City Says Ellis Street Moving Along Smoothly
By Patrick Lynn
The Ellis Street overhaul is nearly half complete, and project leaders say the road should reopen on schedule.
Billed by city leaders as a “massive” project, a portion of Ellis Street- between Division Street and Michigan Avenue- was scheduled for the overhaul as part of the city’s overall plan. City engineers and streets department personnel said the underground sewer and water system was among the oldest in the city and needed upgrading, complete with curb and gutter and a new road surface.
Point of Beginning was awarded the project after weeks of lengthy discussion by city leaders, some of whom were apprehensive because of the company’s lack of experience in municipal street design. The Stevens Point- based engineering firm was hired because it returned the lowest bid of the three companies vying for the project and because Mayor Andrew Halverson rallied the firm, saying every company was once new and inexperienced. POB said they could do the work for just $38,600- nearly $60k less any other bid.
“You may have noticed we finished all our underground utility work in the Division Street intersection, so things are going well,” said Scott Schatschneider, director of public works. Division Street at Ellis was closed for the month of June so crews could complete work at the intersection.
Schatschneider said crews were working in two- block segments to complete the project on time. Graveling between Division and East Streets will begin next Monday, he added.
Point of Beginning said the project is moving along smoothly and can’t wait to show off the final project.
“We’re on time and on budget, and there have been no major surprises,” said Ryan Barz, project manager from Point of Beginning.
Barz said roughly half a dozen contractors work on the project on any given day, and the only delays so far have been due to recent rain storms.
“We’re definitely excited to be working for the city,” Barz said. “That’s why we went after the project so aggressively. We have a lot of pride in the final product- and we’re looking forward to completing it.”
Schatschneider said the pipes carrying water and sewage under Ellis were likely from the 1920’s & 30’s, which wasn’t surprising.
‘I ‘m not sure what equipment was used in the 20’s and 30’s, but obviously the hydraulic equipment we use today makes it much safer and faster.”
Schatschneider said the residents along Ellis Street have been cooperating with the road closure in front of their properties, with those living along the affected portion of the street using alternative parking along adjacent streets and in a makeshift parking lot on the former Emerson School property, with permission from the school district.
Work on the project began in May and is expected to be complete in late August.