City Utilities Department planning replacement of aging water mains covering about 3.5 miles, starting in May

Announcement from city manager follows a March 23 water main break affecting part of North Tamiami Trail

The City of Sarasota will begin replacing water mains in May in the Arlington Park and Alta Vista neighborhoods. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

The City of Sarasota Utilities Department “is gearing up for a significant improvement project that will temporarily impact some streets in the Arlington Park and Alta Vista neighborhoods,” City Manager Tom Barwin reported in his March 24 newsletter.

Aging water mains covering more than 3.5 miles under and adjacent to U.S. 41 will be replaced during a seven-phase project, Barwin wrote. The work is expected to start in May, he pointed out; it is anticipated to be completed in 2018.

A dedicated website providing an overview of the project — and a set of answers to frequently asked questions — has been made available: That website explains that the water mains “and related infrastructure from Payne Park to Hibiscus Street” are more than 40 years old.

Those water mains run on the edge of U.S. 41 — a state road — “making them dangerous to repair,” Barwin continued in his newsletter. “Those lines were installed … well before the current levels of traffic. Now, to replace a failing water main, traffic lanes must be temporarily closed along [a] busy road,” he explained.

On March 23, city staff sent out warnings via Twitter that the north- and southbound lanes of U.S. 41 between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Myrtle Street had been closed because of a broken water main. Even after water service was restored on the morning of March 24, the affected segment of U.S. 41 remained closed as repairs continued.

The new project website also explains, “Many of these water distribution mains are composed of asbestos cement (AC) pipe material.” Repairs to them “and related infrastructure have increased over the years and could prove to be very costly in the future,” it adds, “[because of] the roadway maintenance and repair requirements of the Florida Department of Transportation.”

A map shows the affected area. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

The first phases of the Arlington Park/Alta Vista area undertaking will include prep work at intersections on East Avenue between Temple Street and Clematis Street, the website says. Phases 2 and 3 will encompass East Avenue from Arlington Street to Bahia Vista Street, the website notes. Phase 4 will run along Bahia Vista between School Avenue and U.S. 41, while Phase 5 will entail work on School Avenue between Payne Park and Bahia Vista. No details are available yet for Phases 6 and 7.

“We want residents to be aware of the project, why it’s necessary, and what the City is doing to minimize the construction impact,” Barwin wrote in his newsletter.

Project team members will be making presentations to neighborhood groups, the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations (CCNA) meeting set for April 1, Barwin continued. Additionally, “a notice will be included in water bills,” he wrote, before the work gets underway.

“Ultimately, with this improvement project, the goal is to improve the capacity and quality of pipes and move the water distribution system safely away from conflicts with U.S. 41 traffic,” Barwin wrote.

Jon F. Swift Construction of Sarasota will be the contractor, the website notes, while Atkins Global is the engineering consultant.