Spring Street reopens after sewer work

After being closed for nearly two months for a sewer repair project, Spring Street in Buckhannon reopened to traffic Monday.

A sewer pipe had eroded beneath the concrete, requiring repair. Poor soil compaction in the area delayed the completion of the work that began in early December.

“It was in running sand, and you couldn’t compact it or stabilize it,” Street Commissioner Jerry Arnold said. “It was difficult on the sewer department making their repair on the pipe. If it would fail somewhere other than where they did the repair, we’d have to perform the same work, essentially, because of the ground conditions there.”

Arnold said employees had to use more stone and tear up more ground to help gain some compaction.

City employees who were working on-site Thursday said weather also has been a factor in the delays. Arnold said more concrete than was previously expected needed to be poured because of the soil compaction issues.

“The initial restoration, we had substandard (weather) conditions. We had to take out a lot more than what we wanted to, but we had to do that due to the soil conditions,” Arnold said.

When blacktop plants reopen in the summer, street work in the area will resume. City finances will determine how the project will proceed.

Because of the extensive and lengthy work conducted in the area, some businesses experienced difficulties as well. For one business owner in particular, it has been a long wait for the road to reopen.

“I understand that the weather is bad. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt,” The Whistle Stop co-owner Melissa Ward said Thursday.

She knows the road was blocked for safety, but the work almost shut her business down completely.

“My business was doing really well until this happened, and then it just really quit,” Ward said. “I lost all my older clientele. How many businesses could handle that for two months?”

The construction primarily took place in front of The Whistle Stop. After opening a restaurant component to her bar-style business in September, Ward said she already had to remove it because of the lack of business. She placed a sign addressing the issue on the door of her business. She said the only customers who were coming in were pedestrians, and she lost all of her older patrons. The only official parking spaces, including a handicap space, were along the street. Those spaces were removed for the duration of the repair work.

“They dug it all up, and they just left it wide open to where my customers would fall coming out on the step,” Ward said, adding that she began to close her business at 5 p.m., because of the risk. “That’s why I closed at dark. I did not want our clients to get hurt.”

Ward said she is thankful that the Moose club has allowed her customers to park in its lot, even before the road and sewer work began. With the winter weather, however, it still wasn’t enough to bring in customers. Ward said that when the roads were plowed, mounds of snow were left for her customers to cross before they could travel across the street to her business.

“I’m relieved to open Spring Street back up. It made it more difficult for plowing and general routine,” Arnold said. “We did everything we could do as quickly as we could do it. If we tried to do a quick fix, we would have been back there in another week or two with another big hole to dig up. Weather certainly didn’t help us either.”

Ward said the area around the sewer work was marked by caution tape, cones and road closure signs, but she still felt people could get hurt or slip and fall in adverse weather conditions.

“They never took any consideration whatsoever for us,” Ward said, adding that her delivery trucks had a difficult time when they came to unload. “They should have done something to protect the clients.

The two-month sewer work also complicated deliveries and donations to the Salvation Army.

“People don’t think they can get down here,” store manager Judy Butler said. “I think it has affected business, because people see the road blocked sign and think we’re closed.”

The Salvation Army is located next to The Whistle Stop, but its parking area at the front of the building was still operational. While a road closure sign was placed at the intersection of Spring Street and East Main Street, the project started near the Salvation Army. Traffic was able to get to the Salvation Army, and delivery vehicles were detoured to the front parking lot.

“The biggest impact is the hindrance of donations,” store clerk Jackie Stocker said.