Orange cones and construction equipment will remain a regular sight on the streets of Benton as one major project continues and another is gearing up to begin in the next two months. Mayor Rita Dotson said the estimated completion date for the 5th Street project has been pushed to Nov. 2020 and the Main Street project should begin by the end of the year, but won't see new pavement until April 2020.
Dotson said Seth Curtiss with Smith Construction, who's overseeing the 5th Street project, recently reported the projected date of completion had been pushed back an entire year because the utilities that had to be moved before road work began took longer than anticipated. The original projected date of completion was November 2019.
Now that the electric company has completed work on the traffic signals, Dotson said crews are expected to begin installing culverts near Parkway Chrysler, which Curtiss said will cause some significant traffic delays.
Dotson said Chad McCann with Rivercrest Engineering, Inc. of Paducah is finalizing drawings for the city's portion of responsibility for moving utilities along Main Street between 9th and 15th Streets. She said they should be ready to let the bids in late July or early August. But the state will cover some of the project that involves moving utilities, which means there will be work from the 5th and Main intersection all the way to H.H. Lovett Park, and then back around Poplar to the 5th Street intersection.
The sewer lines aren't in the way, but the water lines run under the roads and since they're so antiquated, Dotson said the city will lay new line and abandon the old lines.
"It's going to cost us approximately $1 million to move the utilities on Main Street," she said. "It's going to be a big job."
At certain sections of Main and Poplar streets, crew will tear out the entire road down to the road bed, Dotson said about 15 inches or further, lay "good rock" and then place fresh pavement on top. The crews will also put down new pavement on about 25 feet into the connecting streets.
Dotson said crews will also have to do some drainage work and the current plan involves placing new dr0op-boxes down the hill by First Baptist that will connect to a larger culvert which will run under the road and feed into the creek by Fivestar. They're doing the same in the area by the co-op, which she said will "help with flooding tremendously."
Dotson said the crews are also planning some curb and gutter work but she's not sure of the details of that portion of the project yet. The state officials had also initially planned to replace some of the sidewalks too, but didn't have enough funding. In fact, she said they had to stop other projects in the state to secure the funding for the portions of this project that must be done.
Dotson noted all three roads, 5th, Main and Poplar, are state roads, which is why they're maintained by the state.
The city is trying to get a jump start on their portion of the project so they can "be out of the way" by the time the state begins their utilities work, which Dotson said is anticipated to begin by the end of 2019. But Main and Poplar won't see any fresh pavement until following Tater Day 2020, she said.