Assistant Director Ed Mullinax said the Tennessee Street and Etowah Drive water line projects are approaching their final phases. In approximately two weeks, he estimated, the final customers on Tennessee Street will be connected to the new water line and the old one will be shut down. In the case of Etowah Drive, the current leg of the project is also readying to tie in existing customers before moving on to the final phase.
“The Tennessee Street project, as of this week, we have installed all the pipe ... on that project, both on Tennessee Street and Douglas Street and the other little side street extensions,” Mullinax said. “What we have remaining to do, there are three tie ins that we have to do. ... In order to tie in we have to valve off certain parts of the line or valve off certain part of the system, so people are without water. But we expect to have those tie-ins completed in the next two weeks.”
The Tennessee Street water line project was made a priority this year due to Georgia Department of Transportation plans to repave the state highway, said Assistant City Manager Dan Porta.
“This one became more of a priority because of the Tennessee Street repaving. We didn’t want to go in there after the work had been done on the road and tear it back up. It made more sense to get it done upfront,” he said.
Mullinax said the project’s purpose was to move water lines from under the roadway to underneath the sidewalk. In addition, the project replaced a “mishmash” of 4-, 6- and 8-inch water lines with a continuous run of 12-inch water line from Leake Street to Opal Street, he said.
“Most of this line was installed under the sidewalk. That was a design goal of the project was to get the water lines out of the lanes of travel, particularly in Tennessee Street and have them under the sidewalks, so that if we had to do work ... we would avoid having pavement cuts in the future,” Mullinax said.
Though the two weeks of winter weather in January and February set the project back, along with easement acquisition early in the process, Mullinax said the water department’s work would be done before GDOT begins paving.
“We should have that wrapped up well in front of the contractor who is gong to do the milling and resurfacing of the street. The other thing is we have sidewalk operations going on now also, replacing sections of curb,” he said. “If you’ll notice, up and down Tennessee Street there’s the area between the back of the curb and the sidewalks called a beauty strip. The contractor has to go down through on that and dig out the gravel and the concrete leftovers and then put dirt in there and then put sod down for that.”
As the city’s contractor cut into the pavement to access the old water mains, the water department discovered the lines were older than previously anticipated. Parts of the system under Tennessee Street dated back to 1880, when some of the original water lines were laid in Cartersville.
“We had always assumed that these lines had been replaced, and then we found that, no indeed, some of the original 1880 lines are still out there, particularly along Main Street. So that’s going to be a future project to replace those,” Mullinax said.
Once customers are tied into the new lines on Tennessee Street, the old ones will be tied off and then pumped with grout. The grout is necessary, Mullinax explained, to keep the ground from shifting into empty water lines.
The Etowah Drive replacement project is also nearing the end of its current stage. New water mains will run from Old Mill Road to West Avenue when the stage is finished, with a second stage planned to run from West Avenue toward Main Street. When the old lines are cut off, sidewalks are replaced and landscaping is finished, the contractor will begin on the last stage, Mullinax said.
“That’s the last leg and that’s actually going to [be] one of the more difficult sections because it’s along the state highway route and it’s a little bit more congested and there’ll be more traffic issues involved,” he said.
As with the Tennessee Street project, the Etowah Drive water mains are 12-inch pipe. The lines are expected to have a 70-year service life, Mullinax said, and they are made of a ductile iron with a concrete lining. The ductile iron is more flexible than the older cast iron pipe, allowing it to flex rather than break if the ground shifts. The cement lining will not create rust in the water and not require flushing to remove said rust.
“It’s going to help us in water conservation and improve water quality,” Mullinax said.
Although the city has prioritized water lines that need replacement — based partially on the line’s age, maintenance numbers and leaks — Mullinax could already identify the department’s next major project: the U.S. Highway 41 and U.S. Highway 411 interchange.
“The DOT is restructuring that interchange and it’s in conflict with our — we have a 36-inch water line and a 24-inch water line that are in conflict and so we’ll be relocating those. And we also have a project ongoing out on Highway 411 near Peeples Valley Road where [GA] Highway 20 is being relocated. We had a water line there that was in conflict with that project, so we’re having to relocate a section of 12-inch water line out there. So those are the two big projects in next year’s budget, are the two that are being driven by DOT relocations,” he said.
Budgeted at $2.93 million, the Tennessee Street project has expended $2.02 million, and Mullinax said the water department plans on coming in under budget. The Etowah Drive project is budgeted at $1.35 million, of which it has spent $1.02 million.
Although the city has replaced a number of old water lines and valves, Mullinax said the work is not yet done.
“What we’re finding is we’re just scatching the surface of it because there’s still a lot of lines that still need to be replaced — a lot,” he said.