City plans massive repairs to Fitzwater Street corridor

Despite a six-lane highway that runs parallel a few hundred yards to the north, Salisbury-bound motorists crowd the Parsons Road/Fitzwater Street corridor, which is prone to river flooding.

Commuters and business owners have long been irritated with flooding in Salisbury’s Fitzwater Street area, but the problem hasn’t dampened city officials’ resolve.

A local resident called West Main and Fitzwater streets and Parsons Road “a disgrace.”

“(It’s) one of the worst thoroughfares in the Salisbury area (with) too  much flooding, too many improperly repaired cuts into the road and too many potholes,” he said.

Dana Simson, owner of Chesapeake East on West Main Street, said the problem isn’t potholes or pavement on the roads breaking apart, but flooding.

“When it’s high tide in the river, it’s high tide in the street,” she said.

It’s been a problem for 18 years, as long as her business has been there.

“We’ve been talking to the road people for 18 years and three mayors about it. There’s a drain in Lake Street that’s supposed to drain into the river, but, of course, when the river comes up, the river drains into the street,” she said.

This time, a mayor is listening.

“The road condition is surely poor,” Mayor Jake Day said.

“The flooding issues aren’t going to get better unless climate change proves to be a hoax or somebody lends us a sizable jack to raise those areas 4 or 5 feet. And that won’t help the road condition maintenance. But again, it must be rebuilt and there’s plenty of underground work that must occur as well,” the mayor said.

The problem is complicated mix of flooding that can’t be helped because the street is at sea level and water flows up from storm drains.

If the road were elevated, it would flood homes on Fitzwater Street.

Pavement breaks up and potholes are cut because that pavement is often submerged, plus it freezes and thaws.

Now, city leaders are working to get a parking lot built near the playground so employees at Chesapeake Shipbuilders won’t park on the street. They are also discussing a long-term proposition to acquire and remove houses on Germania Circle, so the street can be raised.

Meantime, traffic engineers have suggested Nanticoke Road residents use Route 50 instead of looking for a shortcut and have talked about restricting the road to local traffic.

Day, who said the city doesn’t really get complaints about conditions in the area, explained the city rebuilt Parsons Road from Nanticoke Road to Marine Road in 2011 or 2012. Parsons Road has full top-to-bottom reconstruction and sidewalk construction from Marine to Delaware.

The project was fully funded in FY18 budget. The request for proposal for the contract went out in September and Day said construction will be done from now until mid-spring.

“Fitzwater from Delaware to the Main Street bridge is already funded, as well as part of the $5.5 million Fitzwater Street lift station project funded over three budget years,” the mayor said.

Step One was design, and has been done. Step Two is accepting the donation of the land for the new lift station and parking lot from the Marina Landing developers. Step Three is bidding out construction work, with a winter timeline of 90 to 120 days to fully award. Step Four is timing phases of construction, Day said.

Pump station construction may happen before the National Folk Festival comes to Salisbury in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Major site work will begin on Marina Landing, Day said, with demolition of the old pump station and completion of Marina Landing likely occurring after the first year of the festival.

“Then, the full rebuild of Fitzwater, from Delaware to the Main Street bridge, will occur along with replacement of all sewer under Fitzwater. Think the Main Street project — closing at least half of the lanes at a time for long periods. And lastly, will be the repaving and construction of the Urban Greenway’s Fitzwater Street bikeway,” he said, adding it has all been funded.

“It’s just a matter of procuring construction services and sequencing the two to three years of construction along with everything else. The only interesting twist to come out of the State Highway Administration meeting recently is that they believe the solution to every question in that area is turning West Main from Lake to Mill into a one-way street,” Day said.

He provided a detailed outline stating that, in 2011, Parsons Road was rebuilt from Nanticoke Road to Marine Road after Day, in the FY18-22 Capital Improvement Plan, included rebuilding Parsons Road from Marine Road to Delaware Avenue as a priority in the FY18 budget.

Parsons Road received a city Condition Code of 5, on a scale from 0 to 6, with 6 being the worst, making it a city priority, he said. The FY18 budget includes $400,000 for complete reconstruction of Parsons Road from Marine Road to Delaware Avenue, according to his outline.

In July and August this year, the Department of Infrastructure & Development finalized the scope of work. Last month, the Department of Procurement developed reconstruction bid documents. October is the open bid period, with construction expected in November. It will take 30 days, the mayor said.

Concerning, the Fitzwater Pump Station and Gravity Sewer, $350,000 was budgeted  in July 2011 for pump station engineering. Construction was included in the FY15-19 Capital Improvement Plan.

The city funded $2.3 million for Phase 1.

The Fitzwater pump station, in the Fitzwater Street road bed, must be relocated for access. Additionally, Day wrote in the outline, the wet well and pumps have to be upgraded and expanded.

“The station is a high priority due to its proximity to the river and since it services the Perdue processing plant. The upgrade will also include new controls, variable frequency drives, a new larger generator, backup diesel pump, bypass pumping connection and SCADA system. Gravity sewer piping within the roadway will also be replaced as part of this project. This is the highest priority pump station upgrade in the Capital Improvement Plan. Engineering will fund full-time inspection services and contract administration services during construction,” the mayor wrote.

The city funded $2.7 million in the FY17-21 CIP for Phase 2.

As part of the project to relocate the Fitzwater pump station out of the Fitzwater Street road bed, the gravity sewer in Fitzwater Street will be replaced. Soil testing during design indicated contaminated soils. As a result, the cost to replace the gravity sewer has increased because soil remediation is needed.

“Other trenchless alternatives to rehabilitate the pipe were investigated but were found infeasible due to the condition of the pipe,” Day wrote.

The pump station replacement funding was allocated in FY15 and that phase of the project was bid in fall of 2016. During Phase 2, the associated gravity sewer will be replaced and the road paved. Engineering began in 2015 and was completed in late 2016.

Funds were redesigned in 2016 to flip the final location from Marina property to property across the street.

On Sept. 19 this year, SDG LLC settled on property across the street and donated it to Salisbury, Day said.

Land it sits on has been donated and will be endorsed by the City Council when it adopts a resolution authorizing the mayor to accept the donation, Day explained. The matter is on the city’s Oct. 9 legislative meeting agenda.

The Fitzwater pump station and sewer construction contract will be bid in December or January next year to construct the pump station, parking lot and sewer main and Force Main, Day said.

Concerning Lot 30, the  – GateHouse development — Day said in 2015, the  Downtown Master Plan called for Lot 30 development between 2021 and 2025. In 2015, the city declared the lot surplus and put it out for a request for proposal, for development. Late that year, the exclusive negotiation period began with GreenStreet Housing.

This year, a Land Disposition contract was signed for development of Lot 30 with GreenStreet, Day said.

Concerning the Marina, in 2016, the city put the property out for development request for proposal and signed a Land Disposition Contract with SDG.

The Planning Commission approved the schematic design for the Marina Landing Project. The city parking district overlay zone was extended to include Marina Landing.

Fitzwater Street’s pump station and gravity sewer project were fully funded. Design will be completed, followed by construction, once paving over the sewer is complete. It is estimated to take 30 to 90 days.

In the Downtown Master Plan, 2015 to 2020 Priority 1 projects in the Marina District are Fitzwater and Parsons Street bike lanes, the Fitzwater Pump Station replacement, Marina site improvements, expected to be completed by the end of October, and Marina Riverwalk improvements, Day said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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