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Wood Avenue rebuild will be lengthy
By Robert Palmer -
Portions of North Wood Ave. where the street has been patched multiple times because of water, sewer line and pothole repairs.

FLORENCE — With money now in hand, city officials are working out the details of tearing up Wood Avenue and putting it back together again.

Florence received almost $4 million in federal money through a state program to rebuild the road bed and move aging utilities along almost a mile of the heavily traveled street. The city must provide a 20 percent funding match.

The project will replace and relocate underground utilities, dig up the road bed, and repave the surface. Work should begin this spring.

“The Wood Avenue work will have to be done in stages because the utilities are in the center of the street,” City Council President Dick Jordan said. His district includes the downtown and historic districts, where Wood Avenue is a major thoroughfare.

“Utilities are a significant portion of this,” said Mike Doyle, director of Water and Wastewater Department. “We’ll be cutting down the road bed and that will put it close to the utilities in the ground. This is very serious.”

The 16-inch water main is about 100 years old, and the sewer line needs to be at a deeper depth, he said.

Wood Avenue is an old thoroughfare and the road bed was never built to withstand heavy automobile traffic. As a result, aging water and sewer lines frequently break or develop leaks, requiring cuts in the pavement that make for a bumpy ride.

The work will extend from Tuscaloosa Street next to the library to just south of the Seven Points. Along the way, the street is lined with historic houses and towering oak trees. The trees are of concern to many.

“We will try to save all the trees we can,” city engineer Bill Batson said.

Doyle pointed out the right of way is narrow along the street.

Batson said new curb and gutter is included in the project, but sidewalks should not be disturbed during the work, which could take up to six months.

Residents along the street will continue to have water and sewer service from existing lines while the work is being done, Doyle said. Once the new utilities are installed, residents will be connected to the new lines, he said.

Doyle and Batson are meeting with consulting engineers and Alabama Department of Transportation officials to finalize plans.

“We want to keep as much of the street open as possible to local traffic and residents while the work is going on,” Jordan said.

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