NEW LONDON -- Blocked roads, detours and maneuvering through narrow gaps in street barricades have been a way of life in New London this summer as work continues on a $2.7 million street and utility project.
Crews from Keuckle Underground of Kimball, the general contractor for the job, had two large backhoes nose to nose Tuesday to dig a large trench on First Avenue North to remove old water and sewer lines. Some of the city's utility pipes, which were installed 50 to 60 years ago, are being replaced or repaired to reduce leaks into the system.
Inaccuracies in the maps regarding locations of lines were causing some difficulties for crews, which are supposed to have the project completed by Aug. 15. The utility work is about half done but the overall project is about a quarter completed, said City Administrator Trudie Guptill.
The local work needs to be done in time for the Minnesota Department of Transportation to reconstruct state Highway 9, which doubles as New London's Main Street.
If the state shutdown continues to drag on, however, that plan could be affected.
Guptill said she's relieved the shutdown has not affected the Public Facilities Authority, which is providing a low-interest loan to the city for much of the work. The Public Facilities Authority was deemed an essential service and is still functioning, she said.
A grant the city received to install receptors on storm sewer lines to filter sediments from rain water before it is discharged into the river is also being funded, despite the state shutdown, Guptill said.
This is one of the biggest municipal projects the city has tackled at one time.
Target areas are spread throughout 14 parts of town, affecting 225 property owners who will have either water and utility lines replaced or street overlays -- or both -- in front of their homes.
"There's a lot of mill and overlay and directional boring," Guptill said. "It's a large undertaking. It's a large project."
Guptill praised the construction crews and engineering firm for being flexible and the town's residents "who have been very patient."