By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green motorists and businesses counting the days till the Columbia Gas work is done downtown should brace themselves for a rude awakening.
The gas line replacement work that has shut down lanes and parking in the downtown much of this summer is just the first round of work along Main Street.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft.
It’s not the city’s intention to make driving and parking difficult in the downtown area – officials are just trying to get necessary work done in a timely fashion.
The good news is the downtown streetscape should be good for years once all the work is done. The bad news is the downtown is going to be torn up for another year or so to finish the job.
“It’s just a circle of time,” Craft said. And the gas lines, water lines and roadwork all reached the end of their lifespans at the same time.
The Columbia Gas work is scheduled to be done in October. But then water and sewer line work is scheduled throughout the winter, followed by repaving and rebricking Main Street next spring and summer.
It could be worse, according to Craft. Initially Columbia Gas was planning to do its downtown work in 2019 – which could have meant that Bowling Green would have to repave the downtown streetscape again soon after completing the work.
“It isn’t a perfect situation,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said a couple weeks ago. “But we don’t have a choice in the matter.”
All the work is necessary – and will result in a safer and better city for residents once it’s all complete, he said.
Raquel Colon, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, said the downtown project which started in June will not be completed until sometime in October.
“We have brought some additional crews in to keep the progress moving,” Colon said.
The gas line replacement project has taken so long because there are so many individual taps to replace in the downtown area.
Unfortunately, the waterline work will be just as time-consuming, Craft said. The old lines are being replaced with new 12-inch lines. And those lines will be buried much deeper, he said.
“Ours is going to be cumbersome,” Craft said of the waterline project. “Hopefully it’s a mild winter.”
In the spring, the city will shift gears and start working on the downtown streetscape – which involves repaving the downtown plus restoring the bricks in the center of the four corners at Main and Wooster streets.
The resurfacing project on Main Street will stretch from Oak to Ordway streets, and on Wooster from Prospect to Church streets. The streets have not been repaved since the Heritage 2000 project downtown.
The streets will be paved with a new type of asphalt that is resistant to ruts, Craft said, noting the tire ruts that have appeared in some sections of the downtown.
The city was able to secure $900,000 from the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments for the streetscape project. That should pay for all the repaving plus installation of all the ADA ramps in the downtown, Craft said.
The city is also planning to replace the red brick area at the center of the four corners. The original brickwork had to be removed when it started buckling after 13 or 14 years, Craft said.
A different design will be used, with concrete in the center of the brickwork. “Hopefully that keeps the bricks from twisting,” he said. “Hopefully they stay seeded longer.”