By Jef Rietsma
A once-in-a-generation sewer and water project in Vicksburg will begin in March. Most of the $11 million undertaking will center on replacing a main sewer line from an area at the northeast end of town to a lift station on Washington Street. The project also involves work from Washington Street to an area at the south end of Vicksburg.
Village Manager Jim Mallery said the impetus for the project was a 2015 grant program which provided funding for analyses of stormwater, asset management and wastewater improvements in Michigan communities.
A team of village officials took nearly three years to study Vicksburg’s sewer infrastructure, Mallery said. The original conclusion found more than $30 million worth of critical needs. Mallery said an additional 10 months of meetings with engineers followed.
“What we arrived at was this $11 million package,” he said. Of that, $9 million of the cost will focus on sewer-related infrastructure replacement and upgrades in other areas. The balance will be split between storm-water management and drinking water infrastructure.
“In the downtown district, there are two old water mains – I think one’s a six-inch and one’s a four-inch – and we’re taking the four-inch completely out of service and putting in an eight-inch,” he added. “We will have the opportunity to have second-floor residential with sprinklers because it will have the appropriate water pressure then.”
Vicksburg’s downtown infrastructure, which dates to the 1940s, is 16 to 20 feet under the center of Prairie Street, which means downtown will be closed to vehicles during the construction period.
Though there are some telltale signs of pre-construction engineering and some downtown tree-removal already has taken place, Mallery said residents will start seeing heavy equipment the first week of March. He expects the project will last up to 13 months.
Mallery said an inordinate amount of time went into planning this project and, consequently, nobody could fairly say they were blindsided by the start of the work.
The new project will allow flows from high growth areas on the west side of town to go directly from the Washington Street lift station through the interceptor to the Spruce Street lift station instead of putting additional stress on an older system running through neighborhoods on the south and east sides of Vicksburg.
The general contractor for the job is Allegan County-based Milbocker & Sons Inc.
Mallery urged residents to be patient and plan to follow detours to get from one side of town to the other. He said updates will be provided through the village’s social media sources.
“It’s the most substantial project the village has probably ever undertaken,” Mallery said. He noted that the project will be funded through a 40-year, low-interest loan.