In addition, the City spent another $2.4 million for improvements in the project area, including a $1.1 million water line replacement. No general fund money was used in the project. The money spend on the underpass could not be spent to pay for police or fire personnel.
The underpass is the largest road project in the City’s history. It involved the complete reconstruction of the railroad crossing, the installation of 45 pilings to hold the bridge and the construction of a massive storm water drainage system. In addition, the project involved rerouting sewer and water lines, along with moving natural gas lines and power poles.
The paving schedule was moved up to October to beat the early winter storm that dumped an inch of rain on the City. Staff estimates work would have been delayed at least three to four weeks to dry everything out if the asphalt had not been laid prior to the storm’s arrival.
“Even though the road is paved, there’s still a lot of work to be done before G Street opens for traffic,” said City Manager John Bramble. “We want to have it open quickly, but we want it done right. There are only 16 working days left before the road opens.”
Some of the work that needs to be done: A 36-inch and 30-inch storm drain pipes still needs to be tested, along with the five pumps to drain water, the electrical systems and seven control panels. An emergency generator, security cameras, guard rails and hand rails need to be installed. Landscapers will finish planting the 6,000 bushes and 200 trees that will decorate the project.
Even after G Street opens crews will be finishing up on the project. The traffic signals at 26th Street, which weren’t part of the original project, will be made operational, concrete will be poured at the car wash and the contractor will clean up the work site.
Residents can follow the progress of the G Street underpass construction with the help of a web-based camera. Every 20 minutes the camera takes three pictures of the work site, looking at G and 23rd streets, G and 24th streets and the railroad undercrossing. The camera operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
The City of Merced and the Merced Redevelopment Agency are building the $18 million four-lane road that will go under the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad tracks. Construction started in July and will finish by December 2011.
All businesses along G Street remain open, even though the road is closed to through traffic between 23rd and 25th Streets. Local detour signs will guide drivers to those businesses.