North Phelps Street between West Federal and West Commerce streets, closed since Feb. 4 for a major sewer project, will reopen today, but not because the work is done.
Actually, the work on that downtown street has come to a standstill.
That’s because workers discovered AT&T cable lines under that section of the street were not where maps of utility lines provided to the city showed them to be, said Mayor Charles Sammarone.
“The AT&T markings weren’t accurate, and that wasn’t learned until digging started,” he said.
In a letter to city officials, John P. Pierko, vice president of MS Consultants Inc., the Youngstown company overseeing the downtown project, wrote: “We do not have a definite response from AT&T to commit to a schedule at this time. However, it is anticipated that coordination and design of the relocation will take a minimum of 60 days.”
The $1 million project already has been a headache for some downtown businesses.
The project replaces a major sewer line on Phelps between West Federal and West Commerce streets — the replacement of a pedestrian walkway between West Commerce and West Wood streets — and ends on Lincoln Avenue.
Some businesses on West Federal Street complained the city failed to provide them with information about the project when it started Feb. 4. The work closed that street at the North Phelps intersection for 15 days.
Work is expected to continue on the section from West Commerce to Rayen Avenue as long as an underground AT&T duct bank, which contains telephone conduits, is in the location where it’s marked, Pierko wrote. That should be determined shortly.
When that work starts, westbound lanes on West Commerce would be closed until that phase of the project is done.
“If the duct bank is in conflict with the proposed line, the contractor will proceed to Wood Street and begin installation of the line to Rayen Avenue,” Pierko wrote. “It has been verified through test excavations that no conflicts are present in that section.”
“The sewer line is worse than anticipated, which is a big problem,” Sammarone said. “We’ve got to get it fixed. The sooner the better, but AT&T has to move their lines. Hopefully, we can resolve this quickly. There could be additional costs, but the sewer line has to be done soon.”
About three years ago, the city replaced sewers on Phelps Street between West Federal and West Front streets that closed traffic in that area.