MIDDLEPORT — In less than two weeks, the sewer line replacement work on North Second Street in downtown Middleport will be completed, and while the streets will remain rough for a time yet, the inconvenience of having to take detours and trying to avoid moving heavy equipment will be over.
All of the work in the business district is being done at night so that stores can be open during their regular hours of operation. Mayor Michael Gerlach worked out that arrangement so that it wouldn’t put an additional hardship on the businesses.
New sewer lines have been laid in several sections of the village already, and Gerlach reports that the $7 million project that got under way last November is scheduled to be finished in October.
While the work has created inconveniences for residents and even those traveling through the village, the sewer upgrade project had to be done in order to prevent raw sewage from getting into the Ohio River during heavy rain storms. Doing something to correct that situation came not as a choice for the village, but as a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The entire cost of the project is being paid for with outside funding including grants and a loan from the Environmental Protection Agency which has granted the village “full forgiveness.” That means there is no cost to the village nor to its residents for the required sewer upgrade.
The sewer lines went right through Diles Park which for years has been swampy for days after a rain. When the work started there, village officials had to move the playground equipment out of the way. This actually created an opportunity for them to move it from in front of the stage and relocate it to the other side of the depot which allows more space for seating at community events.
As for complaints about the condition of some of the streets, Gerlach assures that when the project is completed the streets will be repaired.
His plea now is for patience from the public.
“Remember it was a project we were required to do and got $7 million of free money to pay for it. That means the residents don’t have to pay for it. You just can’t dig 20 feet deep trenches in town without making a mess. We are using the street sweeper to contain as much dirt as we can,” Gerlach said.
Meanwhile, Columbia Gas has come to town to replace gas lines. As for the streets they have to take up to do the required work, the gas company will make the repairs.