Millions of dollars in public works projects to get under way this year in Huntington

Millions of dollars in public works projects will get under way this year in Huntington, Mayor Steve Updike announced in his State of the City address to the Huntington Rotary Club on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Most of the projects will focus on water, sewer and streets, he says.

Updike elaborated on the upcoming projects during a telephone interview after the speech.

• The city will begin complying with a federal mandate to separate its combined sewer systems, a project that will disrupt traffic throughout the city and will, in the end, cost $30 million to $50 million.

Even though the sewer separation has been mandated by federal authorities, Updike says, "They're not helping us." The city will sell bonds to pay for the project.

Fifteen sewers throughout Huntington are currently combined systems, carrying both stormwater and wastewater to the city's water treatment plant. When heavy rains and snow melt overwhelm the system, the contents of the sewers bypass the treatment plant and flow directly into the Little River.
A similar sewer separation project in the mid-1970s corrected that problem for the Flint Creek sewer.

The first phase of the current project will be done this year, Updike says. A public meeting to explain details of the project will be held Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the City Building.

This summer's separation project will be done in three parts.

The first part will focus on four combined sewers in the area of Oak, Poplar and State streets and Crescent Avenue.

Shortly after that part begins, crews will begin digging up streets in the area of Division, First, Madison, Guilford and McCarty streets and Dayton Court to separate two combined sewers.

The third part, focusing on a combined sewer in the Warren-Guilford street area, will begin after Heritage Days in June.

• The city is requesting a grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation to provide about 80 percent of the $5.2 million it will cost to make improvements to Etna Avenue from the South Side Fire Station to Horace Mann Elementary School. A similar request to INDOT last year was denied, but Updike is hopeful that the outcome of this second application will be favorable.

If the money is received, he says, Etna Avenue will be widened, sidewalks and gutters will be installed, and the combined storm and sewer lines will be separated. The project would be done in two phases.

• The city has spent $400,000 to purchase property at CR 600N and CR 300W, where a second set of wells will be drilled to supply the city with water. A new water treatment plant and water tower will also be built.

"This was talked about before I got here," Updike says. "It's a long range goal to improve and look for new water fields."

Two test wells have been drilled and an adequate supply of water was found, Updike says.

Engineering on that project will begin this summer, he says, and the bulk of the construction should begin in about two years. Until engineering is completed, Updike says he will have no cost estimate for the entire project.

• A second water line is being added to bring water from the seven existing city wells on Salamonie Road to the current water treatment plant on Engle Street. This project has already started, Updike says, and will be completed by spring at a cost of $360,000. The project was initiated by the previous mayor, Terry Abbett.

"The old water main is 30 or 40 years old," Updike says. "If that one breaks, the city is completely out of water."

A second line is being installed parallel to the existing line to provide a backup, he says.

• The first leg of the city's River Greenway, a recreational path extending from the Historic Forks of the Wabash to Quayle Run, should be completed this spring, Updike says.

• Project "A-7," which will complete the Hoosier Heartland Corridor, will affect Huntington County, Updike says.

The Hoosier Heartland Corridor will ultimately connect I-65 in Indiana with I-75 in Ohio, providing a major transportation corridor from Lafayette to Toledo, OH. The project was conceived in 1962 in Ohio, with Indiana lawmakers coming on board a decade later. A section of the corridor from Wabash to Huntington opened in 2004.

Project "A-7," Updike says, is the improvement of the 4 1/2- mile stretch from Roanoke to I-69.