MOUNT VERNON – The City of Mount Vernon started replacing water valves and installing new fire hydrants on the north end of town in January, not fully knowing the condition of the city’s aging and buried infrastructure. This project was prioritized by a condition assessment completed in 2018. The city knew this project would be challenging as this is an older part of the city’s water system.
During construction, work was delayed multiple times due to old valves not closing properly. The City’s Water Department continues to roll with the punches and make headway on the much-needed improvements to the area surrounding North Sandusky Street. To date, seven new fire hydrants, eight new watch valves for fire hydrants and four inline water valves have been replaced. A total of 420 feet of new replacement pipe is being installed on Belmont Avenue, replacing an old 4-inch waterline with a new 6-inch class 53 ductile iron waterline. This will improve water availability to fire hydrants in this area. The new generation water lines are vastly different from their 1960’s predecessors in many ways, beginning with the engineering of the pipe structure itself. The project manager is Jason Epley, Assistant to the City Engineer, who is working closely with Kenneth Griffith, Assistant Utility Director, on this project.
City Engineer Brian Ball said that many of the north end neighborhoods have 1960’s era cast iron pipes buried in soils with higher corrosion potential than other parts of Mount Vernon. The cast iron is brittle and fractures easily with ground movements such as freezing and thawing and the accelerated corrosion by the soil weakens these pipes.
The use of heat-treated ductile iron pipes that are more flexible and polyethylene coverings areas should help solve these issues, Ball said.
Assistant Utility Director Ken Griffith said installing more valves in the area will reduce the size of boil advisories in the future.
Thanks to work by the administration and city council, a series of public meetings were conducted in 2018 to look at needs on the North end of Mount Vernon and led by Amy Schocken with Community Development Consultants (CDC) of Ohio and John Francis, Second Ward City Councilman. As a result of the needs identified in these meetings, the city has received grants to make major improvements. These improvements include:
1. The aforementioned water valve and fire hydrant effort.
2. New curb and gutter (both sides) and new sidewalk (south side) on Belmont Avenue.
3. A new stormwater system including curb and gutter (both sides) and underground drain pipes on Mulberry Street from Belmont Avenue to Calhoun Street. The east side of Mulberry will receive a new sidewalk within this section of Mulberry Street.
4. As a companion project, the city, in a partnership with ODOT, will be completely rebuilding North Sandusky Street between Franklin and James Streets. This project is partly funded by ODOT Safety Funds. This section of Ohio 13 sees an average of three crashes per month based on the 2016-18 Safety Study. This part of the project will include significant utility upgrades.
5. Construction of the future Shellmar Park at the southwest corner of Marion and Madison Streets, a former parking area from the American National Can factory.
Additionally, utility improvements are being planned for the Clinton Road and Mansfield Avenue area.