City Prepares Finances for Main Street Overhaul

Site of Past Main Street Repairs

Site of Past Main Street Repairs


CDOT will begin a major overhaul of North and South Main Streets in the City of Lamar sometime in February or April of next year. Josh Cichocki, City Water and Wastewater Manager, said the city needs to secure funding to finance its share of the infrastructure improvement project while the water and wastewater main lines are open.  Based on that need, the council approved a contract agreement with JVA for a preliminary engineering report for the water distribution system underneath Main Street.  City Administrator John Sutherland remarked several months ago, the city should get in front of the CDOT upgrades and overhaul the water lines beneath the roadway.  The city has worked with JVA before, during the South Transmission Line Project.  Because of time constraints, the formal RFP process will extend past funding cycle deadlines which leaves Lamar with no opportunity to acquire funding before CDOT begins construction.  JVA will perform a Preliminary Engineering Report and help the city seek funding for the project.  The PER will estimate the cost and scope of the water distribution project.

Cichocki said, “CDOT plans to replace the city’s stormwater system, but not the general water system and the water lines run the length of Main Street.” He said JVA will help the city make the December deadline for funding applications and the PER will allow the city to explore some revenue sources with the help of DOLA and the Water Quality Control-Drinking Water Fund in a revolving fund.

Mayor Roger Stagner voiced some concern over the city’s share of costs, “I thought CDOT was going to pay for the service water mains,’ he said. City Administrator, John Sutherland, replied, ”We’ve been going round after round with them, and this is where it currently stands.”  The estimated cost for the service main repairs is a million dollars.  Sutherland added, “CDOT has said they’re ready to roll and they’re not going to wait for the city to find funds, which is why JVA is helping out.  CDOT may still cover the cost, but we can’t wait to find out.”

Cichocki said he had some concerns about how the CDOT project will impact water flows along North Main Street. “They’re re-doing our drainage especially on the north side of town and that will impact areas along Wallace Oil, Pizza Hut by the Canal and I’ve got some concerns about that area.  We’re just starting to mitigate that flooding and once they start on this project, it’s going to be a lot worse.  They’re dumping a lot more water in that constrained area right there and we need an engineering study that shows their work from the city’s point of view,” he told the council.

Sutherland added, “All the service lines under Main Street are lead.” Cichocki told the council, “The mains right now are 35 years past their design limit.  He said that’s why you can see so many repair spots on the street right now.  He added that the new roadway being constructed will be made of concrete and built to last for 25 years without any substantial upkeep.  He stated that his biggest concern is that if the city’s water system is not repaired, we’ll have to dig up that road every time we get a leak and the street will looked like a patched quilt which will compromise the road surface in the future.

The general construction plans call for Main Street to be reduced to a two lane road while repairs are underway. Traffic will flow north and south on the western portion of the roadway while the eastern side is repaired and then alternate once one side has been completed.

Council members ratified an earlier phone poll for a resolution to hire the Robinson, Waters & O’Dorisio law firm to represent the City of Lamar and Lamar Utilities Board in litigation against ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority and Syncora, a firm which provided insurance for some of the Lamar Repowering Project’s construction bonds. This action follows ARPA’s resolution vote to decommission the Lamar Repowering Project.  Lamar’s ARPA representatives cast the only two “no” votes on the resolution.  Five other ARPA member communities voted in favor.  That action provided cause to initiate a lawsuit against ARPA and Syncora.  The council took this action following an executive session held at the close of the regular meeting.

By Russ Baldwin



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