A major infrastructure upgrade could soon be in the works for a busy thoroughfare in Bluefield. City officials confirmed last month that a $1.5 million sewer line replacement project is being planned for College Avenue, and it may be funded with federal stimulus dollars.
The existing sewer lines on College Avenue were installed back in the 1930s, and are starting to show signs of failure, according to Bluefield Sanitary Board Director Shannon Bailey. He says several “trouble areas” and “hot spots” have been seen around the system.
The area’s main sewer line serves over 3,273 homes and businesses in Bluefield, and has a daily flow of about 600,000 gallons. If the aging lines were to fail, the city would be faced with a significant problem, according to Bailey.
"Of course, the cost of failure would be very, very high if that line were to totally collapse," Bailey told the Bluefield Board of Directors last month. "It would be quite a mess and a bad situation for everybody. That part of College Avenue as you well know is very highly trafficked.”
Bluefield is expected to receive approximately $4.2 million in federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan. Of that amount, $2.4 million is already in the bank, and the city is expected to receive the remaining $2.4 million in 2022.
City Manager Cecil Marson has proposed using a portion of the federal stimulus dollars to complete the College Avenue project.
The sanitary board has already contracted for design work on the project and it will be ready for bidding within the next two months, according to Bailey.
The project’s cost includes repaving College Avenue from 140 feet across the state line to 10 feet past the intersection of College Avenue and Golf Street. The project will service an area extending from College Avenue to the high point of Cumberland Road and Union Street.
Given the age of the existing lines, and the significant problems the city could face with a system failure, the College Avenue upgrade seems like a logical project to use federal stimulus dollars on.
Even if the entire cost of the project comes from the pool of stimulus dollars, the city would still have another $2.7 million in stimulus funding to utilize on other worthy projects.