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NYM's big dig project gets underway this week

Contractors in charge of this summer's street improvement project decided at a pre-construction meeting April 28 to start digging this week.

The overall project, which includes work on Gilman, Walker, and Hayes on the north side, and Nowell, Frazee, and Van Aernam south of the tracks will be completed in two phases.

The question early on was whether the project would start before or after the 125th Celebration, scheduled July 3-5. During a pre-construction meeting on April 28, it was decided Sellin Bros, the contractor awarded the project bid, would begin the north side phase of the project this week.

Total project cost as bid is $1,958,944. The total cost includes engineer's fees and other costs associated with preparing the project for construction.

The project was originally estimated at about $2.3 million. Last month, the city was notified it was awarded a federal Public Finance Authority grant totaling an estimated $900,000 for street and utility improvements.

The project consists of total reconstruction of underground utilities, which include sanitary sewer and water mains, storm sewer, as well as road surface reconstruction.

The city will likely use the grant funds to buy down the city's share in order to help keep the assessments fair and in line with past, as well as future projects.

The assessable share for the project is $1,143,934. Of that, the city's share would be $815,010. Based on the total project bid, a property owner with a 50-foot lot would pay $9,263. A 100-foot lot would be assessed $16,235.

Depending on how the city council uses the PFA grant and sets the assessments, those figures could decrease.

The PFA Clean Water Revolving Fund base grant is $185,680, with an affordability grant of $594,176. The PFA Drinking Water Revolving Fund base grant is $185,625.

The initial phase on the north side of town includes North Walker from Park Street to Gilman Street; Gilman from Walker west to Hayes; and Hayes south from Gillman to Centennial.

During this first phase, the contractors will begin a reclaiming process in the streets. Crews will remove the existing asphalt and grind the asphalt and gravel beneath together. This fine ground material will then be laid back down on the roads to provide a surface for driving.

The process is relatively new and is a recycling process which minimizes the amount of material to import. After the underground utilities are dug up and replaced with new infrastructure, this recycled asphalt and gravel mix is then brought back and used as a subgrade base material before new asphalt is laid on the surface.

Jon Pratt, of Ulteig Engineers, said weather permitting, all the areas they are starting on now should be done by mid-June, and for sure by the July 4 weekend. He said the contractors have been strongly advised of the importance of having streets open for the weekend celebration.

With work starting this week, traffic and access to the school is also a concern in and around the Gilman and Hayes intersection.

Todd Cameron, NYM School Superintendent, attended the pre-construction meeting and said the intersection of Gilman and Hayes will be open for school buses, and the elementary driveway loop will remain open for parents to drop off and pick up students. Cameron also said it's his understanding there will be a walking/bike path on the north side of Gilman Street from the Walker and Gilman intersection to the elementary school.

"We have been assured by the contractor and the engineer that the safety of our children getting to and from school is our number one priority," Cameron said. "A safe and designated, well-marked path to school is a must for our walkers and bikers on the east and south side of the school."

Cameron added the best route in and out of the school for vehicles is going to be along Miller Street.

The plan is for this first phase of the project to be completed in time for the celebration.

The project also includes reconstruction of Gilman west past the Lund plant to Centennial Drive. Pratt said Lund officials have indicated they would like that portion of the street to be worked on during a planned shutdown of the plant June 25 to July 13.

This is a tentative schedule and things may change once the project begins based on weather and how quickly the contractors can work.

Work on the streets on the south side will begin following the first phase. The entire project must be completed by Oct. 1.

Public progress meetings are scheduled throughout the project to keep residents informed on the process. These meetings are open to the public, with the first one scheduled for May 13, 1 p.m., at City Hall.