West End water main project draws community ire

It’s so rough at the intersection of West Third and Arch streets, where a water main replacement project has been under way for months, it can throw a car out of alignment, city leaders said Tuesday.

“The patches they put down are like dirt,” said City Councilman N. Clifford Smith, chairman of the public works committee.

Smith said he has been hearing complaints about the project overseen by the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority, and Councilman Don Noviello and Councilwoman Bonnie Katz concurred, reporting they also are hearing from angry drivers.

“We understand it’s a rough situation and are working with the contractor to get it resolved as quickly as possible, but you can’t put down hot mix asphalt now,” said Chuck Hauser, director of engineering for the authority.

He said the replacement of the two water mains to improve water service and fire protection for the Newberry area is entirely dependent upon the weather and didn’t anticipate the contractor would be able to put asphalt down until the end of March or beginning of April.

Until that time, Hauser said, efforts will be taken to smooth the road surface using something other than asphalt.

“Our plan is to go through the project area with the contractor, perhaps next week, and take care of areas (we can) touch up without using asphalt,” Hauser said.

Initially planned for completion by the end of November to be ready for final paving, the project timeline had to be extended because the water lines were more than a half-century old and required additional work, he said.

As for the public, Hauser said the complaints are not going unnoticed or unanswered.

Upon reflection, he said, “We plan to be more proactive. We have a lot of capital improvements and will try to hold public meetings before (future) projects start.”