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Water Main Work To Disrupt Traffic

Contractors will spend four years replacing the water main on Sterling Boulevard.

Traffic will be tied up for four years on Sterling Boulevard as contractors replace the 40-year-old water main with one about twice its size.

Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) said the $7 million project is one of the most important upgrades in the county. In addition to providing reliable water, the construction process provides an opportunity to sell the rights to install broadband cables. "Anytime you dig a hole four miles long, you have the possibility of a vast upgrade in other higher tech applications," he said.

Sam Villegas, the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority's spokeswoman, said the pipe will be financed with "availability fees" that developers pay to hook onto the water system. "Growth pays for growth," she said. "Whenever growth in the county requires us to make improvements in the water system, they are paid for by developers who want to expand the system."

Residents pay water bills to maintain operations, she added.

THE SANITATION AUTHORITY will spend a year on planning, design work, and public communications. Contractors are scheduled to tackle segments of the Sterling street, starting at Route 7 and working south, in the spring of 2005. Tim Coughlin, project manager, said there has been no decision yet as to the length of the segments.

Villegas said every effort would be made to minimize the traffic tie-ups. The $7 million project should only affect one lane at a time, she added. Construction would be limited to periods of low traffic flow and coordinated with school openings and closings.

Contractors will install 19,000 feet of water main, 24 inches in diameter, replacing water mains 12 inches and 16 inches in diameter, Coughlin said.

The current water main is providing reliable services, but a larger one is needed to meet Sterling's growing population. Population figures were not available.

Coughlin likened the water main to a 40-year-old car, "still running, still reliable, a real classic. However, most people with old cars have a fairly new one in the garage for driving to work every day. We are bringing home the new car (water main) for Sterling," he said.

A 2002 EVALUATION of the county's water system indicated a need to increase the size of the water mains along Route 7, Route 28 and Sterling Boulevard, according to Coughlin. "They form the backbone of our distribution system in eastern Loudoun," he said. It could be 10 more years before improvements for Route 7 begin.

VDOT is now installing portions of the county's water main improvements along Route 28 as it builds the new interchanges. "This way we avoid coming in after they have just repaved or rebuilt roads," Coughlin said.

A temporary loss in service may occur, but only for a short time, Villegas said. The authority will notify residents when there will be a service interruption.

The authority has committed to replacing any trees that might be damaged or removed.

Maureen Hein, chairwoman of the Sterling Foundation, said she is looking forward to working with the authority. "We'll work with them to make it a joint process," she said. "They'll put things back the way it should be, if not enhance it."

The Sterling Foundation raises money to keep the boulevard beautiful. It keeps the grass mowed, flowers planted and trash removed. The U.S. Transportation Agency recently awarded a $30,000 grant to the foundation.

Coughlin said the construction process could take less than four years, depending on variables, such as the length of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) approval process. They could finish earlier if the water main is installed when the weather permits pavement restoration, he said. "Sometimes, we finish projects in the winter and have to wait for spring to complete paving."