Herschel Street creek culvert replacement underway

Herschel Street creek culvert replacement underway
A crew from J.B. Coxwell Contracting works on installing a box culvert under Herschel Street, a project nearly three decades in the planning.
Railings on the Herschel Street bridge will be replaced to closely match the original concrete balustrades, shown here on the west side of the bridge.

Railings on the Herschel Street bridge will be replaced to closely match the original concrete balustrades, shown here on the west side of the bridge.

For residents living on or traveling Herschel Street where it bisects Boone Park, a few months of construction noise and traffic detours will, hopefully, be worth the inconvenience when the creek bridge replacement is complete.

Fishweir Creek meanders under the bridge at the intersection with Pine Grove Avenue. The metal pipe-arch culvert built over the creek in 1931 began to fail more than three decades ago and was placed, for the first time, in 1991 on the City of Jacksonville’s public works project list for replacement with a precast concrete box culvert. Seven years later, the project was still on the list at an estimated cost of $250,000.

After 10 years, nothing had been done and the economy hit a rough patch, so the project was put on the back-burner until 2013, at which time the new cost estimate had risen to $450,000. In late 2015, the City finally covered the crumbling balustrades with orange safety netting to alert pedestrians of gaps in the railings – gaps large enough for a small child or dog to slip through.

After funding was earmarked during the City’s 2016-2017 fiscal year, the project was open for bid in late November 2017, and a contract was issued on Feb. 7 to J.B. Coxwell Contracting in the amount of $738,853.

As part of the project, the roadway will be reconstructed, drainage improved, and the decorative parapet railings replaced with a design similar to the original 87-year-old railings.

Coxwell crews began the project in mid-May and were approximately 40 percent complete at the end of July, according to Tia Ford, spokesperson for the City of Jacksonville.

In the meantime, concurrent with the culvert replacement project, the Jacksonville Energy Authority (JEA) took advantage of the temporary road closure between Pinegrove Avenue and Van Wert Avenue to replace an aging sanitary sewer.

According to the JEA, the sanitary sewer pipes reached the end of their service lives and needed to be proactively replaced to increase the reliability of the sewer system and to prevent any future sewer main breaks.

The JEA project involves installing 3,200 linear feet of 16-inch PVC pipe and 415 linear feet of 18-inch HDPE (high-density polyethylene, for the drill under creek), beginning at the JEA sanitary sewer pump station located near the corner of Pinegrove Avenue and Herschel Street, extending down Herschel Street under the bridge to Van Wert Avenue, then continuing down Oak Street, and ending where it intersects with Riverside Avenue.

“This project is moving forward nicely without any issues and is on schedule to be completed by November 2018 (weather permitting),” said Gregory Corcoran, manager, community involvement and project outreach for JEA, who said they estimate about three to four weeks to reach the end of their project on Riverside Avenue, then have to wait on the bridge project before JEA can move forward with the directional drill under the creek to install the pipe to the pump station on Herschel Street. Once the entire project is completed, final milling and paving will occur.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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