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Lewis Street work underway ... again

Following a winter hiatus, work on Lewis Street has restarted, with work projected to be completed by this fall, Pagosa Springs Town Planner James Dickhoff said on Tuesday.

For many residents on Lewis Street, the project has dragged on for far too long. Beset with various delays in not only structuring financing for the project, but also in confronting previously unknown complications, paving between First and Second streets that had originally been slated for last fall was postponed until just recently.

According to Dickhoff, paving for the 100 block of Lewis Street, “Should be completed within the next couple of weeks.

“We need to remove the base put in over the winter that was laid down to protect the curb and gutter work.”

Last spring, the Pagosa Springs Town Council approved financing for the project that put the town on the hook for $1.6 million for 10 years. Although construction was slated to begin early last summer, problems with building the financing package pushed mobilization of construction crews out to late summer.

While financing was being decided, contractors took other work during that period, further delaying the start date.

Furthermore, previously unknown underground utilities had been located at the First Street intersection, as well as, “Some known utilities required deferred maintenance related repairs from their respective entity and new underground storm lines dictated rerouting some utilities at this intersection. A change order for extra excavation work due to unknown utility locations is expected,” a report presented to council last fall read.

With residents of the 100 block of Lewis Street about to have their portion of the roadway finally paved, Dickhoff said that work would shift to the 300 block, adjacent to the Pagosa Springs Middle School.

The work shifts because, Dickhoff said, “The contract states that it needs to be completed by the time school starts, before Labor Day.”

That work will include an added, and uniquely Pagosa, feature — geothermally-heated sidewalks on the south side of Lewis Street, where school buses unload students.

Although those sidewalks had been previously heated by geothermal water (through a system of pipes buried beneath the pavement), that system has been inoperative for some time.

Furthermore, the work being done this summer is being partially subsidized by the school district from funds secured from a settlement with the previous contractor, awarded after it became apparent that the original geothermal system had not performed to the terms of the warranty.

Dickhoff said that the work on the 300 block of Lewis Street would be replacing and expanding the current geothermal heating system.

Additionally, a retaining wall will be installed at the southeast corner of the intersection of Fourth and Lewis streets in order to solve a drainage issue that had caused some flooding issues at the school due to the amount of runoff from the steep grade across the road on Fourth Street.

Another drainage problem at the intersection of Second and Lewis has also been fixed, Dickhoff said.

Ultimately, Dickhoff said that he’s so far pleased with the work and that, “We feel very comfortable with the contractors.”

“They managed to save a few mature trees, which was a concern to us,” Dickhoff said.

Dickhoff added that, following completion of work on the 300 block of Lewis Street, crews would mobilize to finish work on the 200 block.

“We’re still working on the 200 block,” he said. “But not full-force. They’re focusing on the 300 block because of the timeline.”

Dickhoff said that work is slated for completion by mid October, “If there’s no extensions needed due to weather or no work order changes.”

In the end, Dickhoff said Lewis Street residents should be pleased with the quality of the work, a project that will make commuting and access headaches well worth the wait.

“I want to say I appreciate everybody’s patience,” Dickhoff said, adding, “In the end, it’s infrastructure that should last between 30 and 40 years.”

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