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Downtown Bristol construction begins

BRISTOL — Residents and passersby in Bristol can expect some delays heading through downtown this spring and summer as construction ramps up on a $1.38 million project to replace a section of the town’s aging stormwater system and upgrade the downtown water main.
Work began last Wednesday, and will continue to a greater extent this week. Construction starts on South Street, will move up through the town’s main intersection at Main Street, and will continue along North Street. Workers will also be replacing the stormwater system along Spring Street and a section of Mountain Street by Bristol Elementary School.
Construction is slated to run through early November. Project engineer Tyler Gingras of Williston-based Green Mountain Engineering, who is heading up the project in Bristol, said that there’s a possibility detours through downtown may be necessary. But he said it’s more likely that pedestrians and drivers both will simply need to slow down and “be on alert” when moving through the construction zone.
The project will replace waterlines from South Street to the Bristol Elementary School, as well as the old clay tiles that made up the storm sewer in that part of the village. The project also calls for repaving the roadway from curb to curb along North Street, Spring Street and a section of South Street.
According to Gingras, the repairs are necessary primarily because the old stormwater system is too small to deal with the amount of water it needs to carry, particularly during times of high rainfall or flooding.
Gingras also said that current clay pipes are too shallow, and the town has had to hold off on extensive road repairs for fear of damaging the old pipes.
“The citizens of Bristol stand to receive a welcome upgrade,” Gingras said.
The town completed an engineering study that recommended these improvements in 2006, two years after a destructive 2004 flood, but upgrades were tabled because of the high price tag.
The push for the repairs cropped up again last year, and Bristol voters in August approved a bond to fund the stormwater construction project. The town forged ahead with the costly repairs after $607,950 in federal stimulus money cropped up to fund nearly half the cost of the total project.
Under the federal stimulus recovery package, the government is lending Bristol the funds for the stormwater improvements. Roughly half of the loan will be immediately “forgiven,” and the rest would need to be paid back over 20 years, along with a 2-percent administrative fee.
Town Administrator Bill Bryant is estimating that the town’s yearly bond payments will be around $37,180.
Reporter Kathryn Flagg is at [email protected].

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