Council approves waterline replacement

Hannah Grover
Sandstone Avenue is pictured Friday at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 in Farmington. The city is securing a loan that will provide for upgrades for water pipelines in the area.

FARMINGTON – The City Council unanimously approved a loan proposal on Tuesday during a work session to replace the aging waterlines on the south side of the city along Sandstone Avenue and portions of U.S. Highway 64.

The $3.2 million loan includes forgiveness of 25 percent, or $800,000, upon the completion of the project. The replacement of the waterlines on Sandstone Avenue and portions of U.S. Highway 64 are the first phase of a three-phase project estimated to cost about $8.2 million.

The current waterlines date back to the 1950s when the city population went from approximately 3,600 residents to more than 23,000. In addition to being old, the waterlines have a small diameter, meaning the water pressure isn't very strong. Replacing the lines will not only increase the water pressure for the residents, it will also help firefighters put out fires on the south side.

The original plan was to pay for the project through the renewal and replacement charges residents pay on their sewer and water bills.

While the city has rejected previous loans for the project, the council decided this loan was attractive due to the low interest rate and the forgiveness of 25 percent.

Public Works Director David Sypher said the $800,000 that will be forgiven is essentially a grant, which made the loan attractive.

“The big change in the game is the $800,000,” he said.

In other business, the City Council also discussed installing new traffic lights on 20th Street. The traffic lights will be able to sense traffic flow and change to accommodate the traffic. Those kinds of traffic lights already have been installed on East Main Street between Hutton Avenue and English Road, encompassing about 11 intersections, Sypher said.

Sypher said the city paid for the 11 East Main Street traffic lights with a $400,000 grant and $100,000 from the city funds. Installing the lights on 20th Street would likely cost about $585,000.

Sypyher said the traffic lights would replace current traffic lights that do not sense the flow of traffic, including the light at the intersection of 20th Street and Butler Avenue. Sypher said that intersection sees 68,000 vehicles between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.

Since the traffic-sensing lights were installed in 2014 on East Main Street, the city estimates emissions during a two-hour time frame on Saturdays were cut by 28 percent. The lights also relieved congestion on East Main Street.

Mayor Tommy Roberts said he usually tries to avoid driving on East Main Street due to traffic problems.

“When I have driven it, I have felt that traffic is more freely moving,” Roberts said.

He said that is likely due to the new traffic lights.

“I think this is one of the better investments we’ve made in this community,” Roberts said, adding that he is excited to see the lights installed on 20th Street.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.