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What’s All the Digging on US 98 South?

The Florida Department of Transportation has launched plans for widening US 98 in South Lakeland, increasing this 4-lane road to a 6-lane highway.  Due to the CSX railroad right-of-way on the east side, the only area for lanes to be added is on the west side, where two additional lanes are planned.  The reconstruction of US 98 in this area will conflict with our existing water main along the east side of US 98.  The pipe relocation project includes digging a trench, installation of a twelve inch water main, and construction of a new compacted road base which is designed to then support the new driving surfaces.

City Water Distribution crews are working on an accelerated schedule to relocate the water main. The relocated main is being aligned so as to not conflict with the later road work, storm sewers, drainage structures and other road improvement activities.   The new water main will be of materials better suited to be under road surfaces and will be buried at greater depths thereby preventing main failures due to the later road widening construction.  Due to the very narrow construction corridor our water main must be installed first as it is the deepest utility and must be placed prior to other utilities (cables, etc.).

Transitioning from old to new water mains should have no appreciable impact on our water customers, or adjoining business owners.  The new water main must be tested, disinfected and cleared for use by the Department of Health, before being put in service.  Once the new main is in service, we will then disconnect the old water main and properly abandon the line.

This project is expected to cost less than $300,000 dollars and is being performed by our own city crews giving us direct control of schedules, priority and work quality.  When working with active mains and customer services, we prefer to handle these projects internally to ensure uninterrupted customer services, prompt restoration of disturbed areas and to fully control the order of the work. 

According to project foreman, John Sanders, “To meet the demands of the schedule, for the project, a larger than normal crew is being utilized. The crew consists of two temporary workers, four pipefitters, one crew leader and two foremen.” The process consists of a backhoe digging a trench, pipefitters lowering the pipe in place, making the mechanical joint connections, running tracer wire, a front-end loader filling back in the dirt and a crew tamping down each of three one foot tall layers.  The crew’s daily installation schedule is averaging 120 feet of pipe, in 18 foot lengths. The pipe relocation project is expected to be complete by May 6th 2011.



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