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Water main construction nears

Project Engineer Arnie Peterschmidt discusses the upcoming Pioneer Way water main replacement project that will begin at Midway Boulevard and extend to Ely Street. The yellow dash marks on Pioneer mark the location of the underground pipe. - Paul Boring / Whidbey News-Times
Project Engineer Arnie Peterschmidt discusses the upcoming Pioneer Way water main replacement project that will begin at Midway Boulevard and extend to Ely Street. The yellow dash marks on Pioneer mark the location of the underground pipe.
— image credit: Paul Boring / Whidbey News-Times

Downtown disruption unavoidable

Progress is a good thing when it involves replacing a water main that has been around since the average U.S. salary was $1,368 and males were considered “living on borrowed time” at 60 years of age.

The city of Oak Harbor will begin replacing a deteriorating Pioneer Way water main Monday, April 28, posing a logistical challenge working around downtown businesses. City staff held a public meeting in late February to solicit input.

Project Engineer Arnie Peterschmidt said plans were formulated around the concerns and feedback the meeting generated. Burlington-based Interwest Construction will start at Midway Boulevard and work west along Pioneer, ultimately finishing at Ely Street. All of the work will be carried out on the north side of the downtown thoroughfare.

“We’re starting with the easier part of the job to let the contractor get tuned up before getting to the middle,” Peterschmidt said.

The project has been divided into sections, each phase roughly one city block.

The city allotted 43 workdays for completion, factoring in unforeseen complexities implicit in opening up a street that has been untouched for decades.

“There will be no weekend work and the street will be available for use on the weekends and holidays,” Peterschmidt said, adding that the start date planned one day after Holland Happening wraps up was not a coincidence.

Allaying some of the business owners’ concerns, construction will be divided up between daytime and nighttime hours. Installing the water main pipe will proceed more efficiently and safely during daylight hours, Peterschmidt said, as will water testing. But the actual water service switch, which will entail water service interruptions, will be carried out by moonlight.

Parking woes, another concern, cannot be avoided entirely. Peterschmidt said businesses will be supplied with maps that clearly show the public parking areas.

“They will be available at City Hall for anyone who wants one,” the project engineer said. “And the sidewalks will be open for a duration of the project.”

For the more technical portion of the project, at least one lane will likely be closed for a day.

“A project like this will be disruptive,” Peterschmidt acknowledged. “There’s no way around it. The main thing we’ve been focusing on is not surprising anyone.”

The public will have another opportunity to learn more about project details at the second open house Wednesday, April 23, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at City Hall.

“We will present the construction traffic control plans, the sequence of construction and a block-by-block work schedule,” Peterschmidt said.

For additional information, contact the project engineer at 279-4525 or apeterschmidt@oakhar

bor.org, or Rhonda Haines, water service coordinator, at 279-4533 or rhaines@oakharbor.org.

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