West side project on track for November finish
MORRIS, Minn. -- Although a cool and rainy spring delayed the start of Morris' major road improvement project on the west side, the project remains on schedule and going well.
City Inspecting Engineer Jay Fier, who is overseeing the project for the city, said crews have finished the underground work for phase one of the project, Ninth Street between Park Avenue and Pacific Avenue and Idaho and Nevada Avenues between Eighth Street and Ninth Street.
Now that the work is complete, work has begun removing the blacktop and replacing water mains and storm and sanitary sewer pipes in the beginning of phase two, 10th Street from Park Avenue to Pacific Avenue and Idaho and Nevada Avenues from Ninth Street to 10th Street.
At the same time, crews are continuing to work on concrete for sidewalks, curbs and driveways in phase one.
"I'm quite happy. I haven't heard too many complaints from the public about getting in or out," said Fier. "As long as the weather holds for us I think we're going to be fine."
Fier estimated it would be another three weeks of underground work before the project moves into phase three, 11th Street and the rest of Idaho and Nevada avenues.
There have been some surprises during the construction process -- wooden water pipes, wonky water and sewer connections and some buried treasures.
Crews uncovered a hand-build brick septic tank in the alley between Ninth and 10th streets that may have been from one of the old farm houses in the area.
"It was beautifully built, classic old construction -- hated to really tear it apart," said Fier.
There is still quite a bit of work to finish -- laying concrete and making sure the boulevards are shaped and finished correctly -- before crews will begin laying blacktop in the project area.
"I'm hoping that we can get the first blacktop layer down in phase one within the month," said Fier. "But as long as the road remains drivable gravel -- we're trying to keep it watered to keep the dust down -- that's really all the contract calls for."
Fier said waiting on the blacktop could be good for the project. The more compact the gravel roads are before the blacktop is added, the fewer repairs that will need to be done in the future.
The project is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1, a deadline Fier said is feasible if the weather continues to cooperate.
"I don't foresee a big problem finishing this by the deadline in November -- we just have to stay on it every day and that's what it's been," he said.
Fier also urged residents to remain patient during the process and contact him if they have any concerns as the project continues.
Fier is on site every day to answer questions. There is also a weekly meeting for residents on Thursday at 9 a.m. at the corner of Eighth Street and Nevada Avenue where residents can come to learn about the project.