Two major water-line replacement projects will affect traffic through August.
The two projects will close lanes of traffic on busy portions of Sixth and Massachusetts streets.
But city staff members for the first time are asking construction crews to work Saturdays in an attempt to get the projects done as quickly as possible.
"The Downtown Lawrence Assn. asked us to get in and out as quick as possible, and that's what we're trying to do," said Chris Stewart, the city's assistant utilities director for water, at a February Lawrence City Commission meeting.
The two projects:
- Sixth Street. Crews will replace an aging water line from Tennessee to Massachusetts streets. One lane of eastbound traffic will be closed for several weeks during the project. Both lanes of westbound traffic are expected to remain open. Work on the project began in April. City officials have allowed for 45 working days to complete the project.
- Massachusetts Street: Crews will replace an outdated water line from Sixth Street to Seventh Street. During several weeks of construction, Massachusetts will become a one-way street. Construction crews will block off the southbound lane of the street. As part of the project, crews also will replace a water line on Seventh Street from Massachusetts Street to New Hampshire Street. Both lanes of traffic will be open during construction, but parking on both sides of Seventh Street will be closed during parts of the construction process. The entire project is expected to take 35 working days.
Maria Martin, executive director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said she believed merchants and shoppers would be able to cope with the construction.
"We think it will work out fine if everybody is notified far enough ahead and there's proper signage to drivers," Martin said. "And we think it is important to get the public to realize that this project is a huge improvement to their community."
The water lines that will be replaced are more than 100 years old.
"This project will lower our risk of something like that happening again," said Debbie Van Saun, assistant city manager.
This work is budgeted to cost $650,000.