Hammond Avenue Reconstruction Project In Superior Hits A Roadblock
The announcement that the City of Superior was going to reconstruct Hammond Avenue brought rave reviews from daily drivers this past summer. The two-part project was expected to be completed during the summers of 2023 and 2024.
Those plans, though are now on hold - at least for the time being. And the reason isn't readily apparent.
During the preliminary design part of the project work, engineers determined that an underground high-pressure gas main will need to be moved. In order to complete the necessary review and regulatory approval that Superior Water Light and Power needs to get to make that happen, the city has put their plans to start early next summer on hold.
The problem with the gas main has to do with the redesign for Hammond Avenue. In the article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], SWL&P Manager of Regulatory Compliance, Policy, and Rates Jocelyn Skandel explains:
"[The City of Superior is] lowering the top of the road with the new design, and because of that design, the clearance between the gas main and the road isn't large enough. So we have to move the gas main."
As part of the early design work, city crews did test bores into the ground. Those tests determined that "the depth was as much as 15 inches too shallow in some areas than current standards allow". The article in the Telegram details that the high-pressure gas main that runs under Hammond Avenue dates back to 1959.
To work around the issue, the utility is proposing to install "two smaller gas mains on the outside of the road so if there are any issues, crews can safely and easily access them without tearing up the roadway". That plan, though needs approval by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. Once that regulatory agency signs off with a Certificate of Authority, the move can be made.
Both the city and SWL&P agree that moving the gas main out from underneath the busy roadway is the best plan all around - not only for this specific need (i.e. the Hammond Avenue reconstruction), but for safety in general.
SWL&P hopes to get approval to move the gas main by mid-2023. City officials estimate that it will take about three months to actually move the gas main. That means that it would be ready for the street project at the start of the 2024 road construction season.
If the work starts in 2024 instead of 2023, that would push a completion date to one year later in 2025.