replacing a driveway approach, there is a 48-hour required notice. They will be replacing all gas lines up to the meter. The water lines will be replaced up to the connecting line to the house.

When it comes to replacing pipes in older neighborhoods, there’s not a lot of space to place the new pipes, CU says. Ideally, it’s placed under greenspace. They generally stay out of the roadway due to the added cost and disruption of traffic. The next best option is generally the sidewalk. (Wherever there is a four-foot wide sidewalk torn up, a five-foot sidewalk will be put in; and ramps will be made ADA compliant.) If open greenspace and sidewalk aren’t an option, then at times trees have to be taken out. Sometimes the trees can be bored under the tree, but this is not ideal because of roots and because the lines are difficult to reach and service in the future if needed. A few trees will be bored under during this project. But several mature trees will be taken out are where 16-inch lines are going in along Madison, mostly between Weller and Pickwick on the south side. All trees are in the public right-of-way and are city owned, not privately owned. But CU will make an effort to contact nearby homeowners. Notices about this could start to go out any time.

In addition to cost and traffic flow, CU says there is another reason why lines cannot be laid under the roadway on Madison: there is a sewer line right down the middle of Madison and Missouri Department of Natural Resources requires water lines to be a minimum of 10 feet away from sewer lines.

It’s tough to lose to trees, but there’s an upcoming chance for new plantings coming up next year. At RNA’s September meeting, we heard from Troy Powell, who runs the City’s Neighborwoods Program. This program plants trees in the right-of-way at no cost to homeowners. Each tree must be permitted by the homeowner, however, who then signs a contract committing to water the tree for three years.

Rountree participated in this program in the past and planted about 90 trees in the neighborhood. Now the City wants to engage Rountree once again. Planting would happen starting next fall, from October through April. Neighborwoods will be looking for homeowners who want to participate next year and ideally the contracts would be firmed up by about June 1.

RNA volunteer Nancy Evans offered to be a liaison for Neighborwoods, and to work with CU on communicating their plans to the neighborhood. Nancy will be playing a crucial role, as these two issues have an obvious and critical intersection.

Nancy and the RNA board are committed to helping communicate what, when, and where the work will occur on the CU project in coming months. CU reps T.J Whatley and Tyler Wayt have said they will return to the RNA meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 21 to answer questions about the project, and they will be available via phone and email as well. Stay tuned to this site and our Facebook page for more information as it becomes available.

Neighbors can contact Nancy Evans with questions via email at: n.c.evans2014@gmail.com. You can also download a brochure from CU with FAQs about the process here: Gas water 4-panel.

About Mike Brothers

Mike is a Pickwick Person; husband to Maureen and dad to Vivian and Dorothy. He has lived in the neighborhood since 2011 and has lived in Springfield for over 20 years. He the PR director for Drury University. He was previously a communications specialist with the City of Springfield and the Springfield-Greene County Health Dept, and before that a features writer and music columnist with the News-Leader.
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