Just a couple of months into the project, we’re beginning to see signs of how the TEA-21 project will enhance our downtown business district. And beyond those visible indicators, there are facets of the project that we will not see.
Among those facets are new water lines along Gallatin Street.
Action taken by the Vandalia City Council on Monday helps to prove the worthiness of the enhancement project.
City officials knew beforehand that significant work was needed underground. Separate storm sewer and sanitary sewer lines ranked at the top of that list.
But they also knew that water lines downtown were in need of repair or replacement. Many of those lines are more than 50 years old, and some are made of lead. Evidence that something needed to be done was the regular repair of broken water lines.
Until the digging was started, however, the overall condition of the water lines was unknown.
But, how would the city pay for new water lines?
The first step was eliminating streetscape work in the 700 block of Gallatin Street, which saved about $450,000. Next, the city learned that the removal and replacement of electrical poles is about $35,000 less than expected.
Those savings, along with $100,000 included in the state’s new capital bill, gave city officials some leeway in funding necessary work downtown.
Water lines have already been replaced between Sixth and Eighth streets, and the council OK’d on Tuesday funding for new lines in the 500 block of Gallatin.
The decision to replace water lines only makes sense.
We’re setting aside a significant portion of city funds to make our downtown business district attractive to both merchants and potential customers. Based on recent history, it’s inevitable that we would be tearing up the new concrete roadway to repair yet another water line break this winter.
Sure, the replacement of existing street lights and overhead lines with period lighting, flowering dogwood trees, and a new road and sidewalks will give our downtown a significant facelift.
But equally important is taking care of those parts of the project that we will never see.