Water construction flowing steadily in town

A few minor setbacks in the construction of Ocean View’s public water system don’t seem to be standing in the way too much, as progress is right where it needs to be, reported town engineer Chuck Hauser at the committee’s meeting last Thursday.

With just over 80 days into the contract, A.P. Croll has installed 16,000 feet of piping in the ground, running five to seven crews to get the job done.

Talk of inhibited progress originally came over the easements for the project, or rather the lack thereof.

“We’re doing really well with the easements now,” said Hauser last Thursday. “We have 70 easements that are signed and in-hand. There are a few on the list to condemnation, and several we need to make changes to. Overall, we’ve moving ahead with them.”

Country Village, Country Estates and Woodland Park have seen most of the project’s construction in recent months, and should be completely done toward the end of April. The main line in Country Village will be going in this week, with a restoration crew finishing up in Country Estates, noted committee members.

An ongoing concern with citizens is the possibility of these areas being able to connect to the water system prior to final completion of the project, expected in January or February 2008. Hauser said that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for those residents.

“We are still working things out with USDA and Tidewater,” he said, “and we need to analyze it a little more. There are some issues we still need to work out, but those areas are isolated by themselves.”

He went on to say that by hooking up earlier, the communities could give crews a test case. “We should have a better idea for people within the next two months [whether residents can hook up early].”

Cut phone and cable television lines have slowed down some of the progress in Country Estate and Country Village, noted committee chairman Chris Beckman. Crews are working to fix lines that are accidentally cut during construction.

Beckman stood by his statement earlier in the week that the crews were trying to avoid the costly and delaying cuts. He said that his experience with a variety of contractors in the area had revealed A.P. Croll to be comparatively diligent. “They’re no angels, but they’re better than many of them,” he said.

Residents are being urged to call the Ocean View Town Hall at 539-9797 between business hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. if their lines are cut. Beckman can be reached at (302) 542-0818, or Verizon’s Matt Carey at (302) 541-5357. Customers with cut lines can also contact Verizon’s repair service at (800) 275-2355 or Mediacom at (302) 732-6600 to alert them directly or during non-business hours.

Verizon estimated that at least 75 customers had been without phone service for periods ranging from a day or two to a week or more. That included Coastal Point News Editor Tricia Titus, who was without phone service for a week at the beginning of April and had her line cut again on April 10, with an estimated repair date of April 16. (See coverage elsewhere in this week’s issue of the Coastal Point.) Carey noted that repair times might be considerably faster as the company deals with reports of construction-related problems. Her problems was fixed the same day.

“It’s discouraging,” Beckman said of the cuts, “but we’re doing our best to fix any mistakes made.”

Beckman said late Wednesday that the combined construction and telephone crews were looking into make some changes in how the system between the two functions, to try to improve the situation based on the initial problems with the cuts.

Crews are expected to begin work on the water system along Betts Avenue, Sunrise Lane, Colt Lane and Winchester Drive in the next week. Construction along Route 26 is expected to begin within the next week or so, said committee members, though no construction will take place there after Memorial Day to avoid summer traffic. If need be, construction on Route 26 will pick up again in the fall.

Charlie McMullen, administrative official and public works supervisor for the Town of Ocean View, said that, while he is content with the progress, he wants to be sure a few precautions are taken.

“We have to make sure signs are marked on the roadways where construction crews are out,” he said. “We’ll take a look at the sewers in Woodland, too.” Cracks in the road could lead to sinkholes if workers aren’t careful, he warned. Committee members assured the town that preventative measures are being made.

Project Manager Bill Scott said he’s been surprised and pleased with how few complaints he’s received since the project’s start and that he is satisfied with the continuing progress. The committee will meet next on Thursday, May 4, at 1 p.m. at Ocean View Town Hall, located at 32 West Avenue, to discuss the project’s progress.