Starting Saturday, motorists who were planning to travel on College Avenue between South Parkway and 12th streets will have to find an alternate route for the next two weeks.
John Peppers, general manager of the El Dorado Water Utilities, issued a reminder about a major water line replacement project that will be going on in the area, saying that crews will move in Saturday to begin drilling holes in preparation for re-connecting a 12-inch water main along College between South Parkway and 12th streets.
On Wednesday, Peppers told members of the El Dorado Water and Public Works Board that new pipes and equipment that will be used for the project have been stacked in the area of College and Eighth.
College between South Parkway and 12th will be closed to traffic throughout the duration of the project, which is expected to be completed by Jan. 3.
Peppers previously said the EWU scheduled the work to coincide with Christmas break for local schools to minimize traffic disruptions.
The El Dorado School District will dismiss classes at 2:25 p.m. today for Christmas break. Students are scheduled to return to school on Jan. 4.
Peppers said the EWU hopes to complete the water line replacement by Jan. 3.
"This will allow for workarounds for traffic," he said. "Traffic is going to be a big mess over there for the next two weeks."
Robert Edmonds, director of public works, previously explained that the water main is already connected to a two-inch water line that runs through the area, noting that the smaller line was installed many years ago.
A 12-inch water main is connected to each end of the smaller line and the tie-in has created a bottleneck in the water distribution system -- an issue that slows water pressure for some users in the area, Edmonds said.
Peppers said the line replacement project will improve service for several businesses and houses in the area of College, South Parkway and 12th.
Peppers apologized for any inconvenience the project may cause and thanked residents for their patience.
The project and street closure were announced a couple of weeks ago and Peppers said he wanted to issue a reminder to notify as many people as possible.
"We want people to be able to plan their routes accordingly," Peppers said.
For more information, call the EWU at 870-862-6451.
Peppers also provided an update on an ongoing project to add a new drive-through service lane to the EWU office.
Construction has been underway since late summer on the addition, which comes with a payment window with a drawer and clerk and a pneumatic tube service at the new office for the Department of Public Works.
Earlier this year, the El Dorado City Council voted to purchase the vacant office building at 512 N. Washington, which is adjacent to the EWU office, for $150,000 to help alleviate traffic backups in the existing drive-through lane at the water utilities' office.
The council later agreed to a request by Robert Edmonds, director of public works, to use the building for a second purpose: to relocate public works and city code enforcement offices from City Hall.
Edmonds said the move would place his office next to the EWU office, noting that the water utilities fall under the umbrella public works and the two departments frequently work together to coordinate city projects.
In August, the council accepted a base bid of $285,000 from Diversified Construction and Design, Inc., to build the new EWU drive-through payment lane.
Peppers said the job is nearing completion.
"We're just waiting on (building/construction) materials. You know how hard it is these days to get building materials," Peppers said, referring to a bottleneck in the country's supply chain for many goods and services as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and a nationwide labor shortage.
"They've got to install the tubes and the fascia panels that go around the building and they've still got to do the inside where we're adding a teller to the window," Peppers said.
He said crews were on-site Thursday for some cleanup work.
Peppers said he was not sure if the job will be completed before the end of the year.