NEWARK — The Newark Board of Control met Thursday in an emergency meeting to approve a $60,000 spend to repair a collapsed water main at the intersection of West and Fifth Streets downtown.
The Control Board must approve such expenditures in excess of $30,000. The approval allows the city to avoid the normal competitive bidding process and allows Layton Excavating to make all emergency repairs immediately.
“If I had to bid, we would leave a hole in the street for six weeks,” said utility director Roger Loomis.
Loomis said the work would be completed soon and the road could reopen as early as Friday.
A week ago, a line that once supplied water to the Erie Canal collapsed when a Streets Department vehicle followed a car that hit the curb. Employees recognized the potential for a collapse, and the city hired Layton Excavating to begin work on a 5-foot sinkhole.
“Thank goodness they saw this and said something,” Loomis said of employees alerting city officials.
Mayor Jeff Hall said the city’s oldest pipelines are in the downtown area and are therefore most prone to collapse.
“We have pipes made of red brick that’s been around for 100 years,” Hall said. When it gets noticed like this, it’s a good thing. It was great to be caught early. Kudos to the water department for prompt handling. “
Initially, Loomis said, it seemed like repairs could be faster and cheaper.
“But as we kept digging, we kept finding things collapsing around the manhole, and actually had to dig about 50 feet north to fix a line that went down to Fifth Street,” Loomis said. “We had to replace the manhole and get all the pipes going in there, that’s seven pipes.”
The collapse of Main and Fifth Streets has nothing to do with the work on Main and Fourth Streets, which is part of a planned Fourth Street infrastructure project.
The $23 million Fourth Street project, like the $22 million Courthouse Plaza project in 2015-18, complies with Environmental Protection Agency requirements to separate sewers and storm drains to prevent sewage from merging into the river.
Loomis said the collapse demonstrated the need for the Courthouse Plaza and Fourth Street projects to replace all the century-old plumbing.
“It’s a great example of what we’re doing,” Loomis said. “We’ve hit two of them last year. If we don’t replace these, we’ll have one every week because of the age.”
About 20 years ago, there were some major collapses in the downtown area, Loomis said. A few years ago, the city rehabilitated three sinkholes in front of the St. Francis de Sales Church on Granville Street within two months.
Loomis said he hopes current projects, including Granville Street from Locust Street to the Ohio 16 overpass, are complete before the area collapses again.
“Every day, I knock on wood that won’t fall apart,” Loomis said.
The Fourth Street project begins at National Drive and continues to Ohio 16, then to West Locust and Granville Streets. It is scheduled for completion in April 2023. It will end at the Ohio 16 overpass on Granville Street.
Roundabouts will be installed at the five-point intersection of Fourth and West Main Street, Fourth and West Church, and Granville, Fifth and West Locust Streets.
The next project area will be north and south of the city centre and includes work on Mount Vernon Road to Rugg Avenue and alleys such as Jefferson Road, Moll Street and Fairfield Avenue and Hudson Avenue in 2024-28, as well as intercepting sewers 2024-26 Year in South Second Street.