East Mercer Way to get new water main

By Ruth Longoria

Residents of one East Mercer Way area neighborhood can expect to have a safer and more functional street and utility system by the end of summer. But, they -- and others who frequent the area -- may have to put up with a few discomforts for the next few months.

What might appear to some as just a delay in driving time is a $575,000 city project that includes replacing an undersized water main on East Mercer Way between S.E. 40th and S.E. 43rd streets and extending a new water main onto S.E. 42nd Place. It also involves widening the west side shoulder of that portion of East Mercer Way and upgrading water system components, such as fire hydrants, an air vacuum assembly and a pressure reducing valve (PRV) station.

Those changes will make for a safer roadway and provide better fire protection for the neighborhood, said Rona Lin, city utilities engineer.

Island Fire Commander Walt Mauldin agrees. ``Any time we can add more fire hydrants it's going to help with fire protection, but the project is also adding more mains and that will increase the flow. That definitely helps us,'' Mauldin said. ``That's an area where we've had some serious access problems; to make it easier to get water will be a big help.''

The project also involves closing half the roadway during portions of the day -- between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Monday through Friday -- leaving only one useable lane while the construction work is being completed. There also have, and will, be times when water is shut off to portions or the entire area. That means extra patience will be required of residents, as well as folks who want to make use of the facilities at the nearby Mercerwood Shore Club, Jewish Community Club, and Herzl Ner Tamid, Lin said.

Residents received notification prior to the city beginning the roadwork, and flyers were provided to the three organizations expected to be the most affected. Project awareness signs also were posted at both ends of the construction area. However, the city has received some complaints from residents about traffic control at the site and a lack of understanding by some that the project would have started already.

``It's hard for people coming from other areas who haven't seen the notices,'' Lin said. ``But, we try to do our best to listen to concerns and try to fix and improve what we can through the process.''

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