Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Power, water work closing streets

Major projects concentrated in Ketchum?s downtown

Express Staff Writer

Downtown beautification is making the city of Ketchum look a little unkempt.

Major projects under way in the city's core include placing power lines underground and an upgrade to the water system.

Sun Valley Road reopened Tuesday after being closed more than a week while workers put power lines underground.

Ketchum voters approved a 3 percent franchise tax on power, which is tagged for pedestrian lighting and burying power lines in the commercial core.

Voters this year approved a bond issue for the $2.8 million water system replacement project. Nearly 20 miles of old pipes and water mains are being replaced or moved.

A new water main was installed last week under East Avenue between Sun Valley Road and First Street, while new water services to buildings was completed on Second Street between Walnut and East Avenue.

Work was scheduled to be completed during spring slack to minimize impacts to businesses, residents and visitors, but it will have to continue this fall.

"Ketchum is a very hard town to do underground work in," said Utilities Manager Steve Hansen. "There are a lot of old utilities and the alleys are fairly narrow. Any time you go to install a new pipe, you start to run into pipes from utilities that are already there. Then, you run into traffic."

Work will stop during the busy months of July and August, and pick up again after the Labor Day weekend. Leadville between Second and Fourth Streets will be impacted, as well as Fourth Street between Leadville and Walnut.

There will be two more years of water work, Hansen added.

Major work on the water system hasn't been done for 20 years, Hansen said.

"This was a real learning experience for us," he said. "We're realizing we need to make a few little adjustments to get work done during slack."

Next year, work will start in April instead of on May 1.

"We could get snowed on, but we'd rather get snowed on than get chewed out by businesses or impact visitors," Hansen said. "We're working on getting services in and being the least disruptive to businesses as possible. When we're through, they'll have brand new, shiny water lines to connect to."

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